How Mister Magic's Spell Has Melted Beauties' Hearts; EXCLUSIVE: LIFE AND LOVES OF DARE-DEVIL DAVID BLAINE.(News)
Byline: STEPHEN MARTIN
IT'S daredevil magician David Blaine's latest mission... wooing actress Daryl Hannah. Blaine, the American hunk who flirts with death as routinely as normal folk make a cup of tea, was in London this week for a rendezvous with her.
And, at the same time, he was planning his next spectacular stunt - a jump from Tower Bridge into the Thames, handcuffed and chained-up.
It's all in a day's work for Blaine, 29, who has spent a week buried 6ft underground and 62 hours in a block of ice.
Last month millions around the world watched on TV as he leapt 80ft to the ground from a tiny pillar. He got up, dusted himself down and muttered with the most casual shrug: "Hmmm, that hurt".
It's the sort of charm which has endeared him to scores of beautiful women including actress Gina Gershon and supermodel Naomi Campbell. But where does the star, once dismissed as "the nerd from New Jersey", get his charm from? The answer, he says, lies in his troubled upbringing.
He and his mother Maureen were abandoned by his father when Blaine was four. When he was 19, she died of ovarian cancer leaving him haunted by a sense of loss which has helped fuel his success with women. He says: "I don't let people close to me. Ironically, girls fall for that."
A consummate flirt, Blaine claims to have slept with Madonna, assuring his fans that the Queen of Pop was "definitely good in bed".
He also dated singer Fiona Apple - a household name in the US - who gushed: "He has an amazing allure. He has no limits. David's magic reduces you to being three years old, that complete wonderment with the world."
Now it's Daryl, 41 - 12 years his senior - who is commanding his attention being pictured with him this week at celebrity hang-out The Ivy. But no one's betting on a long-term thing. His agent admits: "David's not the settling-down, steady girlfriend sort of guy."
Last year on a visit to the UK Blaine took a shine to GMTV presenter Carla Romano. She met him for lunch at a hotel and got an insight into the way he seduces women.
Carla, 31, revealed Blaine was much quieter in person than his cocky public demeanour would suggest. She told a friend: "He does the dark, brooding man of few words act, which a lot of people would find very enthralling." But Blaine was "a bit too introverted" for her liking - and the pair didn't meet again.
Blaine says he was just four when he was introduced to his Houdini-style world. He claims his father, shortly before walking out, made him crawl on a piece of wood between the roofs of two buildings.
Fact or fiction? Challenge Blaine on his far-fetched stories and he will offer a non-committal shrug. In his wacky world, he's the one who is normal and the non-daredevil rest of us who are peculiar. His motto sums it up: "If a man doesn't discover something he'd die for, he hasn't lived."
Home is an apartment overlooking New York's Central Park - where property prices start at pounds 1.5 million - which doubles as his office, although he does much of his business strolling down the street talking on his mobile phone.
It's an astonishing rise for a boy whose mother once worked day and night - as a kindergarten teacher, waitress and secretary - relying on welfare to make ends meet. …