Illusionist Criss Angel Straightjacket Stunt Gone Wrong Underlines Dangerous Life of Las Vegas Performers

Posted on: March 14, 2017, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: March 14, 2017, 08:36h.

Criss Angel is today’s Harry Houdini, and like the man who inspired his work, the 49-year-old Las Vegas entertainer is no stranger to a straightjacket. But during a performance of his signature show “Mindfreak Live!” late last week at the Luxor, Angel blacked out during a straightjacket escape that took place just 15 minutes into the show.

Criss Angel blackout Foxwoods
Illusionist Criss Angel is back to full strength after losing consciousness during a performance last week. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Medical staff quickly attended to the famed headliner, and he was rushed to nearby Spring Valley Hospital and treated for dehydration. And just one night later, Angel was back on stage, doing the same stunt successfully.

Risky Business

But the incident underlines the reality that, “illusion” or not, what many Las Vegas entertainers (and others around the world) are willing to do for impact does come with inherent dangers.

“I really take risks with what I do onstage to bring to the public the most spectacular, amazing, mind-blowing, revolutionary magic experience you could possibly have,” Angel told Robin Leach of the Las Vegas Review-Journal a few days later. “I felt so bad that they canceled the show after I blacked out. I wanted to come back to do another show immediately.”

Critics of Angel panned the blackout news as yet another stunt to garner publicity. The New York native dispelled such claims and said that’s “absolutely ridiculous.” Rather, Angel insisted that poor eating and a lack of sleep was to blame.

Heading Back East

According to the Review-Journal, Angel has reached a contractual agreement with Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut to begin a new show that will kick off next November.

Originally from Long Island, New York, the Foxwoods show will put Angel back on the East Coast, just 80 miles north of Manhattan. The entertainer has been stationed in Sin City since he launched “Criss Angel Believe” back in 2008, in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil.

But he’s never lost his love for New York. One of his most memorable career-defining moments came in 2002 in Times Square, when he spent 24 hours shackled in a phone booth-sized water torture cell.

Onstage Disasters: Not as Uncommon as You Think

With so many entertainment vehicles being performed daily in Las Vegas and around the world, there’s plenty of opportunity to literally “break a leg,” or worse. Live theater doesn’t always go as planned, and these artists truly paid the ultimate price for their work.

2013: Veteran acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard fell to her death while performing in the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show “KA.” Producers said a guide wire snapped during the show’s final scene, and dropped the suspended performer more than 50 feet.

2016: During a theatrical show in Italy, actor Raphael Schumacher hanged himself when a safety box was accidentally moved. The performer was declared brain dead shortly thereafter.

2017: Just last month, renowned magician Daryl Easton also accidentally hanged himself as well. The performer was found dead in his dressing room at Hollywood’s Magic Castle in Los Angeles. A medical examiner deemed the death an accident, not a suicide, but provided no details to the public for how he arrived at this conclusion, nor any particulars of what transpired.

2003: Of course, the most notable onstage accident in recent years came from Siegfried & Roy. It was 14 years ago now that Roy Horn was bitten on the neck and dragged by a white tiger during their show at the Mirage. Although the incident forced Mirage to close the show, Horn insisted that the tiger not be put down, and still refers to the interaction as an “accident,” not an attack.

To see Criss Angel’s daredevil straightjacket escape, watch it as it he appeared on Oprah doing the stunt in 2009: