Criss Angel was born on December 19, 1967, raised in Long Island, New York and is of Greek descent. Angel grew up loving music also had a love for playing drums and has always had an interest in magic. His parents are John and Dimitra Sarantakos. His mother hails from Mystra, Greece. He has two brothers, Costa and JD, as well as two cats, Minx and Hammie (short for Hamlet). One of Criss's biggest influences has been his father, who died from stomach cancer.
According to his interview with Larry King before Halloween in 2007 he was an altar boy in the Greek Orthodox Church as he was growing up, and he still believes strongly in God.
Criss Angel first became interested in magic at the age of 6, when his Aunt Stella showed him a magic trick. Two of his biggest magic influences are Harry Houdini and Aldo Richiardi. As a teenager, Angel performed at birthday parties, at night clubs, at home to entertain his family, and at private events. Early in his magic career, magician James Randi designed Angel's professional business card.
Angel played in an Industrial music band called AngelDust with friend Klayton Scott (Celldweller, Argyle Park) who produced, co-wrote, and helped arrange the music for his show, Mindfreak.
He married, in 2002, JoAnn Winkhart, an actress and daughter of Richard Winkhart; his wife filed for divorce in June 2007.
Angel performed World Of Illusion at Madison Square Garden in 1998. Criss then scored an off Broadway show titled "Criss Angel Mindfreak," which ran up until January 6, 2003 following a run of 600 performances at The World in The World Underground Theater in Times Square. He also starred in several television specials.
Criss Angel won the Academy of Magical Arts' Magician of the Year award in 2005 and the IMS Magician of the year in 2001 and 2004.
He has even revealed the methods for many of his tricks to viewers at home on TV and in videos, although the effects revealed are usually very simple such as making a toothpick disappear, picking a pocket, or making a Styrofoam cup float. Angel discusses magic and his life in Mindfreak: Secret Revelations (published April 24, 2007), which became a Los Angeles Times best seller.
Angel is scheduled to appear in a new illusion-based Cirque du Soleil production at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, with an expected opening date in August 2008. Although the countdown clock featured on Angel's official website continues to point to later and later dates. As of 1/8/07, the clock is counting down to September 30, 2008. Angel has recently stated that there are plans for this attraction to run for 10 years, including 4,600 shows with a possible 5 year renewal option of his contract.
In July 2007, NBC signed Angel and Uri Geller for Phenomenon, a show airing on October 24 that searches for the next great mentalist. Angel does not believe Geller has any paranormal abilities.
On the Penn Jillette Radio show, hosted by a fellow magician, Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, Criss Angel stated that he does not have supernatural abilities, nor does he believe that anyone has supernatural abilities.
In 2006 Mentalist Dave Koenig (AKA Slim King) issued a challenge to Criss Angel via The Magic Cafe forums, saying; "I challenge Criss Angel, the Mindfreak himself, to contact, Piers, Ichazod, chichi711, gabelson, ElliottB, Skitch, or Kevvy, and perform a more amazing effect over the phone/Internet than the one that they've experienced with Slim King." Other judges have later been added. Criss has yet to reply.
Criss Angel is the star and creator of the A&E Network show Criss Angel Mindfreak. Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed at the The Aladdin in Las Vegas, with Season 3 at the Luxor Hotel. Premiering on July 20, 2005, the illusions have included walking on water, levitating above the Luxor Hotel, floating between two buildings, causing a Lamborghini to disappear, surviving in an exploding C4 Crate, cutting himself in half in full view of an audience and getting run over by a steamroller while lying stomach down on a bed of glass. Criss is scheduled to begin filming Season 4 of Mindfreak in October 2007, and the show is scheduled to run for two more seasons after that.
He attempted to jump out of a prisoner transport vehicle before it fell off a cliff in season 3. Criss made it but, as revealed at the end of the episode, injured his neck. Production was stopped for two weeks while he recovered; in the meantime, he has sworn never to attempt this stunt again.
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