Monday, October 10, 2005

So, What Do You Think About ... Part 1. Chris Angel.

I don't know if this happens in other performing arts, but whenever a magician let out the fact that he is a magician, be it at a restaurant, party or work place, those around him want his opinion of the latest magic wonder boy. For years it was David Copperfield because, let's face it, for a long time Copperfield was the only show in town. Yearly specials followed by around the world tours, he was the big guy without challengers for a long time.
These days two other names enter the conversation. David Blaine and Chris Angel.
While I will attack the David Blaine phenomena at a later time, I think this is a good time to take a look at Chris Angel from an insiders perspective.

Chris Angel is a relatively new name in the magic firmament. In the last five years he has performed over six hundred shows in New York, had three international TV specials and now the first magic television series in forty years. He is, right now, about as big as any magician in recent memory has gotten, and he did it with a unique vision and performance style that few try and even fewer master.
Chris Angel can easily be called a "Goth Magician", but the words "Cyperpunk" and "Really Weird" can be used as well. His show on the A&E channel are misleading, his style is less street magician as it is gothic horror. If you only see the television show you should pay attention to the vignettes that take place in the desert, these small scenes give a glimpse into the real Chris Angel style.
As an example take a look at the picture to the right. Dark, Goth, spooky, punk, almost medieval. This was the Chris Angel look.
I have to admit, I have a great respect for Angel. He has done things his way. He has had a vision and dammit if he didn't follow through. Any magician who has been around for a certain amount of years knows someone who would yell loudly about THEIR plan for the future of magic, (A guy who went by the moniker "EVM" on alt.magic a few years back springs to mind) but Angel didn't just talk, he did it. That is why I respect him. (And don't give a rats ass about "EVM".)
Unfortunately, I don't like this kind of magic. Yes, it has a certain amount of wonder to it, but it just isn't my cup of tea. So respect, yes, but enjoyment, no.

This brings us to the Chris Angel show "Mindfreak" on the A&E network. A lot of people don't know this but this program is the first American magic series in 40 years. So some props to Angel for that. Unfortunately, it seems Angel had to give up what made him unique to make this show. The first episode I watched contained a lot of street magic and a bizarre and scary stunt at the end, which prompted me to say, "Man, it didn't take long for him to go Blaine on us."
Of course, like most knee jerk reactions it was very wrong. Chris Angel didn't turn Blaine, he took what Blaine did and then pumped it up a few thousand knotches to such extremes that Blaine's next stunt is going to have to include a field trip through the gates of hell just to catch up.
Of course, to get the show Angel was probably told by A&E that it had to have street magic. Fair enough. So Angel takes street magic and blows it up (along with himself) making it that much more difficult for anyone following him to even come close.
I'm sorry, I'm gushing.
There is one other thing I think is important here. Angel claims that most of what he does in the show can be done on stage if he decided to tour. Again, this is something that Blaine or even the group from T.H.E.M. (Totally Hidden Extreme Magic) can claim.
Unfortunately there is one thing that Angel has that makes the rest of us look very bad. Have you seen him with his shirt off? (Left) Man oh man, now those of us who are a bit chubby (which is a lot of other magicians) have something else we have to work on. After watching Angel and his buff body, who in their right mind would want some chubby guy with sponge balls come up to their table? DAMN YOU ANGEL!!!!!!

In the end, I still respect Angel. He's still doing things his way, and becoming quite the success doing it. Good for him and in the end, good for magic.

Next post: I've just come back from the gym and can't move my arms. DAMN YOU CHRIS ANGEL!!!!!!


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