Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Magician in TV blaze 'stunt' agony

Wayne Houchin's head burns while taping Closer To The Stars in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (AP)

A magician from the United States is taking legal action after a TV host in the Dominican Republic set him on fire in an apparent stunt.

Wayne Houchin is receiving treatments for burns on his face, scalp and hands that occurred when the guest host of the Closer To The Stars show abruptly tossed a fistful of flaming liquid at him during a November 26 recording of the show. "I am still in a lot of pain but I am recovering," Mr Houchin, 29, said.

He has now hired lawyers to begin preparing a complaint against the show's host Franklin Barazarte, a necessary first step before authorities can pursue a criminal case in the Caribbean country.

"The attack was intentional. The host didn't trip and accidentally spill it on me. He intended to pour flaming liquid on me," said Mr Houchin. He said he still did not know what may have motivated Mr Barazarte. "The host's intentions will play a role in the severity of his punishment, but that's for a court of law to determine and decide." he said.

Neither Mr Barazarte, who was filling in as a guest host on the astrology and variety show, nor the regular host, Adriana Azzi, responded to calls seeking comment. Both were apparently in New York.

Mr Houchin, from Chico, California, who recently finished a season as a host of the Discovery Channel show Breaking Magic, came to the Dominican Republic with his wife as part of the Curiosities 2012 tour. He said he and two other magicians expected to be interviewed and perform magic on the programme.

But the host announced that he wanted to give Mr Houchin a "blessing", the American said. Mr Barazarte then told one of the other magicians, BJ Bueno, to hand him a bottle of Agua de Florida, a cologne that is flammable and used in Santeria rituals.

Mr Barazarte asked Mr Houchin's wife to pour the cologne into his cupped hands and told Mr Bueno to pick up a lighter on the stage and light the fluid. "At this point none of us had any idea us had any idea what the host planned to do," Mr Houchin said. "We had no reason to suspect beforehand that he would perform a stunt. ... We were filming a national TV spot - we assumed the host to be a professional presenter and therefore trusted him."

When the liquid in his cupped hands caught fire, the host poured it on Mr Houchin's head and rubbed it into his face. The show never aired but a mobile phone video taken by a member of the magician's crew has circulated widely on the internet, showing the American writhing in pain on the stage floor.

"The entire studio was in shock," Mr Houchin said. He said his wife Frania and Mr Bueno were traumatised by the fact that they helped the host perform the stunt without knowing what he would do. "They are angry and devastated that they unknowingly participated in the attack," Mr Houchin said.

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