Videogum

Criss Angel: MindFreak: The Show You Totally Wish Was Faces Of Death That Isn’t. Sadly.

[Ed. note: it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I introduce to you the newest member to the Videogum family, Mary H.K. Choi. She is the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Missbehave magazine and currently writes for TheAwl. She will be bringing her love of superhero comic books and action movies to bear on things that are neither superhero comics nor action movies. Say hi, monsters.]

In this, the hotly anticipated A&E season premiere of The Five Lives of Criss Angel Mindfreak, Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos aka Criss Angel, a master illusionist and escapologist hailing from Long Island, New York, will attempt a transposition. Basically he’ll disappear from one spot and before any of us can feel a hint of relief that this time he’s really gone will show up in another, indicating his reappearance from a parallel universe of rampant awesomeness by yelling at us triumphantly *fist pump, fist pump* to yell at him fawningly.

And because this is Criss Angel, said transposition (dubbed “Terminal Velocity”) will occur in Las Vegas, where he now lives, within striking distance of his retail store at the Luxor, with no less than 17 Chrome Hearts metal rings, a rosary or two, 18 mg of kohl encircling his fetching Grecian eyes, atop a 400 lb blood red motorcycle, suspended in an exploding cage above a thousand screaming fans of a cumulative I.Q. of around a rainbow plus a Jesus fish fridge magnet.

But first, to whet our appetite and to whittle down the 36 minutes and change of show that needs to precede this 10-second magic trick, Criss must first attempt a mini transposition from the roof of the 22-story eastern tower of his favorite hotel the Luxor where he’ll throw down a weighted bandana and appear at ground level to catch it. To prove to us “skeptics at home” that this is a real bona fide Mindfreak and not a sleight of video technology, there is a little logo on the bottom, left hand of the screen that our vantage point is a “continuous” shot and therefore mystical.

[Ed. note: this guy is the real Paulie P.!]

But even before that, there are potential “escape routes” that need to be debunked on how he’ll get downstairs within the 11.81 seconds it takes the bandana to. First, its proposed that perhaps he’d take a high speed elevator, but his earnest sibling who clearly and gratefully cuts a consistent check to vouch for his brutha (seriously, they’re like two Linda Richmans from “Coffee Talks”) notes that this is impossible as if there were an elevator, it would be indisposed for all the guests “trying to get to their rooms.” Natch. Then, some other guy named Doug who is allergic to sleeves for a glandular condition that has nothing to do with glands and everything to do with LIVING IN LAS VEGAS runs downstairs with a video camera to the tune of 4 minutes and 9 seconds which is just way too slow.

This is when Criss Angel’s manager who looks to be sculpted entirely of tanned newspaper pulp interjects that despite Criss “being bigger and working out more” (proven with an earlier montage sportif) couldn’t do the stairs fast enough either. Then they have a stunt guy rappel and it takes him 16 seconds not counting the putting on of the gear. It is by this air tight reasoning that this trick is wholly impossible to everyone in the world except that embroidered jeans and wallet chain guy Criss Angel who has a Cirque du Soleil show called “Believe” that we’ll get an exclusive sneak peek of later, a show that was critically panned by Perez Hilton last Halloween and now my eyes are bleeding from having had to type that sentence at all.

But even before we get to witness the building trick, we get to go visit Criss’s store where his mom is sitting like she’s loaded on dumdums and sorta pissed about being on camera (because she has no idea what time it is and is feeling lightheaded from all the extra oxygen being pumped in) and Criss does this trick where he pokes a hole in a $100 bill (borrowed from a lovely black gentleman that swiftly proves that Criss is loved by all and that black people in Vegas have huge knots of Benjamins) with a pen and moves the pen around without tearing it and everyone goes bezerk and Criss maintains the veracity of his mastery by asking everyone if that was “completely fair, right?” and they scream and nod with their eyes wide like they’re being held hostage by a million assault rifles pointed directly at them from behind the scene.

Now, to the building.

I mean, he does the trick. There’s no way else to put it. Buzzkill, right? He brings a bunch of people up to the roof, has this one “totally random” lady write on his arm to prove that the dude downstairs isn’t a body double, he tosses the bandana and our view becomes a split-screen and then he’s down there to catch it. We look at the pen on his arm and everyone screams. I know. I rewound. Twice. I looked and looked and honestly the “catching scene” is like he walks from off camera on camera and that is it.

OK. Sidebar. I love magic. I do and I love Mythbusters which this show sort of tries to be like except that the “proofs” have little to do with anything and there is no “control” because, well, how can you have Criss do a trick that’d kill him not employing magic for the first go around and then compare it to the magic version. And by this statement I have “proven” that I’m not really as “skeptical” as most and am really good at suspending disbelief.

But wow, this trick was lame and after all the hyped up steps that we took to show that it was a real trick, I can’t help but think the motorcycle version will be wack as well. And despite the loudness, despite the “pyro” and despite how beautiful the bike is to people who like that sort of thing and despite it being customized, this is where you suspect his final trick will not be that impressive but you watch anyway to see if it’ll be embarrassing.

But first–another nugget of uncomfortable. So when he goes to pick the bike up the people who work at the customization place present him with this truly, mind-bogglingly fug piece of artwork with a fake diamond encrusted rabbit (from his “Believe” show) popping out of it all 3D style. It’s hideous. But then everyone gets so misty and verklempt by this poignant union of fug and douchebaggery that you realize that all the people involved in this 5 episode boondoggle really, like, loves this guy.

And then there’s the piece de resistance! Criss Angel revs the motor and rides in all hot, vrooms into the cage, gets hoisted up, and everyone’s staring prepared to be amazed. We’re all craning and it’s dark so we’re looking really, really hard and then there’s a dramatic flash of pyro and during a collective exhaled “WHUH” sound Criss just comes rolling up again like he did mere seconds ago.

And that’s it.

Weird thing is, Criss Angel isn’t bad. His micro tricks with the money and cards and stuff are neat-o but this giant Mindfreak “designed and tested by a highly trained professional that should not be attempted by anyone anywhere and at anytime” is just not that cool. That “beat” in all transpositions where someone’s gone and then comes back just doesn’t read on camera at all. Saaadface.

But there are four more episodes to go and four more Hail Mary passes to see if the show won’t get canceled which would normally mean his magical ass will have to dance for us in a reality show to hold onto the vestigial whiff of fame he once had but since he lives in LV he’ll probably be fine, sell a bunch of swag, and make bajillions of dollars a year and hang out with Celine Dion. Which, well, let’s face it. Is no purgatory at all because she is a goddess and speaks French.