Criss Angel

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Criss Angel
Criss angel (cropped version).jpg
BornChristopher Nicholas Sarantakos
(1967-12-19) December 19, 1967 (age 46)
Hempstead, New York, U.S.
OccupationMagician/Entertainer/TV Personality
Years active1997–present
Net worthUS$18 million (2010)
Spouse(s)JoAnn Winkhart (2002–2005; divorced)
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Criss Angel
Criss angel (cropped version).jpg
BornChristopher Nicholas Sarantakos
(1967-12-19) December 19, 1967 (age 46)
Hempstead, New York, U.S.
OccupationMagician/Entertainer/TV Personality
Years active1997–present
Net worthUS$18 million (2010)
Spouse(s)JoAnn Winkhart (2002–2005; divorced)

Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos (born December 19, 1967),[1] better known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American magician and illusionist. He is best known for starring in the television show Criss Angel Mindfreak and his live performance illusion show Criss Angel Believe in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Angel is also the creator of the

Early life

Criss Angel was born at Hempstead General Hospital in Hempstead, New York, on Long Island, and raised in Elmont until fourth grade, when his family moved to East Meadow.[2] His childhood interest in magic grew as he aged and by the time he graduated from East Meadow High School, he decided to pursue a career as a professional magician instead of attending college as his parents wanted.[1] Angel is of Greek descent.[3][4]

Television career

Criss Angel Mindfreak

Criss Angel was the creator, director, and executive producer of the A&E Network show Criss Angel Mindfreak. Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed at The Aladdin in Las Vegas, with Season 3 at the Luxor Las Vegas. Premiering on July 20, 2005, the show's illusions have included walking on water, levitating, walking up the side of Luxor Hotel (in the light of 39 focused lamps that can be seen from space[5]), floating between two buildings, causing a Lamborghini to disappear, surviving in an exploding C4 Crate, cutting himself in half in full view of an audience and getting run over by a steamroller while lying on a bed of broken glass. While making season 3 Angel was injured jumping out of a moving car and stopped production for 2 weeks.

Criss Angel Believe

He made numerous special television guest appearances on WWE Raw, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Megan Mullally Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, AVN Awards Show 2007 and Larry King Live on CNN. The Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman, America's Got Talent", The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and introducing honoree Ozzy Osbourne on the VH1 Rock Honors awards. He also made a guest acting appearance on the hit television shows CSI: NY, Las Vegas and Rules of Engagement.

The show was originally developed for Broadway and was titled Criss Angel MINDFREAK. Eventually, the show evolved into Believe when he entered a partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the Luxor's parent company, MGM Mirage, financed the show with $100 million.[6]

After several delays, the show was set for a gala opening on October 31, 2008, with preview shows in late September.[7][8][9] The initial preview was not well received, with thoroughly negative audience reactions.[10][11] The show opened to equally harsh reviews which cited a lack of the magic Angel is known for, as well as a confusing and uninteresting theme. Reviewers felt neither Angel nor Cirque du Soleil were able to perform to their capabilities.[12][13][14][15]

In April 2009, Angel ended a performance of Believe by "hurling obscene insults" at blogger Perez Hilton, an audience member. Hilton reportedly had texted to his fans during the performance that the show was "unbelievably BAD" and that he'd "rather be getting a root canal", and word had gotten back to Angel by the end of the performance.[16][17] Cirque du Soleil later apologized to Hilton for Angel's remarks.[18]

In 2010 the Las Vegas Sun critic John Katsilometes, after being unimpressed by the initial show, said Believe had improved by reducing the narrative elements and focusing on the magic.[19] In 2011 the Toronto Star wrote: “The show is easily the most exciting thing now on stage in Vegas!” [20]


Starting in October 2007 he appeared as a judge on Phenomenon, with Uri Geller and in a CNN interview about the show he told Larry King "no one has the ability, that I'm aware of, to do anything supernatural, psychic, talk to the dead. And that was what I said I was going to do with Phenomenon. If somebody goes on that show and claims to have supernatural psychic ability, I'm going to bust [him] live and on television."[21]

On the October 31, 2007 episode of the reality show Phenomenon, Paranormalist Jim Callahan performed a summoning, purportedly of author Raymond Hill, to help discover the contents of a locked box.[22] Although fellow judge Uri Geller praised the performance, Angel called it "comical" and subsequently challenged both Callahan and Geller to guess the contents of two envelopes he pulled out of his pocket, offering a million dollars of his own money to whoever could do so. This led to an argument between Callahan and Angel, during which Callahan walked toward Angel and called him an "ideological bigot", with the two pulled apart as the show promptly went to a commercial break. Angel has since revealed the contents of one envelope and at the unveiling he challenged Geller one more time. Geller responded, "Although we were born one day apart - I was born on the 20th of December and you on the 19th - a lot of years between us - 40 years, you were one year old when I came out with my spoon bending..." Criss Angel cut him off at this point, saying, "I guess this is a 'no,'" and proceeded to open the envelope. The envelope contained an index card with the numbers "911" printed on it for September 11, 2001. Angel's explanation was this: "If on 9-10 somebody could have predicted that 9-11 was going to happen, they could have saved thousands of lives". The other envelope's contents was scheduled to be revealed on the first episode of Season 4 of Criss Angel: Mindfreak.

Other media

Angel (left) with Tommy Lee


In 2007, Angel appeared as fictional illusionist Luke Blade in an episode of CSI: NY, called "Sleight Out of Hand". On March 8, 2010, he was a guest star on the WWE.[23][24] In 2011, Angel appeared in an Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowl popcorn commercial.[25]


Angel is the author of the book Mindfreak: Secret Revelations, published by HarperEntertainment, 2007 (ISBN 978-0061137617).


Angel created the BeLIEve Foundation 'Believe Anything is Possible - A JDS Foundation'.[26][27]

Personal life

In 2002, Angel married his longtime girlfriend JoAnn Winkhart (now JoAnn Sarantakos). The couple filed for divorce four years later.[1] Although Angel was seen with his wife in the buried alive illusion (season 1, episode 6, 2005) and the body suspension illusion (season 1, episode 5, 2005), she was not credited as his wife; rather, she was listed as "Criss's Girl". In November 2008, Angel began dating Holly Madison, former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner.[28] The relationship ended in February 2009.[29]

He proposed to Sandra Gonzalez on September 7, 2011 in Cabo San Lucas during a sunset dinner.[30]


  1. ^ a b c Unbylined (Undated). "Criss Angel biography". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ Lovece, Frank (October 15, 2013). "Criss Angel on his new show, 'BeLIEve': 'It's healthy' to be skeptical". Newsday (New York City / Long Island). Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  3. ^ Gray, Mark (June 6, 2007). "Criss Angel (Sort Of) Explains Cameron Diaz Shout-Out". People. "Look, I'm Greek." 
  4. ^ Kopka, Deborah (25 November 2010). Eastern Europe and Russia: Eastern Europe and Russia. Lorenz Educational Press. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-1-4291-2252-8. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  5. ^ MGM Mirage (2009). "Property Highlights - Stairway To The Stars". MGM Mirage. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  6. ^ Lee, Chris (October 12, 2008). "Criss Angel believes that you will too". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  7. ^ Abowitz, Richard (June 30, 2008). "Cirque and Angel's 'Believe' delayed". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  8. ^ Abowitz, Richard (September 2, 2008). "Previews of Criss Angel's 'Believe' delayed again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  9. ^ Abowitz, Richard (September 13, 2008). "Breaking news: More delays for Angel's 'Believe'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  10. ^ Abowitz, Richard (September 29, 2008). "Sneak peak [sic] at Criss Angel's 'Believe'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  11. ^ Elfman, Doug (28 September 2008). "Angel's 'Believe' magic: Miffed fans disappear". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  12. ^ Abowitz, Richard (October 31, 2008). "Criss Angel's 'Believe' hard to believe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  13. ^ Brown, Joe (November 1, 2008). "Illusion is elusive in Angel’s 'Believe'". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  14. ^ Elfman, Doug (November 3, 2008). "New Criss Angel show is unbelievably bad, sad". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Reed (November 3, 2008). "Criss Angel, in a word: unbelievable". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  16. ^ Clarke, Norm (April 19, 2009). "Coarse shout-out stirs up Tweeters". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  17. ^ Abowitz, Richard (April 20, 2009). "Perez Hilton's excellent Vegas adventure, from Criss Angel to Miss USA". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  18. ^ Abowitz, Richard (April 20, 2009). "Perez Hiton gets apology from Cirque; Angel remains silent". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  19. ^ Katsilometes, John (January 2, 2011). "‘Believe’ it: Criss Angel’s work has markedly improved Luxor show". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  20. ^ Ouzounian, Richard (January 5, 2011). "Sin City offers plenty of theatrical second chances". 
  21. ^ "Larry King Live: Mindfreak Criss Angel". CNN. October 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  22. ^ "Angel sparks altercation on ‘Phenomenon’". MSNBC. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  23. ^ Caldwell, James (2010-03-08). "Caldwell's WWE Raw Report 3/8: Complete coverage of Cena vs. McMahon, Taker-Michaels confrontation". PWTorch. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  24. ^ Leach, Robin (2010-03-09). "Criss Angel makes magic at WWE's Raw in Portland". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  25. ^ Ives, Nat (June 13, 2011). "Popcorn Bag Becomes a Bowl in May's Most-Recalled New Spot (Criss Angel Not Required)". Ad Age. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  26. ^ "Criss Angel: Giving Back". Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  27. ^ Leach, Robin (May 22, 2010). "Criss Angel says Make-A-Wish Award beats all others". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  28. ^ Gray, Mary (1 November 2008). "Criss Angel: Holly Madison Is a 'Beautiful' Person". Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  29. ^ "Holly Madison and Criss Angel Kaput", Yahoo News, 25 February 2009.
  30. ^ Johnson, James. "Illusionist Criss Angel Proposes To Sandra Gonzalez",, 20 September 2011.

External links