Q+A: Criss Angel premieres third magic show ‘The Supernaturalists’

By Robin Leach (contact)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 | 11:59 p.m.
‘The Supernaturalists’ By Criss Angel

Not content with the success of his Cirque du Soleil show “Believe” at the Luxor and not busy enough with his traveling “Mindfreak Live Tour” that he performs when on a break from Las Vegas, extraordinary magician and illusionist Criss Angel is launching a third production, “The Supernaturalists,” starting Thursday.

His cast includes Las Vegas illusionist Landon Swank; Las Vegas resident and mentalist Banachek; Krystyn Lambert, who starred in “Believe” and was on his “Mindfreak” and “Believe” TV series; escape artist Spencer Horsman; card manipulator Stefan Vanel, who appeared in “Crazy Horse Paris” at MGM Grand; Spanish street magician Adrian Vega; dog conjurer Johnny Dominguez from Colombia; and his “Believe” co-star jokers Mexico’s the Great Maestro and show-stopping magic assistant Fifi, who was The Amazing Johnathan’s foil for a decade.

Incredibly, Criss, Maestro and Fifi will continue to appear in “Believe” at the Luxor and simultaneously appear in “The Supernaturalists.” The world premiere is Thursday night at Foxwoods casino resort in Connecticut for a four-week run in advance of a U.S. and international tour. Criss is there for the premiere and will stay through Monday before returning to Las Vegas next week. Former Luxor President Felix Rappaport is the head honcho at Foxwoods.

I asked Criss why he decided on a third show when he’s already working around the clock on his other two:

“Because I want to produce and create the best magic show out there, and I think that we’ve done that. I am perpetually empathetic. It’s a perpetual thing. I’m crazy. You know, I am always, always doing a million things. It’s been nutty. I’d been thinking of this since the mid 2000s. I wanted to create something that truly is not only original, but also revolutionary.”

How are you able to combine doing this show and still handle “Believe” at the Luxor?

In all three shows! We have “Believe” at the Luxor, which is coming up on its seventh anniversary on Sept. 28; we have the “Mindfreak Live Tour” that I do on my break; and now “The Supernaturalists.”

I have been basically working from about 7 in the morning to about 1 or 2 in the morning seven days a week for about a year trying to get everything together. I’ve been working on evolving and transforming the ideas I have for “The Supernaturalists,” which began in 2005. Now it’s finally come to fruition.

Is it possible to say which is the favorite of the three shows? Are they all totally different?

Right now, and I can honestly go on the record and say this because I really, truly believe this with every drop of blood in my body, “The Supernaturalists” is not only the best magic show out there, but it is a better magic show than my show that I perform in “Mindfreak Live.”

This is why: There are more magic, revolutionary concepts that I have been working on now forever. Nine incredibly talented and gifted artists in their respected disciplines from all over the world from South Africa to Colombia to Mexico to Spain, Paris to Alaska. They are the best of the best out there, world champions, and I have more incredible illusions in this show than any other show I’ve ever done. More original, revolutionary things I’ve ever done put together.

Not only an incredible cast, but also I have been able to work out deals where I am a spokesman for the company that illuminates the Super Bowl from projections to LEDs to lighting. They did a wonderful endorsement with me, and I’ll have stuff that they have that they haven’t even released yet.

Talk about a massive show, plus the state-of-the-art business stuff that hasn’t been released yet. All of the finest, greatest intelligent lighting. There is not one lighting in the show that is not moving or not LED.

Then there is the craziest pyrotechnic show. It’s all coming together. It’s creating a mind-blowing magic spectacle that I know I have never seen. All the people who came in when we were rehearsing were absolutely like, “This is the best magic show I have ever seen in my life.” So that was the feeling from the pacing of the show to the fact that there is something for everybody.

It’s sexy, it’s dangerous, it’s scary, it’s empowering. I’m very, very proud to have achieved this because of the amount of time I’ve been producing and directing stuff that this is a culmination of all my years coming together. I really, honestly, 1,000 percent believe that we have a great, great, great show.
Criss Angel in Times Square for Spike TV
Criss Angel in Times Square in New York for his Spike TV series “Believe.”
Launch slideshow »
Criss Angel Launches MagicPlace.com
Criss Angel launches MagicPlace.com at Bare Pool Lounge in the Mirage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011.
Launch slideshow »
Criss Angel’s Birthday and 1,000th Believe Show
Criss Angel’s birthday and 1,000th Believe performance at the Luxor on Dec. 11, 2010.
Launch slideshow »

Do you run the risk of this being better than “Believe”?

Well, it is better than “Believe” when it comes to the illusions and the lighting. “Believe,” when it came out, was state of the art. This show is state of the art. It’s the illusions, the lighting, the LED, the structure of the show, the artists who are performing various disciplines throughout the experience that make it a family-oriented show that is diverse and eclectic and amazing.

“Believe” is still a spectacular show. It’s a sit-down show, while “The Supernaturalists” is a touring show. In a sit-down, you’re able to do different things that you can’t do with a touring show. At “Believe,” people come and they want an intimate evening with Criss Angel and see mind-blowing stuff that they’ve seen on TV or the Internet.

But “The Supernaturalists” is a little bit of everything put together into a unique family spectacle that nothing out there can compare. At most magic shows, you see the same trick performed by so many different people put together in an old-fashioned way, the poor man’s version of what I’ve already done on my two television series.

What happens if “The Supernaturalists” comes to Las Vegas?

Right now you know Cirque has been such an amazing partner, so has MGM Resorts in allowing me to the opportunity to create these outreach programs. Ultimately, it’s there to entertain people, but also to teach people about the “Believe” show. Because if they love “The Supernaturalists,” they’ll love the “Believe” show. And if they love “Mindfreak Live,” they’ll love “Believe.”

All roads point to “Believe” here at Luxor, and I have three more years on my contract. We’re going to make modifications to “Believe” and transformations to refresh the show. I am never happy with the show or any show I’ve ever done. So I am constantly, always changing things up, especially because we have a lot of repeat business.

“Believe” will continue to grow as a living organism and “Mindfreak” as will the “The Supernaturalists.” This is a really exciting time for me! Three major shows out there with the desire to reinvent magic and to own the magic stage like Cirque du Soleil did for the circus.

You groomed Krystyn, and she even does some of your illusions. It looks like you’re grooming this kid, Landon, to be a second Criss Angel.

The guys and gals really are stars in their own right. They will burn bright when people see what they’re capable of doing. I have been so blessed, as you know, Robin, with my career and personal life that goes beyond my wildest dreams. People have asked me, “Why am I doing this? Why don’t you just keep doing what you do and not share that spotlight because no other magician has done this before?”

Think about the facts and the history back in the day. No other magician would do this. It’s about creating and giving other people who are really talented the opportunity to shine and to reach their potential. It’s been an exciting process for me to see all of them, Krystyn, Landon, Adrian Vega, every single one of them step up, grow and evolve and transform.

I’ve been there every second even before they got to rehearsal and then am still there after they got to rehearsal working with them. Bringing in movement coaches, bringing in whoever we needed to bring in, including my own expertise, and directing them and working with them and creating their acts from scratch. They don’t want to do what’s been done before. Other magic acts out there have that old-time feel.

I didn’t want to do that. People expect more from the Criss Angel brand. I had to take Stefan’s act, and this guy is a champion card manipulator from Paris, France. He performed in “Crazy Horse” for 10 years. I said, “Let me see every card manipulation that you can do.” And I wrote them down, the ones that I thought were really, really good, and I created an act from scratch for him.

I put the music together, put the whole thing together, shot video for him, created the whole thing. He could have either sunk or swam, and this guy worked nonstop to do the impossible. When you see his act, you’ll see it is beautiful, poetic and intense. The character that he creates goes beyond magic. It is the magic of emotions.

We’ve got beyond the realm and really created an experience. This show is interwoven and takes you on this roller-coaster ride, and you never know where it’s gonna go next, but it is wildly entertaining, wildly exciting, and it will get people in a vibe that is uplifting and positive. They’ll walk out of there thinking they can conquer the world. Even during the intermission, I created original content so people can be entertained. It is literally a two-hour show that is nonstop.

How often will you appear in “The Supernaturalists” during the four-week run at Foxwoods?

I have created all original content that is interwoven throughout the experience. I’m basically hosting the show. On top of that, I will be joining in every performance via satellite feed. I will be doing something interactive right through the giant LED screens we will have throughout the stage and effecting people in the audience.

Additionally, I’m going to make surprise, unannounced appearances. People won’t know I will be there, and I’ll suddenly appear onstage to blow people’s minds. You never know when I’m going to appear, but I will be making random and surprise appearances.

So that means commuting, as well, from Las Vegas whenever you have the time?

It means commuting, it means doing whatever I have to do. People are like how is he going to do “Believe” as well as “The Supernaturalists”? We’ve come up with a device to allow me to do that, so you’ll be able to see me in both shows at the same time. How we do it must remain a mystery — even to you! Honestly, I am very, very excited about it.

Is there a possibility when it tours the country that it could hit Las Vegas?

I don’t think so right now. I don’t want to sound bold, but we’ve dominated the world in Las Vegas with the No. 1 show “Believe.” I’m not saying we will never come to Las Vegas, but for right now I want to focus on other areas. Originally, these shows are defined as an outreach program designed to educate people to come to Las Vegas and witness “Believe.”

So in each performance, there is a bit about “Believe” and how people can take advantage of an offer they can’t get anywhere else — “Believe” at the Luxor Las Vegas. We are going out and reaching people nationally and internationally. At this time, Las Vegas is not in that equation because I have a presence here that has already been very successful.

Is anybody telling you to slow down and stop working so hard?

Everybody is telling me that. When I was auditioning and meeting people, they were like, “Criss, I never would have thought that you would be at every single rehearsal and that you would be so hands on.” This is my creation, and my DNA is all over this, so if you’re a fan of Criss Angel, it is really an experience you have to have because you can see me all over it, yet you can see these individual artists and their unique qualities that they bring to the table — and yet the show is the star.

Will you finally admit that you’re a workaholic?

I guess I am. I think I’m beyond a workaholic. I think I’m obsessed. Absolutely and utterly obsessed. I immerse myself in this, and I am focused and excited for things to come.

Right now, we’re getting ready to announce the tour. They’re finalizing it. It will be announced in the coming weeks. We go out 2015 and 2016. Before the end of this year on a couple of my breaks, I will join the tour, as well as in 2016 on my breaks.

They don’t need me, though, because the show is already great! I’m so proud of it. I’ve been so fortunate.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.