Friday, September 11, 2009

Criss Angel's an island of his own.

I was at my newly refurbished library yesterday for new books to read. I was browsing the nonfiction section and this was there:

I first heard of Criss Angel probably a little over two years ago from a friend. I didn't think much of him even after she was trying to sell me on him. It was just banter about new shit that each of you are into at the time. It wasn't until I was flipping around channels and came upon "Criss Angel's Mindfreak" on A&E and watched one of the episodes that I was sold on his "freaking". I had never seen a single person pull the stunts and illusions like he did, it was like he was born to do it. Watching his show opened up my mind to possibilities I didn't even think existed in space and time. Of course I wanted to write away that it was fake and no way anyone have those capabilities Angel displayed. The more I watched, the more it become less about trying to prove him a fraud and just about being in awe of everything he did. I'm not sure what Criss Angel is, very talented and more than just a magician maybe, but it was truly unbelievable what he did every week.

Now his book, "Criss Angel: Mindfreak, Secret Relevations" is part autobiography, part guide to life/magic/spiritualism(?). It was easy to read and included pictures of some of Criss's amazing feats. I never new much back story about his life or how he wiggled his way to the top of the world of Magic, but this book gave me a peek into it. Criss narrates parts of his life from being a boy to trying to scrap money together for an off Broadway show. He talks about himself and the journey that has brought him to where he is today. Throughout the narration are quotes from his family and friends about Criss and trials and tribulations he's preserved through. Criss appears egotistical at parts but he stated at more than one time that he is ego-driven. It can be annoying to the reader but after reading through the whole book, it only makes sense that he carries that personality trait. He only looked to himself to get where he wanted to go and in the long run it led him where he dreamed of since he was a boy. Some facts I learned about him that I never knew was he originally wanted to be a musician but found magic to be more lucrative for him and now he fuses both together, he built this robots/mechanical creatures that he used in his stage shows, and that he basically never sleeps (only three hours, he said).

A good portion of the book talks about how Angel feels about art and I thought many of his points were valid if not plausible. He uses art in what he creates and actively does, perhaps more visually than actors or artists. He discussed how people didn't understand his look calling him out as gothic when he explains it as a personality he created. Criss Angel is a personality, he always wanted one so an audience could identify him, dissociated from others. He wanted "mindfreak" to be his word so people could identify him as he was. Of course, when I hear the word I think "mind fuck" but it really isn't en masse friendly word hence the change to freak. His work and world is freaky so the title suits him well.

The latter part of the book is 40 tricks a reader can learn that Criss has performed. It's detailed and easy to follow but looks like these tricks take plenty of practice to master (and he admits that you should give yourself plenty of practice before taking the tricks to the public!). I'm not much of magician and I have never dabbled but these were cool to read about. Criss Angel is known for all the incredible stunts he pulls on his show "Mindfreak" and out of all the insanity there is one I just love. In one episode, Criss walks across a Las Vegas pool, partial with shoes and partial without them (Picture to the left). It's not the coolest stunt he's pulled but there is something about this particular one that makes me think. Criss Angel has somehow unlocked parts of his mind that remain dormant that allows him to levitate. I realize it's a stretch but we only use 7-8% of our brains, just think of the what could be hidden away! Criss explains that you have to open your mind to the possibilities and have faith and just believe in what you do. It's a good philosophy to have and I wish I could carry that around with me whenever I can't feel that positive. People surprise me everyday, but that's a good thing. He also brings up a good point not to rely too heavily on other people or their promises, not everything someone tells you is true. Better to take it with a grain of salt.

Overall, if your a fan you've probably read this and if you have not, I think you should. As a fan myself, it allowed me to learn a little more about Criss Angel and even to believe that anything is possible. Criss Angel needs to write a self-help or spiritual guide or something. He opened my mind while I was reading several parts that dug into subjects like art and the people who inspired his work. Now I'd love to do something with my life, it gave me a little hope. Knowing that someone can endure so much and overcome it a much stronger person is astonishing and inspiring. He's entered my list of great entertainers and it does no good to be skeptical, some things are better left unexplained...

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