DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (CBSLA.com) — A video posted on YouTube of a TV host setting fire to a California magician’s head is going viral.
The magician said it’s no act — he was attacked.
Wayne Houchin, a native of Chico, was in the Dominican Republic for a TV appearance last month when the incident occurred.
According to published reports, TV host Franklin Barazarte poured a liquid on Houchin’s head, saying he wanted to bless the magician’s act on his show.
Seconds later, the magician’s head burst into flames.
Houchin suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and hands.
Many viewers assumed it was a stunt or trick but the magician said it was an unprovoked attack.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Barazarte.
Houchin’s peers said they sympathize with the magician.
“It seemed he was purposely attacked for doing magic,” said magician Jon Armstrong, adding that he and Houchin perform at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. “The reaction from the magic community about Wayne’s… attack — and it sort of was — is absolute sympathy from all of us, especially those in Los Angeles, and all over the world.”
The TV host reportedly threw “agua florida” or “Florida water” on Houchin. The liquid has been used since the early 1800’s in many Latin American countries as a way to purify and ward off evil spirits.
“In some parts of the world, a magician, a conjurer as someone who is causing evil and is putting evil spirits in you,” said magician and cultural anthropologist Paul Draper.
Draper said that, in many cultures, performance magic is seen as supernatural, and that might have been what provoked the attack on Houchin.
“When I used to work in a magic shop as a boy, there used to be a man who would come in and scream ‘Satanism’ at us and throw holy water on us. And, so, this is something that exists everywhere in the world.”
The magician, who’s still recovering in a Dominican hospital, has posted on his Facebook page that he’s “resting, healing and working through the legal process.”
On Nov. 29, he wrote:
“Update: I will be extending my stay here in the Dominican Republic in order to undergo continuous treatment for my burns. The doctors are cautiously optimistic that I will fully recover with no scars.
“The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country full of beautiful people. The outrage here and outpouring of support has been incredible.
“The support, love and well wishes that has been sent my way through social media, blogs, forums, friends and fans has been both humbling and overwhelming.