Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | 2 a.m.
As magician Criss Angel prepares for the fifth anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s “Believe” at the Luxor, he passed the 2,000-show milestone over the Fourth of July weekend -- remarkable because he has a perfect attendance record of never missing a performance.
However, at Saturday’s 2,001st and 2,002nd shows, he came perilously close; it took a helicopter flight from Phoenix where he was filming his new Spike TV series to have get him onstage with just minutes to spare before the curtain rose.
VIPs helping him celebrate the 2,000th show included comedian Carlos Mencia, at the show for the second time, and LeBron James’ fiancee, Savannah Brinson, in town with 16 girlfriends for a bachelorette party.
Criss will continue his crazed 18-hour workdays: Performing 10 Cirque shows a week until July 27, plus completing the bulk of shooting for his new “Believe” TV series. “Believe” continues to perform to sellout audiences, cementing its position as the top-selling magic show in Las Vegas.
With a total of 40 illusions, Angel's Luxor production has the most magic packed into any show in the world. One of the most incredible is a motorcycle that vanishes from one of 20 display cases in the theater hallways and reappears onstage after an audience member names the bike of his or her choice.
Having experienced it for myself before I left for Europe, it’s easy to say without question the show is the only A-plus magic show in Las Vegas and also in the world. Now Criss plans to make it even bigger and better for the 5th anniversary on Oct. 31 and continuing into the second half of his 10-year contract.
“Halloween will be my fifth anniversary, and we’ll have a brand new opening in place, plus, add a revolutionary levitation that has never, ever been performed before in the history of the art — it’s a brand new concept. We have been working on its development the past two years. Now it’s ready to be seen for the first time; it will blow people away.”
Meantime in October, he’ll tape another death-defying stunt for the launch of the TV series, which leads into the live fifth anniversary “Believe” show. Spike execs tell me that he’ll attempt a double straight jacket escape while hanging upside down in Times Square with a 50-pound weight hanging around his neck. Criss has to escape before he’s choked into unconsciousness.
“I’m really pushing it,” Criss admitted. “I’ve got to one-up myself and everybody else.” With same-week repeat broadcasts on Spike, the Luxor and the live show will be featured on 55 hours of worldwide TV exposure.
Criss plans a live finale for the closing pre-Christmas episode. He isn’t permitted to talk about it or where it will be publicly staged. Although Spike execs won’t confirm it, I can report that they’ve been told it will involve three elements known as Trinity: an escape, an illusion and many powerful explosives.
Over the course of the 11 one-hour specials, Criss will perform more than 100 tricks, illusions and death-defying demonstrations. He has three more monstrous stunts to film.
Vegas DeLuxe has reported on several of his dangerous stunts and illusions he’s already filmed, including his blind walk across two separated swinging steel beams at Fashion Show mall and his escape from chains and padlocks on a timed lowering of a cable into a pit of crocodiles and alligators. I asked him what he thought was the most dangerous for the new TV shows.
“You saw ‘Blind,’ and that was pretty crazy, totally blindfolded 60 feet up in the air walking across a gap from one swinging beam to another. The craziest was what I did over the weekend in Arizona. Twelve magicians have died at trying to catch a fired bullet. They used trickery. If a magician today catches a bullet, it’s a trick. I wanted to break down the science of it and see if it’s humanly possible to actually catch or tag a bullet in my hand.
“I got an amazing ballistics expert and the chief of the Henderson Police Department with his SWAT team to help me with resources. I was suited up in SWAT gear, bulletproof stuff all over my body including a 40-pound armor vest. We had paramedics on hand, the most incredible team ever assembled to see if it’s physically possible to catch a bullet in my hands without trickery.
“Robin, I’m not going to tell you what happened. You’ll have to watch with everybody else, but it took many times of firing at Bullets and Burgers in Arizona. I just couldn’t get the timing of it. I wound up running so late, I couldn’t drive back to Las Vegas in time for my two shows. They had to get me a helicopter to keep my perfect attendance record!”
Criss did tell me that in August, he will film with retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal for the new TV series: “He’s a real magic fan and has been to see my show. He’s been doing my magic and sends me really funny video pieces from my magic sets. He’s a great guy and has always told the press he wants me to levitate him.
“I’ve never seen anyone be levitated as big as he is. I thought about and said if I can levitate Shaq, I can levitate anybody and anything. It’s probably the first time someone so massive has ever been levitated. We’re going to do it outside in completely impossible conditions surrounded by fans somewhere in an inner-city basketball court.
“It’s the inspiration behind the new levitation we’ll add to ‘Believe’ for our fifth anniversary. That is going to be some blockbuster week.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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One of the most iconic resorts on The Strip, the Luxor pyramid invites curiosity while the resort’s interior rewards visitors with equal parts excitement, mystery and intrigue.
This 4,405-room resort features a wide variety of entertainment including world-famous dance crew Jabbawockeez (spring 2013), the Cirque du Soleil production CRISS ANGEL Believe, the provocative adult revue, FANTASY, the hilarious comedy of Carrot Top, Menopause The Musical and the exclusive LAX Nightclub.
The property also offers a spa and salon, wedding chapel and inviting pool complex and is connected to Mandalay Bay through The Shoppes at Mandalay Place — a collection of unique boutiques and restaurants.
With a 120,000-square-foot gaming area, delectable restaurants and top-notch nightlife and entertainment, Luxor provides an unparalleled travel destination.