No umbrella can stop a pair of stormy productions from drowning in a sea of bad publicity...

Do you remember how easy life was in the nineties? If you had a problem, question, or business idea, advice was just a phone call away. PSYCHIC FRIENDS NETWORK, fronted by outspoken host Dionne Warwick, became the biggest infomercial of all time. Too bad that it went belly-up in 1998...otherwise Ms. Warwick might have known that her upcoming residency at The Stirling Club is destined to sink. 

The Twitter-happy star, who once filled arenas, has been relegated to the lounge of an off-Strip condo complex. Her last gig at Cleopatra's Barge hardly set the world on fire. Setting up shop in a relatively unknown space at Turnberry Place will most likely be a "Heartbreaker". Will people just "Walk On By" what is shaping up to be "This Empty Place"?  Okay, I'll stop. That's what friends are for.

"How I Spent My $11 Million Government Handout" by Nicky Sarantakos

"How I Spent My $11 Million Government Handout" by Nicky Sarantakos

Even debunked fraud Miss Cleo could have told devil-in-the-flesh Criss Angel that nobody wanted a second production that bears his tarnished name. Why is the faux-goth magician in the doghouse? Let's start with the fact that the arrogant magician applied for (and received) $11 million in pandemic aid. While you and I were locked inside our houses and rationing toilet paper, the super-wealthy star was collecting taxpayer-funded government assistance, hanging out with the Kardashians, and flying to Cabo San Lucas in a private plane.  Click here to learn all about that shocking scandal. 

Down in flames twice (so far)

Down in flames twice (so far)

After selling off props, illusions, and memorabilia from his warehouse last spring, Angel spent the summer on two new projects - a roadside diner called CABLP (pronounced Ca-Blip) and a production named AMYSTIKA. The new show has been delayed twice (so far) and is so full of hoopla and B.S. that even co-creator Franco Dragone (above, left) can feel the heat creeping up from behind. What went so wrong with this "Mindfreak prequel" that it seems utterly unable to sell tickets? As Angel lisp-whispers in the preview trailer..."Shhh, it all started with a secret." And I doubt he's talking about his collection of awful wigs.

Take a look at these Ticketmaster screenshots above. The blue dots show the number of unsold seats for April 2nd, 3rd, and 4th as of this writing. Those are the first three performances of the expensive show, which was initially set to open on December 27th, then pushed back to March 11th. This notice was posted on the Dragone website on December 15th of 2021:

“We are literally inventing the technology and special effects that are used throughout this show, and that level of creativity can’t be rushed,” said Angel. “I promise the wait will be worth it as audiences will experience and witness things that have simply never been done before.”

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused by this delay. We appreciate your patience, support, and understanding and look forward to seeing you at AMYSTIKA soon.”

What many do not know is that Angel, whose real name is Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, has apparently been wanting to get AMYSTIKA off the ground for over two decades. Isn't it fortunate that the government handed him all that cash? Here's a rare clip I found on YouTube that shows an attempt to launch AMYSTIKA in 2000. The video was uploaded in 2016, yet has received less than four thousand views. The footage, in which Angel dances and mimics a robot, is quite painful and embarrassing to watch. Included in the YouTube description is "Rare test show of Amystika project in 2000. Songs Humbodik and Phantasm created and remixed by Klayton/Celldweller only for this show."

Criss Angel Amystika Show 2000

So what exactly is AMYSTIKA? It appears to be Criss Angel's forgotten initial attempt to fuse his overblown illusions with the circus artistry of Cirque du Soleil. Franco Dragone is a former Cirque creator whose career has yielded Mystere, "O", and Le Reve. His fascination with the elements of fire and water, along with a penchant for dark characters, seems ideally suited for collaboration with Sin City's biggest windbag. What people seem to forget is that Nicky's last team-up with Cirque was BeLIEve, an atrocious disaster. Luxor is still bleaching away the stains from what is widely considered to be the worst Vegas show of all time (until R.U.N came along). 

It's safe to assume that audiences haven't forgotten this prior fiasco, even if Little Nicky has. Ticket sales for the March 11th debut were anemic...and that's putting it mildly. The graph above depicts the number of unsold seats as of February 28th. Daily visits to the Ticketmaster seating chart showed little to no movement. By March 8th, things had gotten so desperate that it was decided to just give tickets away. Anyone could request up to four seats, totally free of charge, to any performance through April Fool's Day.

As of this writing, the Dragone website still displays a March 11th debut. Oops!

As of this writing, the Dragone website still displays a March 11th debut. Oops!

Within hours of the offer, weeknight shows got yanked from the schedule. Then came emails that free tickets were no longer available or valid, followed by an announcement that the opening date had been delayed yet another month....this time with no explanation at all. Even Adele had the courtesy to upload a video of herself sobbing into the camera. 

While the dozen or so fans who were disappointed at AMYSTIKA's second postponement cried into their Kool-Aid, those of us in the know, like Scott Roeben of VitalVegas.com, were quick to laugh about the obvious heaps of BS. The show was in desperate straits, but Nicky would never allow his ego to be deflated. So, he played the sympathy card by announcing on social media of being hospitalized with a groin injury. The following evening, Angel was reportedly just fine, out of the hospital, and dining at Al Solito Posto, an upscale Italian restaurant in Tivoli Village.

Eagle-eyed readers were quick to point out some peculiarities in Angel's crotch boo-boo post...and an amusing similarity to a Family Guy segment

"Mask is on wrong, room is unorganized and dirty, nasty ass hat would not be on a tray, machines are showing incorrect numbers, SO FAKE!!"

"He's been a pain in the groin to others for years."

"Is that a real hospital? Looks fake."

"Why is he at a Children’s hospital as an adult and if he’s admitted why isn’t he in a gown? Somethings up…"

"Can we say staged?? 🤔"

"Yeah...that doesn't look fake at all."

"He would be in a hospital provided gown....."

"Wait, he went to the children's hospital? What a douche."

Come See AMYSTIKA. Please!!!!

If you have a hard time following this, you're not alone...but the saga isn't over. In an effort to boost sales for attempt number three (or four, if you count the one in 2000), the co-creators released a video on March 20th proclaiming that you can meet them after the show if you purchase a ticket. This offer is valid for any performance during the first month. Wow, how innovative!!!! 

Maybe somebody should tell Nicky and Franco that Penn and Teller have been doing free meet-and-greet sessions for decades. It's unlikely that Criss Angel would believe such a fact, though. After all, the egomaniac claimed just two weeks ago that he's the only artist in Las Vegas history to have two simultaneous shows. Well, 1) not true, and 2) your second show hasn't even opened. Come down from your cross, Little Nicky. We need the wood.

In part two, I'll dive into the maelstrom that is Dionne Warwick, and take a closer look at the batty manager who may be sabotaging her last hurrah.

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