|Born||Dec. 19, 1967
Hempstead, New York, U.S.
Criss Angel is often considered a magician for a new generation. The classic image of a magician wearing a tuxedo and performing in a nightclub was somewhat shattered by Criss as he presented a much more cutting edge style and approach. His unique style helped make his television program – Criss Angel: Mindfreak enormously successful and entertaining.
Criss Angel was actually born with the name Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos in Hempstead, NY, on December 19, 1967. At a very young age, he developed a huge interest in magic. When Angel was only seven years old, his aunt showed him a card trick and a lifelong interest in magic soon commenced after that. His professional career started at the age of ten when he charged $12 for a magic show in the neighborhood.
Angel began to study the art as a teen while enrolled in high school in Long Island. He was not pursuing a mere hobby in magic, but he was offering his services as a magician to local restaurants all throughout his high school years.
After graduating from high school, Angel opted not to go to college. Instead, he chose to follow the path of being a professional magician. He practiced his trade in relative obscurity until he caught a big break in 1994.
Big Break on TV
In 1994, Angel appeared on a major prime time television special titled Secrets. This helped draw a lot of attention to his unique performance style. In 1998, he took part in the annual New York City Halloween celebration. At Madison Square Garden, his show Criss Angel: World of Illusion headlined the event.
No one could deny that Angel’s popularity was massively on the rise. He was soon being asked to appear on numerous daytime talk shows to perform his unique style of magic. The great television exposure he gained helped him garner more and more bookings for his live show. Eventually, his popularity grew so much he ventured to the A&E Network to launch a reality show.
Criss Angel: Mindfreak
Criss Angel: Mindfreak debuted on the A&E Network in 2005 and stayed on the air until 2011. The shows were shot in Las Vegas and featured Angel performing a number of mesmerizing illusions. The illusions often gave off a sense of danger and this contributed to the popularity of the program. There was a real “How did he do that?”’ sense of wonder associated with many of the acts Angel performed. This wonderment definitely aided in drawing in scores of audiences.
From Broadway to Vegas
Since the end run of Mindfreak, Criss Angel has invested a lot of time working on a Broadway show that was to be a live version of Mindfreak. The show never made it to Broadway, but it did become the Las Vegas spectacular Criss Angel: Believe.
The MGM Mirage funded the show along with Cirque du Soleil to the tune of $100 million. The show was a disaster and received horrible reviews. The reason was the show just had too little magic and a lot of overblown narrative.
Angel has also published Mindfreak: Secret Revelations and he created the BeLIEve Foundation, which is designed to inspire inner-city youth to explore the arts through workshops and other activities.