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 Post subject: Abracadabra: Q&A With Criss Angel
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:43 pm 
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MSN talks to the 'Mindfreak' star about Houdini, charlatans and which celebrity he'd like to make disappear

Say what you will about Criss Angel, but he's the most popular magician of his generation, starring in both a popular television series ("Criss Angel Mindfreak") and a Vegas show collaboration with Cirque du Soleil ("Believe"), not to mention a few high-profile romances, including Hef ex Holly Madison. But through it all, Angel remains a passionate evangelist of magic -- that same Long Island kid who read about Houdini and got inspired all those years ago -- only with a cooler haircut and more bling. We caught up with Angel, currently promoting the final episodes of this season's "Mindfreak" series (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on A&E), to talk about his creative process, revealing his tricks of his trade on the Internet and fellow magic man David Blaine.

MSN TV: With five seasons of "Mindfreak" under your belt, does it get increasingly hard to come up with new and original ways to entertain the audience?

Criss Angel: It's kind of weird. I've been so fortunate. I'm somebody who really loves the creation part, and the well hasn't come near running dry yet. I was always the type of kid to think of ideas and to write them down -- and that's what I do. I have notepads around everywhere, and I'm constantly coming up with things for both the live show and the television series. Some ideas take me 10 years to bring to fruition because they're so technical or so dangerous that I don't have the answers right away, so I evolve and develop them over the course of many years.

Are they all a riff on a certain genre? Do they all fit into a category, like "sleight of hand" or "illusion," for example?

I work backwards. I think about what I'd like to see as a fan, and then I do the work to figure out how to bring that to life. That could be an illusion; it could be an escape; it could be a mind, body and spirit demonstration. It's usually things that I've seen during my life that I keep catalogued back there in my brain, and then I'm in the shower or driving my car or on stage sometimes, and then, boom, it just dawns on me. There's no formula. The only thing that's consistent for me is that I never start off with method. I always start off artistically with what I want to say, and then I figure out how to say it.

Are there tricks you want to do that you haven't been able to figure out yet?

Well, the premiere episode of "Mindfreak" this season was "White Death." That was one that Houdini attempted in a test because he was always fascinated with being buried alive. Then he realized there was no way he could do it. He vowed he would never attempt it because the weight of the earth was too great. I was always fascinated with that one -- and it took me many, many years to figure out how to bring it to life.

There are clips out there of you explaining how some of your tricks work -- levitation, for example. Isn't that frowned upon in the magic community? Can't they take away your magician card for such heresy?

I guess maybe some magicians would have a problem with it because it's Criss Angel, but there are thousands of DVDs available to learn many different tricks from people who may not be as recognizable -- so it's not frowned upon in that way.

My interest is in the art of magic. The problem for me is that magic has become this kind of hokey novelty. I think it's because magicians are kind of stuck in a time warp. They're shoving a girl in a leotard into a box and cutting her into pieces. I want the art of magic to garner the kind of respect that the cinema and music does, and I think the way to do that is by having the future of it in the hands of kids who can show what they can do with it. That levitation trick I explained is a beginner version of it -- and there are thousands of techniques to levitate. That's just one.

You don't believe that people have supernatural abilities. But aren't so-called psychics just doing tricks like you are? Or is it the deception of the public that you call into question?

I think it's a number of things. What I question has been questioned throughout the course of humanity. When Houdini lost his mom, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle claimed he had a medium that could connect him to his mother, which Houdini was excited about. And he realized after he went and had that experience, that the medium was really a magician who was utilizing the same techniques he employed for entertainment purposes -- but he was using them to really take advantage of the vulnerable. Houdini was really upset with that, and he spent half of his life exposing charlatans and taking them to court and offering $10,000 to anybody who could do something that couldn't be explained or reproduced. When I was on "Phenomenon" on NBC, we were dealing with a lot of magicians -- some of whom claimed to have the ability to speak to the dead or do things that were supernatural -- and I put $1 million of my own money on the line to anyone who could prove they could do it, and none of them did. My whole thing is this: If there's somebody out there who has the ability to do something supernatural and predict the future, you're not going to find that person in a little shop reading palms for $40; they're going to be predicting the occurrence of 9/11 the day before it happens. They're going to be winning the lottery.

What do you think of David Blaine?

I'm sorry, who? [Long pause] Actually, I admire what he's done in his career. He's a very talented guy, but I don't spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder. I always look ahead at what I'm trying to accomplish.

Well, maybe that's true of your contemporaries, but there must have been people you were inspired by as you were learning the art form.

There were a few magicians who inspired me -- obviously Houdini. Even today, more than 80 years after his death, he's still synonymous with magic. Another guy who really blew me away was a man by the name of Richiardi, who was from Lima, Peru. I saw him when I was 14 years old at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden with my mom and dad, and he was a guy who took the simplest of household items and created miracles. That was a big inspiration. Doug Henning, maybe, because he was a product of the times, but my inspiration was definitely more driven by movies and directors. Fellini movies were very attractive to me. Dali as a painter is fantastic. I was really driven much more by that culture than just magic. I was a product of the MTV generation, and magic was kind of hokey to me. I thought it was a beautiful art form; I just thought it needed to be provocative in popular culture.

If you could make one celebrity disappear, who would it be?

No one, because whether I agree with someone or disagree, that's the great thing about America: Everyone has the opportunity to do what they feel is right.

Always the politician, Criss ...

[Laughs] Maybe I'd make myself disappear, actually -- to really disappear and then materialize somewhere else, like an instant transposition. I've been fascinated with that topic, which will be coming up on an episode of "Mindfreak." See, I'm not only a politician, but I tie together the plug. You see that!


http://tv.msn.com/criss-angel-interview ... 9083&mpc=1

*I know this topic will probably lead to being locked, but....*


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:14 pm 
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I love this line. "Say what you will about Criss Angel." To me that means that the MSN reporter concedes that, although popular, he may not necessarily be well liked.

I also love this line, "I work backwards." Taken out of context, or not, it's something I would expect him to say.

Finally on David Blaine, "I'm sorry, who?" I did not know Criss was a comedian?!? What a Genius! It's obvious Criss still has issues about other performers and is worried about being in Blaine's shadow forever.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:32 pm 
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I had to laugh while reading this. Just to straighten one fact though. The medium that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took Houdini to was non-other than Doyle's wife. There was no magician using magic techniques to fool him. It was a lady who honestly believed that she could do what she claimed to be able to do. Criss was a little off on his history.

I also found it funny how he claimed he figured out the buried alive effect when it was actually Banachek who gave him the method. But those details don't matter.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:32 pm 
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"Who?" Umm you know Sissy boy, the guy that you always copy and try to be like, but you have no real sleight of hand skill like him so you use camera tricks...You know the guy who's name you keep using in an effort to boost your own pathetic career? Ring any bells idiot? Maybe wait until the crack wears off??


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:38 pm 
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Am I the only one that remembers Blaine editing his levitation footage? That, and I still don't see the "no sleight of hand talent" accusations. Not to mention the Academy of Magical Arts voting him Magician of the Year a couple of times.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:15 pm 
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Yeah, I'm not a Criss Angel fan either. But he does have my respect. He's a hugely sucessful entertainer, even if he does act like a putz sometimes. Obviously he has a few things figured out to be making millions of dollars doing magic. You don't have to like someone to respect what they have accomplished.

Ted


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:26 pm 
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I have to strongly disagree with you about Blaine. The balducci would never work on TV unless you want to pretty much just go ahead and reveal it to everyone. Blaine's edit, and Criss's entire 5 seasons of constant edits and stooges, are two different things that exist for two very different reasons. There is simply no comparison. There is always a certain degree of inherent dishonesty when you have special effects and camera tricks in magic, but you can't put Blaine and Criss in the same boat here. It's to the point now where I question whether ANY of Criss's "spectators" are real anymore.


Last edited by Nightmare91o on Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:26 am 
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tedricpancoast wrote:
Obviously he has a few things figured out to be making millions of dollars....
Ted


So do a lot of con artists and swindlers. Yes he made millions sadly. MGM Mirage Resorts just wishes they had their $100 million back after his huge failure of trying to put on a live show, which you think should be relatively easy for a guy who can walk up walls, walk on water, walk in the sky etc. Oh wait, that is on TV. Blaine did none of that crap. I am glad one other person sees logic in this thread.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:28 am 
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Nightmare91o wrote:
[Blaine's edit, and Criss's entire 5 seasons of constant edits and stooges, are two different things that exist for two very different reasons. There is simply no comparison. There is always a certain degree of inherent dishonesty when you have special effects and camera tricks in magic, but you can't put Blaine and Criss in the same boat here.


Ding Ding, the real winner. I don't know what stuff the "loyals" smoke but it is strong.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:01 am 
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Sirbrad, I assure you I have no more respect for that slimeball than you do, but try not to let it get to you quite so much. It's just not worth it. Sure, he has undeserved fame and fortune. But some people are millionaires and all they did was get lucky and win the lottery. Think of it that way. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time and happened to have the lack of integrity it took.

His career has already started going downhill clearly, and the future doesn't look any better. I really don't see how his show has survived this long anyway. No one gives a sh*t about him anymore. I made a topic about him on another forum completely unrelated to magic, and there were absolutely no positive replies. Everyone just said something about how he is fake or whatever. People are stupid, but not all of them are THAT stupid. They are actually starting to catch on. The only people who still watch Mindfreak are the die hard fanboys and especially the gothic middle school fangirls. And you know you'll always have those dumb@sses... there are mindless fanboys for anything you can think of. Even the Trickbusters :roll:

The bottom line is that the only people who are fans of Criss and/or still think he is legit are just the few really stupid people, or the ones who are still caught up in his "rocker" image. There will always be "loyals" but the general public is beginning to forget this loser and I believe he will soon be phased out.

I understand your frustration. Frankly I think anyone with any respect for the art of magic should be sickened by him, but I don't think he's still enough of a problem or a detriment to the art that you have to go to the trouble of making it your personal mission in life to persuade everyone to hate him.

Just ignore him and hope he goes away soon. Until then, let's try not to get every single topic that mentions his name locked.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:14 pm 
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David- I want to apologize for my part in getting off topic. But I will respect your wishes, and try to help this topic from getting lock. The interview, even though somewhat funny, was informative.

The one thing that I actually found impressive though was that Criss was inspired by Richiaridi. You can definitely see that inspiration, especially in Criss's older work.

However, it didn't seem like he really gave Houdini much credit. From seeing him in the past, I'm doubting that Houdini really had much of an influence on him. I'm thinking it's probably more of just saying so because it's expected.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:04 pm 
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So the Criss interview peaked my interest and I sat down to watch a "Mind Freak" over lunch.

As much as I tired, I could not watch. It was just plain ridiculous! It was literally painful to sit through! I only made it through 5 1/2 minutes!

I have come to the conclusion that this is NOT a reality Magic Show, this isn't even a reality show... It's pure fiction - plain and simple! It's no different than watching an episode of Lost.

(BTW - I am only comparing the two to illustrate Fiction. I- by no means - would try to compare anything to Mind Freak. Since it's so low on the entertainment scale - Dog the Bounty hunter seems like wholesome entertainment!)

Bad acting, bad phony interviews, bad "fake" suspense - bad in every way!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:02 pm 
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Well, my mind has SORTA changed about him (not cause of the interview, just recently).

He is an entertainer. He is sorta entertaining, or at least his show is.

I used to watch it, during the first season, on which it DID inspire me. Then I realized what a fake he was (shortly after) and hated him ever sense.

Well, I don't so much hate him now. I don't think he has much talent, but it isn't the talent that you have. It is what you do with it. He didn't have much, and used it to launch into a BIG name career. Many singers have done the same thing and the music comunity doesn't REALLY act the same way.

He is succesful. He deserves respect for getting to where he is; he has been fortunate. (Of course, he has said some stupid things and I lost respect for him many times before because of that).

But yes, he has gone FAR downhill. I might check out the new season, but not from a magic standpoint. From an ENTERTAINMENT standpoint.

So... Yeah. I reserve the right to take back everything I just said at any point.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:51 am 
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Chris Angel = aweful. He uses mostly paid audiences (Death Saw for example, aswell as many others like the water walking) and copies other magicians.

David Blaine = interesting, but still a nasty cheater. Used camera editing on his levitations.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:52 pm 
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Blaine used the edit on one levitation for TV. But at least Blaine's tricks can be done in real life, unlike the crap Siss does, which is truly "comical."


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