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Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos (born December 19, 1967), better known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American illusionist, writer, director, musician, and actor. He is best known for starring in the television show, Criss Angel Mindfreak and his live performance illusion show Criss Angel Believe in artistic collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Criss is also the creator of the MagicPlace.com a website designed as a ‘one-stop’ life-style portal for all things magic. MagicPlace.com is also the home of Criss’ most ambitious venture to date, The Magic broadcasting Network as well as a place to purchase his coveted magic kits.

Early life

Son of Greek-Americans John and Dimitra Sarantakos, Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos was raised in East Meadow, Long Island, New York, with two brothers, Costa and J.D. His father owned a restaurant and doughnut shop and was devoted to personal fitness before dying of cancer in 1998.[1] Angel was first introduced to magic at age 6, after his Aunt Stella taught him a card trick. His interest grew and by the time he graduated from East Meadow High School, he was not interested in attending college. He aimed at becoming a professional magician.[1]
Television

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, and lasting six seasons, the 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[2]), 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. Also in season 3 he was known for jumping out of a moving car. Angel was injured and stopped production for 3 weeks.[3]

Lasting six seasons, Criss Angel Mindfreak was the longest running prime time magic program in television history and more than 100 million people in over 90 countries viewed each season of the show. To date Criss Angel has preformed more hours of primetime television than any other magician in TV history. [4]

He is the most watched magician in web history and a YouTube sensation with over 41 Million views of his walk on water clip alone. Collectively he has over 150 Million views on youtube. [3]</ref>
Criss Angel BeLIEve

Criss Angel collaborated with Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International to serve as writer/director, illusions creator and designer, orignal concept creator and star of his spectacular live show Criss Angel Believe, a live show at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas, [5]

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 Show, AVN Awards Show 2007 and Larry King Live on CNN. The Tonight Show, The Late Show, America's Got Talent", The Rosie O'Donnell Show", and introducing legendary honoree "Ozzy Ozbourne" on "VH1"'s 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 a Broadway and was titled Criss Angel MINDFREAK. During its 14 month off Broadway run the show recorded the highest advance ticket sales, more than any other show to date. 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.[5]

More of an event than a show, BeLIEve is performed live 8 to 10 times a week and will continue its 10 year run at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and has been the best-selling live magic show in the world since it opened. The Toronto Star raved, “The show is easily the most exciting thing now on stage in Vegas!” Alex Belfield from the BBC touted “BeLIEve is A+, by far the most spectacular and amazing magic show in Vegas and I’ve seen them all”, and Tony Dokoupil of Newsweek raves, "Criss Angel BeLIEve is a GREAT SHOW!" Radio personalities Johnjay & Rich stated, "Hands down easily the BEST show we've seen in Vegas! Even the BEST show we've seen in OUR LIVES!" [6]
Magic Kit

Criss Angel has also created a successful and sought after magic kit line, which are featured in 40,000 retail stores in the US alone and to date have sold more than 1 million units. In the first 12 weeks Criss sold over 500,000 Magic Kits in, making it one of the most successful merchandise products for magic. Due to great demand in 2011the kits will launch in multiple countries. The Magic Kit is designed to teach people of all ages and levels the art of illusion and includes a 500-plus trick Ultimate Magic Kit and a 250-plus trick Platinum Magic Kit.
Awards

Criss has received numerous awards throughout his career. He has been named Magician of the Year an unprecedented six times including one from The Magic Castle, far more than any other magician. This spring, Criss was the youngest magician inducted into the International Magicians Society Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Elite Diamond Merlin Award. Criss was also presented with a lifetime achievement award, The World Magic Legacy Award “A Living Legend,” at The World of Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. Additionally, Criss was recently named the first time ever Magician of the Decade as well as Magician of the Century and Innovator of the Decade. Criss received an International Magic Lifetime Achievement Award and was also unanimously selected as the recipient of the 22nd Louie Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Art of Magic. [7]


Charity

Criss is a tireless in his efforts to help children through his BeLIEve Foundation 'Believe Anything is Possible - A JDS Foundation[8] For his work he as recieved the male wish grantor of the year award and the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award for his dedication to the Make a wish foundation.
Phenomenon

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."[9]
Wikinews has related news: Criss Angel challenges Uri Geller and Jim Callahan over paranormal claims

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.[10] 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. Criss' 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". Some Geller supporters point out Geller did mention the numbers one and 19 and count it as a success since he did get the digits right. Geller in fact mentioned five digits in his speech (0, 1, 2, 4, 9) as well as the month of December. The other envelope's contents was scheduled to be revealed on the first episode of Season 4 of Criss Angel: Mindfreak. However, the contents of the other envelope were never revealed and remain a mystery to this day.
Other media
Angel with Tommy Lee

Angel was parodied in The Simpsons episode The Great Simpsina, via an extremely talented but sleazy and obnoxious magician named "Cregg Demon".

Angel was loosely parodied in Ugly Americans episode "Kill Mark Kill" as Christ Angel, Leonard's older yet younger-looking brother.

Angel was parodied in Robot Chicken. In the episode "I Love Her", he becomes a substitute teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he tries to use Mindfreak on Harry Potter and his friends.

On March 8, 2010, Angel was a special guest star on the WWE. [11][12]

In 2011, Angel appeared in an Orville Redenbacher popcorn commercial. The same year, he appeared as himself in an episode of Rules of Engagement.
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.[13] The relationship ended in February 2009.[14]

He proposed to Sandra Gonzalez on September 7, 2011 in Cabo San Lucas during a sunset dinner. Fireworks followed the evening along with Gonzalez's whole family.[15]
Books

Angel is the author of the book Mindfreak: Secret Revelations, published by HarperEntertainment, 2007 (ISBN 978-0061137617). He is the subject of the book Criss Angel (Modern Role Models), written by Gail Stewart and published by Mason Crest, 2008 (ISBN 1422207846).
References

^ a b c Criss Angel biography, Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
^ MGM Mirage (2009). "Property Highlights - Stairway To The Stars". MGM Mirage. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
^ Gates, Anita (July 20, 2005). "That Gaze! That Hair! Those Trippy Tricks!". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
^ http://www.aetv.com/criss-angel-mindfreak/criss-angel-bio/
^ a b Lee, Chris. "Criss Angel believes that you will too", Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
^ [1]
^ [2]
^ http://magicplace.com/entertainment-network/magician/criss-angel]
^ "Larry King Live: Mindfreak Criss Angel". CNN. October 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
^ "Angel sparks altercation on ‘Phenomenon’". MSNBC. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
^ 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.
^ Leach, Robin (2010-03-09). "Criss Angel makes magic at WWE's Raw in Portland". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
^ Gray, Mary (1 November 2008). "Criss Angel: Holly Madison Is a 'Beautiful' Person". Retrieved 2008-11-10.
^ "Holly Madison and Criss Angel Kaput", Yahoo News, 25 February 2009.
^ Johnson, James. "Illusionist Criss Angel Proposes To Sandra Gonzalez", Inquisitr.com, 20 September 2011.

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