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I daydreamed it was me up there in the Calvin Klein or Coca-Cola ad. I tried to feel what it was like to have thousands of people stare at a billboard with my image on it. I think a lot of people fantasize about becoming a celebrity.
It seemed cool and exciting to live like a rock star. From the outside, it appears as though the world is at your disposal. I usually entered in two different categories. The first was doing a short magic routine, and the second was playing drums. I usually placed in the top three, and every now and then, I was even lucky enough to win. These events were always family outings.
Wherever one of us went, we all went. We traveled together as a family then as we do now. As a teenager, I also daydreamed I was a stuntman in the movies. I was always attempting to re-create some spectacular feat I saw on the big screen. I was certain I could do them. I was constantly challenging myself, putting myself through intense physical tasks.
My father yelled at me to stop because I was ruining the hedges. Funny, he was more concerned about his disfigured bushes that he ever was about my getting hurt. Looking back, my parents never really worried about my getting hurt. Somehow, they unconditionally accepted my crazy attempts as being normal and age-appropriate. I would drive whoever was home absolutely crazy practicing my tricks for them.
When I was sixteen, my parents went on vacation, leaving me and my brothers home with nothing to do but practice my art. I was preparing to go to Europe to do a show.
I had the house to myself and no one to tell me that what I was about to do. I decided the living room was a perfect space for practicing the pyrotechnics for a particular demonstration. I moved all of the living room furniture into the dining room so I could have more room to practice.
All of our neighbors thought we were moving because they saw the furniture piled high through the dining room windows. I set up a video camera in the corner of the room so I could later review and critique my performance. Suddenly, the carpet caught fire. That was not supposed to happen. It was a dumb thing to do. They called home to see how everything was going.
I told them I was fine and suggested they enjoy themselves—stay a little longer. A week later, my parents called home again. You should stay in Greece. Enjoy being there with family. Again, I encouraged them to extend their stay. The characters took up the entire living room, dining room, patio, and backyard! I was painting, fabricating, and building these incredible creatures. My parents never got angry with me for pursuing my passion.
They knew I was following my dream. They did whatever they could to support me. To be certain, my ideas were grand, and none of my friends were tempting fate on a daily basis like I was. What set me apart from the rest of the pack was my process in planning out and executing demonstrations.
Whenever I thought of an idea, I mapped it out, set it up, and tested the possibilities until I knew I would achieve success; then I practiced it, and finally performed it as if it were a live show. The pyrotechnics was a great example of why I needed to test everything.
You never know when something can or will go wrong. In my mind, I was in a race, and I was out to win. I always emerged 35 victorious—if only in my imagination. I was a bit of a showoff—sometimes too much. My cousins Gus and George and I used to go to the local school yard and practice jumping our dirt bikes over things. It was getting dark and the three of us had become a little careless and cocky. I crashed straight into the bench.
The impact sent me flying twenty-five feet in the air. Ever since I was a little boy, I have been a very picky eater. My father would make me sit at the table until I finished. I tried every trick to get out of it, but the only way I would be excused from the table was to eat. I practiced getting myself into a certain mind-set to get the food down without tasting it. My taste in food is pretty basic. I like pizza and steak, and I am a junk food addict. Time misspent as a youth trying to create the image that I was smaller.
Aside from practicing stunts and magic, I spent much of my childhood trying to figure out ways to change my appearance.
For some reason, I was obsessed with looking small. I was always creating illusions that manipulated size and depth perception, skills that came in very handy as I became more adept at creating larger-scale illusions for my art and performances.
I was always desirous of doing unusual things beyond my abilities for my age. I hated working there. I went because my father let me drive his huge brown Cadillac in the parking lot for twenty minutes or so after he closed for the day. I loved that he let me drive it all by myself. I felt totally cool. Parents want their kids to conform to the way society thinks they should act, look, and be. I was so fortunate to have a mom and dad who never judged me or put me down because I was different.
They encouraged me to be who I am, and that support helped me grow into my own person. All I can say is that I am incredibly grateful for their wisdom. It has shaped me into the man I am today. My dad was percent Greek, but was first-generation American, born in the United States in Mom was born in Greece and came to America in at the age of thirteen. My parents had the type of relationship I have always admired. They had a wonderful life together. They lived to give and never wanted anything in return.
It was a priority to spend as much time together as we could, especially when my brothers and I were younger. God bless her. She still supports my every move. Whether she wanted to be or not, Mom was usually the lucky recipient of my first try at a trick. There were no free rides in our house. You earned everything. I took my five-dollar weekly allowance, bought a trick, came home, and drove everyone in my family crazy.
They wanted to watch TV. She showed me my first trick, so she was always game for seeing what I was up to next. He was around fourteen years old.
I knew that day he was going to be so successful. I was blown away by it. He instilled values like respect and trust in all of us that guide me throughout each and every day.
My brothers, J. Today, both of my brothers work on my television show, and they help me run the day-to-day operation of Angel Productions. He is our rock. He also handles worldwide merchandising for all Criss Angel products. Costa helps in any way he can. He has played characters onstage with me, he has acted as part of the cast on the television show, and he is getting involved in producing.
I could never do what I do without their undying and unconditional love and support. When we were kids, my brothers and I formed a band. I got my first drum set when I was six years old and have played ever since. Playing in a band can be expensive; we had to support our hobby by coming up with innovative ways to download our equipment—instruments, amplifiers, microphones, and so on.
To meet our needs, my father started a home business where we bought and sold used musical instruments. He wanted us to earn extra money and to teach us how to run a business. We were constantly downloading used equipment and flipping it for a profit. I actually named the store and designed their logo.
I thought it was a cool-sounding name. These skills later came in very handy as a budding businessman, entrepreneur, and performer. I also learned how to deal with people and overcome their opposition in downloading from me.
That taught me to never take no for an answer. To gain experience performing, I did a lot of parties in the neighborhood for free. I always enjoyed performing in front of a crowd. She paid me ten dollars—twice my weekly allowance. The tricks were so bad. I was horrible. He used to do shows at teen discotheques performing live in front of hundreds of kids. He got a tremendous amount of confidence as a kid from his parents and brothers.
Perform ing w as ingr aine d i n h im since the very beginning. My parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, all my friends at school— everyone endured my constant barrage of practicing my next big feat. Every day was a chance to hone my skill and sharpen my craft. It was and still is a daily practice. I was a teenager dying to do adult magic. It was the kind of place couples went to on a first date. Since this was before I could drive, I had to ride my bike to work.
School was not my thing. Sometimes I was a welcome distraction. Other times I think the guys paid me to just go away. I spent three to four hours one night a week and could easily clear a hundred dollars on a good night. At the time, that was a lot of money to me. Bars and clubs were great venues when I was a kid because they were so lucrative. I made a lot more money doing magic than my buddies were making bagging groceries after school. I spent most of my days in high school doodling and dreaming of my next trick.
On weekends I had a job at a local pub. Any money I earned went to seeing new magicians and some new trick at the local magic shop. I was in constant pursuit of getting better and more sophisticated with my performances. I saw the tricks that he is doing on the show today in the sketchbooks years ago. They were ideas that he had drawn up in pencil, and even then he had confidence in them. Instead, I used them to grow, to try harder, and to become bigger and better than any magician in our time.
Despite my promise to my mom, I was not a millionaire by the time I was eighteen. In fact, I was flat broke. But by then, my parents knew that college was not in my future.
I graduated high school early to begin performing in Europe. They told me how important it was to get a college educa- 43 tion, but my education would be learned on the road. It was a practical education, not a formal one. I inherited my work ethic from my dad. He worked his entire life and was busy until the day he died. Dad owned several restaurants and doughnut shops. He built the business with his brother-in-law. They owned coffee shops in industrial areas where there were lots of factories.
They became very successful revitalizing failing businesses and then flipping them for a profit. My father used to tell me how important it was to know any business from the ground up.
He always made me start at the bottom—washing dishes, mopping floors, and scrubbing the toilets. As I got older, I began to bus, wait tables, cook, and sometimes work as the cashier. I have such an ambitious appetite to do big things, but I never had the budget to go along with my hunger for success, so I often found myself doing every job imaginable to get a show up and running.
I had to make a dollar look like three. When I did my television special Supernatural we were short staff, so after having to perform, direct, and produce, I would also have to load up the truck after a fiftythree-hour-day.
To top it off, I was the guy driving the truck, unloading the props, doing the illusions, and creating and building sets. He never once let any particular deal that fell through set him back. His determination was amazing. He was relentless. He would build the sets, build the illusions, perform the stunts, work with the tech people.
He never slept and would be working around the clock. I had an insane commitment. No job was too small or daunting to distract my attention from the big picture, even the odd jobs like duct-taping floors or sweeping the stage—anything that needed to be done to get the show on the road.
Every challenge was a learning experience. I said yes to every opportunity to hone my craft and build my name and reputation. I performed anyplace, anytime. I was like an athlete who has to keep playing to get better—except my sports of choice were magic and music. As hard as I worked performing, I discovered it took equally intense commitment to promote myself as a performer.
In the early days, I booked all of my own gigs. I called people every day looking for work. I promised to fill the room in exchange for a few dollars and a percent- 45 age of the door. I hired people I knew who were entertaining—other magicians, singers, bands, whatever I could scrounge together—and I put on a show. I tried doing comedy magic, serious magic, close-up magic, and any other form of magic people asked for.
I chased booking agencies, managers, and agents. What was that? How did I get a demo reel and what exactly goes into a press kit? I had no money, so hiring other people to do this for me was not yet an option. Publicists and managers were still a few years down the road, so I had to be a one-stop shop where I did my own PR, cut my deals, collected my fees, and got myself work.
To build my press kit, I called local newspapers and magazines to pitch them on writing articles about me. I tried to get the local news to cover my performances and developed my own cable access show called Hot Kix. I even found a way to get my story told on A Current Affair.
I was relentless. My business was beginning to grow at a fairly steady pace. People were starting to call me for events and bookings. I spent every dollar I took in on creating new ways to continue building my career.
In my father and I started Angel Productions, Inc. It was a money-losing venture for years. In the mid—s we finally began to break even. My father told his brothers, his friends, his coworkers—everyone he talked to—that he knew I would someday make it big. Bless his soul. He believed in me so much. Any little thing I did, whether a small newspaper interview or a local showcase advertisement, Dad showed it off like I had won a Grammy Award.
He was so proud of me. I could never have continued on this path without his faith. For most magicians, Halloween is a sacred time of year. I was antsy to break out of my routine of performing in the clubs and bars around New York and Long Island and eager to take my career to the next level.
I needed a venue to showcase myself, but I was lacking the money to stage my own show, so this kind of event was a perfect opportunity to get in front of a lot of important people. I decided to approach Lynton V. Harris, executive producer of Madison Scare Garden with an idea to do a complete performance for the huge crowds that came pouring through his highly successful twelve-day run.
I had to make it impressive. This was a golden opportunity to build my name and garner some much needed attention. I quickly put together a very physically demanding show. I built a small makeshift theater that gave the perception my show was its own little setting in the midst of all of the other chaos going on around us. People really responded positively to the show, especially the media.
As an incentive, Lynton also agreed to let me sell my own merchandise, so I had T-shirts and baseball caps made. I set up my first Web site to market both the show and the goods. That was more money than I had ever made. For the first time, people were beginning to know my name, and I had press clippings I could utilize in my portfolio. It was the beginning of what would become one of many pieces in the puzzle that make up the big picture I have held so tightly to for many, many years.
I have to admit, I was exhausted at the end of the run. This was definitely one of those things I had no idea what I was signing up for when I agreed to do sixty shows a day. Two weeks of Madison Scare Garden gave me a lot of practical experience before I would take on my first live show in My father taught me to take great pride in everything I do, and then be the best at whatever I choose.
I never said no to opportunity. You never know where an opportunity will lead, so I always keep an open mind. For the most part, magicians are limited in the tricks they do. We can make things appear and disappear. We can move an object from one place to another.
We can transform an object into something else. We can destroy an object and then restore it, and we can demonstrate something that is seemingly impossible or that defies natural laws of the universe like gravity. Finally, we can use the mind to create scenarios that appear as if we are in some way psychic or paranormal, which we are not. My philosophy on magic is simple: Think of something completely impossible and then figure out a way to do it.
Every book, painting, television program, song, or movie starts as a tiny seed of an idea, which is nurtured and developed by someone with the vision to see the invisible—someone who knows that it will work. Think of the impossible miracles that cell phones, television, and even the Internet offer. Its potential is limitless. When the mind, body, and spirit work together and harmoniously, anything is possible. I truly believe the mind controls every aspect of the body. Your body is a slave to it.
If you mentally give yourself those symptoms—aches, pains, chills, fever—you will absolutely go down hard with a bad case of whatever you imagined your body to feel. I believe you are what you think. What you feed your mind, your body will follow and believe. The brain is often mistakenly seen as a separate entity from the body. To most people, the brain is a mystery. It is the place we hide our private thoughts and emotions and where we keep them safely tucked away from other people.
Believing in the power of our mind requires a belief in that which we cannot see—faith or spirit. Everyone has the ability to strengthen the power of their mind. The more you understand about yourself, the closer you will come to tapping into your own resources to strengthen your mind, your body, and your spirit. As a young, budding amateur magician, I began to grow more curious about the connections among the mind, body, and spirit.
How many times have you been in a bad mood and one song on the radio turns your day around? If music can bring levity to a difficult situation, then surely an act of impossibility can do the same.
Since the mind plays such a large part in most of the demonstrations I perform, it makes sense that I needed to study how it functions to make myself an even better performer. In great part, I ask that you suspend your preconceived ideas of what is real or possible and open your thoughts to the surreal and impossible. One of the most dangerous demonstrations in the first season of MINDFREAK was the episode that showed me leaning over the roof of the fifty-first-floor Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, stretched out at a forty-five-degree angle, fighting extreme conditions of high winds and possible vertigo.
Upping the ante even further, I commenced to walk down the side of the building without any wires, harness, or safety net, defying the law of gravity. Thousands of people watched me do it. What makes our eyes see something appear as real, even though we know it defies basic laws of probability, gravity, and nature?
The mind cannot distinguish between a real or an imagined event. Therefore, everything you see is open to interpretation: Was it real or an illusion? It defied what my mind knows to be logical, safe, secure, and reasonable. This mindbody connection has been talked about a lot by many people in various fields.
When I talk about it, it takes on a whole new dimension. There is simply no room for negativity when I am performing. If I do, those thoughts can run amok. I have to be very conscientious about controlling them or they will infiltrate my entire being and have the opposite effect I need to complete a demonstration.
There were no safety lines, no cushion below if I fell. I walked two I-beams that were two inches wide and were separated in the middle by a space that was no more than eight inches. I placed my feet on each of them and walked around the span of the water tower. When I began the demonstration, my legs felt like lead—it felt like each weighed a thousand pounds. My mind was telling my body, this is wrong. It was definitely something I should not have been doing, yet I pushed myself to move through each baby step I took.
The danger factor was very real and considerably extreme. If I had taken one wrong step, I would have wiped out, falling two hundred feet—it would have been the end. In hindsight, I know it was extremely 53 53 Blind-folded and more than two hundred feet above the ground, during my Supernatural TV special. This was a few years ago, a time when I had no cash and a need to show the world what magic can be, Criss Angel style.
I was compelled to call upon my entire being, my mind, body, and spirit to work as one. I felt complete. In fact, I was strangely at peace. I was Preparing for Oasis. Those are the moments I live for. If the mind, body, and spirit are not in top form, you will never be in top form. That is when people get hurt. If I am not physically ready for a demonstration, I know I will not be able to accomplish the technical aspects that are required.
If I am carrying emotional baggage around, I have to clear my mind of whatever that baggage is and focus on whatever I need to do to get through the task at hand. I have to mentally shove that stuff right out of my head. This is not an ideal time to try and talk to me. Even though I was very tired and pretty burned-out, I had waited so long to do it. But after the crazy schedule we had been on I was really beat.
I decided to go through with the demonstration, but I risked my life doing it. Oasis placed me in a completely airtight isolation chamber, which was just big enough to contain me in both height and circumference, for twenty-four hours.
The chamber was then completely submerged in thousands of gallons of water so people could view all angles degrees around it. If my isolation chamber had sprung the slightest little leak, water would have rushed in and instantly crushed me to death. I led people to believe it was going to be a basic escape. Instead, I actually Amusing myself in my eighteenth hour in Oasis. Just about to hold my breath as I get locked into the wine barrel. People looking into the tank saw that I had disappeared before their eyes.
They heard me scream as I reappeared across the park, and were completely blown away. To get through Oasis, I drew upon the experience of my demonstration Submerged, which I did in Houdini often performed his Chinese Water Torture Cell twice a night over the course of thirteen years during his career. He was locked in a tank of water and was surrounded by a curtained cabinet. His audience waited patiently, calculating how long they could hold their own breath.
Sometimes Houdini escaped in as little as thirty seconds. Sometimes he extended the suspense, taking more than two minutes before revealing he had escaped. The longer it took Houdini to appear, the more uncomfortable the crowd would grow.
Houdini waited for the anxiety level to reach a feverish pitch before bursting through the curtain, dripping with water and gasping for air. The dramatic effect was enormous.
Houdini had an uncanny ability to calculate the right moment for the biggest impact. My version of Submerged began as an idea I had while taking a shower. Like Houdini, I encapsulated myself in a water-filled container that was built exactly to the specifications of my body. I was sleepdeprived. My loss of senses was intense. It physically affected other parts of my body. I developed a severe headache from the built-up pressure, and I had a very difficult time regulating my body temperature, going back and forth from shivering cold to blazing hot.
I have a scar under my nose from the mask I wore; it rubbed against my skin, which became very raw and tender from the water. The human body is not meant to be in that kind of isolation for any period of time, let alone twenty-four 59 59 hours. I was handcuffed and shackled. I was completely submerged in water. It was incredibly challenging, but I did it.
He did a television interview and then walked twenty feet outside to thank the fans and media. He came back inside, took two steps, and collapsed in my arms. It was terrifying and emotionally draining. Oasis was an illusion. Submerged was an escape. I had to be able to do Submerged to successfully pull off Oasis.
No one takes the types of chances I take as a performer or a magician. People fear embarrassment, and they certainly fear failure. I was scheduled to jump off the garage of the Aladdin Hotel, do a free fall, and catch a playing card out of a deck that was going to be thrown in the air as I jumped. My mind and body were definitely disconnected on this one. It was a greater risk than I needed to take in order to do a card trick.
After thinking about other possibilities to do the trick, I came up with the idea of riding my motorcycle in place of the free fall. Same trick, same effect. Problem solved. I had someone select a card out of a deck. I asked them to sign it, put it in the back of the deck, and hold on to the deck. I got on my chopper, rode away, and told them to throw the deck up in the air in front of me as I came back and rode through the crowd.
I showed everyone that my hands were empty—no gimmicks. It looked amazing, and I believe the demonstration ended up being better than the free fall would have been for the episode.
I thank God for that. Sometimes you have to let a situation play out. Look at it, study it, analyze it, and learn from it. Make it work for you. Use it to your advantage. My ego is never satisfied. I want to always be better at what I do. I might like 61 a particular demonstration one week, and hate it the next.
I am always striving to be the very best I can be, which is a total circle jerk for someone like myself, since I know I can always be better. Perfection is impossible, so the pursuit of perfection is a constant, never ending, and infinite chase.
As you can probably tell by now, I come from a family where we genuinely care about one another. In some ways, I know what we have as a family is rare. We are tight and committed to seeing one another do well. He lived an authentic life. He is my inspiration to try to live up to the standard to which he lived his life.
He set the bar pretty high. I strive each day to make him proud. My dad was a pretty strict disciplinarian. It was my mom who always tried to coax Dad into loosening the reins. I could never sneak out of the house in the middle of the night or get away with smoking a cigarette. Someone was always looking over my shoulder, whether it was one of my older brothers or my parents.
I guess that comes with being the baby of the family. Despite the strict rules, I managed to keep everyone on their toes. In my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. After he heard the news, the doctors delivered a second blow. The disease had progressed to stage four—the worst-case scenario. Doctors gave him three weeks to live. He knew he could outlive their grim prediction. As the saying goes, that which does not kill you, makes you stronger. At least for my dad, it inspired him to live stronger.
He started doing sit-ups and push-ups every morning just to prove he was a man of strength. He was very ill on the inside, but on the outside his physical condition was superb. For most of his life, Dad was always the picture of strength and good health.
He understood the science of nutrition and physical activity, even before it became fashionable. As a young man, he was a body builder featured in many muscle magazines. He was a Golden Gloves boxing champ and a Pennsylvania state wrestling champion. His My mom and dad. My dad was a top athlete, a body builder, a boxer, and a football player. It was ingrained in me as far back as I can remember. He had the chance to play football on scholarship for Penn State but chose to take care of his parents instead of attending college.
Family was everything to my dad. He was such a strong man in both character and physical strength. Throughout his life and during his illness, he continued to train like an elite athlete.
I think that kept him alive much longer than anyone expected. Remarkably, the day after the cancer surgery on his stomach, Dad got up from his hospital bed and began walking so he could quickly rebuild his strength.
He always had such a positive outlook. Dad had a marvelous attitude about connecting the mind, body, and spirit, something that was very forward-thinking for the time. I watched him and marveled at his attempts to conquer the disease that was eating away at his life. I absorbed his spirit into mine. He amazed me each and every day.
He lit up a room. He tried to live the final years, months, weeks, and days of his life as if nothing were wrong. He never once gave in to the notion of his mortality.
He never complained about pain or discomfort. His motivation was simple; he had a grandchild on the way. At the time, my brother J. My father was determined to live long enough to meet his first grandchild. And he did. I think about those words every day—especially those days I am putting my life on the line by choice. His disease was irreversible. He had to live knowing he could die at any given moment. Death is a great stimulus for the imagination.
I watched my father live a peaceful life, even in his final moments. Our family is very spiritual, but my father was an extremely religious man. He had faith and believed you can move mountains if you set your mind to it. His faith gave my dad comfort that allowed him to cope and deal with his failing health. Watching my father die was agonizing for me. It made me take a step back and assess my choices in life. Everybody is dealt a different hand in life.
Some people die in their sleep, others get hit by a car, while others attempt death-defying stunts that sometimes, not often, but sometimes can go very, very wrong. Life is full of choices. We were blessed to have had him. If we can do that, we will have lived a successful and fulfilling life.
I wanted to stay at home and take care of him. When his throat became too blocked to eat or drink, I made sure he had fluids by hand-feeding him water and juice using a teaspoon.
I became desperate to get him the help he needed to survive. Every doctor we took him to said the same thing: There must have been something we could do. I make my living figuring out ways to make the impossible possible. Surely I could find a solution to this problem. I insisted the doctors perform a tracheotomy so my father could breathe on his own a little easier. Maybe it was selfish, but I wanted as much time as I could get with him.
Still, it was hard for me to accept, but my father was fading away. I realized it was more important to choose how we would spend our last moments together than it was to find a way to prolong the inevitable. My father died in He died in my arms. I knew he was strug- My dad posing with Tronik, just before he was diagnosed. To this day, I take this picture with me everywhere I go. My perspective on everything changed after he passed.
Things I thought were important, like music or magic, paled in comparison to cancer and death. What I do is entertainment. We have troops overseas fighting a war, endangering their lives for the sake of ours, for the sake of our country.
It sometimes makes it hard for me to think what I offer is in any way significant or should be rewarded. And yet bringing entertainment to the world, making people think and feel, raising their consciousness and belief that anything is possible, is relevant if not essential.
Historically speaking, entertainment has always thrived in times of war and depression. People need that escape then, now, and forever. I had to press on. We have tremendous respect, trust, and love for one another. Of course, those feelings are heightened when it comes to my mom. As a performer, my aim is to do all kinds of wild, dangerous stunts and tricks to ensure you fully engage in my demonstration from beginning to end.
To accomplish this, I am always pushing the limits of what is attainable without getting hurt. You have to have a balanced blend of courage, training, diligence, and skill. What I do is insignificant in the real world because I choose to place myself in dangerous situations. I recognize the risks I take. I want to. It chooses them. My father was never scared—or at least he never let on that he was frightened in any way. He had a resolve that was enviable and admirable.
My father chose to be incredibly positive and to tap into the kind of courage I have never had to know. His inner strength and outlook on life was such an inspiration. Everything I do, I do for him. I dedicate my life, my art, my success, and my love to my father. Courage is a willingness to face what is not easy. Courage empowers people to be stronger, to grow and evolve as better people.
Being honest with myself is my greatest act of courage. I live in a world of makebelieve. A made-up fantasyland of illusion. It takes a lot of guts to look in the mirror and call yourself out, to see what and who you really are. It may not be the most popular answer or what someone else wants to hear, but it takes courage to face the truth. Courage comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms.
To me, my father demonstrated the type of courage where he shielded his family from his pain. He wanted to uplift us and be an indelible role model. What amazes me is that he would wake up every day and say he felt great—even when I know he felt like shit. His outlook has given me a totally different perspective and appreciation for days when I feel sick. I often get a chance to meet kids with disabilities, who are in wheelchairs or whose bodies are riddled with terminal diseases.
They have a smile from ear to ear. They have a love for their family and an appreciation for every minute of life. They have a disposition and acceptance of their lives that just blows my mind. Seeing these kids is a reminder of how important it is to enjoy the moment. I find myself gravitating toward challenged people because I know that at the end of the day, they live a richer life in a shorter amount of time than most of us.
They totally get the difference between quality and quantity. No one knows how long they have to live. I trust my instincts and my training to know without a doubt that I will survive. To lose the main link of a chain means that chain is broken. Losing our dad was such a blow to each and every one of us. Not having him in the equation was such an empty feeling. But it brought us c lose r because we no longer had our dad.
We had to support one another. My first album was coming out, and I needed a place to sell it. My father always told me it was important to appear bigger than any venue I was playing. If you want to reach Criss Angel, press 1. I barely had enough money to pay the phone bill.
To sell my CD, I installed a toll-free number. One day, I started getting an inordinate number of calls—my phone was ringing off the hook. I was getting hundreds of calls a day asking about a European vacation offer. I did a little research and discovered a European travel company was using an number that was similar to mine.
All of a sudden, I was paying for hundreds of phone calls a day that had nothing to do with selling my CD. It was beginning to add up—and fast. I called the travel company to explain the situation. They were losing money and busi- 73 Every moment is but a memory to cherish forever. My dad and I at his sixtieth birthday party. I suggested they download the number from me. Because of that, I was able to fund myself for the next year, allowing me to do what I needed to do to advance my career to the next level.
I wanted to get out of playing small clubs and rooms and move into larger live shows. My goal in creating my art is to bring something much more artistic and thematic to life than audiences have been used to seeing in the past. The idea is to combine surreal and real elements and present everything, from something that starts as an idea in my head to very personal experiences from my day-to-day life. My illusions are comprised of several pieces of a puzzle that come together and tell a story.
Most of the time, the ideas are not a conscious decision. I just see things in my mind—images, people, characters, whatever. How I get there is less important to me than the final outcome. I communicate through my art. What I do is merely a vehicle to convey messages to my audience that are purposely subjective and interpretive. It can be emotional, exciting, nerve-racking, joyful, and exhilarating. Any response is a good response. No response means I failed to entertain, provoke thought, or move you.
I like to think of myself as a student of humanity. To me, blending a virtual world with the real world is the best way to evoke some kind of powerful response from the audience.
I never want my audience to know where reality begins or ends. I understand human need really well. That is why I am effectively able to construct a fully encompassed experience that people like to be a part of.
As emotional as I make the experience for you, I have to remain completely detached from the emotional aspects of the demonstration. My mind and focus have to stay on the task at hand, entertaining, engaging, and bewildering my audience.