Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 7:30 p.m.
Since the falling swords didn’t impale him, magician Criss Angel will go one step closer to cheating death this week by walking blindfolded across a broken steel beam suspended more than 100 feet in the air above the Strip.
Last week, Cirque du Soleil’s “Believe” headliner at the Luxor saved himself in a live, highly dangerous demonstration on Fremont Street, where he correctly predicted the order of six falling swords chosen at random by a spectator selected via a thrown bouncing ball.
This Friday at Festival Park opposite the Luxor, he takes his frightening risks even farther. His eyes and face will be duct taped. He will be hoisted five to 10 stories high and walk from one side of an I-Beam to the other, but he must avoid a 2-foot break in it, which would plunge him to his death if he fell.
“We are shooting absolutely amazing demonstrations for this new series. It’s my strongest work to date. I’m the busiest I have ever been filming these for my new Spike TV series this fall,” Criss told me in an exclusive interview.
“These are 18-hour days nonstop. I knew what I was getting into, but actually doing it are two different things. The new series will show where I was and now where I’m going, and the difference is remarkable. People will be blown away.
“We have created a 60,000-square-foot facility here in Las Vegas, which itself is unlike anything in the world. We are creating everything from small magic to big magic and optical illusions. We have the best team bringing them to life.”
He is filming more than 100 difficult and life-challenging stunts during the 12-week shooting schedule here. Criss is now into his third week of filming. Top Spike executives shot back at critics of last week’s falling swords filming known as the “Lord of Illusions Death Premonition”:
“The demonstration Criss has created for his new TV series was inspired by the ‘Lord of Illusion’ himself Clive Barker. He has been a huge proponent of Criss’ since the ’90s. Mr. Barker contacted Criss originally in 1995 to work on the ‘Lord of Illusions’ film. Soon after, Mr. Barker recorded the intro for Criss’s album ‘World of Illusion: System 1’ in the trilogy, and two decades ago said this: ‘Criss Angel is extraordinary, a spectacular mix of visionary magic. This is the future, and it can’t come quickly enough.’
“Before Criss even began the creative process for this demonstration, he sought out Mr. Barker and was given his wholehearted approval of the homage. Mr. Barker also filmed the introduction for this illusion and is appearing in this episode on Spike. Criss is the only magician to whom Clive has given his permission and blessing to re-create this demonstration, and no one else should be performing it without Mr. Barker's permission. Finally, Clive summed it up best by stating, ‘Criss is our real-life Lord of Illusion!’
Criss told me: “He gave me the rights, and I brought it to life as it was depicted in the movie. It turned out to be an enormous success, with literally thousands of people who showed up to witness it. It was very dramatic, and it is going to make for an amazing episode. It worked out really great for the television show.
“It is just an amazing situation to be in to have Clive Barker, the king of horror movies, be there and such a proponent of me doing this. Anybody else that is doing anything like that, with that imagery, is doing it without Clive’s permission. It is something that I sought out from Clive, and he gave me the appropriate permission.
“If you go to my website and you look under movies, you will see Clive Barker’s video that he made for me. The demonstration I undertook to re-create was in a movie from 1995 that shows this very illusion. To say I stole it is absolutely crazy when I had the permission to bring it to life from the original movie.
“I had six swords hanging above my body, and I had to predict, which I did days prior, the sequence of those six swords falling. The falling swords were randomly chosen live on Fremont Street by having a woman throw a ball into thousands of people .One would pick a number between 1 and 6. As they picked the number between 1 and 6, each number was assigned to align a rope that was holding that particular sword.
“Whatever sequence the audience called the numbers out is the order that the swords fell. I had to predict it correctly to saved my life in front of the crowds. I dreamed that it was going to be the order that it was going to be, and if it was, I’d be safe. If it wasn’t, and I was one number off, then that sword would cut right through my heart.
“Essentially, I lay there, and the swords came down literally inches from my body. One hung 16 to 17 feet in the air directly over my heart. The other issue was even if I was correct with the sequence, I had to deal with wind and weather. Having the slightest gust of wind, I could have still gotten nailed with a sword. I had two things to deal with: I had to have the correct prediction of sequence, and I had to deal with other outside elements like the weather, like the wind.
“We have no control of those uncertainties to work just right when the swords fell, that they would just miss my body with the exception of the one over my heart, and that one would only fall over my heart if that wasn’t the last sword and I wasn’t correct in my prediction.
“Essentially it came down to two swords that hung in the air. There was a 50/50 shot that she would pull either the right sword or the wrong sword, and she, fortunately, changed her mind and pulled the other sword, and that sword came down and just missed me. The final sword left hanging was directly above my heart. I got off the table and released that sword to show that it indeed fell literally where I would have been impaled right through my heart.
“We built up the drama of the demonstration especially for television, so immediately some critics said I was screwing up and getting it wrong. But it was designed that way, and they don’t understand television nor are they appearing on it. We had to have the tease and the excitement before the commercial break before the final 6 minutes of the falling swords.
“The entire time, though, I had to believe in my ability and my talent. I lay on the table and prayed I was dead right so I wouldn’t be dead.”
Due to the hectic shooting schedule of the new Spike TV series and commitment to “Believe,” Criss has had to put his Loyal Saturday weekly broadcasts on hold until fall. Here’s his most recent March 16 episode posted on YouTube.
This Friday, Criss will demonstrate the blindfolded stunt balanced on the steel beam hung by two cranes at the festival parking lot. Every week from now through to the wrap of filming, he will attempt a new demonstration putting his life on the line.
“I have to do 11 of them in all,” said Criss. “This one is crazy because I will be completely blind. My eyes and my face will be completely duct taped so that I can’t see. I will be five or 10 stories above the ground, and I will have to walk the I-Beam from one side to the other side with its 2-foot break.”
He summed up: “These are some pretty crazy things. This is unlike anything any magic team or mad magician has in the world. It is just absolutely breathtaking. There is honestly nothing like this in the world. It is really, really amazing.”
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.