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August 04, 2008


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Ya, he blew it. But in the end so what, sometime the best entertainers put on a poor show. It happens.

The point here is that yes he wasn't able to create a seamless illusion, but he has never ever claimed that he was ever doing anything else. To me good or bad that puts him much higher up the chain than fraud artists that claim supernatural powers.

Calling Callahan out was a public service that more professionals in the trade should do more often. One crappy show shouldn't diminish that action for anyone

Ok so you figured out the trick...

How many millions didn't?

I know how magicians do card tricks and saw pretty ladies in half...

i don't get it? He hyped his stunt via advertising to bring in more viewers which would in turn get him renewed next season because of market share... what's wrong with that? (and he's said numerous times he has no paranormal ability)

Normally i am completely with you skeptico... >.<

Are you under the impression that escape artists are generally in danger during the illusions they perform? I dont think so.

This doesn't piss me off at all. Finding out a magic trick isn't really magic really doesn't bother me. I went into it knowing it was a stunt, most people do.

Part of the set up is promising to mommy that its dangerous.

I hope he continues to call out Callahans... I wish he would call out Uri.

I remember a similar trick David Copperfield did, I think back in the late 80s/early 90s. He was in a safe in the top of a building that was about to be demolished. There were cameras everywhere, and it showed him getting out of the safe, but IIRC correctly, the building collapsed with him still "inside".

But the cool part was how he reemerged. They set up a 1" thick piece steel on some sawhorses a couple hundred yards away from the building, with a sheet over them. They had people walk under the steel and bang on it and stuff, then a few minutes after the building collapsed, he seemingly rose out of the steel, beneath the sheet. Then of course tore the sheet off and had just the perfect amount of dust on his clothes, and his hair was ruffled just enough to know that he had been in a collapsing building.

I imagine they probably used the same old camera tricks for him leaving the building, but it was a cool illusion how he rose up out of the sheet metal, surrounded by people

I've been really soured on Criss Angel after watching a few of his shows and seeing how much of his illusions rely on camera editing. I see "illusions" like that in every major action movie. To me, a good illusion may be dependent upon viewing angles but if it needs camera tricks or worse, editing and splicing then it stopped being an illusion and he crosses that line all the time.

As a good example, check out his levitation trick where he supposedly levitates from one building to another. The lighting changes dramatically from one shot to the next and was obviously many different attempts spliced together. There are even signs of photoshop-like picture editing (duplicated clouds). I lost all respect for him when I saw that.

Skeptico, this seems a little harsh.

I don't blame you for being disappointed that he failed to deliver a seamless illusion. I cringe when a favorite musician inexplicably screws up a difficult note in a live performance that he had nailed beautifully a thousand times before, or when a favorite writer's book has typographical or even occasional grammatical errors in it that he committed and that editors missed.

But you know what? It happens. Even the people who are the best at what they do don't get it right every time; whether the fault lies with them or with someone else in the process of whatever they produce, accidents and/or mistakes happen.

As for your beef with the camera-editing job and so on, is that really what bugs you? Or is it that, at the last moment, his return to the scene was recognizable, spoiling the dramatic "prestige" (to use the technical term magicians use) of the trick? I see the camera business as nothing but high-tech misdirection for the audience; it's obvious to the more intelligent viewers that that's what it is, but most people won't catch on. It is his error of being seen too soon, and in the wrong place, that ruins the trick -- and that's just a case of him taking a risk and having it backfire on him.

As others point out, he at least still has credibility over so-called "psychics" and other such frauds in that he doesn't claim to be anything but an illusionist. So that part of his integrity remains intact, as far as I'm concerned. It's just that this illusion wasn't particularly sophisticated or successful -- and while that's open to criticism, I think it goes too far to lose ALL respect for the man.

~David D.G.


This wasn't like the guitarist playing a bad note by mistake. Angel planned it that way. I don't mind that he was possibly caught on film - that was just a bit of bad luck. But when I see someone billed as an escape artist, I expect to see something involving skill in escaping. All we saw was skill in video editing. (And presumably someone else's skill, not his.)

Misdirection is a skill magicians are supposed to use. But when that misdirection is just showing us a film recorded earlier, as though it were live, that is not a magician's misdirection skill, it is his video editor's skill. The only skill Angel showed us was in escaping from the original pair of cuffs (even assuming they were genuine). After that there was nothing most people would not have been able to do with a team helping and a few practice runs - from kicking out the tricked window, to running down the stairs and out the door at the back. There was no "escape artistry" in any of it. He didn't even attempt to do what he said he was going to do - ie get through several locked doors to the roof. He never intended to do any of it. Lame, just lame. And insulting to his audience, in my opinion.

I'm with Skeptico on this.

If you want to compare magic to music, Criss Angel is not a guitarist playing a bad note, he is more like the Ashlee Simpson of magic, a play-back artist.

I've long felt that video trickery isn't magic or illusionism, it's just technology. If video editing is magic then the only difference between Angel and me is the budget. I've never enjoyed his shows because they all seem to be just set ups and not illusions.

I still wouldn't compare him to people who mess with the memories of dead loved ones though - but if he ever meets Callahan on a live TV show again, I'll bet Callahan will have a real pair of handcuffs and some locked doors waiting for Angel to prove his magicians skills.

gotta say that i'm a little perplexed as to the rationale of this particular posting. most of the time you are spot-on, but here you lose me...why are you wasting time debunking criss angel? it's magic, which, by definition, means it's fake. that he sucks at it doesn't seem to matter much to me...anyway, love the blog.

Skeptico, I see now what you mean. I still maintain that he has more credibility than the frauds who claim their powers are real; however, I now agree that relying on camera edits and similar special effects is a far cry from exercising one's own art as a magician, illusionist, or escape artist. Houdini he ain't.

~David D.G.

On reflection, "lost all credibility" was a bit strong. I think I'll revise my comments to say that he has left himself open in future to Callahan or whoever retorting that Angel "just does camera tricks" or something similar. Of course, Callahan is still a douchebag, so Angel has more credibility than him and frauds like him. Although, that is a pretty low bar.

I would point out that escape artists in general are always less skillful then they claim to be (note I am not saying they are unskilled). Most escape work makes use of a concealed key, usually designed with longer handles to allow turning even when handcuffed, chained, etc. Most of the skill (including Houdini's) involves moving the key around their person without having it discovered.

I recall reading once that straitjackets are pretty much impossible to escape from if they're not gimmicked. Even more than other magicians (most likely due to the danger generally involved) escape tricks have to rely on gimmickry more than mere skill at prestidigitation and misdirection.

However, I agree with Skeptico that Angel's illusions rely far too much on editing to be all that entertaining. He's more a TV magician than a live performer.

However, he's hardly the worst magician to appear on TV recently:

This is to Criss Angel. When you did your show how your brought your skeptics on and let them throw you in an elevator I figured that out from my tv. Its not hard to see the paper moving when the elevator is down the shaft. If you really want to prove yourself i'll give you a trick to do.

He always promises his dear old Mum he will never do anything so dangerous ever again. Or, else he talks about the tragic death of his beloved father. Everything he says and does on camera is a trick. That's his job. He spells his name Criss, for god's sake.

He did live magic for years and years - in large and small venues. He is known for big stunts and stage shows, but he's adequate at table magic, slight-of-hand, and card tricks. (And by adequate I mean 100 times better than guys who get jobs on cruise ships.) Where do you suppose the phrase "smoke and mirrors" comes from? Before cameras, people had to edit by controlling the lights and sight-lines.

Not sure to what extent he wants TV viewers to know what's going on - it's not unusual for him him to use the same "volunteer" for several "demonstrations" on across a series of episodes. He's not stupid.

There was some weird righteous indignation when he put out a DVD that showed how to do a Levitation, which is simple and easy to do... if you are strong, have great balance, and practice 9,000 times.

I'm glad he's following in the tradition of Houdini and Penn & Telling in slagging psychics. Even if he does talk about his faith and being spiritually strong to amp up the voodoo mood before one of his "demonstrations."

If someone tries to argue for their gris-gris powers by pointing out that Criss Angel uses camera tricks, he'll just do something tricker or challenge them to something. And people who believe in tea-leaf readers will come away thinking Criss is a better tea-leaf reader...

just goes to show you how worthless fox news is. wasting air time on debunking an illusion? real productive. also, that video they show of criss running out of the neighboring building is pretty weak. to me it just looked like smoke, not a person. at the speed that blip was moving you should have seen him clearly running out of the debris.

There's a movie on DVD called "the prestige". It's about magic. I could watch it over and over. THAT's a mindfreak. Sometimes I wonder if Criss Angel uses a body double, but I do know that Criss Angel would not be as popluar as he is, if he were alive 100 years ago, and couldn't rely on camera tricks and digital fudging. Yes, he is good at slight of hand, and I enjoy those episodes. But walking on water and escaping crumbling buildings and getting hit by a car is just too over the top to be anything but paid onlookers and camera tricks.

suc my balls criss angle is real u faggs

suc my balls criss angle is real u faggs

Impressive! Sound logic and biting satire in a devastating refutation of the skeptical position.

I do like to grapple mentally with a first-rate intellectual; it's so stimulating!

Well, we've been told good and proper, haven't we? Your work here is done, Skeptico...

Who is criss angle?

Forrest: Yes, he is good at slight of hand, and I enjoy those episodes. But walking on water and escaping crumbling buildings and getting hit by a car is just too over the top to be anything but paid onlookers and camera tricks.

I'm very much inclined to agree on that sort of thing. Sleight of hand, mentalism, and so forth done without big preparation are high on my list. Teleporting tigers and such on a big stage less so (but that has its moments). At the bottom is movie magic that relies on camera tricks. Hollywood's done that sort of thing for decades.

Who is criss angle?

Criss Angel, heeling over a little after too much drink.

Very like that poster, I imagine.

Dear However,

I think that what have you said is a rip of.What you are saying is not true and STOP SAYING CRISS ANGLE DOES FAKE TRICKS becuse with the steam roller episode "I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Peter Behman

Dear Peter

A good point, well made. Thanks for your contribution.

some things are better left secret

But how come,they voted him the best magician of the world 3 times,if he only uses camera tricks?I meen where is the magic in STAR WARS?We all know it is a computer image and tricks.How did he put the earrings into the lightbulb?If it is all edited crap and fake ,then he wouldn't be the best magician of the world.I wish I know the truth.

I think like 90% of what you are saying is way out of line. Criss Angel himself is friends with prominent skeptics like P&T and Randi.

He has said in his own book that he uses tricks, all of his tricks can be done in front of a live audience, but he will not deny that he fools the camera at times. He hates those who make fake claims of special powers, and as you mentioned, showed us on Phenomenon.

Give the guy a break, it was a performance. Anytime you are anywhere near a building that is being demolished, you are putting yourself in danger. Check out his book man.

People these days give magic way too hard of a time. It is entertainment and nothing more. I am so sick of people berating magicians who make no bones about the fact they are entertainers.

Magic is deception, plain and simple. It is there to create a sense of wonderment, and in order to do that one must suspend disbelief. If you feel deceived, you're MISSING THE POINT.

As for video editing... Do you have any idea how hard it must be to continually wow people in this modern era? The era of CGI? The era of wireless internet? Give the guy a break! SERIOUSLY. He is a freaking human being! Criss Angel is a just GUY, you know... a person. A talented and creative one at that, whether you want to admit it or not.

Why not whine about some of the overpaid Hollywood actors out there -who have a fraction of the talent- but make 10 times as much money? Or how about spending your time ripping apart the real cheaters, roided-up pro athletes?

Criss Angel is simply using the tools in front of him to put on the best show possible, and to keep magic relevant. For Christ's sake, it's an age old art that has to compete with 200 million dollar Hollywood movies. Stop and think about it. Please. Before you type another word.

I wish half the loud mouthed, hyper-critical "bloggers" and internet "Experts" out there could back up their talk, but 9.999995 times out of 10 they can't. All they seem to do is whine about guys like Criss Angel who are out there producing actual material, while they themselves sit behind a keyboard talking shit.

I'm convinced that only complete losers give magicians -who admit it's all entertainment- this hard of a time.

"Or how about spending your time ripping apart the real cheaters"

perhaps you should spend a little more time looking around this blog.

Oh, they've covered ripping them apart already? Wow, they cover a lot of ground here.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Still doesn't detract from the rest of my points, though.

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