- NAME: Criss Angel
- OCCUPATION: Magician, Television Personality
- BIRTH DATE: December 19, 1967 (Age: 46)
- Did You Know?: Criss Angel is the only magician to appear on the covers of both Magic magazine and Genii magazine—the most popular and respected magic magazines worldwide.
- Did You Know?: Criss Angel's Las Vegas show Criss Angel Believe, which debuted in 2008, was named after his idol, legendary magician Harry Houdini.
- Did You Know?: Criss Angel has earned the International Magicians Society's prestigious "Magician of the Year" honor a record five times, as well as its "Magician of the Decade" and "Magician of the Century" titles.
- EDUCATION: East Meadow High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: East Meadow, New York
- Full Name: Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos
- AKA: Christopher Sarantakos
- AKA: Criss Angel
- AKA: Chris Sarantakos
- ZODIAC SIGN: Sagittarius
Best Known For
Criss Angel is an awarding-winning magician known for starring on the popular reality television show Criss Angel: Mindfreak.
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Born in New York in 1967, famed magician and television persoanlity Criss Angel made his primetime TV debut on the 1994 ABC one-hour special Secrets, and headlined Madison Square Garden in 1998. He launched the A&E reality TV series Criss Angel: Mindfreak in 2005, and has since partnered with Cirque du Soleil.
"I came up with the term 'mindfreak' because I didn't like the word 'magician.' I felt like I wanted to coin a term that would be basically the reaction to my art. It would be a mindfreak and so that's why I came up with that. But, many people say I'm really a student of humanity and psychology."
"Pain is a beautiful thing. When you feel pain, you know you're alive."
"Sometimes my art is just an illusion—or is it?"
Criss Angel was born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos on December 19, 1967, in East Meadow, New York, into a Greek-American family. Angel and his two brothers, Costa and J.D., were raised by their parents, John and Dimitra, in East Meadow, New York. Angel says that he learned his diligent work ethic from his father, a fitness junkie who owned a successful restaurant and doughnut shop before he passed away from cancer in 1998.
Angel fell in love with magic at the age of 7, when his Aunt Stella showed him a card trick. "From that day on, I was hooked," Angel later remembered. "I felt this incredible sense of power that an adult didn't understand how it worked, but I did." He practiced magic tricks obsessively, and gave his first magic show at age 12—at a neighbor's birthday party, for a fee of $10. While attending East Meadow High School, Angel performed frequently at neighborhood restaurants. He was a regular act at a Long Island restaurant called the Wine Gallery, where Angel says his tips "could easily clear a hundred dollars on a good night."
After graduating from high school, Criss Angel decided to forgo college to pursue a full-time career in magic. His decision to skip college angered his parents. "The thought of my becoming a professional magician was unbearable for them," Angel later recalled. "They had hoped their three sons would go to college and become doctors or lawyers—but not a magician!" Despite his parents' objections, Angel hit the road and began touring with other traveling performance acts. Between traveling and performing, he attempted to further his education in his own by studying the history of magic in public libraries. He also studied the art of mysticism, music, martial arts and even dance. "It was a practical education, not a formal one," he said.
In 1994, Angel made his primetime television debut on the ABC one-hour special Secrets. In 1998, Criss Angel: World of Illusion headlined New York's Madison Square Garden during the city's annual Halloween convention. Angel performed the same 10-minute show 60 times per day throughout the entire 12-day convention. His performances there landed Angel his next major gig: a permanent show at the World Underground Theater in Times Square. Opening in 2001, Criss Angel: Mindfreak ran for more 600 performances before closing in 2003. On the popular and critically acclaimed show, Angel vanished and reappeared, made doves fly out of his hands, changed a $1 bill into a $10 bill and made audience members appear to levitate, among other acts.
In 2005, Angel transformed Criss Angel: Mindfreak into an A&E reality TV series.
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