David Blaine-Hadji Ali
Is It Truly Possible To Emulate Hadji Ali?
Magic Article

David Blaine-Hadji Ali

Yes, it is, as those of you who witnessed David Blaine indulging in regurgitation during a talk show would claim.

What David Blaine enacted was simply a contemporary version of an early-twentieth century performance that had captivated all over the world courtesy of a few talented magicians but had lost its charm over the years.

Popularly known as regurgitation, credit for popularizing this trick goes to an Egyptian named Hadji Ali who seemed to have been blessed with exceptional gastric conditions that facilitated the act.

Believed to have been born in Egypt some time during the last decade of the nineteenth century into a peasant family, Hadji Ali soon discovered his talent in being able to regurgitate plenty of water as well as solids at an early age.

An incident that brought this fact to light pertains to having drowned in the lake one day and just when everyone thought he was dead, Ali brought up all the water and also a fish exactly as he had swallowed it.

Having gained cognizance of this talent, he began to use it for entertaining people and within a matter of days cloaked it with commercial gains.  Then it was just a question of materializing on his growing fame to accomplish success.

Hadji Ali

Thank to his ability to regurgitate successfully, Hadji Ali attracted crowds not only in his own country, but also managed to catch the eye of an entertainment guru in Europe.

Soon he began to perform in front of some of the most respected and authoritative audiences and received many accolades in return.

His act followed a set sequence of swallowing water, hazel nuts with shells, almonds, handkerchiefs and regurgitating them in a sequence determined by the audience.

Of course, there was a grand finale to this act too wherein Ali would drink water in abundance and follow it up with kerosene.

Meanwhile his assistant, often his daughter 'Princess Almina', would set up a miniature castle within spurting distance.  Ali would then set the structure on fire by spitting kerosene on it repeatedly and then follow it up with water to smother it.

Hadji Ali Face

Effortless though it seemed, it took almost 20 years for the present day magician David Blaine to master it and perform it live in front of spectators.

Because Hadji Ali never incurred even a single hitch while performing, his name is regarded in magician circles as 'The Greatest Regurgitator.'

Needless to say, fame brought forth its critics too and the next generation of magicians, Harry Houdini in particular, was critical to the point of labelling the act as being totally repulsive.

There was even a line of thought which proclaimed that it nauseated an audience sufficiently to cause them to skip their meals.

Whether these were true is something that remains to be validated but it certainly put a stop to this act for many decades to come.

Hadji Ali passed away at the fairly young age of 45, and although many doctors and gastro-physicians had been interested in closely examining his abdomen, none finally took up the task.

Credit goes to David Blaine for having restored it to its historical glory by performing it live and claiming it is indeed one of the most difficult feats ever.

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