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Opinion: Is Criss Angel Underrated?

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Opinion: Is Criss Angel Underrated?

I meet lots of people through my restaurant gigs and it’s apparent to me that among my spectators, David Blaine is far better known than Criss Angel. When a spectator asks me about “that guy doing the levitation,” he or she is always referring to Blaine and not Angel. But Angel is clearly performing stronger magic and should be better known among the public.

Furthermore, among magicians, Angel’s name seems to only occasionally arise. When compared to the recent discussions that I’ve heard and participated-in concerning Keith Barry and Blaine, who were both featured in recent television specials, Angel seems to be hardly mentioned. But each week, Angel is producing an hour of great magic in his series on A&E. But why isn’t he more popular among magicians? I think that he deserves our respect and support.

Rising to the Challenge
One doesn’t have to look far to recognize Angel’s significant body of work. When it comes to levitations, Angel’s various methods have far exceeded anything that Blaine has performed. Angel has performed suspensions of himself and spectators in public places, levitated himself up onto chairs without the use of wires or outside apparatus, and his recent levitation between two buildings was a first. And overall, Angel’s performances on the street-something that Blaine pioneered-are just as good as Blaine’s.

Spectator’s often ask me about Blaine’s performance of the card through window. But Angel performed the effect on a moving bus, sending the chosen and signed card through the windshield-a feat that was similar to David Copperfield’s card through window that he performed on the moving Orient Express train in an earlier television special.

No Copy Cat
So he’s performed effects that others have already done on television, but Angel has also displayed feats that have been unmatched. His version of the Hindu needles, in which he pulled the threaded needles from his navel was astonishing. Let’s see another magician match this one. (For one thing, there are few magicians with the six-pack abs who can pull up their shirts to perform this one without embarrassing themselves.) This far exceeded Blaine’s presentation of the old fakir/carney trick where a performer swallows thread and appears to pull it out of his midsection-a feat he did in an early special.

One of Angel’s most astonishing illusions was when he appeared to swallow a coin and allowed spectators to watch it travel under the skin of his arm, and then he cut his arm to remove the coin. It’s among the most amazing illusions that I’ve seen in the past year-live or on TV. Angel continues to perform his takes on classic effects and break new ground with others.

On the Waterfront
While Blaine dominated the media with his recent long-term residence in an aquarium and record-breaking attempt at holding his breath, Angel performed similar water-related stunts in his first season where he went on public display before making escapes. But when it comes to water and the general public, it’s all “Blaine,” “Blaine” and “Blaine.” In the past couple of weeks at my restaurant gigs, I can always get a laugh by telling spectators that I’m going to amaze them by holding my breath. Almost everyone gets the Blaine reference.

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