I’ve been accused of having bad opinions in the past. In fact, when we were kids, my brother’s favorite insult for me was, “you have terrible taste in everything,” usually delivered after I hand-selected the gaudiest, moth ball-iest coat with the biggest lapels from a consignment shop, or forcing him to check out a borderline unlistenable screamo record in the back seat of our parents’ station wagon, from which there was no escape. He was onto something. He was onto this: the year is 2019, it is a balmy 92 degrees outside, and I have a crush on Criss Angel. You know him as Mindfreak, the nu-metal illusionist two decades my senior. I know him as my summer crush.
It started last month when I attended Criss Angel Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged, a limited engagement at New York City’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, less than a block away from Jezebel’s office. I assumed it would be a hilarious outing and an exercise in nostalgia—a reason to revisit a post-y2k era when Korn ruled mall punks and magic, for whatever reason, was a totally socially acceptable interest. What I did not expect, however, was to be turned on by a man in luminous black leather garb. A middle-aged dad who literally said “that’s what she said” in jest?
Here’s the thing about Criss Angel, the sweet man born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos—he’s from Long Island and his harsh New Yawker accent remains perfectly intact, as pristine as the day he got off the Expressway and made his way to Las Vegas for a ridiculously successful, years-long residency. There’s something grimy about the man in a classic bad-boy way, but only in his style and overall aesthetic (exactly how I perfect my bad boys.) In fact, when he ended his two-hour performance in Times Square, he brought out his family and made the crowd cheer for his two-year-old son who just months ago, beat childhood cancer. I cried, my best friend seated next to me cried, everyone cried. And then I was horny. Blame it on biology, but Criss Angel, bad-boy good-dad, is sexy.
Listen, I know, more often than not, Criss hides behind unfortunate early-00s sunglasses and greasy Warped Tour hair—that decade was the most kind to him, and soon, if it isn’t already, will enjoy a revival. Beneath all the Affliction clothing and his sometimes questionable, undeniably corny energy best described as “sentient Von Dutch trucker hat,” is a sweet family man with a six-pack, bad jokes, and delightful elocution. There’s no reality in this world of illusion, and he’ll make sense of the madness for me, I’m pretty sure.