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November 28, 2014

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MAGIC:

A new Criss Angel emerges in Las Vegas

Angel much more accessible to fans and media in recent weeks

Image

Scott Harrison/Retna/www.harrisonphotos.com

Criss Angel, with a happy young fan, opens his third Las Vegas store, Mindfreak, in Circus Circus. The two other stores are located inside the Luxor.

Did Criss Angel mindfreak turn himself into a whole new person?

The once-guarded magician had been far less guarded lately. He has, rather suddenly, become far more available to fans and far more receptive to media, too.

A few recent events have changed things dramatically. First, the most obvious: Angel’s A&E series, “Mindfreak,” went into its fifth season. There were five hour-long episodes to film and a season’s worth of shows to promote. Second, the magician and his longtime PR man, Steve Flynn, parted ways. And third, Angel made a series of business deals with MGM Mirage, including the opening of a second Mindfreak store at Circus-Circus and the co-branding of Luxor’s center bar, Liquidity, which is now Criss Angel Liquidity.

Combined, these recent developments seem to have resulted in a far more publicly accessible Angel.

Prior to the policy shift, the magician had spent months successfully skirting media while keeping offstage appearances to a minimum.

The hush started shortly after his Cirque du Soleil show, “Believe,” premiered on Halloween last year to mixed reviews.

The magician later went into virtual lockdown when he and Holly Madison parted ways in January. Aside from the public unveiling of his wax likeness at Madame Tussauds in May and the opening of his Mindfreak Superstore at Circus-Circus on June 6, he kept a low profile.

During this time, public appearances were few and far between and those that did take place were highly orchestrated, tightly controlled events where media were kept at arms length. Meanwhile, team Angel filed most interview requests under either “D” for “decline,” or “I” for “ignore.”

Yet all of this appears to have changed – and quickly – over the past few weeks.

Suddenly there is a new Angel in town and he is very much out and about.

The 41-year-old magician was freely mixing and mingling with fans at the season five premiere party when the Sun caught up with him on Wednesday night.

“You should’ve been here earlier!” Angel said, a huge smile beaming from his face. “We had, like, 3,000 people here, surrounding the bar. It was crazy!”

While the magician has never been known for his modesty or ability to accurately judge the size of a crowd, it was evident that a lot of people did, in fact, show up for the event.

Naturally (or surgically, or otherwise enhanced), fellow Luxor headliners, the curvaceous cast of Fantasy and Carrot Top, were among the guests at the party.

The hours-long photo-op also featured a three-tier cake, a cash bar and plenty of hors d’oeuvres. Meanwhile, Luxor executives presented Angel with a framed autograph and set of lithographs depicting his magical hero, Harry Houdini.

The party later adjourned to LAX, where Angel continued to work his magic with the crowd and perform a few card tricks for the magic fans at his stage-side VIP table.

The sightings continued, and will continue to continue, after the premiere.

Angel and his entourage were at Circus-Circus Saturday for an in-store auograph signing that attracted hundreds of fans.

While the appearance was scheduled to run from 1 until 3 p.m., the magician stayed for nearly an hour after the original end time to greet and sign merchandise for the throngs of adoring fans.

Barricades were set up while security guards struggled to keep the surprisingly large crowd organized.

After two “Believe” performances later that night, Angel met fans once again, this time at the “Believe” store at Luxor. He then continued the fanfare at his namesake watering hole before once again going to LAX afterward.

If Angel follows through as planned, this paradigm shift in accessibility will go on for several weeks, if not longer.

The in-store signings will continue roughly once a month for the next few months according to sources close to the Angel camp. Meanwhile, he will appear at Liquidity twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday nights, for at least the next month and a half.

Though Angel has repeatedly said, “I have the best fans in the world,” it remains to be seen if his fans have both the stamina and numbers required to keep these appearances well-attended.

Yet with five seasons of “Mindfreak” successfully in the can, a signature Cirque du Soleil show, and a surging merchandise-driven empire, it doesn’t look like Angel is going to need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to attract fans.

And as long as the Angel loyal keep tuning in to “Mindfreak,” going to see “Believe,” buying merchandise, flocking to appearances, and drinking at Liquidity, Angel should keep smiling, appearing, and talking as he mindfreaks all the way to the bank.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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