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If you’re a fan of Criss Angel, then chances are you’re aware that tonight’s episode of Mindfreak will be airing live as Criss attempts a death-defying stunt. We had a chance to sit in on a conference call with Criss last week and he was kind enough to talk a bit about the stunt and this season of the A&E series. Since the interview was a bit long, we broke it down into parts. Here’s the first part:

Criss Angel: Hi, everybody I just wanted to say thank you so very much for your time. I’m very excited about obviously my first live episode after 90+ episodes of Mindfreak, Season Four. Second week will be completely live, it will unfold moment by moment from Clearwater, Florida where I’ll attempt to escape an imploding building in three minutes and thirty seconds. And all I can say is that it’s - I just an incredible opportunity and I thank you so very much for - for covering it.

I was wondering if you could describe in detail the handcuffs, shackles, chains, that you’ll be in. Will they be on your feet, your hands, are they police issued are they made of steel you know, how heavy is this chain? And then once you get through this obviously you have obstacles you have to get up to the building. And I was wondering how high the helicopter is, are you going to grab onto a rope, or a ladder, and then whisk off into the moonlight. Or, climb aboard and then drive off...

Criss Angel: Yes, let me give you all of the particulars, because I just got back to it, and that’s exactly what I was doing as I was actually rehearsing you know, this escape.

First off the lieutenant and commander of the SWATT Team and the lieutenant of the police department there in Clearwater, will be providing whatever handcuffs he owns, or he wants to provide and whatever brand they are. I think they are going be Smith and Wesson, and they are police issued handcuffs. As are all of the locks, there is a pair of handcuffs basically that I will be manacled, my wrist will be manacled through the sixth story balcony completely visible to the public and to the camera at all times.

I will have to get out of the handcuffs, I’ll pick my way through them. And I will have the picks hanging around my neck, I will also have a stop watch on because it’s critical for me to know moment by moment where I am, and how much time I have allocated for each thing just in my head and the way I’ve been rehearsing.

Once I give the go, the overall running time of this escape is four minutes, but I will have to do it in no less - not a second more than three minutes and thirty seconds and I’ll explain why. Once I escape and pick my way out of the handcuffs, I will then have to pick my way or get through four sets of doors.

One directly behind me on the balcony, and once I make my way through that, I will have to tend to another door which is the only entrance and exit into that room to that balcony that will have a chain and a lock that will also be provided by the police.

I will pick my way through that, I will then have to run down the hall, I will have to run up three stories of stairs, they’ll be no stairs going down in that building, and that is because it cannot mess with the integrity of the implosion. And that is what is coded in the design of the implosion to allow it to implode within 20 foot - 20 feet of its (unintelligible), because obviously for safety for the public. So, the stairwell has to be removed.

I will have to run up three flights of stairs, once I get through the door to that - to the staircase, and then when I hit the roof, which is nine stories, they’ll be a roof hatch that will have two - I think it has a slot for two locks. I will have to make it through both of those locks, open up the hatch, climb up to the roof, go to about the center of the roof where it will be an area that would allow me to grab the 30 foot ladder that would be hovering from the helicopter, which I’d been rehearsing while I was in Clearwater right now at the airport.

I will grab a hold of that ladder, and then be whisked up a 1,000 feet above, we will ascend in 30 seconds, that’s why I have to make it to the helicopter to the roof by no later than three minutes and thirty seconds. Because if I get there at 3:31, that helicopter won’t have enough time to ascend a 1,000 feet. Once it ascends a 1,000 feet, at four minutes, that building will blow up.

Now my goal is to be at that roof top in no more than two minutes and thirty seconds, that’s what I’ve been practicing in that time zone 2:30 to 2:40 tops. And then I’ll have a little time to kill in the event that the helicopter for some reason you know, has some wind conditions or whatever that needs to stabilize and adjust itself, but that’s essentially my goal.

Okay, will you be coming back?

Criss Angel: I’m going to be in the helicopter and then they are going to have to go to the - there is a airport that’s within five minutes, that I will have to land. Because I don’t think they can get a permit to land anywhere near that area, because we don’t have the exact numbers of the public and how many people will be attending because it’s a free event.

So I will have a clip that will be from the helicopter that I’ll clip on to, and hang from - you know, I’ll be holding on but I - once I’m on there you know, if I lose my grip - which I won’t, but if I did I will - I will be clipped in say (unintelligible).

Okay, so you’ll be actually be kind of swinging off.

Criss Angel: Yes, I will, yes I’ll be swinging but he’s going to - he’s not going to be flying you know at a rapid speed. You know I’ll be swinging around like - like Tarzan back there - so I’m going to be - he’s going to be - we’ve been practicing that quite a bit over - over at the airport.

And the other concern is weather because you guys no better than anybody, you know Florida has the most unpredictable weather. You could have a beautiful day and the next thing you know, instantaneously that weather just shifts. And it goes from a beautiful day to lighting storm. Which lightning and 450 sticks of dynamite which is what we’re imploring to imploring to do this implosion it take down that building, which will be on three levels below me, is not a good combination.

So there is a lot of factors in orchestrating this escape, and it’s one of the most exciting, the most challenging the biggest, the baddest escape of my career.

And I vowed to my mother that if I am successful in doing this, that I will retire from doing these things.

So you’re done after this?

Criss Angel: This is my goal yes, because I got 4,600 performances to do at the Luxor, and they’re freaking out.

So there is no more Season Four after this?

Criss Angel: Well I won’t be doing - I don’t think I’ll be doing things of this nature. I’ll definitely be doing illusions you know, walking on water, you know, doesn’t have as much risk factor, you know I can swim.

So you’re saying that there is no Season Five?

Criss Angel: No, I didn’t say that, I’m just saying that I won’t be doing things of this danger. You know I will be still be doing what I do, it’s in my heart it’s in my blood, it’s in me and who I am. But I’m just not just going to be dangling you know, a 1,000 feet from the helicopters and escaping 450 sticks of dynamite on a you know - if you just think about it you know, when 450 sticks of dynamite blow up a nine story building, that’s 4,500 tons of cement that will be coming barreling to the earth. And my mission is not to be in its path, and it will come barreling down whether I’m in it or I’m not.

What’s the hardest part of this escape?

Criss Angel: Well this is the best way to equate and give you a parallel of what this escape is like. Picking locks or handcuffs for me is not really a big deal, I can do it pretty much in seconds, I’ve been doing since I was 14 years old. I used to sit on my bed as a kid with a pick set and you know just picking locks and stuff, so I’m used to it.

But what happens is you can look at a police officer who goes to the gun range and who shoots a target, and they can be a marksman they can be awesome. The minute he’s in a - real combat you know, real life or death situation when somebody is actually firing back at him, the pressure and distress increases the heart rate, and the performance suffers.

Somebody who is a great marksman and is in a combat situation doesn’t typically perform anything near what they do when they are shooting at their leisure, because your body goes into a mode. And it’s very hard to control you know, just the detail of your movement and the concentration and the focus and to be relaxed, and you’re breathing and your heart rate. So, you suffer from that and you know, you hope you don’t suffer where your life comes into play and lose it.

For me it’s being able to remain calm, cool and collective and do what I always do, and be able to get through the manacled the handcuffs and then obviously the four or five locks that I’ll have to pick my way through.

But not only me, what concerns me is that I do beautiful, and for some reason by some freak of nature, 450 sticks of dynamite go off prematurely. Don’t know how that could happen, but you know lightning can set can set it off, things - crazier things have happen you know, anything that can go wrong - will go wrong, that’s a law.

Or you know the helicopter for whatever reason you know, can’t hover maybe the engine fails, maybe the wind factor changes, maybe you know, God forbid the pilot gets sick or you know, who knows.

I mean those are all you know, calculated risk that we take in life. And so for me it’s the orchestration you know, between myself and what I have to accomplish and then all of the other people who have to be on time, and who have to do their due diligence and their job to make everything as a plan work together and work 100%.

You were practicing mostly with the helicopter is that right?

Criss Angel: No, I was in that building ‘till four in the morning, and I was you know, practicing you know, just - just, they would throw locks, and they would throw just random handcuffs at me, - and I would - I got on that railing I was you know, practicing, I’m not crazy man. I’m you know, I’m you know, I’m an artist that you know, uses what I hope to be is my talent to do this, this is not some just dare devil thing that I’m going to be doing still.

You know I’m like anybody else you know, when you watch it, you know, hopefully you sit there and you’ll like oh my God, this is - this is crazy. But you know, this is a highly skilled person that does this thing you know.

And that’s what I think make - why people connect to me is because you know, I’m no different than anybody else that watches the show. You know, we all have dreams I’m living mine, and everybody can live their own. I just work really hard at doing my stuff and I’m very, very methodical, I have an incredible team who is helping me train and putting this together and safety even though it seems so unsafe, is the utmost importance in attempting an approaching this. I don’t want to die, but I’m putting it on the line.

So you’ve been talking a lot about rehearsing and different things you’ve been doing to get ready for this. What other kind of preparations have you taken, like physical preparations, are you working out, are you getting extra sleep, like what are you doing to prepare?

Criss Angel: Well first off, I’m not getting any more sleep. Because I’m concentrating obviously on this Live Ep, and getting ready for it. But I’m also you know, in rehearsals for my live show which will open up in with some previews in September, and then officially the gala event, October 10th. And as I said Cirque and MGM you know, are not happy about my decision to do this, and I understand why. But physically I’m in the best shape of my life, I had to be to really face this challenge, because I don’t know what is in store for me you know, I’m expecting the unexpected.

And, at the end of the day not only for that challenge, but for my live show doing 4,600 of them, I have to be physically in the best shape. And, so I’m stronger than ever, I’m doing a lot of cardio, I’m running really fast, so I can get from Point A to Point Z in a timely but fast as possible. And I’m also you know, doing a lot of believe it or not, talking whether it’s too myself, or to somebody standing next to me, while I’m - while I’m doing a lot of cardio stuff to really deal with trying to keep my heart rate and trying to keep me really relaxed during - during this because I am going to be exerting a lot of energy and spurts of it.

So, I got to train with that in mind.

Okay, and how fearful are you of this meaning on going the way that you’re planning it going - you know, are you having like nightmares at all about you know what could happen?

Criss Angel: Well it’s true I always have - I always because subconscious always plays a factor in anything that you know, somebody does whether they have a test the day or whether you know they have a job interview or they have or you know they are getting their brand new car the next day. You know subconsciously that always plays a factor you know, in your sleep and into what you think.

And so what I try to do is I do get things like that and I just try to take that negativity and try to think positively about it and try to figure out okay well, you know, if I’m thinking that how could I address that issue so that I don’t have that an obstacle that I - that at least I can get through it.

But ultimately you know, it’s like anything it’s like a - you know, he’s a champion you know, and he has a fight coming up he has to really - he has to not get complacent and he has to take everything that he’s doing seriously because it could cost him you know that belt.

Well this could cost me you know, my life. So I take it very seriously and yes, if I wasn’t concerned about it I would be a very stupid person.

Yes, and far as Mindfreak stands I mean, obviously they are going to be super excited because it’s the first ever live episode. What do you think that they’ll be feeling like on a emotional level while we’re watching you do this. Are they going to be freaked out?

Criss Angel: Well I know how - and I’ve been so blessed with such amazing loyal fans all over the world. And here is a show that will also not only be broadcast in the states, but it’s also going to be live in Latin America and Australia and you know abroad. So it’s very exciting to me to let them see that and how it unfolds moment by moment. I see it you know, it everyone of the almost thousands demonstrations that I’ve done in the last four seasons. You know as I’m performing it live.

But you know, people at home don’t get to see - to be there, you know, they are watching over people react, I’m there all the time because I’m the one who is doing it so I’m very excited about the opportunities that people will see unfold.

And, you don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know ultimately what’s going to happen you know, the host doesn’t know what’s going to happen, no one does.

So, I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting - one of the most exciting episodes that I’ve ever done on my Mindfreak, and I’m very excited about this season, because as a whole it’s really so diverse there is so many wonderful - some of my best demonstrations of my career and I’m hoping that this specific escape adds to this wonderful season of Mindfreak which has just begun last night.

I’d like to know how do you handle with this pressure, working under this pressure. And if you have some kind of advice or psychological advice or someone that is taking care of you in this kind of Mind thing that you have to be focused on. Do you know what I mean?

Criss Angel: Yes I do, and the only person that really takes of me that way is myself, I don’t - I don’t like talk to a psychologist or anything, I never have, not saying there is anything wrong with it. But for me I think I’m very - I think my mind my body and my spirit you know, really is in tuned and I just kind of confront in everyday life, you know every challenge, head on. And I take one thing at a time, I don’t allow myself to think about all of the things at one time, or else I would lose my mind. I just take each thing. And when I get a little overwhelmed, I take a piece of paper and a pen, and I write every single thing down so I can look at it.

And then I say okay, I’m just going to break it down into - into small challenges, and as I go through each one I check it off and then I address the next one.

And I just, I don’t know, I’ve been very fortunate you know, I might not be the greatest magician that ever lived, or you know, whatever. But what I am blessed with is able to work in very high stressful situation, and really keep my cool, and when things go wrong, I don’t panic, I really try to stay focus and - because panicking will just make my situation worse. And If I’m going to have a shot of solving my situation, I have to really look at it and be focused on it, and not lose my cool.

So I don’t know, I guess I’ve been very fortunate not to have to really have problems with that.

Is there a little bit of celebrity because that they have a kind of analyst or charm for the kind of things that they are doing, I’m pretty sure you have something that you consider your charm to emulate.

Criss Angel: I think I’m just, I look at things in a - I’m a simple - I’m a simple kind of guy when I look at something, I’m not - never - went to college in my life, not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. In high school I wasn’t in - I was in the slower classes. So I’m a very smart guy when it comes to you know, this common sense. And basic things, and how I look at things, I know how to analyze things and how to kind be methodical about what I have to do and to try to make it in my mind something that’s very easy to understand and easy to kind of look at to accomplish. When other people would look at it as - as something they would get very stressful or they would you know, be in a situation where you know, that they are overwhelmed, I don’t look at it that way, I don’t know I don’t I never did and it’s just something that’s in need of me I guess.

I know that there is much of your family taking care of you , and they were work you,. I’m not very sure if its your mom or your girlfriend or brother, or someone that the pray or they do something for expecting everything goes well.

Criss Angel: Well I - I certainly believe in my faith and its comes inherently from my family and we all share the same beliefs. So yes, we all do what we believe and you know, it’s an important part of the process and that’s who are. Whether I did what I did for a living, or not, it’s just what we believe.


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