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A selfie is worth a thousand words

Student discusses experience in a fish tank with David Blaine

The Spectrum

On Saturday evening at Alumni Arena, senior industrial engineering major Peter Morgis took a selfie with world-renowned magician David Blaine, fulfilling a lifelong dream of meeting one of his favorite celebrities.

The Spectrum sat down with Morgis to talk about his experience.

The Spectrum: How were you selected?

Peter Morgis: When I saw he was coming, I immediately went to Sam McMahon [the Student Association President] and I'm always in there, too, because I'm the president of the UB men's tennis club. So, I went into his office when I was doing some errands and I asked him if it would be possible for me to just meet [Blaine], I just want to shake his hand or something ... Before Sanjay Gupta came, [McMahon said] all right, come to me after Sanjay Gupta and we will have some opportunities for you for sure. So, I came back after Sanjay Gupta and I was waiting and [McMahon said], 'Keep an eye on the SA page for notifications.'

They came out with one that if you submitted a magic video, a David Blaine inspired act, and you'd get to go on stage with him. And I saw this on my computer and I was like, Oh God, I can't pass this up. So, I was thinking about a trick to do - I'm not the greatest magician - so I needed to figure something out that I could do that I could learn pretty quick, but also [one] that I could get people with.

I found one where I made a tennis ball disappear. Originally, they used a coin in a video, but I used a tennis ball to make it more relevant to our tennis practice, which is where I filmed it ... and I submitted it online and it was like the longest week ever when I would find out. I got picked and I got a phone call.

TS: What was your reaction to the phone call?

PM: I was like, "Really? Me?" and then I said, "Where and when should I meet you guys? I'm ready." So, I got notified Thursday. And then I discussed it with the people in SA, who put out the offer. And then I got a call from Bill Regan - the director of the Office of Special Events - and he called me and he told me when I should be there on Friday and he spoke to David Blaine. It was finally at that point it was setting in that, Oh my God. I'm actually going to meet the world's greatest magician.He told me to bring a bathing suit and flip-flops. I didn't know the extent to what I was going to be doing in the tank, but I went there to the rehearsal.

TS: Did you come up with the selfie idea? Or was it David Blaine?

PM: Well I had an underwater camera and that was the greatest investment I could have ever made, I think, because without that I wouldn't have had the idea to take the underwater selfie. So, I had it with me. And I was just bringing the underwater camera just to take photos of me being with him. I didn't know that I would be using it in a tank with him. So, when I found out I was going in the tank, I said, 'I'll take a selfie with you with my underwater camera.' He's like, 'Yeah.' He liked the idea and he laughed.

TS: What was it like looking out in the crowd, if you could see anything?

PM: I wasn't looking out. I was focused on making sure I didn't mess up and step on David Blaine or the fish, or I didn't unplug any lights or something. I didn't want to mess anything up. So, I wasn't even looking at the crowd. What was going through my mind was, when I was right next to the tank, I was looking in the water and David Blaine was underneath there. It was almost unreal seeing a human being in water in there for nine minutes already. I had to be quick - he's probably running out of breath at this point. I got to get my selfie; I got to make sure this goes right here.

So when I first got in, I see David Blaine there and I was having trouble, the water was very buoyant. I couldn't really sink. So, I took a short breath and I didn't really sink far enough. So I had to take another one. I kind of pushed myself along the wall to get underneath to get on his level. And at that point he was holding me down. And then I took the selfie.

TS: Are we going to see you in a fish tank at graduation?

PM: Will you put one there? Will David Blaine be there?


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