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Interview with Criss Angel

Aired December 29, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Criss Angel -- the man who messed with our heads in "Mindfreak" does it again. You'll see it, but you won't believe it. We'll go on stage, back stage and behind-the-scenes, as Criss Angel blows your mind and we blow the lid off one of his secrets.

CRISS ANGEL: Right here baby.




ANGEL: Are you ready?


KING: It's always a pleasure to welcome the brilliant Criss Angel to LARRY KING LIVE -- the illusionist, stunt artist, musician, actor, star and creator of A&E!'s "Mindfreak." The new show CRISS ANGEL Believe recently opened at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.

What -- what is believe?

ANGEL: Well, believe stems from, actually, a word that Houdini used when he passed away in 1926 on Halloween to basically prove that mediums and psychics are complete frauds, because he knew that when he passed away, that they would be able to communicate with him from the other side.

So Houdini devised that word with his wife Bess so that when he passed on, when people made that claim, Bess would say what is Houdini saying -- what is the secret code word?

And no was ever able to come up with the word. For 10 years, they held this vigil.

KING: The word was believe?

ANGEL: Believe. That's the word. So I thought that was just a -- a poignant word to use for my show.

KING: Who revealed it, his wife?

ANGEL: His wife did, yes.

KING: Is this a magic show?

ANGEL: This is a show that incorporates so many different art forms and really tries to present magic in a way that it's never presented before. It's revolutionary illusions. It's character development. It's a story line. It's unlike anything the world of magic has ever seen.

KING: And you use Cirque du Soleil?

ANGEL: Yes. Cirque du Soleil, the Luxor and myself did a partnership together. And this is something that stems from something I had written probably about 15 years ago. And about three years ago, two-and-a-half years ago, with Cirque, we were talking about doing this and then an incredible director, Serge Denoncourt, got involved and we rewrote things that I initially wrote. And it's just so exciting. We're so proud of it. And it's been doing unbelievable, even in this economy. I'm just so grateful.

KING: So with Cirque Du Soleil there's dancing and everything in the act, in the things they do?

ANGEL: Yes. Everything is integrated in a way where it becomes seamless, you know. The illusions -- probably 90 to 95 percent of them have been featured on "Mindfreak," but in a different incarnation. You know, with "Believe," it's not presented like "Mindfreak." It's a story line. It's a journey. I didn't want to do the typical, you know, presentation that -- that people have seen already. I wanted to go and challenge myself and do something that has never been done before.

KING: I'm proud to be part of this show, however limited. But I'll get to that later.


KING: You are a...

ANGEL: You did a great role in it.

KING: Are you a magician -- are you a magician or an illusionist?

ANGEL: I am an entertainer first -- an artist that utilizes many different vehicles to entertain -- to engage an audience. And I try to do that on an emotional level. To me, it's never about the trick. I don't care about how something works. I care about how people feel when they watch it. You know, that -- that connection -- that emotional connection is true magic.

KING: Why does it always amaze us?

ANGEL: I think magic is able to bring out the child that lives in all of us. And I think everybody wants to escape reality, especially today, in this economy and with all the troubles and tribulations that -- you know, that we're all going through. It's wonderful to be able to have a way to escape and just see that anything is possible when you dream.

KING: You wanted to be one all your life, right?

ANGEL: Since I can remember.

KING: How did you hook up with Cirque du Soleil?

ANGEL: Well, I had an immense respect for Cirque du Soleil when I first say them in the '80s on a television show and just thought, you know, this group is really reinventing the circus, as you know. Because there wasn't three rings. There were no animals. And that's really what I wanted to do. That was, you know, my goal with magic, is to get rid of the hokey presentations of shoving girls in boxes and this very Vaudevillian way to present it and really do it in a way it would be more like a movie where, you know, you would have the magic that would be woven into the fabric of the story with all of these different other art forms that would create an experience that no one ever had.

And so Cirque was the perfect marriage and so was the Luxor.

KING: A lot of computers?

ANGEL: We -- we devise technologies in the show that have never been incorporated in any magic show. And, you know, the artists that were involved -- the conceptors -- everybody from Wade Robson, who's -- who is an amazing choreographer, who won an Emmy just recently; Michael Curry with the puppeteering; Eric Serra with the musical score, Serge Denoncourt, the director; Meredith with the costumes -- the creme de la creme. And they all came together and they just took my vision to a whole another level. And this is a show that Cirque could have never done without me and I could have never done without Cirque.

KING: Do you -- is it a special kind of stage?

ANGEL: The entire -- Felix Rappaport has been such a proponent of the show and of my art and, you know, really was able to accommodate the vision of the show with an amazing state-of-the-art theatre, with. You know, surround sound and projection and just -- we really went in there and redid -- regutted the stage to...

KING: Are you being hit by the downturn in the economy?

ANGEL: It's...

KING: I think Vegas is -- in itself is being hit.

ANGEL: Yes, it's -- it's -- everything is getting hurt. I know Broadway shows. But I just want to say thank you to all those that have supported me on television. You know, we're running, right now, pretty much a sold out show. Every show since our previews began September 26th, we're running between 99 and 108 percent occupancy...

KING: Wow!

ANGEL: ...which is pretty much the number one show in occupancy percentage in Las Vegas right now.

KING: I had the pleasure of going behind-the-scenes with Criss before his big night.

Let's take a look.


ANGEL: So, Mr. King, we're about to enter the lobby of the theatre. You have an all access pass. Check this out.

So this is Lucky the rabbit. He's the mascot of my show. Well, actually, he's been a mascot of magicians for centuries now. And today he's pissed off. Things are not always what they seem today.

Here we go. Here we don't go. He can walk through doors and walls.

But can he get through his theatre door?

Absolutely not.

I can recall 15 years ago writing the show, putting it together and then to actually see it realized, I pinch myself because of some of the amazing artists and designers that we have involved in the show.

Meredith did the costumes. It's amazing what she was able to do with Lucky and the different interpretations of him and some of the other creatures.

Wade Robson did the choreography -- just an amazing artist.

The time has come that I have to go get ready because I can't go on stage like this. So I'm going to ask you to come back in person to see CRISS ANGEL Believe.

Thank you so very much for having me on the show, once again. God bless. Take care. Now you've got to go. Disappear. Poof. Gone. Bye- bye. See you.



KING: Now, you do two shows a night?

ANGEL: I do. I do. It's 10 shows a week...

KING: A little rugged, isn't it?

ANGEL: It's -- it's a challenging show physically, mentally, emotionally. For the next 10 years, I'll be there.

KING: Oh, that's all.


KING: We'll be right back with Criss Angel and you see him at the Luxor.

Don't go away.



ANGEL: This is a -- an experience that has never been available to the public in the history of entertainment. Come on.



KING: You say Believe, that's set for 10 years, Chris?

ANGEL: Yes. We started September 26th, but I'll be there for the next 10 years, 46 weeks a year, 460 shows a year. And I'm -- I can't tell you how excited I am about the show, about performing every single one of those shows. It's been -- it's an amazing show.

KING: What's the significance of the rabbit heads?

ANGEL: Well, as you know...

KING: Because I'm one of them.

ANGEL: Yes. You -- you're actually basically the wizard in our show, like the Wizard of Oz. You are the wizard. And every night, I get reminded of you because you're in the back of the Rolls Royce taking off that -- that bunny mask. And I see Larry King. And I make a little joke about it.

And it's basically -- you know, magicians have been using rabbits for centuries. And I just thought it was fun to kind of play with the miff that it's the rabbit's revenge. It's an homage to the rabbits. The rabbits have their moment to get back at all -- all of the...

KING: Why...

ANGEL: ...their hostility toward the magician.

KING: Why rabbits?

Why pull a rabbit out of a hat?

Why a rabbit?

ANGEL: I didn't come up with that. That's just been something that...

KING: What's your guess? ANGEL: Well, I think that it's -- it's something that probably happened, you know, when some guy was out in the street. And he had a top hat and he didn't have another animal available and -- you know, it probably started off as a drawing, quite honestly. I don't know the history of -- the origin of that. But...

KING: As Criss mentioned, I was fortunate enough to wear one of the rabbit heads. I'm the -- in fact, I am the wizard.



KING: Breaking news -- Criss Angel, star of Cirque du Soleil's new Las Vegas show, CRISS ANGEL Believe, was injured during his performance this evening at the Luxor Theater. Now, at this moment, we hear he is between life and death.


KING: We're back with Criss Angel.

Since that soft opening back in September, there have been several poor reviews. I'm told that people complained about some technical problems -- poorly defined characters, a confusing story, no acrobatic moves.

What do you make of it?

I understand the headline was you got pretty rapped.

ANGEL: Yes. Well, honestly, critics -- I could care less about what critics think. Critics, in my opinion, are wannabes that have never -- will never be.

And, at the end of the day, I'm incredibly proud of this show. Serge Denoncourt, the director, is; Cirque Du Soleil is. And I think the proof is in the pudding.

I have always put my faith -- because I've been getting bashed by the press since I did my first television special, you know, "Mindfreak." And then I went on to do a series. And the public has a connection with me. And I -- I just, the proof's in the pudding. We're sold out every night. The public loves it...

KING: Did you buy any of the criticism?

ANGEL: I don't even read it. It doesn't matter to me. You know, critics are people that have never created a show, never directed a show, never acted in a show. So -- and, quite frankly, there's a period called previews. And that's meant to evolve and develop the show. It's not meant...

KING: Not review, a preview.

ANGEL: Well, people were reviewing the show that never even saw the show. And I think there was a lot of -- a lot of negativity out there. And negativity doesn't breed anything positive.

And, quite frankly, like I said, in this crazy economy that we're in right now, where everybody's suffering -- entertainment as a whole is suffering -- we're at 98 or 99 point -- 99 percent to 100.8 percent capacity every show. It's an occupancy percentage. We are the number one show in Las Vegas. I mean it's unbelievable.

So I just -- I just put my faith in the public.

KING: Obviously.

Do you still have to tweak it?

Because Cirque du Soleil tweaks.

ANGEL: Yes. Oh, we'll be tweaking for the next 10 years because we -- Cirque du Soleil and myself want to create the best experience possible. And, you know, every day you learn something new and you want to fix it and you want to grow and you want to evolve and develop it. And we do that and we will do that continuously.

KING: How about people who say that they don't get enough of your style of magic?

ANGEL: Well, I think that people watch my television show, "Mindfreak," and they expect, you know, that in the live show. And I didn't want to do that exactly the way I did it on TV. I wanted to push my boundaries, explore things that I've never explored artistically.

And I wanted to show people that there's a lot more to magic than the way that it has been presented for all these years, you know?

And really what we've done is we've created like a new format in presenting these illusions in a completely different context that has never been done before. And the audiences absolutely love the show. People don't stand up at the end of the show and applaud and come back and see it six or seven times when we've just opened if they don't like it.

KING: Yes. I can't wait to see it.

Criss Angel is our guest. The show is at the Luxor.

And we'll be right back.


KING: You know, most people know Criss from his amazing hit show, "Mindfreak."

Let's take a look at that show -- the show that made him famous.


ANGEL: Unbelievable. I want to do it again. (MUSIC)

ANGEL: Raise the curtain.


ANGEL: Are you ready?


KING: More with Criss, right after this.


ANGEL: I'm interested in doing things that are going to provoke conversation, interaction, connection, emotion.


KING: We're back with Criss Angel.

Do you perform any big stunts or illusions in the show?

ANGEL: In the show, we do things that I've done on "Mindfreak." You know, I visibly vanish in impossible conditions at the end of the show. I levitate. I get cut -- one of the big moments in the show is when I'm cut in two pieces in a cutting in half version that has never been presented -- literally in the open, no boxes, no klutz. I even remove a good portion of my clothes to illustrate that it -- it's just the most technological sound illusions.

I walk down in a wedding dress, like I walk down walls on "Mindfreak." We basically took a lot of that stuff and just kind of created a different incarnation to present it. And people will see amazing things. I don't make an elephant appear, though.


KING: Are you vicariously enjoying fooling people?

ANGEL: I -- I love to create mystery. I love to connect to people. I think that when art is truly effective, it's when people have an emotional reaction, whether they cry or they're excited or they reflect on it or they reflect on their own life. I think that's really the most gratifying part of it for me -- it's when I have somebody that, you know, changes their life because of something that I've done that they connected to. Like people that -- you know, I have a lot of people that won't go on a plane or get in an elevator, but they see me do something on television and then they address their own fear.

KING: All right.

By the way, we have a little sneak peak for you at some of the excitement and illusions in CRISS ANGEL'S Believe.



KING: You know, "Mindfreak" was one of the most successful -- maybe the most successful magic show ever.

Why did you give that up?

ANGEL: I didn't give it up. I'm still -- I'm doing a fifth season coming up. I start shooting in January and February.

KING: All right, why take on another show to do while you're doing that show?

ANGEL: Because I love creating art. I love pushing my own envelope. I want to grow and evolve as an artist and show people how diverse and how I can create very unique experiences. I don't want to do what's safe. I created "Mindfreak." It's a great brand. Believe is an incredible brand. And, you know, people love the stuff that I've been very fortunate that I'm putting out there and it connects to them. So...

KING: Did you ever get hurt or come close to getting badly hurt?

ANGEL: Yes. I've -- this show is incredibly dangerous and I do it twice a night. And, you know, I'm hanging upside down, I'm, you know, flipping around, I'm doing different things. And I've -- in rehearsals, I've gotten hurt a couple of times.

KING: Did you ever break -- break any bones?

ANGEL: No, fortunately. No. Because if that were to happen, the show would be closed for a while because there's no understudy for me. It's me.

KING: Can you teach someone to be an illusionist?

ANGEL: I think you can teach people how to create illusions. But I don't think you can teach people, you know, to be charismatic...

KING: Yes, right.

ANGEL: ...or to be able to think in a way which is, you know, outside the box.

KING: That's part of it, isn't it, the flair?

ANGEL: Yes, I think -- I think that my success really stems because I connect to people. And I think, you know, the way I connected is I created a vehicle that wasn't typical. It was something that people could relate to and I got magic out of the boxes.

You won't see boxes in this show. It's like this stuff is happening right there in front of you, over your head. And it's a visual feast. It really is.

So I'm -- I'm delighted with what -- what's going on. And I'm just thankful to be able to create art.

KING: Do you conceive all your own tricks or illusions or do some people give you ideas that work?

ANGEL: For the most part, I create, you know, pretty much everything that you see on television and in the live show. But I have an incredible think tank and incredible people that work with me that -- that bring ideas to things, work on different things and might have an idea of their own, as well. But the majority of the things, I pretty much come up with.

KING: Do illusionists -- other illusionists ever flip you?

ANGEL: Well...

KING: Or do most illusionists know what they're doing -- know what the other guy is doing?

ANGEL: I think -- I'll put it this way. We just had a wonderful magician, Jeff McBride, that came to the show. He has a show in Las Vegas right now. And he's -- I have all the respect in the world for him. And he did not know how I did a lot of things.

And he is an amazing...


ANGEL: No. Because we created things in this show that are -- you know, magicians historically go by methods that are proven and that are what has been done. But magic as a whole art form, technically, is kind of technically behind the times. And Cirque was such a huge champion of catapulting it, you know, with their wherewithal and their incredible staff of conceptors and technicians.

KING: Yes.

ANGEL: And we just took it to a new level.

KING: All right. We're going to take a break.

And when we come back, we don't have a large arena here, so we can't do jumping off waterfalls. But we can do a card trick. And we're going to do it next.

ANGEL: All right.




ANGEL: You don't have to live in this box of what the art of illusion, magic, is supposed to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We're back with Criss Angel. He stars in CRISS ANGEL's Believe. It's at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas.

All right, a card trick.

ANGEL: Oh, we're going to try something?

All right. We have two decks of cards. I'd like you select either deck, whichever one you're more comfortable with. It doesn't matter.

KING: I'm very comfortable with this one.

ANGEL: The one closest to you. All right. Take them out of the deck -- out of the pack, I should say. And I want you to notice that they're all different. It's not a trick deck or anything like that.

I want you to go through -- once you pull them all out of the pack...


ANGEL: through them. And I want you to pick out one card. Don't let me see it. I'm going to pick out one card. I'm going to try to anticipate what card you're going to pick. I'm going to place my choice right there. I won't even look at you.

Pick one card and place it face down.


ANGEL: OK. And place the pack to the side.

Now it would be completely impossible -- or highly unlikely, let's just say -- that our cards would match, correct?

KING: Almost impossible.

ANGEL: But I have a sense of you because I've done this show a couple of times and I know how you think.

What was the card that you selected?

I'm going to move mine right over here.

What was the card that you selected?

Turn it over.

KING: It was the king of clubs.

ANGEL: The king of clubs.

KING: The king of clubs.

ANGEL: Interesting. It's your last name, as well.

And what was the card that I chose?

Turn it over.

KING: How the hell do I know?

ANGEL: Leave the king of clubs there, turn it over, see if we have a match. We do. Right here. Pop.

KING: OK, I know you're not going to tell us how you did that. But I opened a closed deck. You opened a closed deck. I picked the card. You had nothing to do with me picking the card. You never touched this deck. I took the card out of the deck. I put it face down. You took those cards in that deck and picked a card and put it face down and they were the same.

ANGEL: Same. Intuition?

KING: No. You're not psychic.

ANGEL: No, I never claim to be. I'm a proponent against that stuff because I believe.

KING: For the first time in history, why don't you tell us how you did it.

ANGEL: I'll tell you, come to the Luxor, see the show. Come back stage, I'll teach you a great effect.

KING: Why don't magicians tell people how you do a trick?

ANGEL: I think it's that air of mystery. It's that wonderment that you feel right now. I hope you don't feel angry.

KING: I just feel flustered. I fee like I've been -- how did you do it?

ANGEL: You're the best at what you do. I like to think I'm pretty good at what I do. That's why you're the King.

KING: If you told me how you did it, if, could I do it?

ANGEL: No. No, not without many years of practice, quite frankly.

KING: Wow. I've seen some great -- Jimmy Grippo was an old friend of mine, maybe the best card guy ever. He could do things with cards -- I saw him do things -- give a card in that hand -- you think of the card and another guy across the room is thinking of the card, and he's thinking of the right card and Grippo hasn't touched the card. How do you do this? OK, you're not going to tell me. You'll tell me though -- I wouldn't be able to do it.

ANGEL: No, you wouldn't, because it involves techniques that are something you can't just acquire like that, a little dexterity, a little psychology, a little bit of everything.

KING: Is magic harder than illusion?

ANGEL: I think magic and illusion are really the same thing. I think it's how you perceive it. For me, magic, illusion are just words describing my art.

KING: So six to one, half a dozen.


KING: That's -- see, I'll be bothered by that all night. Are you always working on new tricks or new illusions?

ANGEL: Yes, I'm working on Season Five right now for the television show. We're going to be hitting our 100th episode, Larry, which is unbelievable. I'm always working on stuff.

KING: Is there a pending illusion that is confounding you?

ANGEL: Yes, I want to ride my motorcycle up the side of the Luxor to the light and vanish. That's what I'm working on right now. Don't know how I'm going to do it without killing myself.

KING: That's what I was going to say, watching the late Criss Angel. That sounds Evel Knievel-ish.

ANGEL: Yes, but it's to, number one, ride up the side of the pyramid and then to vanish makes life very difficult.

KING: We'll be right back with Criss Angel, who definitely ain't wound up too tight. Don't go away.


ANGEL: My mother. Hi, mom. And my Aunt Stella, who taught me my very first card trick. It's all your fault, Aunt Stella. When I was seven years old, my aunt showed me a card trick and I got bitten with the bug and now, she's to blame.


KING: Who influenced you?

ANGEL: In magic, it was definitely Houdini and a man by the name of Richiardi (ph) were -- he was an amazing magician. Outside of that, director like Fellini, an artist like Bali. My inspiration came definitely more from other art forms, music and stuff, than magic.

KING: What did Houdini do that made him what he was?

ANGEL: What's amazing to me is that in Houdini's life, less people watched Houdini than a magician on television today in one special.

KING: More people have seen you than have ever seen Houdini.

ANGEL: Yes, but it's the word of mouth, it's that larger than life persona that he created. He was a master. I think if you would have cut Houdini with a knife, blood wouldn't come out, PR would. I think I may have even said that to you before, because he was just a master at it. What fascinates me is 82 years since his death in 1926, his name is still synonymous with magic more than any other magician today.

KING: Is it true He could expand and contrast his wrists so that he got out of things easily.

ANGEL: He had a wonderful myth about dislocating his shoulder to get out of the straight jacket. It was things he put out in the press to create a stir.

KING: How did he escape when they chained him in chains and dropped him in the Hudson Bay?

ANGEL: Without divulging how he did it, I do a lot of that staff and try to -- in some ways, not to say that by any means I'm one upping Houdini, because Houdini is the master, but today, technology is so much more difficult that to think about the prisons that they had back then, and the hand cuffs, which were single spring locks, today, it's not the same. It's nearly impossible to get out of a jail or even hand cuffs, unless you have a good --

KING: How long you've been doing this?

ANGEL: I learned my first card trick from my Aunt Stella when I was six of seven years old. I really got involved in it when I was 10 or 11. I've been doing magic and music my whole life. That's all I've known.

KING: Do you have children?

ANGEL: No, no children.

KING: You were married?

ANGEL: I still am. This is the longest divorce in New York state history.

KING: Still going on, with no children.

ANGEL: No children.

KING: What could be the big issue.

ANGEL: You know what that is? That's the international symbol for something.

KING: Money. Do you talk to her?

ANGEL: Yes, she's a great girl. She's a great girl.

KING: You hope to align it?

ANGEL: Hopefully we'll get it rectified, especially sooner than later, for her sake and for my sake. It's time to move on for both of us. She's a great person. She deserves to be happy and to just put this behind her and myself.

KING: Before we break and come back, ever have things go wildly wrong?

ANGEL: Sure. But we all, as magicians, have the element of surprise, so the audience doesn't know what to expect. So if you're good at improv, then you can usually take a negative -- make lemonade out of lemons. I do it all the time.

KING: Criss is famous for mystery. Deservedly so. We're going to blow the lid off one of his secrets. Here's a hint. It's a secret of a romantic kind. You don't want to miss this with your man Larry. Stay right there.


KING: Going to blow the lid off one of Criss's secrets. No secret anymore. Here's our old friend, been on this show before, Holly Madison. Stage center.


KING: Hi, Holly.

ANGEL: How are you?


KING: Holly, how did this happen?

ANGEL: Well, we met about a year ago when Criss was out doing a show called Phenomenon. I had been a fan of his show, "My Freak," and wanted to meet him. We just kept talking.

KING: You were still at the mansion?

ANGEL: Yes, but we didn't start dating until recently.

KING: How did it happen for you, Criss? How do you feel about it? She wanted to meet you, so that's --

ANGEL: Look at her. Look at me. I was just very excited that Holly wanted to meet, very flattered. She's a wonderful human being. You mentioned a lot of women that I was supposedly hooked up with and the truth is that a lot of that is completely fabricated by, you know, tabloids and stuff like that. But this is a hookup. This is real. I'm very happy.

KING: Is it different for you, Holly, to be out in the public with a new man? You were so public with that reality show and with Hugh Heffner.

MADISON: It's definitely a whole different relationship, but when you're happy, you know, you don't care what's out there. KING: Was it hard to leave Heffner?

MADISON: The whole situation was a little difficult to leave, because it involved a lot of my really good friends, the whole community up there. But Heffner and I are still friends.

KING: You are?

MADISON: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Is he happy about you and Criss.

MADISON: Yes, he wants me to be happy and I want him to be happy. We both moved on.

KING: Well, Criss, how serious is this?

ANGEL: We're having a lot of fun right now. We just went -- we go to the desert in Las Vegas. We ride quads and motorcycles. She's seen the show about 100 times. We just have a great time. We're just really enjoying each other's time. I went through hell getting to get this show launched and stuff like that. So now, we're just trying to have some fun and enjoy each other's company and really get to know each other. We've just been having a wonderful time. It's an amazing relationship so far.

KING: As I remember something, Holly, you wanted to get married and have a child.

MADISON: Yes, everybody does at some point.

KING: Do you want to now?

MADISON: Not today, but some day.

KING: If it turned out to be Criss, would that be fine?

MADISON: Absolutely, of course.

KING: And for you it would be fine? I'm trying to be --

ANGEL: Yes, look, Holly's not only beautiful on the outside -- I've said this before. She's beautiful on the inside. And she's really quite different than -- when you watch her on the show, she's very different than the show, just like I think you probably say about me. People's perception is very different when they develop it from television than when it really is in person. We're having a great time. We're really happy to be together.

KING: I'm going to take a break, and then I want to hear about the first meeting. Then I want to hear about how you feel when you watch your show? And does he give you any of the secrets. Our guest, Criss Angel, and for the first time together in the media.

ANGEL: Yes, we wanted to give you, because you've been so kind to both of us. KING: Holly Madison and Criss Angel, we'll be right back.



KING: We're back with Criss Angel and for the first time together on TV, Holly Madison, the model and TV personality. Tell me about the first meeting, Holly.

MADISON: We met -- he was out in L.A. doing a show called Phenomenon. I had a really big crush on him and I totally didn't want him to know.

KING: Even though, you were with Hugh Heffner at the mansion?

MADISON: Yes. So I didn't want him to know. I was acting really stand-offish.

ANGEL: It wasn't her fault. I hypnotized her.

KING: Where were you? Where did you physically meet?

MADISON: Where was that show shot, I forgot. It was here in L.A.

ANGEL: It was at the NBC studios.

KING: You went to the show?

MADISON: Yes, Bridgette, Kendra and I were kind of the assistants. They would have guest assistants go on and help the magicians that were trying out to win the prize.

ANGEL: And then you did my show. Then they did "Mind Freak." We talked a little bit there, but nothing. Then, when the situation had transpired where you kind of got separated, then she was coming to Las Vegas and she invited me to say hello, said hello, and haven't said good bye.

KING: So you never, in a sense, cheated on Hugh.

MADISON: No, absolutely not.

ANGEL: She has a lot of integrity, this girl.

KING: Where did you go on your first romantic date?

MADISON: It was your premier, right? I know what you're thinking about.

ANGEL: No, we went to the premier of Believe at the Luxor.

KING: You had to go.

ANGEL: I had to go, but I couldn't think of anybody better to go with than Holly. We had a fabulous time. And I think we went until 6:00, 7:00 in the morning. Some things just happen naturally. Just the chemistry's there. Some things, people try to force and it just doesn't happen. This is just natural.

KING: What was it like to go with him opening night to Believe?

MADISON: It was so much fun. I was kind of nervous. But it was a good time. It was fun.

KING: What's it like to have these feelings?

ANGEL: Well, it's great because, to be perfectly frank with you, I'm married to my career. I've been married to my career for a long time.

KING: Obvious.

ANGEL: And to have something that you want to step away on your break and do something outside of your career is something that's very different for me as a person. And so when Holly says to me, I want to go riding in the desert; I'm like, OK, let me load up the bikes.

It's really wonderful. We're really having a great time. I look forward to, obviously, to do the show and she surprised me a couple nights ago. She just was in the audience. And it's just great. I'm surprised she's not sick of seeing me yet.

MADISON: No, absolutely not. I love it.

KING: When you left the mansion, where did you go?

MADISON: I have my own place here in L.A. I work in Santa Monica. So I have a condo there.

KING: Are you close to being more than just dating?

MADISON: The whole thing's so new.

KING: How new is it?

MADISON: Just like less than a month.

KING: It is less than a month?

ANGEL: Yes. But we've been spending a lot of time with each other. We spend probably four to five days a week with each other. So she flies back and forth, and I have Wednesday and Thursdays off. So she usually comes out Tuesday night, hangs out with me Wednesday and Thursday, and then she has some jobs -- she does a lot of different -- a lot of things that she does, appearances.

KING: No reality show anymore?

MADISON: No, actually. We just finished season five of "Girls Next Door" and we're supposed to start shooting season six in the spring. But I have a normal job, quote unquote, real job, over at Playboy. I direct the centerfold shoot. That's my 9:00 to 5:00 job and any other reality show or anything is just icing on the cake.

KING: How did you react when some critics wrapped him?

MADISON: I saw the show and I think it's amazing. It's absolutely brilliant and I don't want know what they're thinking. I think they're haters.

KING: Did you hurt for him?

MADISON: No. Because the show's amazing and everybody who goes and sees it, you know -- it'll be around for a long time and I don't think what the critics say matters.

KING: Did you watch Heffner's show?

ANGEL: The "Girls Next Door?"

KING: Yes.

ANGEL: Of course. I've seen it --

KING: You've seen it a lot?

ANGEL: Yes, sure, I've seen it a lot of times.

KING: When you would see her, did you -- did you have some -- she had a crush on you --

ANGEL: Yes, but I -- quite honestly, you know, I'm just amazed that she would have a crush on me. I was amazed. I would never think that. Really -- look at me, America. Look --

MADISON: You're hot!

ANGEL: No, it's very flattering. It's wonderful.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Criss Angel, the host of Criss Angel Believe at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas and he's got his own television gig as well. And for the exclusive tonight with Holly Madison. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Criss Angel and Holly Madison, wrapping up things. Does Heffner have two 19-year-old girls now?

MADISON: Yes, I actually know the girls. They're upcoming playmates, so I directed their shoot last summer. So I guess I'm responsible for introducing them.

KING: How old are they?

MADISON: They're 19, like you said. They're fun.

KING: No, no --

MADISON: They're fun girls.

KING: How do you explain Hugh?

MADISON: I explain him as somebody who's a very happy, optimistic person, and he lives life to his own standards, obviously. And I wish him the best.

KING: But don't you think it's a little weird?

MADISON: Probably, you know, to everybody else, but he's a really close friend of mine and always will be, so I have nothing bad to say.

KING: So you never looked at the age difference as weird?

MADISON: No. I mean, well, it is, but --

KING: Criss, how did you look at it?

ANGEL: You know, I respect him for what he's accomplished, but I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about other people, because I have so much of my own crap to worry about.

KING: You're going to be 41, is that right?

ANGEL: If that's what you're telling me. I thought I was going to be 21.

KING: Is it 41?

ANGEL: I will be, yes.

KING: That's still very young.

ANGEL: Really? I appreciate that. Thank you.

KING: You've got all the awards in the world. You performed more hours of prime-time magic than anybody in history. You've been named magician of the decade. What next? And you've got a ten-year deal at the Luxor for this show. What goal --

ANGEL: My goal, honestly, out of all those accolades, the thing that I'm most proud of is the Chris Gracious (ph) award that I was recipient from the Make-A-Wish foundation because of my time with children. And I have an organization called Believe Anything is Possible and it's an organization designed to help children in need, families in need, and that's going to be my focus next year. I want to raise three to five million dollars the first year for that organization.

KING: You're amazing with kids. My son Cannon brought along his friend, Matthews, who wants to be a magician. Eight years old -- you showed him things and encouraged them. You like kids?

ANGEL: I love children. And I feel like I've been so blessed, so fortunate that I want to use all that I've been fortunate to have to help others. I think that's my calling. I think that I have to be -- we have to be a positive influence in the world. I think that's really what matters. You know, money doesn't matter. Materialistic things don't matter. When it really comes down to it, it matters -- the feeling you get out of doing something kind for someone else far outweighs anything else you could have.

KING: Look at that watch. See that watch.

MADISON: Nice watch.

ANGEL: Thank you.

KING: That's like an insane watch. Is that real diamonds or custom?

ANGEL: No, it's real. It's real.

KING: And the rings.

ANGEL: I just wore a couple. But everything has, like, a meaning. This has "Love Lives Forever" and has all different religions and it's my dad and mom's initials. I lost my dad to cancer and so I just feel like, you know, that love does live forever and even the show kind of exemplifies that.

But I just think that being positive and trying to do positive things in the world is the most important thing that each of us can do. It should be our responsibility to help others.

KING: You're a great guy, Criss. You're also one of my favorite people.

ANGEL: You're so kind. That's such an honor.

KING: You're one of my favorite people. I wish the two of you luck. I hope --

MADISON: Thank you.

KING: Don't leave him like you did -- please. The guy's an old man.

As always, head to our website, We want to hear from you. Join in the conversation on our blog or participate in our quick votes. While you're there, check out upcoming guests. Thanks for joining us on a magical edition of LARRY KING LIVE live. Look at this --

ANGEL: The king.

KING: Two king of clubs. Now here's CNN's own wizard, Anderson Cooper with "AC 360." Anderson?