Now You See It...
by Jeff Czum
Mystifier Criss Angel brings his provocative act to Shea's
The internationally renowned and critically acclaimed magician/illusionist/artist Criss Angel will be bringing his “Mindfreak LIVE!” performance to Shea’s Performing Arts Center on May 26 (6pm & 9pm). “Mindfreak Live!” is based on Angel’s first television series, A&E’s Criss Angel Mindfreak, which ran for an impressive six seasons between 2005-2010. Audiences can expect 90 minutes of Angel’s most spectacular illusions, supported by a surrounding cast of talented performers, original music, state of the art lighting and never before seen special effects. Whether you’re a longtime fan, a first-time audience member, or a skeptic who doesn’t believe in magic, this is one event you won’t want to miss.
AV: Alright, I’ll get this out of the way. I feel like the word magician gets such a bad rep these days. How do you prefer to be called?
Criss Angel: I consider myself to be an artist that uses a lot of different tools and brushes to paint. That’s why I came up with the name “Mindfreak,” because I hated the word “magician.” I love the art of magic and I think it’s an amazing art. But it’s been beaten down by magicians for so many years that magic hasn’t garnered the respect that cinema has, or musicians have. It’s all about this puzzle, there’s no emotional connection at all. I wanted to come up with something that was more pop-culture related, more provocative—and that’s where I stand with Mindfreak. I prefer Mindfreak, mystifier, artist, and provocateur to “magician” or “illusionist.”
AV: I’ve heard you say that you like to do “in your face magic” and “close up tricks” during your shows. What can we expect to see when you come to Buffalo?
Criss Angel: I like to do things that people have never seen before. I’m not interested in the old school ‘shove a girl in a box’ trick. I’m more interested in doing things without boxes. If you go on YouTube and see me rip a body apart in my clip ‘Criss Angel rips bodies apart,’ that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I’ll be cutting people in half on stage without boxes.
AV: Yikes! That sounds pretty intense.
Criss Angel: Yeah, a lot of people will watch those kind of clips on YouTube and think that there’s no way I can do it live. I assure you that I can. You’re going to see all this kind of stuff live. People are going to see me standing on stage and a split second later, I’ll be sitting next to them in the audience maybe 30 rows back. They’ll see me do close up tricks with coins and also they’ll also see me put my life on the line for some scarier stunts. You can expect to see brand new tricks that no other magician or illusionist has ever done before.
AV: How do you come up with some of these ideas? I’ve seen everything from you being buried alive to being suspended over the Valley of Fire. Do these just randomly pop into your head?
Criss Angel: When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by dangerous things. I’d let my mind wander and would think about what I’d like to see somebody do, and then do it. I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to pull it off too. We all have gifts, and some of us are fortunate to discover what they are. Since I can remember, I’ve been doing what I’m doing now in some simple form, even as a kid. I’ve always been very physical and I think the combination of having that physicality and also being able to be mind, body and spirit focused has helped me get to where I am now.
AV: What’s next? Is there any dream stunt that you haven’t done that you’d like to do?
Criss Angel: I can always do more. The stakes are a lot higher now. I’ll write ideas down in a book and some of the stuff I come up with is so out there that I say to myself, ‘How the hell?’ How am I going to figure this out without killing myself? When I first started Mindfreak, I would go out and risk my life, and it would be a struggle to get twelve to fourteen people to watch it. Now I go out and eat an apple and two hundred people are watching. Those two hundred people have their phones with videos. When I do public demonstrations I have to really be on top of my game because people are shooting it, people know who I am now. There’s a lot at stake, and a lot more challenging aspects. But that’s what I get off on, so it’s going to be interesting to see what comes next.
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