While not strictly street magic, this is undoubtedly something made popular by David Blaine, so we feel rather inclined to discuss these things.
To say that David Blaine is popular as a street magician is a given, but he is equally as popular for his endurance feats, which he has performed for the public to view over the course of his career. We’ve seen him live in a block of ice, stay balanced on a small platform for weeks, break the world record for holding one’s breath underwater, and a host of other feats of endurance that simply defy conventional wisdom about the limits of the human body.
Admittedly, both purists and skeptics alike have taken Blaine to task for including these feats in his magic act, as the former feels it detracts from his magic, while the latter assume that like magic tricks, there is a “cheat” of sorts to these feats, thereby making them non-feats by extension. The veracity of his achievements are put into question, and in turn his credibility as a performer becomes undermined when all of these things are put together.
Truth be told, this is a crying shame. If one needs to make a personal distinction between one part of Blaine’s act from the other, I feel that it inevitably exposes a weakness in melding both aspects together, despite the inherent talent and strength of the performer on both sides of the divide. If there were a way to really enhance both aspects of his performance without necessarily putting his credibility into question, then perhaps that would allow magic to have the kind of legitimacy it deserves as an art form, rather than to find itself mired again and again in the quagmire of people looking down upon it as merely a compilation of “tricks”.