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CNN Larry King Live

Mindfreak Criss Angel

Aired October 30, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, mentalist and psychic stunt phenomena Criss Angel. He will blow your mind by breaking into someone else's mind -- an exclusive event he's masterminding for this show only.

CRISS ANGEL, "MINDFREAK": That is a Larry King exclusive.


KING: It's an all access Angel pass -- your ticket to the seductive world that Criss inhabits -- the custom cars, the spellbound fans, his hookups. Plus...


ANGEL: Welcome, Larry.


KING: ...a King crib tour of his Vegas pyramid penthouse.

Criss Angel -- the biggest thing in magic. That's no illusion. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.




KING: Good evening.

You know, there's only one thing more impressive than watching Criss Angel work his stunning psychic magic and that's seeing how it all comes together. Criss gives us an exclusive all access pass to home, work and his custom collection of cars. The man a phenomenon larger than life and bigger than that, if possible.


ANGEL: Hey, Larry, welcome.

Come on into my King crib. You've got my mom and myself. We're going to take you on a little tour.

And as a kid, my dad bought me a train set. It's just a wonderful kind of escape for me to be playing around with trains. And I feel like I'm 10 years old.

This is something I was really proud of because this was the first real review that I got from a newspaper and it was four out of four stars. These three awards were from the International Magicians Society. And I was presented the Magician of the Year Award by them four times.

You see that? You see the pink one?

You didn't see that. Let me show you it one more time, Larry. Watch the pink gumball. It glows in my hand and just like magic -- it completely, completely vanishes, just like that -- boom, gone.

We got to get to know my little crib, my King crib here at the Luxor by the light. If you're here, Larry, I'd love to see you. We can do like the whole live show surf -- Criss Angel presentation. But right now, I'm going to have to make you disappear.




KING: It's great to welcome you to LARRY KING LIVE -- a return visit.

ANGEL: It's amazing to be back. Wow! Two times. Thank you so very much for having me.

KING: Now to run it down, he is the host of "Mindfreak." That's the top-rated cable TV show. In fact, it's on tonight, Tuesday night. He's also...

ANGEL: The season finale.

KING: Season finale night.

Also a judge on "Phenomenon." That's tomorrow night, "The Search for the Next Great Mentalist" on NBC. He is an illusionist, stunt artist, musician, actor and next summer will open at the Luxor Hotel, where he's going to run for 46 years in the Cirque du Soleil.

What's that?

ANGEL: It's 4,600 performances for 10 years.

But who's is counting?

KING: All right, Halloween...


KING: Halloween is right around the corner.

ANGEL: Yes. KING: Is this your holiday?

ANGEL: Tomorrow. It marks the death -- 81 years -- of the great Houdini's passing in 1926. And, yes, we're doing a two-hour special tomorrow night on NBC -- 8:00 p.m. 7:00 Central -- which is going to embody the Houdini presence, along with six finalists that want to show their brand of mentalism. One will come away at the end of the season of "Phenomenon" $250,000 richer.

KING: Was Halloween big to you as a kid?

ANGEL: Halloween was huge to me. I mean who doesn't like...

KING: I think that's because you're a little whacko.

ANGEL: Well, yes. I used to do, you know, the fake blood and the whole thing. But it gives you an opportunity to escape and to become something else and somebody else.

And who doesn't like that?

KING: Are you a mentalist or an illusionist?

ANGEL: I -- I do a little bit of everything. I do mentalism. I do illusions. I do magic, escapes. But at the end of the day...

KING: So you don't label yourself?

ANGEL: No, I don't. I'm an artist that uses a lot of different paintbrushes to create an image. But at the end of the day, I think the most important thing is to have an emotional connection with the audience. That's what Houdini did. You know, that's why people still talk about Houdini more than anybody. He's still synonymous with the art. And that's pretty impressive considering he wasn't on television.

KING: You're not kidding.

Criss performed a pretty amazing "Mindfreak" for the LARRY KING LIVE cameras last week in Las Vegas. We sent our cameras there. A randomly picked fan, a row of people holding Criss Angel items.



ANGEL: Because you like their item or because you hate their item, it doesn't matter. Just touch one person's -- whoever you want. Don't tell me. Nobody here say a word. I'm going to look at the ground, cover my eyes so you know I'm completely isolated and it's impossible for me to know anything, OK?

Do it now. I'm going to sit right there. You -- somebody stay on me. You stay on me. Go ahead. And let me know when he's done that. When you've done that, come back here.

And now I'm going to attempt to know who this random young lady, who was picked randomly, touched somebody and I'm going to try to figure out what item she selected and who is holding it.

Just look in my eyes. Just look in my eyes. You four people can hand the items back to this gentleman right here. And stand away. Look in my eyes. You can go. Close your eyes and open them. Close them. OK. You can go. You -- OK. The person that I'm going to select as -- who was selected by the random spectator is this gentleman right here.

Is this the person?


ANGEL: Is that -- is that it?


ANGEL: That is it.


KING: OK. I beg to -- how did you do that?

ANGEL: Well, as it...

KING: Come, give me hint.

ANGEL: Well, the thing is, is that what I do, Larry, is...

KING: It's a trick, right?

ANGEL: Well, no.

KING: That's just a trick.

ANGEL: No, actually it...

KING: That was a trick.

ANGEL: Hellstromism is the art of muscle reading. And that's something that Kreskin has performed for many years and something that -- it's kind of a lost art. And what I do is I look for telltale signs, as a student of human behavior and psychology...

KING: And those -- all those people were giving you some sign or other?

ANGEL: Yes. Basically I was giving them a series of tests. I was asking them to look in my eyes. I was asking them to close their eyes, to open them up, to raise their item up and down. And I just kind of look at and determine and assess who I think is the person that was picked.

KING: But it's -- think, isn't it high risk?

ANGEL: It's incredibly high risk. You know, a lot of what I do is completely real. Some of it's an illusion. I try to blur that line. And I think that's what really resonated with the American public. KING: So you are telling me, though, that was not a trick.

ANGEL: That's not a trick.

KING: I've got to ask your thoughts on Copperfield.

What do you make of what's happened to David?

ANGEL: David is not a big fan of mine, I'll just say this. But even though I feel that he is being persecuted right now and he hasn't even been charged with anything -- so I think it's a little unfair that everybody is jumping the gun. I think we live in America. People should have the ability to, you know, be -- first of all, be charged with something and then go through due process.

KING: Innocent until proven guilty.

ANGEL: Exactly.

KING: Why doesn't he like you?

ANGEL: I guess because -- without sounding at all conceited, but rather honest, I think he perceives me as the guy that...

KING: Replaced him?

ANGEL: Potentially.

KING: Do you think he was a great illusionist or is a great illusionist?

ANGEL: Look, I think everybody that's successful and working, you've got to tip their hat and give them a lot of credit, because, you know, probably the only thing more difficult than being an entertainer is being a politician. So I respect everybody that's out there and working. And I only wish the best. The world is a big place. There's enough room for everybody. It's just that I want to be like you, the king.



KING: Do you know when you are doing a trick, an illusion or whatever, do you know it's going to work?

ANGEL: Well, I have one huge advantage over the public -- the element of surprise. They don't know what to expect. So if it doesn't go according to plan -- because I do a lot of extraordinary things in everyday places. If it doesn't go according to plan, I just switch it. I just go into something else and cover up what the mistake is.


ANGEL: Yes. That's really the biggest thing. And on "Phenomenon," that's really what I'm looking for. Because, you know, people get so caught up with technique that they forget about selling the most important thing -- themselves. And I think that's really -- you know, that and having an emotional connection far outweighs any trick or anything else, because if you're engrossed with that emotion and that connection, then people don't care what you do. They just want to connect and be there with you.

KING: A quick e-mail from Loyal-Kim in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania: "Do you see yourself as a father anytime down the road? If so, how might that tie into your life as an illusionist?"

ANGEL: You know, I absolutely love children and I've been bestowed a lot of awards and a lot of different things, but the thing that I'm most proud of -- and I sincerely mean this from my heart -- is just recently I was told by the Make-A-Wish Foundation that I'm being, basically, announced and celebrated as the celebrity of the year who has done the most for their charity on television.

KING: Do you work with kids who...


ANGEL: Oh, I love children.

KING: That's the best foundation.

ANGEL: And you know what?

I feel that what you get for giving is -- far outweighs what you're giving.

KING: Yes.

ANGEL: You can't put a price on it. And to answer the question, is I would love to have a child, but now is not the time for me. I'm married to my career.

KING: When we come back, Criss takes us back to Las Vegas for an amazing meet and greet with fans from all over. And as we go to break, more of what he does best.

Take a look.


ANGEL: Pain is a state of mind. For me, it's a feeling of being alive. I live my life this way. When the mind, body and spirit work as one, anything is possible.

Let's do it!




ANGEL: It doesn't kill you. It makes you stronger. In these very few moments of accomplishment is what I live for.


Thank you very much.


KING: We're back with the brilliant Criss Angel -- a great illusionist, stunt artist, musician, actor, a brilliant entertainer who is really on a roll.

Do you feel the roll you're on?

You're on a roll.

ANGEL: Yes. It's amazing. I'm so blessed. And I just want to thank all those people for supporting me and watching me and making my A&E "Mindfreak" show number one on cable. And now "Phenomenon" premiered at number one. It's an amazing ride. And I just feel so blessed as an artist to be able to do what I love doing.

KING: On a personal note, you were linked with Britney Spears this summer. Was that a...

ANGEL: I was linked with a lot of people this summer.


KING: How about her?

ANGEL: Well, I was working with Britney on the MTV Awards where she was going to perform. And I was asked by my manager, Dave Baram, who was also managing her career with Jeff Kwatinetz for a short time, to help put something together. So I met with Britney. We discussed something. Everybody loved what we came up with. But it required a tremendous amount of work and a dedication that Britney decided to not want to put forth and do something that she felt would be better suited for her. And I completely understand that and it's totally, you know, cool.

KING: Were you embarrassed for her?

ANGEL: You know, she -- I understand what she goes through in her life. She lives under a microscope. And it's unbelievable to see what this girl -- it's difficult to watch. And so I really feel for her. I really want the best for her. I want her to be happy. I want her to be -- feel complete. And, you know, if she is happy with her performance, I guess that's what matters.

KING: Were you linked at all personally?

ANGEL: People were linking us personally.

KING: But were you?

ANGEL: I mean, well -- no. We -- we were -- we spent a lot of time together and we worked a lot on different things. But we didn't -- we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend, let's just say that.

KING: All right.

Just a few others in that vein...

ANGEL: Sure.

KING: ... Because I want to go back to magic.

Were you involved with Cameron Diaz?

ANGEL: Cameron Diaz and I definitely did date. And she is an amazing human being. I am honored to know her.

KING: A great talent.

ANGEL: A great talent, smart girl and has a heart of gold.

KING: Paris Hilton?

ANGEL: Paris Hilton is a friend. And we hung out a bunch of times. But we're -- we're friends.

KING: Lindsay Lohan?

ANGEL: Lindsay Lohan -- we hung out a couple of times. Nothing more than that. We're friends. We've spoken on the phone a bunch of times, in text and I hear -- I know that she's doing really well and...

KING: Yes, I'm glad to hear that.

ANGEL: ... I want the very, very best for her, as well.

KING: Our guest is Criss Angel. There is no doubt Criss Angel leaves his audiences spellbound. Our LARRY KING LIVE camera shot exclusive footage of his interaction with some of his fans at the Luxor in Las Vegas.



ANGEL: So it's Criss Angel, Larry, here at my home, the Luxor.


ANGEL: People come from all parts of the world to meet me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I traveled from San Antonio, Texas to see Criss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yukon, which is right next door to Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Green Bay, Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came all the way from Colorado to see Criss.

ANGEL: You are all officially on LARRY KING!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just really cool.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just blows your mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He blows your mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to take me with him and levitate me somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's awesome. He's the bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are awesome. You freak me out sometimes, you know?



KING: Not bad (INAUDIBLE), huh?

ANGEL: It's amazing, because, you know, the loyals that are worldwide are all different ages, black, white, rich, poor, young and old. And magic, I guess, brings out the child in all of us. And that's what I love about the art form, when it does that, when it makes people escape their problems.

KING: What -- I guess you've studied him.

What made Houdini great?

ANGEL: I think -- you know, when Houdini would perform his straightjacket escape for up to 50,000 people on the street, literally, I guess he was like doing street magic back then. It wasn't about the escape. It was about Houdini, a little guy from another country escaping the situation. And people identified with that. They felt if Houdini could get out of that situation, maybe I can get out of poverty. Maybe I could better my life. Maybe I can ascertain this dream that I have in my head.

KING: They threw him in the water in a trunk.

ANGEL: Yes. They threw him in the water in a trunk. They -- he did so many things that basically was symbolic and represented freedom.

KING: He also could expand and contract his stomach.

ANGEL: Well, there's a lot of misconceptions about Houdini. And Houdini was the one who basically perpetuated those -- such as him dislocating his arm to escape the straightjacket, such as him being able to pick up needles with his -- with his eyelid. You know, he... KING: Those are all false?

ANGEL: Yes. He put out a lot of things. Houdini was, more than anything, probably for his day, the best -- without a question, the best P.R. Person in the world. He was the biggest star across the entertainment board. And when you cut -- if you were to cut Houdini out today, blood wouldn't come out, P.R. Would come out.


KING: We'll be right back with Criss Angel.

You've heard -- you've had people take the words right out of your mouth, right?

Well, when we come back, Criss will take the words right out of someone's mind.

Stick around.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criss, how you are doing?

You doing good?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's just insane. It's unbelievable.






ANGEL: Those are my ankles. Those are my legs, correct?

Correct, (INAUDIBLE)?


That's correct.

ANGEL: And these are my -- my wrists...


ANGEL: hands, my open (INAUDIBLE), right?



ANGEL: All right. Start up the saw.





ANGEL: Ow! Oh! Oh!



KING: Most illusionists do that trick with someone else.

ANGEL: And with -- in boxes or with some type of cover.

KING: In a box or (INAUDIBLE) but not out in the open like that.

ANGEL: Never been done before.

KING: So how are you alive?

ANGEL: I've got to be alive for that long run -- 4,600 performances, where we'll be doing that plus things that go way beyond that. The most visually stimulating experience that one can have, I promise to put forth in this live show.

KING: Is what we just saw a difficult trick?

ANGEL: Yes. There is a lot of variables. There is a lot of different things that need to go right.

KING: Something could go wrong?

ANGEL: Oh, absolutely. If one little component of that goes wrong, it's a domino effect. And...

KING: And you could get hurt?

ANGEL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I have scars all over my body. And that's why I wear, a lot of times, a specific type of clothing to cover them up.

KING: E-mail from Shanarah in Oakville, Ontario: "Now that you're having so much success, is there anything about being famous you don't like?"

ANGEL: Well, it's something that you have to accept. I mean, it comes with part of the job. But it's sometimes difficult to -- to have a personal life. I don't have a personal life anymore. And I work seven days a week right now, shooting every day, no days off. And... KING: But that's by your choice.

ANGEL: Yes. And it -- well, it's hard to say no, because I think about the days when I barely made $30,000. I had this crazy dream and I would have died for any opportunity that I would have gotten. And so it's hard to say no. So just having a balance is the thing that I miss. And having the time just to spend with my family.

KING: We've got another just for LARRY KING LIVE "Mindfreak" from Criss Angel. One -- this one, rather, involves plucking a single word from the mind of fan.

Check it out.


ANGEL: I want you to look at that page. There's a bunch of words. I want to look and I want you to -- to think of one.

Do you have one?


ANGEL: Did one almost seem to pop up into your mind?


ANGEL: I want you to say that, but don't speak a word. Don't let your lips move. Just mind speak it to me now. Mind speak it to me. Again, louder.




ANGEL: Is it -- don't move it. Don't move the page.

Where is it?

On the page, show them. Show them.


ANGEL: Right there.

And that's the word you thought of?



ANGEL: That is a LARRY KING exclusive, right here for you, Larry.

I hope you enjoyed that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, the last time I saw that done was Dunninger.


KING: I don't know if you know Dunninger.

ANGEL: Oh, I know of him. I have never seen him perform.

KING: The famed mentalist. He could read minds.

ANGEL: Sure. Fantastic.

KING: Is that a trick?

ANGEL: That -- put it this way, no one has the ability, that I'm aware of, to do anything supernatural, psychic, talk to the dead. And that was what I said I was going to do with "Phenomenon." If somebody goes on that show and claims to have supernatural psychic ability, I'm going to bust them live and on television. That's what Houdini did for more than half of his life, because those people prey on the vulnerable.

KING: But you read body language, as you did with the guy -- picking the guy up.

ANGEL: Yes. Yes, but there is not -- basically as a mentalist, we take our five known senses and create the illusion of a sixth sense. But there is no...

KING: So do you debunk our Israeli friend, who you work with?

ANGEL: Uri -- we had a conversation, because I told him that if he did make that claim, I would have to do the same thing. And he does not make that claim...

KING: He used to.

ANGEL: He absolutely did. And Johnny Carson busted him. And...

KING: And so did Randi.

ANGEL: And so did Randi, a good friend of mine, and somebody who spent his life trying to help others who are the vulnerable, who are taken -- have been taken advantage of. Because people give their money and somebody is, you know, doing cold reading. "Phenomenon" is an incredible, incredible opportunity for 10 finalists to go out there. The world is watching and here is a showcase of their ability -- of their art. And for nine of them, it could be potentially a huge downside, because it's live television. If they screw something up, it could be revealed. And for one person, it's going to change their life.

So we're there, me and Uri, to give our assessment. We're watching it like the American public. KING: It's a talent contest.

ANGEL: It's a talent contest.

KING: "Dancing with the Stars."

ANGEL: Yes. But these are not interacting -- well, there are celebrities interacting, but not like "Dancing with the Stars."

KING: Can we get a break?

ANGEL: Yes, yes.

KING: We'll talk more about it.

In spite of what you might think, Criss doesn't spend all of his money on jewelry and watches.


KING: He'll take you on a tour of his other valuable collection when LARRY KING LIVE comes back.


ANGEL: You can cut yourself with this. This is...


ANGEL: If you...


ANGEL: ...put it in your skin and that's exactly what I'm going to try to do right now.


ANGEL: Do you have a ring?

Let me see your ring. Put it right in my tongue (ph).


ANGEL: Is that your ring?





ANGEL: Could you come right over here for me for a second?

OK. Perfect, just like that. And put your head back, I have got you. You can pick up a leg (ph), is that OK? You OK?


ANGEL: OK. Good, good. Pull as if you want to drag her off the bench. You pull as if you want to drag her off the bench this way, OK?

And I want you to just pull right now. Just pull. Pull! Pull!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (expletive deleted)!


KING: OK. And then now it stops. How the hell do you do that?

ANGEL: A lot of times ...

KING: If it is for real, you are under arrest.


ANGEL: Exactly. It is the same thing, you know? If there is really ...

KING: I didn't see what I was seeing?

ANGEL: Well, you -- what were you feeling when you watched it?

KING: I was feeling nervous for them.

ANGEL: Right. It is kind of like the same thing I say about psychics. If that was real, why -- if you are an American citizen and you are a psychic, why didn't you predict or tell the police about 9/11 on 9/10? If you are a citizen, it would be treason.

Obviously it is not real or else I would be in jail.

KING: That is a great trick.

ANGEL: Isn't it?

KING: Do you have to do it outdoors?

ANGEL: No, it could be the -- I just -- I like to do unbelievable things in everyday environments, because I believe that people take for granted, you know, things in our world day-to-day, whether it is, you know, a child being born, a flower blooming, a plane flying, no one knows pretty much how those things, because they don't think about it.

KING: Is it therefore harder for you to do the confinement of a stage show?

ANGEL: Oh, it is -- no, it is -- a stage show in some ways is easier because you have a controlled environment. When I'm on the streets doing what I do, and I'm floating above the Luxor, there is no control. I can't control the audience. They can shoot it 360 degrees around, and I have way more to lose now than I did when I began, because people know who I am.

KING: OK. Last week in Las Vegas, Criss Angel gave our LARRY KING LIVE cameras an exclusive tour. I mentioned the jewelry and watches and other things. Watch this about his car collection. Take a look.


ANGEL: So now we are going to go outside and see one of my passions, cars.

Larry, this is an exclusive for "King Kribs." I never open up my collection for anyone. You have the exclusive.

I just want to preface right off the top that although this is all great stuff, it doesn't replace the most important things, and that is being happy and loved, two things you can't buy.

The Rolls Royce is a Rolls Royce 2007 Extended Phantom. Lamborghini Murcielago 2007, custom made for me. I remember seeing my brother looking at a poster of a Countach. And I said to him one day I would have this car. And indeed, that day is here. We have an Escalade over here, 2007 as well.

We get around when we are more than four because the Rolls only holds four people. So when we travel and we roll with seven, we take the Escalade.

Down here we have the Viper, which has been seen, like all of these cars, on "Mindfreak." And the Dodge truck so we can get around when we are going out to the desert to ride some quad and dirt bikes.

So I hope you enjoyed some of my vehicles from my collection in "King's Kribs."


KING: When do you get to drive them?

ANGEL: That is the thing. I don't have a lot of time. But you know, I do try to be comfortable when I do have a little time, and be able to live the dreams that I had when I was a kid.

I work really, really hard and that is one of the fringe benefits of being successful, is you are able to do those things.

KING: You have got a Rolls Phantom.


KING: 2007.

ANGEL: 2007, one, it was custom made for me. It is the only of its kind. There are only 14 in the world that are actually extended. KING: You have got a Lamborghini.

ANGEL: Lamborghini Murcielago, yes.

KING: What are you doing with a Dodge truck?

ANGEL: Well, I like the truck so I can get...

KING: That you drive more.

ANGEL: Well, no. No, the truck is -- we go to the desert and that is -- when I have time, I like to unwind. So I ride my dirt bike and stuff like that in the desert and it pulls the trailer and it is practical. And we use it actually for the show behind the scenes to haul stuff.

KING: What is the fascination with cars?

ANGEL: I don't know. I think as a kid...

KING: You were poor.

ANGEL: Well, I wasn't poor. I came from a middle income family, a lot of love. But I think, you know, my older brothers had Corvettes and, you know, I just -- I always loved mini-bikes and stuff. And I think, you know, as a kid, that was a dream of mine.

And, although, you know what I find, though? With success you have dreams, and then when you fulfill those dreams you still -- you realize that it is not what you think it is going to be.

You know what I mean? People think, oh, I have got to have money, I have got to have money. I was happier a lot of times, to be perfectly frank with you, when I had no money, when I had no money, when I had no cars, when I drove Hyundai.

KING: Goals are more fun than getting there.

ANGEL: The journey.

KING: The journey.

ANGEL: And I remember Bill Aucoin, the former manager of Kiss, a friend of mine, said to me, Criss, I was so frustrated, I had tears in my eyes, I was frustrated because I -- no one would believe me. No one would give me the opportunity, I was working so hard. And he said, Criss, enjoy this time now. He said, you are going to make it and enjoy the journey, because once you get there, it is not as fun.

And I didn't understand that, but now I do.

KING: And cars were one of your things.

ANGEL: Yes. Cars and dirt bikes and motorcycles, you know, all of that stuff, you know. And it is, I guess, just like a collection and I love putting that stuff in the Luxor, throughout the Luxor so people can really enjoy it, because it is on display.

People can go in and see the choppers, the motorcycle stuff we use on the show. They can take pictures with it, interact with it.

KING: They are building a showroom for you?

ANGEL: Yes. They are doing it right now. It is going to be approximately 1,600 seats. It is going to be an amazing theater. And it is going to be even more so an amazing, amazing show that will open summer of 2008. And I can't tell you how excited I am about it.

KING: How many performances a week?

ANGEL: Ten. Two days dark. And I will be shooting my TV show and other things during that. So I won't have any time (INAUDIBLE) off.

KING: The death of Criss' dad inspired an absolutely amazing stunt. Let's just say it will definitely leave you hanging, stick around for the stunt and the story behind it.


ANGEL: My father got sick and I spent over three years with him taking him to hospitals and seeing all that he endured. I came to a realization and that's why I'm able to overcome what some might never consider attempting.







ANGEL: Help.


ANGEL: Wink, wink.

KING: You are not going to tell me how you did that. But that is a trick.


KING: Pretty damn good trick.

ANGEL: And it was -- thank you.

KING: We promised a thing about your father. This stunt in "Mindfreak" -- this comes from "Mindfreak," right?

ANGEL: This is real. This is not a trick.

KING: This stunt came about after the cancer death of Criss' father. Criss was inspired by his father's belief in the power of mind over body and was inspired to overcome his own fear.

So tell me, lead up to it for us.

ANGEL: Yes, well, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, was given a death sentence of three weeks to live. And he always believed that his body was a slave to his mind. And at the time, my oldest brother J.D. was having a child, Demetra (ph), my little niece, and he wanted to see this.

And he said, I don't care what any doctor tells me, even though I'm in that fourth stage, I'm going to live. He lived for more than three years. And he was such an inspiration. He was so positive that when he literally died in my arms at our home, right then and there it just clicked for me.

I said, you know what -- because my mom used to take me to the doctor, I would get blood drawn, I would pass out. I said right then and there, I'm going to confront all of my fears. And I want this to be a message to the public that if I can do this, you can do this.

Although it is incredibly provocative, the demonstration like the fish hooks, where I take four fish hooks, place them in my back, hang, literally, from a helicopter more than 1,000 feet above the Valley of Fire and fly.

It was the most painful thing I have ever done and yet the most rewarding.

KING: All right. Let's watch Criss Angel dedicate it to his father.


ANGEL: So over here, Larry, we have something that really stands out in my mind. It is something that I will never forget. I hung, the first person to ever do this, by four fish hooks through my flesh from a helicopter more than 1,000 feet above the Valley of Fire.

If you look at these actual needles, you will see the blood stains specifically on that second hook right there. They are like clamps that went through my flesh. And you can see the picture of my body weight suspended and my skin stretching. And then you can actually see me from the helicopter right there, it was absolutely insane.


ANGEL: The mind is very powerful.

KING: That was on "Mindfreak," right? ANGEL: Yes. That was the first season of "Mindfreak." And you know, it just illustrates when the mind, body, and spirit works together, anything is possible. So all of those people that are watching this, you know, if you want to be a lawyer, you want to be a doctor, you want to overcome your fear of going on an elevator or getting on a plane, you can do it, you know? You can do it.

And that is the most flattering, the most gratifying thing I get as an artist, when I have a fan come up to me and say, you know what, watching you do this demonstration or other demonstrations has allowed me to live my life a little richer, a little fuller.

KING: Is there a little bit of Evel Knievel in you?

ANGEL: I think, yes, absolutely. I loved Evel Knievel when I was a kid, you know?

KING: Good guy. He has had some illness, but I think he is 70 years old now.

ANGEL: Yes, it is amazing to see what he went through and to see the stunts that he did. And the technology was so primitive back then. Nowadays you have to see what these guys do, flips and all sorts of amazing things.

My friend, Trigger Gunn, who trained me to do my 100-foot jump, jumped literally I think 300 and something feet, amazing.

KING: Do you dislike the word magician?

ANGEL: I just think magician pigeonholes you. I like to think of myself as an artist. I actually coined the "Mindfreak" because I wanted it to define a new breed which embodied mentalism, escapes, performance art, a bunch of different things, so I wouldn't be pigeonholed.

Magician, you know, you think of a magician, you think of some guy with a hat, shoving girls in leotards in boxes. And magic for me is a beautiful art, it needs to be provocative, it needs to be popular culture. And most of all, it needs to connect with them.

KING: Do you love having people go, oh!

ANGEL: I love creating wonderment. I love bringing out that child and people forgetting about what problems they have in their life. And they can watch a performance and it is a nexus for them to escape their everyday life.

KING: And people like to be baffled.

ANGEL: People love to be baffled. People love to dream. People love to escape. That is why people go to the movies. That is why people go to see -- you know, hear music. So I believe, you know, the art of magic and mentalism, escapes, all of that stuff just needs to be presented in a way where people connect to it for today's audience. KING: The amazing Criss Angel. He will open at the Luxor starting next summer with Cirque du Soleil, and that should be quite an event. We will be right back.



ANGEL: I asked you all to congregate here because I wanted to get in a situation with impossible conditions. And I want to ask you if you would agree that these are impossible conditions. There is nothing above, nothing below, obviously, and nothing around, correct? Fair?


ANGEL: All right. Cover her up.

Watch, this is going to be insane.

I want you to notice the beautiful curves.



ANGEL: Only one thing better than a motorcycle, three girls! Let's go, ladies, come on!


KING: Holy cow.

ANGEL: Don't ask.

KING: I have learned not to. You were attacking a lot of charlatans, right? They tick you off.


KING: People who take advantage of other people.

ANGEL: People that take advantage of vulnerable people that are down on their luck or had a travesty in their life, and they go to them like sharks and like vultures and try to take their money and just give them a bunch of B.S., really, really gets under my skin.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Paige in Melbourne, Australia: "Criss, what does the number 13 signify to you?"

ANGEL: Actually, if you look at my hand, I have different things ...

KING: No kidding.

ANGEL: ... on each hand. And it has an actual meaning to me, what I have on my hand. The 13 is something that I prefer ...

KING: That says 13.

ANGEL: Yes, that does say 13.

KING: Yes.

ANGEL: I -- there are certain that I want to keep personal, just because I feel like my life is so out there now that I have nothing to keep for myself because it is in tabloids, it is everywhere. So, unfortunately, I would usually answer any -- every question, but there are certain things I won't answer, and that is one of them.

KING: New CBS News poll, 48 percent of Americans, as we approach Halloween, believe in ghosts. Does that surprise you?

ANGEL: No, it doesn't surprise me at all, because I look at it this way. You know, when you are walking down the street and you run into somebody you haven't seen in a while, you are like, oh my God, what a coincidence. I -- this is amazing.

But how many times had you walked down that same street and never ran into anybody you don't know? So people are always looking at things to try to be unique in their life. So if they see something or hear something, they want to have an explanation. That is the way we are as humans.

So it had to be a ghost, it was this, it was that.

KING: Why so much jewelry?

ANGEL: Because I can? No. No, I'm just teasing you. No, just because I think it is just part of who I am. You know, it is so funny because I get voted the most fashionable man by some magazines, and I get voted the worst dressed person.

None of that means anything to me. I just am who I am. And since I was a kid, I used to get my clothes from the Salvation Army. I used to wear to jewelry. I used to do things like that. And this is just me, you know?

I just -- and I really just would tell everybody to just be themselves.

KING: Do you have faith?

ANGEL: Yes, absolutely. I believe. And I tell people they should believe, whatever that belief is, whether it is in themselves, in God, in what they are doing. Belief, passion, perseverance, stick- to-it-iveness, are all the ingredients that you see in anything successful.

KING: But you believe in God?

ANGEL: Yes, I do, absolutely.

KING: You believe he or she watches over you?

ANGEL: Well, I believe that for every painting there is an artist, and for this world, there has to be an artist.

KING: So you think -- do you see things all of the time that mystify you?

ANGEL: I am the biggest skeptic out there. But faith is something you either have or you don't. And believe me, a lot of magicians are atheists. And which is fine, you know, we live in America, which is the greatest country in the world, and people have the right to believe or to not believe or to whatever they want.

I happened to be born into a family that was Greek Orthodox. I was a -- went to Sunday school for 11 years, was an altar boy for 10 years.

KING: You believe.


KING: They got you early.


KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with the amazing Criss Angel, right after this.



ANGEL: I'm going to set a time that I'm going to try to influence you in stopping you turning that dial to that time.

OK. I want you to take your clock and I want you to set it to whatever time you want, now.

Did you feel something come in your head and tell you to stop at 4:30?

FLAVA FLAV, RAPPER: Tell you the truth, I was on my way to 5:00 and something said stop at 4:30. I don't know what.

ANGEL: OK. Exactly my point.



ANGEL: Flava Flav.

KING: I love that one. I love that one. That is a great trick. Take care of some e-mails here in our remaining moments. E-mail question from Kathy Jo (ph), Abilene, Texas: "What is the latest on your movie project 'Mandrake.'" ANGEL: Very excited. We are supposed to shoot that in the beginning of '08.

KING: About Mandrake the Magician?

ANGEL: Mandrake the Magician. I'm playing his father, believe it or not. They are going to do prosthetics on me. And I will be in a veil and at the end, it will be revealed...

KING: He was a famous comic strip and radio show years ago.

ANGEL: Yes. And I'm very excited because I'm also creating all of the visual effects in that movie as well.

KING: Big budget then.

ANGEL: Yes. It is a pretty good budget.

KING: From Jamie (ph) in Hillsboro, Texas: "I'm eight years old, and I practice many of your illusions with my dad. My question is, how many pets do you have? And are the doves you use in your performances actually yours?"

ANGEL: The -- well, Hammie is my cat. And Hammie lives with me. Hammie thinks he is a dog because he sits. He does all sorts of tricks. The birds that I use in the performance was actually my good friend Johnny Thompson's, and my other friend, Joachina Yelez (ph).

But the birds that I will use in a live show are my birds. They will live with me at the -- in the theater. They have an amazing place that they are going to provide for them. And we will be doing shows every night.

KING: How much of what you do is physical, by the way?

ANGEL: A lot of it. I have to be mentally, physically, and just like spiritually in a certain place to be able to do a lot of these things, because honestly I'm going down uncharted territory, anything can happen, and I have to be prepared to try to confront any challenges I might have.

KING: Do you ever worry about kids aping you?

ANGEL: Well, we have done a really good job, and I really applaud A&E for doing this, because, you know, they have that warning in the beginning of the show and we haven't had, that I'm aware of, any incident of anything happening to anybody.

And I always tell people, and I will tell you right now, do not try anything that you see me do, because you will either maim or kill yourself, I promise you. Watch it, enjoy it, but don't try it.

KING: That is your initials on the hat, right?

ANGEL: Yes. It is my -- the C.A. logo. Yes.

KING: We will be there opening night in Vegas.

ANGEL: Thank you so much.

KING: I will bring the whole crew, they love you.

ANGEL: Thank you so much. Larry, thank you.

KING: Criss Angel. And you will see him on television in "Mindfreak" and in the closing night tomorrow night of ...

ANGEL: Yes. "Mindfreak" season finale tonight. Tomorrow night "Phenomenon" two-hour special live, NBC.

KING: On NBC, that is tomorrow night.

ANGEL: 8:00 p.m., 7:00 Central.

KING: And Halloween is coming. We celebrate him for this holiday. This is called "a good booking."

Anderson Cooper and AC 360 is next.