Editor’s Note: The following was written by Keith Feltenstein.
In our next “Versus” round up, we have two mind bending illusionists! In one corner, we have David Blaine. And across from him in the other corner, we have Criss Angel. Two dangerous men who can bend time and space, and excel at street performances. Tricks that will amaze you and keep you wondering! So with that said who would be the better illusionist? We will let you decide!
David Blaine (born David Blaine White; April 4, 1973) is an American magician, illusionist and endurance artist. He is best known for his high-profile feats of endurance, and has made his name as a performer of street and close-up magic. He has performed all over the world and has set and broken several world records.
On May 19, 1997, Blaine’s first television special, “David Blaine: Street Magic” aired on NBC. According to the New York Daily News: “Blaine can lay claim to his own brand of wizardry. The magic he offers in tonight’s show operates on an uncommonly personal level.” When asked about his performance style, David explained, “I’d like to bring magic back to the place it used to be 100 years ago.” Time magazine commented, “his deceptively low-key, ultracool manner leaves spectators more amazed than if he’d razzle-dazzled.” The concept of focusing on spectator reactions changed the way that magic has been shown on television. The New York Times wrote: “He’s taken a craft that’s been around for hundreds of years and done something unique and fresh with it.” Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller stated: “The biggest breakthrough done in our lifetime was David Blaine’s Street Magic, where his idea was to do really simple tricks but to concentrate… to turn the camera around on the people watching instead of the people doing. So to make the audience watch the audience, which that first special Street Magic, is the best TV magic special ever done and really, really does break new ground.” Many people watched the show.
In Magic Man, Blaine is shown traveling across the country, entertaining unsuspecting pedestrians in Atlantic City, Compton, Dallas, the Mojave Desert, New York City, and San Francisco, recorded by a small crew with handheld cameras. Jon Racherbaumer commented: “Make no mistake about it, the focus of this show, boys and girls, is not Blaine. It is really about theatrical proxemics; about the show-within-a-show and the spontaneous, visceral reactions of people being astonished.” USA Today called Blaine the “hottest name in magic right now”.
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos (born December 19, 1967), better known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American magician and illusionist. Angel began his career in New York City, before moving his base of operations to the Las Vegas Valley. He is known for starring in the television and stage show “Criss Angel Mindfreak,” and his live performance illusion show Criss Angel Believe in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. The show generated $150 million in tourist revenue to Las Vegas in 2010. He also starred in the television series, “Believe” on Spike TV, the television show “Phenomenon”, and the 2014 stage show, “Criss Angel Magicjam”.
Angel has been on primetime television for more hours than any other magician in history, between his television series and various specials on cable and network television. He also holds multiple world-records made during his magic performances, and was named Magician of the Decade in 2009 and Magician of the Century in 2010 by the International Magicians Society. In addition to his career as an illusionist, Angel was the lead singer for his eponymous industrial band Angeldust, which released five albums between 1998 and 2003. He also authored the book Mindfreak: Secret Revelations.
On October 20, 2002, Angel performed in the ABC Family television special named Criss Angel Mindfreak: Postmodern illusionist, an hour-long performance and tribute to Harry Houdini. The special aired again on December 24, 2002 on Channel 4 in the UK. The Birmingham Evening Mail reviewed the show, writing, “Criss Angel is currently making a name for himself as a more provocative, darker alternative to [other illusionists]. He walks the streets of New York, hypnotising passers-by, turning cups of take-away coffee into cockroaches and suspending himself from the ceiling by inserting hooks into his back. The piece de resistance of all these mind games is an update of the Houdini underwater trick – an attempt to stay in a (cell) tank of water for 24 hours, padlocked and restrained. All seems to be going well, until the filter system breaks down and the water begins to heat up.” On October 31, 2003, SciFi Channel aired the one-hour special “Supernatural” starring Angel. Kate O’Hare said of the special that, “Filmed in part at Universal Theme Park in Orlando, FL, “Supernatural” finds Angel crawling up buildings, passing a quarter through his skin, spontaneously combusting and having otherworldly creatures burst from his chest.” When asked about his process in creating television specials, Angel said that, “I like to have my hand in everything on my TV specials. I’m the executive producer; I direct it; I create it. I write all the music for my TV specials and my live performances. It’s on my label. I write it; I produce it.”During the special Angel performed stunts including lighting himself on fire and making a tarantula emerge from a pedestrian’s soda can. In 2003, Angel was also featured in the two-hour TBS special Made in Japan.
In early 2003, Angel performed at the release of the new branding for Miller Lite beer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 80th anniversary of Houdini’s last performance in that city. For the performance, he was suspended ten stories in the air and bound in a straitjacket, from which he escaped. He also performed an illusion at Ozzfest in 2005. During this period Angel also earned money selling signed merchandise, making up to $50,000 a day.
With that all said who would you like to see win the master of magic? Would it be David Blaine, or would it be Criss Angel? We want you, the fans, to decide which of these two men are master illusionists. Vote now! Make a difference!
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