It’s been said that you know your words make an impact when others try to silence you. In this era of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, being silenced goes hand in hand with blind complacency. So what do you do when people try to stop you from having an opinion? If you’re a professional critic like myself, you continue to do your job, supporting your views with documentable facts. Then your readers can decide for themselves if a product or service is worthy of their time, money, and attention.
Whether you like Criss Angel or not, we are each entitled to our opinions. My personal slogan is “Possibly biased; definitely honest.” I always try to give honest opinions. Apparently, this has inadvertently created a contentious relationship with Criss Angel, probably because of my reviews and commentary regarding his prior shows and offstage activities. Many have appeared right here at Vegas 411.
“Clueless to the plight of the everyday person, the Mindfreak Live star flaunts his wealth on Instagram, posting pics of his vacations in a private jet and schmoozing with the Kardashian clan.” – BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES
“Cirque du Soleil decided to follow Criss Angel Mindfreak Live with an even worse abomination called R.U.N.” – RANT: I Don’t Need Your Permission To Have An Opinion
“Criss Angel s show at LUXOR is considered one of the worst productions in Las Vegas history, yet it managed to run for ten years due to an iron-clad contract with Cirque du Soleil.” – 21 Dumb-Ass Things About Las Vegas
“I anticipate that bloated, self-serving star vehicles like Criss Angel Mindfreak Live and Mariah Carey s endless residencies will go down in flames.” – COVID 19 Aftermath
“Criss Angel s partnership with Cirque du Soleil is finally over (they re probably breathing a collective sigh of relief for surviving ten tumultuous and embarrassing years). He left Luxor’s biggest theater for a mezzanine-level auditorium at PHo, the same troubled theater that swallowed Frankie Moreno and Paul Zerdin just last year. Let s hope it manages to choke down Mindfreak Live and digest it once and for all.” – Vegas 2018: Best of the Best, Worst of the Worst
Angel’s latest live production AMYSTIKA had a really rocky road on its way to an April 2nd official opening. I detailed the bumpy journey at length both here and here. Ticket sales have been disappointing. Patrons were invited to request up to four seats absolutely free. Knowing that Mr. Angel s PR department would not invite me for an official review, I took advantage of the free offer and requested admission for myself and some friends. Although I did not get an immediate response, I tried again a few days later and received a double allotment of eight free tickets.
When we went to the show on April 3, I warned my companions that if I was recognized, I may be either intercepted or removed from the theater. I asked my friends to record and photograph the incident if it happened. Sure enough, just a few minutes before curtain time, I was approached by the Director of Entertainment for Planet Hollywood Resort, along with two armed security guards. Without explanation, they informed me that the production had ordered me to be expelled.
Pressing the Director for a specific reason for my removal, I was instructed to wait under armed guard behind a cage-like fence in front. Some forty minutes later, she returned with the same explanation and an assurance that the show’s PR firm “would be in touch”. Unaware that I had received complimentary tickets, a refund was offered. When I explained that I was a critic and that this was a blatant attempt to prevent a possible negative review, all involved parties seemed visibly ashamed at how I’d been treated.
From “When Stars Step Over Ethical Boundaries” – September 2021
My suspicions that I might be removed from the theater began a month or so ago, when a friend of mine was at a local gentleman’s club. Criss Angel and his entourage were also at the club. A member of Angel’s entourage approached my associate and questioned if he was there to spy on my behalf. That exchange alerted me that there may be some inadvertent tension between me and Mr. Angel.
This “Batman vs. Joker” situation with Mr. Angel and certain members of the media is not unique, particularly those who have questioned his performances or his antics. In 2008, he and his bodyguards charged at one-eyed Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Norm Clarke and threatened to put out Clarke’s remaining eye. That’s right…a disabled, elderly journalist faced assault from a multi-millionaire and his thugs just for doing his job.
Around the same time, Mr. Angel targeted renowned celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who was in the Luxor audience for a performance of Cirque du Soleil s BeLIEve. Asking Hilton to stand up, he called him “the world’s biggest douchebag asshole,” which prompted a public apology from generally family-friendly Cirque du Soleil. In another performance of that show, Mr. Angel insinuated that an audience volunteer was gay and used the homophobic insult “faggot,” which prompted Cirque cast members to consider a walkout.
Vegas411.com and our counterparts are dedicated to providing its readers with our honest and thoughtful opinions. We are our reader s feet on the ground, keeping them posted on what’s new and noteworthy, and warnings of what we suggest they avoid. Sometimes, the latter may generate some heat; but it is always honest.
My expulsion from Criss Angel s show was nothing more than censorship. Blocking the public s access to information, whether opinion or fact, damages tourism and the entertainment community itself. Had I not attended AMYSTIKA with an open mind, I would not have invited seven of my closest friends. I’m a longtime fan of co-creator Franco Dragone. I have seen his production of LE REVE at the Wynn more than 35 times and it’s my dream to one day see his HOUSE OF DANCING WATERS in Macau.
So for now, my honest, unbiased review of AMYSTIKA must wait. If I am ever invited back, I will be glad to give a positive review, if a positive review is warranted. Until then, I will continue to review other new and noteworthy acts and shows on the Strip and in and around Las Vegas. In the meantime, I can only wish Mr. Angel the best with his new production from afar.