Magician Criss Angel met a woman two days ago with 19 tattoos of him. Calmly, he chalks it up to his connection to his fans.
“I can’t believe how many people I’ve met who have been so connected to me because of something I said or did,” Angel says.
“I would have never expected a woman to have 19 tattoos of myself—including my face. It’s because that connection goes beyond the trick. It’s the magic of emotion.”
Angel—who brings his Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged show to the Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin on Sunday, February 16—has been emotional himself.
His 5-year-old son, Johnny Crisstopher, with Australian singer Shaunyl Benson, is suffering from leukemia after a brief dip into remission.
“I’m always open and positive, especially because of what I’m going through with my son, Johnny Crisstopher,” Angel says.
“You’ll see that I go out there and still appreciate every moment. Every moment’s a blessing. I encourage people to live their dreams. I’m not special. I’m not different, except I work very hard.”
Angel says he was “6 years young” when he learned his first card trick from his aunt. From there he, admittedly, drove everyone crazy performing the same trick.
“It’s such a sense of power to be able to do something an adult didn’t understand,” Angel says. “I love magic. When I was 10 or 11, I got a magic set under the Christmas tree. I was obsessed with it. I used to watch magic on television.”
For nearly two decades, Angel has dominated the world of magic, from “Criss Angel Mindfreak” on A&E to TV specials, best-selling books, top-grossing retail products and sold-out tours.
The youngest inductee in the International Magicians Society Hall of Fame, Angel’s performance is a theatrical experience, featuring his famous sleight-of-hand street magic, mentalism and some of his most iconic illusions.
“I always wanted to do magic and music. My wish came true. Be careful what you wish for. The fact that I can vanish on stage and reappear in the audience means you can become a doctor, lawyer, actor or magician. My show is a fun night and people will have a great, fun time with me.”
Angel chalks up his success to fans connecting with his message.
“It’s not about what I do or how do I do that trick,” he says. “It’s how you feel when you watch it. I want to inspire and encourage people to conquer their own dreams.”
Johnny Crisstopher is having chemotherapy again for leukemia and will for three years.
“We’re going through this for three years,” Angel says. “That means he’ll be 8 when he’s done, God willing. We just got done with induction. He looks like he’s responding very, very well to treatment. It’s a great sign.
“We’re continuing to be vigilant and doing what we’re supposed to do. Today he had a spinal tap and a biopsy of his bone marrow. They put a device in his back and screw it into his bone and take the marrow out. We’re in the middle of all of that. That happened this morning at the Cure 4 the Kids.”
Cure 4 the Kids Foundation provides treatment to children with life-threatening conditions in Las Vegas.
“Everything is looking very promising,” he adds. “We know, with this disease—which effects one child every 2 minutes—can change on a dime. We have a lot of bad days, one great day, but you always have to keep your eyes open and stay vigilant.”
Johnny Crisstopher has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of leukemia in children. It affects the white blood cells developing in the bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society.
Angel canceled his Las Vegas shows in 2015 to be with Johnny Crisstopher when the child was first diagnosed and began working to raise funds to fight pediatric cancer.
Angel rattles off statistics like it’s rote. Toxic chemotherapy claims 10% of the children who have it because their organs are so fragile, he says.
“You see an innocent child there and you feel so helpless,” Angel says. “It’s a horrible thing to go through. Whatever you believe is fantastic, but I believe that we’re in the situation not by change but design. I’ve been blessed by so much success.”
Angel has always supported children. He created the Believe Foundation and was awarded the Make-a-Wish Foundation award for most supportive celebrity in May 2010. He was also awarded the foundation’s Chris Greicius Celebrity Award in 2007.
“All of the money I raise goes to research and treatment,” Angel says. “There is no overhead and no administrative costs. The kids who do go through, look at us and the families don’t feel alone. They can relate to us and see the frustration and anger and the up-and-down rollercoaster we go through.”
Angel is working on a documentary called “1095,” named after the number of days Johnny Crisstopher went through chemotherapy. Angel is hoping the documentary, produced by “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal’s” Sarah Gibson, will be released this year.
“She and her partner are so talented,” Angel says. “We’re trying to bring awareness and we’re going to have a huge event. We’ll be announcing that in April. We’re trying to raise many millions of dollars for pediatric cancer, go in front of Congress and enact a legislation to get more funding for this horrible disease.”
The show in Maricopa is “going to be fantastic,” he says. The show is straight from his Broadway production that is an amalgamation of his Planet Hollywood show in Las Vegas, his TV series and world premiere efforts.
“I love touring,” he says. “I perform 40 weeks a year in Vegas. I have 12 weeks off. Eight or 10 of those 12 weeks I tour because I love it so much. I take it quite seriously. I love getting out there and doing my thing.”
“Criss Angel Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged”
The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 N. Maricopa Road, Maricopa, caesars.com/harrahs/ak-chin, ticketmaster.com, 8 p.m. Sunday, February 16, tickets start at $47.50. Show is open to those 18 and older.