Magician Criss Angel, known for his death-defying tricks, said the mid-air straitjacket move that sent him to a Las Vegas emergency room last Friday night was not a publicity stunt, as some skeptics claimed.
"This is real," Angel, 49, told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "I blur the line between reality and illusion but this demonstration and the risks that are at stake are no joke."
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He added, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and for me it's always about pushing my envelope."
Angel attempted an aerial trick in which he hung upside down while secured in a straitjacket during his show at the Luxor in Las Vegas. As he swayed his body in an attempt to free himself, even the audience knew something was off as he struggled to escape.
"He's flailing his arms and legs trying to do everything he can to wriggle free," Ryan Perez, an eyewitness, told ABC News.
Angel then lost consciousness mid-air in front of a stunned and fully packed audience before being helped down and rushed to the hospital.
"Once I started going up I was told that I began my escape and that's all I remembered until I woke up and I was literally surrounded by paramedics and people putting things in my arm," Angel said.
Angel blamed losing consciousness, which he said was a first for him, on elements beyond the show, including not eating properly, lack of sleep and dehydration.
"I felt like it was really attributed to not eating properly," he said. "I've only been sleeping about two hours a night the past few days and I don't think I was hydrated so I attributed my unconsciousness to those elements that can cause this."
Angel said he was asked to get an MRI scan and to stay in the hospital for observation, but signed a release waiving liability so that he could get back to work.
"I actually left the hospital early because I was so angry because I wanted to get back to doing my show and thrill the audience with a show and a spectacle that the world of magic has never seen before," Angel said.
Within 24 hours of the failed attempt, Angel suited up to give the performance another try. This time he successfully broke free as he hung from his ankles in front of a stunned audience.
The performer said he has been doing the straitjacket stunt since he was 14 years old and when he performs, he expects to be able to deliver an unforgettable experience for the audience.
"It's at the mercy of whether or not something's going to work or not," he said. "There's a lot of things I do to thrill audiences and I really do things that have never been done in the history of the art ... so with that comes life and death risks."
Fans in attendance for Friday's show were issued refunds or were given the option to see a show on a different day over the weekend, according to Angel.
The #MagicRevolution at Luxor Hotel & Casino
LEGENDARY Magician Criss Angel INVADES the Strip
with a New State-Of-The-Art Live Show
Las Vegas – Following the celebration of BeLIEve’s 7th anniversary as the number one best-selling magic production in Las Vegas, superstar magician, Criss Angel has unleashed the future at Luxor Hotel & Casino with his brand new creation MINDFREAK® LIVE!. The new immersive spectacle – based on the wildly successful touring version, which performed to sell-out houses across the country and was hailed as the “Magic Experience of a Lifetime” – has replaced the critically acclaimed CRISS ANGEL BeLIEve.
“Thank you to all the Loyal fans who have made BeLIEve the best-selling magic show in Las Vegas since its opening in 2008,” said Criss Angel. “It was an amazing 7-plus years, and I am so excited to bring MINDFREAK® LIVE! to my home at Luxor.”
Based on Angel’s breakout hit TV show, MINDFREAK, which smashed records and counted an audience of more than 100 million viewers in each of its six seasons on A&E, MINDFREAK® LIVE! showcases 90-minutes of the most spectacular, original and revolutionary illusions ever performed on stage.
Nik Rytterstrom, general manager of Luxor, said, “For the past seven years Criss has been entertaining millions of fans with BeLIEve at Luxor. We look forward to unveiling his new groundbreaking show to our guests this summer.”
With a cast that includes some of the world’s most talented specialty artists, Angel brings his vision to life with a blend of heart-stopping original illusions, state-of-the-art animated LED lighting and RGB laser explosions, LED virtual worlds, 3-D immersive effects, pyrotechnic landscapes, live musicians/DJ, and much more.
“Criss is a pioneering and visionary artist and together we created BeLIEve, a first-of-its-kind magic stage phenomenon, of which we are all tremendously proud,” said Jerry Nadal, senior vice president, Cirque du Soleil. “When we first saw Criss’ new production MINDFREAK® LIVE! on tour, we realized how much he has continued to push the envelope, and the show’s unlimited potential for Criss’ fan base and Las Vegas’ international audience. We are very enthusiastic to continue our partnership with the biggest name in magic as Criss brings his latest unparalleled vision to life at Luxor.”
MINDFREAK® LIVE! officially premiered June 30th, 2016. Tickets are on sale now and available by calling 702-262-4400 or visit cirquedusoleil.com/las-vegas. Criss Angel MINDFREAK® LIVE! was Created and Directed by Criss Angel and Executive Produced by APWI and Cirque du Soleil.
MINDFREAK® LIVE! performs Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00pm and 9:30pm. Tickets start at $59.
CRISS ANGEL BeLIEve from Cirque du Soleil ended its run on April 17, 2016 after more than 3000 performances, thrilling more than 4 million guests since opening in October 2008.
“MINDFREAK® LIVE! is absolutely and utterly the freshest and most innovative magic spectacular ever,” said Jerry Nadal, senior vice president, Cirque du Soleil. “I’m blown away!”
“What an amazing, spectacular show!” – Gary Oldman
“Amazing! Absolutely loved it!” – Andrew Dice Clay
“Criss is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s truly in a category all of his own – a legendary star!” – Tony Orlando
“The best magic show not only in Vegas, but the world! Loved the show!” – Lance Burton
“Unbelievable! By far, hands down the best magic show I’ve ever seen.” – Amazing Johnathan
About Criss Angel
For more than a decade, Criss Angel has dominated the world of magic as the biggest name on the planet. From his role as star, creator, executive producer and director of the most successful magic television seriesof all time, Criss Angel MINDFREAK on A&E Network, to his countless critically acclaimed television specials and series, best-selling books, top-grossing retail products, music CDs and more, Criss is the most influential and imitated magician of the modern era.
His acclaimed series MINDFREAK on A&E is the most successful magic show in television history, resulting in more hours of magic during prime time than any other magic show ever. Angel’s most recent series, Criss Angel BeLIEve, premiered on Spike on October 15, 2013 as Spike TV’s most-watched original series premiere in more than 18 months. In November 2013, Endemol, the world’s largest independent production and distribution company, announced that it had acquired the international television distribution rights (outside of North America) to the series, and now the show is seen in over 100 countries worldwide.
Angel is also the most watched magician in Internet history—a YouTube sensation. His “Walk on Water” clip has generated over 60 million views alone, and all of his clips combined have generated more than 300 million views. Criss also has the largest social media following of any illusionist, with six million followers.
For more information, visit CrissAngel.com or follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @CrissAngel