|December 19, 1967|
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Born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos on Dec. 19, 1967 in Long Island, NY to parents Dimitra and John, he and his two brothers were raised in the Long Island hamlet of East Meadow. After being taught a card trick by a relative at the age of six, he was instantly enthralled by magic and began studying the art obsessively. Angel began performing illusions for tips at various functions and local restaurants, and at the age of 12, charged his first fee ($10) to perform at a birthday party. At a time when he made frequent trips to Manhattan to audition for shows, the 14-year-old performed his first major illusion when he levitated his mother in the family den. By this time Angel's career path was predetermined in his mind. A college education was simply not in the cards for Angel, much to his parents' dismay. By his own account, his higher education came in the form of studying the legacies and craft of the world's greatest magicians over the course of countless hours spent in local libraries, and refining his own prowess at prestidigitation while on the road. Though music was also a passion of Angels - he performed in the industrial rock band AngelDust for a time - magic and the art of illusion remained his primary focus. His first big break came when he signed on to participate in the 1998 World of Illusion convention, where he performed his 10-minute act an astounding 60 times a day for the entire run of the 12-day event.
Angel's road to notoriety began with his long-running off-Broadway show, "Criss Angel: Mindfreak," which ran for more than 600 performances at The World Underground Theater in New York's Times Square until 2003. After the performance was taped for a cable special, "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" (ABC Family, 2002), the stage was set for the illusionist's rise to fame. Another special, "Criss Angel: Supernatural" (SyFy, 2003), followed Angel out on the streets of America as he performed such feats as spontaneously combusting and passing a live creature through his body in front of stunned onlookers. Two years later, the master illusionist went on to create, produce and star in his own reality series, once again titled "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" (A&E, 2005- ). Over the course of the series shot in and around Las Vegas, Angel pulled off some of the most amazing magic stunts ever recorded, including levitating a random passerby on the Vegas Strip; walking on water; and leaping mid-air from a motorcycle into a cage suspended over the Grand Canyon.
During the fourth season of "Mindfreak," Angel also joined the reality competition series "Phenomenon" (NBC, 2007-08) as one of its guest judges, alongside famed "mystifier" Uri Geller. The short-lived show, in which a group of 10 contestants competed to become the next great mentalist, was remembered primarily for an on-air verbal altercation between Angel and paranormalist Jim Callahan, after Angel dubbed his summoning demonstration "comical." For his next live performance venture, he teamed with the producers of Cirque du Soleil for an ongoing show at a specially built theater at the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel. After months of delays, due to "technical difficulties," the extravaganza of magic, music and dance premiered in October 2008 to largely negative reviews. During one infamous performance, tabloid blogger Perez Hilton tweeted mid-way through the show, expressing his opinion on how bad Angel's production was with the barbed statement that, "I'd rather be having a root canal." Before the performance had ended, word reached the show's star, who proceeded to hurl obscenities at Hilton, still seated in the audience.
Angel had become the rock star of the magic world and enjoyed living out the requisite persona, both in his manner of dress and in his choice of companions. For a time in 2008, Angel dated former Miss Nevada, Veronica Grabowski - the latest in a series of romances that would include the likes of Cameron Diaz, Minnie Driver and Pamela Anderson. The relationship grabbed headlines when the illusionist was accused of trying to curry favor with a Miss USA pageant judge during the preliminary rounds of the competition. After Grabowski failed to make it through to the finals, Angel engaged in a very public shouting match with the Las Vegas tabloid journalist who had initially reported on Angels' alleged inappropriate comment to the pageant judge. The couple soon broke up, and later that year, he began a much publicized romance with former Hugh Hefner consort and reality TV star Holly Madison. In 2011 Angel made one of a handful of acting appearances when he guest-starred on an episode of the sitcom "Rules of Engagement" (CBS, 2007- ) opposite David Spade.