Dominican TV host badly burns magician in bizarre “blessing”

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Thursday December 6, 2012 – A judge has ordered the arrest of a local television show host who set an American magician on fire, badly burning his scalp, face and arm.

The judge announced the decision on Tuesday following a bizarre incident in which TV host Franklin Barazarte tossed flaming liquid on magician Wayne Houchin’s head as a “blessing” during taping of a show on November 26.

Barazarte, who was standing in as guest host on the astrology and variety show “Closer to the Stars”, described the incident as “a demonstration within a magical religious framework that turned out badly”.

He said that he had performed similar “blessings” for more than 20 years and that “none of them had ever turned out badly”. He further claimed that his own hands were also burned during what he insisted was an accident.

Monica Pena, a spokeswoman for the Dominican prosecutors’ office, said a doctor certified that Houchin suffered first-degree burns on his scalp, face and right arm in the incident.

The mind-boggling events unfolded when Barazarte abruptly doused 29-year-old Houchin’s head with “Agua de Florida,” a flammable cologne used in the rituals of the Afro-Caribbean religion, Santeria.

What followed was captured on a mobile phone video taken by a member of the visiting American magician’s crew. The video has since circulated widely on the internet, showing horrifying images of Houchin writhing in pain on the stage floor.

The Californian magician, who recently finished a season as host of the Discovery Channel show “Breaking Magic”, went to the Dominican Republic with his wife as part of the “Curiosities 2012” tour. He and two other magicians were scheduled to be interviewed and perform magic on the local show.

Instead, he is now receiving treatment for burns on his face, scalp and hands, and is reportedly pursuing legal action against Barazarte.

“The attack was intentional. The host didn’t trip and accidentally spill it on me. He intended to pour flaming liquid on me,” he said, adding that he still did not know what may have motivated 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,” Houchin said.

A statement posted on Facebook on Sunday said the magician was “resting, healing and working through the legal process”.

Meanwhile, doctors have said they are hopeful that the injuries will not result in permanent scars.

Two days after the incident Houchin posted on Facebook: “I was not aware he was going to do this. This was not a stunt or part of an act – this was a criminal attack.

“The fast actions of the rest of our Curiosidades team saved my life.

“The fire was put out and I was rushed to the emergency room. I have bad burns on my head, face, neck and right hand.”

“The entire studio was in shock,” Houchin said, adding that his wife Frania was traumatised by the incident.

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