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Criss Angel survives Clearwater implosion; His show - not so lucky



Crissangel Gothed out magician Criss Angel shares one thing with fellow youngblood prestidigitator David Blaine:

He's not just about the trick. He's about the foreplay.

And Wednesday night's live broadcast of Angels' escape from an imploding Clearwater resort hotel was no exception. The trick itself took seconds and was disturbingly anti-climactic; cameras showed Angel struggling to get a door inside the building open, the explosions dismantling the building went off, and seconds later, the magician was stumbling across the ground in front of the building, miraculously yards away from the newly made pile of rubble.

Of course, we knew Angel would survive the implosion; the big question, was how would his escape surprise TV viewers and the 15,000 faithful who crowded onto Clearwater Beach to watch the trick in person? The giveaway here was the even tone of announcer Tim Vincent, even when the helicopter which was supposed to spirit Angel away had to leave the building with 30 seconds before detonation without the magician on board.

(My guess -- the video images showing him inside the building were delayed or fake, hiding how he actually escaped from the building. But what do i know?)

Crissandtommy_lee Most of A&E's bloated broadcast Wednesday featured Angel performing smaller feats of wonder, like a scruffy roadie for Motley Crue who decided to whip out some tricks for the fans. In one, he turned a car into six hot chicks -- a creepy metaphor for the odd blend of Las Vegas-style showmanship and biker bar attitude he brings to many of his illusions.

The program also doubled as a tribute to and commercial for Angel himself. Viewers got to hear from the backers of his Las Vegas show -- why is every big performer in that town now the recipient of a $100-million deal? -- who were understandably appalled at the implosion trick. Nevermind the acres of free publicity it's developing for his Vegas show -- what if Angel twists an ankle during the trick?

Angel also received a tricked-out car during the show, which is a ritual I've seen before on his Mindfreak series. Indeed, the real trick here may be Angel's talent for getting custom car and motorcycle shops to hand him exquisitely detailed vehicles in exchange for brief appearances on his show and the honor of starring in one of his illusions.

In today's post-modern media universe, we expect magicians to pull off their tricks -- you judge them, instead, by the foreplay. And in this case, Criss Angel brought his A game to Clearwater, filling an hour's worth of TV time with a dramatic escape which took seconds to actually implement.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:49pm]


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