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Criss Angel
An In-Depth look at one of today's hottest magicians

Criss Angel

Criss Angel (Born: Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos on December 19, 1967) is the youngest of 3 brothers, and grew up in Long Island, New York. As a child, he was very interested in music and performing. At the young age of six years old Criss began performing magic tricks for his friends and family. He also began studying the drums, martial arts, and dance. As a teenager, Criss performed magic at birthday parties, night clubs, and private events to earn extra money. At 18, the youngest age allowable by law, Criss received state and federal pyrotechnic licenses. Idolizing Harry Houdini and Richiardi, Criss Angel wanted to be the next great magician. He practiced magic relentlessly, always looking beyond what people were used to seeing and trying to turn and twist it into something new. He also managed to find time for his other hobbies, receiving a 7th degree black belt in marital arts and forming a band called "AngelDust".

Criss' big break came in 1994, when he was featured in an hour long prime-time special for ABC entitled "Secrets". He then headlined "Criss Angel:World of Illusion" for a sold out Madison Square Garden in 1998. Unfortunately, it wasn't all smiles for Criss. That same year he lost his father, one of his heroes, to stomach cancer. Criss had a hard time with his father's passing but the hugely successful 12 day run at Madison Square Garden forced him to press on. The success led him to Broadway where he produced and starred in "Criss Angel Mindfreak" at The World Underground in Times Square. Another huge success, "Criss Angel Mindfreak" opened to rave reviews and ran until Jan. 6, 2003 after almost 600 Live Performances. Criss was a master at bringing attention to himself and held huge public spectacles like when he set the World Record for Body Suspension as he hung for five hours and forty minutes from eight fish hooks in Times Square.

It was while he was gaining attention doing these stunts that his television career began to take off. In 2002, ABC offered Criss his own hour long special on ABC Family. "Criss Angel Mindfreak" led the "13 Nights of Halloween" as the highest rated original program. It was after this Halloween Special that Criss Angel would attempt his toughest trick yet. He would lock himself in a 220 gallon water torture chamber for an unprecedented 24 hours and then try to escape. The stunt was covered by countless local news stations around the country, the New York Daily News, Good Morning America, and several international news outlets.  Not only was the stunt record breaking, but it catapulted Criss to the front of every newspaper and television screen on the planet.  He was now an international star and his tricks would only get better from this point on.  During the Broadway run of "Criss Angel Mindfreak", Criss took home the honor of the Merlin Magician of the Year award.  It wouldn't be his last. 

After the success of the underwater stunt, Criss appeared on countless television shows and prepared for his second television special.  The two-hour special aired on October 4, 2003 on TBS in Japan and was watched by almost 16 million people.  For his performance, he received "The Silver Telly" award and signed to yet another TV Special.  His third TV special would be a one-hour program called "Supernatural" and air on Halloween.   Criss Angel was everywhere, appearing on the cover of two magazines almost at the same time (Magic Magazine Oct 2003, Genii Magazine Dec 2003) and every news and interview show on TV (David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Tonight Show).  Criss was also busy on the musical front, producing and performing music on several albums.  In 2004, he also created and designed many of the visual effects for the production of "Le Reve" a new show at the brand new Wynn in Las Vegas.  Criss also took home his second Merlin Macigian Award making him the first person to ever win two.  This busy schedule would only prepare him for his greatest acheivement yet" His own Television Series.

"Chris Angel Mindfreak" first premiered on A&E in July of 2005 with a theme song produced by Criss Angel and Korn's Jonathan Davis.  During it's first season Criss did stunts that included "Bullet Catch", "Burned Alive", and "Body Suspension" and featured special guests ranging from Penn and Teller to Mandy Moore.  It was wildly succesful and recieved several accolades and awards.  It was A&E's highest rated show and highest selling DVD Set ever.  Season 2 soon followed and brought tons more awards and attention to Criss Angel.

In 2007, Criss released his first book "Mindfreak: Secret Revelations" and it quickly made the LA Times Best Sellers List.  In the book Criss went over some of his more famous tricks and the secrets behind them.  While coninuing to film his television show, Criss' third season of Mindfreak brought a scare.  In a stunt where Criss was trying to escape a prisoner transport vehicle before it drove off a cliff, he injured his neck and production had to be stopped for 2 weeks.  Criss Angel swore never to try this trick again.

In 2007, Criss became a judge on a new NBC show entitled "Phenomenon".  The show features ten contestants competing to become the next great mentalist and win a grand prize of $250,000.  In an interview with Larry King, Criss mentioned he didn't think anyone had the ability to do anything supernatural and that he was going to bust them on Live TV.  This came to a realization when a mentalist claiming to "summon" dead author Raymond Hill to guess the contents of a box.  Criss called the performance laughable and challenged the mentalist to guess the contents of two envelopes Criss had in his pockets.  The two had an exchange of words and the show went to commercial quickly as the two were separated.  Criss later revealed that one of the envelopes contained the numbers "911".  His explanation was "If on 9/10 somebody could have predicted that 9/11 was going to happen, they could have saved thousands of lives." 

Criss Angel continues his work on "Mindfreak" and has appeared in other television shows such as "CSI:Miami" and "Las Vegas".  He is also working in a few upcoming feature films as well as working with The Cirque De Soleil at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The show is titled "Believe".
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