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Illusionist may be in hotel implosion

Criss Angel has held talks with the company that owns the Spyglass site, but “nothing’s been signed.”

Associated Press

Criss Angel has held talks with the company that owns the Spyglass site, but “nothing’s been signed.”

CLEARWATER — Criss Angel, often described as a postmodern Harry Houdini, is in talks to bring his hit cable TV show to Clearwater Beach for a spectacular live stunt.

His goal: apparently to survive the implosion of the old Spyglass Resort, known for its 100-foot-tall mural of a hot-air balloon.

The vacant nine-story hotel is scheduled to be demolished on July 30.

Clearwater officials and Angel's representatives will meet this morning to discuss the details. If everything goes well, the Las Vegas illusionist would perform the televised act live on his show Criss Angel Mindfreak.

It would be the latest in a career of death-defying feats, some of which he barely survived.

A goth figure who sports rings, necklaces and bracelets, Angel, 40, has set himself on fire, walked down the side of a building and flown across a desert hanging from a helicopter with hooks pierced in his back.

Mindfreak's fourth season debuts on the A&E network on July 23, when Angel is expected to walk on water.

Earlier this month, the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, reported that at the end of the month "he will do a dice-with-death stunt … entitled 'Implosion,' in which he will be locked inside a building that is about to be blown up."

That could be the Spyglass, built in 1971 on S Gulfview Boulevard near the Clearwater Beach roundabout.

"They're looking seriously at the site to feature on their show," said Eric Fordin, vice president of development for the Related Group, a partner to Tampa's Dr. Kiran Patel in the planned Clearwater Beach Resort.

Builders want to raze the Spyglass to make way for a mega hotel.

Fordin said the groups have held extensive talks, but "nothing's been signed."

Although some city officials have talked about today's meeting, Angel's representatives this week performed their own disappearing act. Contacted Wednesday, they said they would call right back. They never did. They also didn't return calls Thursday.

Asked about the secrecy, Mayor Frank Hibbard said, "They don't like divulging what they're doing for preparation purposes.

"They don't want people watching the process, watching what they do," he said.

Hibbard, who has long wanted the rundown building removed, said he is not concerned with the methods, only the results.

"All I care about is that the Spyglass disappears," he said. "Whether it's a bulldozer, dynamite or an illusionist, it better disappear."

City officials say they aren't quite sure how the Clearwater made the list of cities the entertainer is considering. They only know an A&E producer contacted them about it recently.

The show would reimburse any city costs to stage the event, city spokesman Doug Matthews said. He said he understands that A&E wants to start promoting the show's fourth season in the next week or so.

"It would be extraordinary publicity because it's a popular show," Matthews said. "To do it live and feature Clearwater and the new BeachWalk and all the things we're doing — you can't put a price on that."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Mike Donila can be reached at mdonila@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

>>BIOGRAPHY

Criss Angel

(Christopher Sarantakos)

Age: 40

Residence: Las Vegas

Career: Learned his first magic trick from his aunt at age 6. Performed at parties and restaurants, a local cable TV show and some television specials before staging 600 off-Broadway performances in New York. Then created Criss Angel Mindfreak, which debuted in July 2005. Last season the show attracted 2.7-million viewers. Also has appeared on late-night talk shows, Larry King, Oprah and CSI: New York.

Quote: "I consider myself an artist who uses many different paintbrushes to create the image I want, whether it's using illusions, magic, mentalism, hypnosis, escapes, performance art or music." (Chicago Tribune, Aug. 6, 2006)

Illusionist may be in hotel implosion 07/10/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:05pm]
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