Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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Criss Angel to undergo shoulder surgery and shutter ‘Believe’ at Luxor for three months


Spike TV

Criss Angel’s “Believe” on Spike TV.

Criss Angel in Times Square for Spike TV

Criss Angel in Times Square in New York for his Spike TV series “Believe.” Launch slideshow »

Criss Angel’s ‘Believe’ on Spike TV

Criss Angel’s “Believe” on Spike TV.

Launch slideshow »

Magician Criss Angel has to rely on brilliant surgeons with their own miracles to repair three seriously damaged shoulder tears, and as a result no amount of magic can keep his “Believe” show onstage at the Luxor for the first three months of the New Year.

He is alive after being blown to pieces, was still standing after catching a police department bullet firing and escaped death after being buried alive under concrete. But this time there is no illusion: He has to go on the operating table.

“There is no alternative,” Criss told me Saturday. “When the double tendons tore the first time a year ago, doctors didn’t want me continuing on with the show or start filming. But everything was set, so I had to shoot the new Spike TV series ‘Believe’ and continue at the Luxor.

“I haven’t missed one show since the ‘Believe’ premiere five years ago — more than 2,100 shows in all. And if I could, I wouldn’t miss the early 2014 shows.

“When I went to New York for the double-straitjacket hanging in Times Square, I tore it again along with another shoulder muscle while upside down struggling to get free before the weight crushed me. It’s three times as bad now. I have to go under the knife. There is no other choice. I’ve already put it off far too long.

“The doctors would prefer that it be done immediately, but I still have the last episode to film for Spike. That will be the three-part Trinity illusion, which we’ll shoot live from Las Vegas in early December. They don’t want me doing that, either, but I’ll have to ignore their warnings. We have to finish the series.

“The pain is intense. It’s there constantly but then goes from bad to worse before easing up. The worst thing of this is that the new Spike show has won the biggest ratings in 18 months for the network, and it’s sent ticket sales of the ‘Believe’ show at the Luxor through the roof.

“Now it has to shut it down while I have the surgery. Otherwise, it means permanent damage, and I wouldn’t be able to ever perform again. That’s tough, and I feel so bad for all the fans who have bought tickets. I’ll keep performing ‘Believe’ through the end of December, and then early January I’ll go onto the operating table. It’s going to take three months of tough physical rehab workouts to get it back to where it should be.

“So we have no other choice but to close it in January. But then in February and March I’ll be able to go back onstage to host a new limited-engagement show with many of the other magicians you’ve seen on the Spike series of ‘Believe.’ I promise, though, to be back in full force with the ‘Believe’ stage show in April and add illusions never done before live.”

The injury and medical orders to shut down the show for 90 days isn’t the only headline involving Criss this week. Tuesday’s Spike TV show will generate controversy with people asking whether he’s crossed a line when he attempts to bring back to life a man who died. I was able to get a sneak preview photo from an advance screening. On this week’s episode, Criss once again pulls off the impossible by levitating 7-foot-tall NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal 60 feet.

Criss will add the amazing levitation to his “Believe” stage show when he recovers from the shoulder surgery and returns. I’ll have an interview with Criss at Vegas DeLuxe on Wednesday for the fifth anniversary of “Believe” as it starts the sixth year of its 10-year contract with Cirque du Soleil. It’s a very candid conversation in which he reveals in addition to the levitation several other ambitious new plans.

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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