Even Criss Angel seemed a little creeped out, a point he made in introducing a wax likeness of himself to the audience at Madame Tussauds at the Venetian: “This is the ultimate mindfreak,” he said.
As the wax Angel, covered in matching bling, stared straight ahead, the real Angel repeatedly circled it -- just a short time before he had to run to a memorial for impressionist Danny Gans at Encore this month.
With its elbows bent and palms up, the figure seemed to be making the old magician’s point of nothing up the sleeves. Except these biceps were uncovered, the better to show off their buffness.
“This is unbelievable,” Angel said. “To come and look at a figure is a totally different perspective than looking in the mirror. You can see 360 degrees around, and you never get to do that. You see all the imperfections.”
Of course, since the wax figure comes with abs any exercise machine infomercial would be proud to feature, you’d think Angel would have a hard time keeping up. But he claims no worries on that score, thanks to his Cirque du Soleil show “Believe” at Luxor: “Because of the physical demands of the show, if I didn’t maintain my condition, I would be vulnerable for being seriously injured or killed.”
The decision to wax Angel was a process that began even before his Vegas show opened, said Madame Tussauds attraction manager Rosita Chapman. The museum chooses which celebrities to replicate based on suggestions written by customers in an exit book, as well as consensus among the staff. (Others on display include Elvis, John Wayne, Blue Man Group and Wayne Newton.) In this case, fans had requested Angel because he was already taping his A&E; cable show “Mindfreak” around the city.
“When he decided to do the show in Vegas, that seemed the natural time for us to do this,” Chapman said.
As for how long it took to replicate Angel, she said, “The amount of time it takes varies, but for Criss this took about six months. It is a laborious process, because you are showing a lot of skin and you want to get everything perfect.”
Neither the clothes nor the jewelry, by the way, are wax; according to the Madame Tussauds folks, the jewelry was made to be “identical to what Angel wears.”
That caused Angel to quip: “If the bling is real, it is going to get stolen quickly.”
So if you see silver handcuffs and jewel-encrusted bracelets designed with metaphysical-looking symbols at a pawn shop, be suspicious.
A Beacher-Angel cat fight
Jeff Beacher’s Madhouse at the Hard Rock Hotel became one of the wildest and most talked-about shows during the glory times of the VIP binge of three years ago. It was packed with circus acts, sexy dancers and, sprinkled through the audience, Beacher’s celebrity friends (the sort of people Eminem insults in song). The pre-show of attractions and unrealistic contests and novelty acts made the event like a huge bachelor party, even if the downside was that no one paid attention to the comedians who were ostensibly the stars.
But mostly what made the flamboyant, corpulent showman such an asset was his flair for publicity. Beacher had feuds with PETA, the city of Boston and Donald Trump; all generated headlines. He even had a feud with a little-person Britney Spears imitator. Now Beacher is fighting Criss Angel about the ownership of a cat, claiming that the magician stole the feline.
Some of his stunts backfired big-time, like his plan to lose 100 pounds to run a marathon, and his vow of celibacy to get in shape for the race, which he never ran.
Though the Madhouse was a successful promotion, it was not a moneymaker. After the Hard Rock changed hands to corporate ownership and the money drained out of Vegas, the new owners and Beacher quietly parted ways. Eventually, he took the Madhouse on the road.
But soon, Beacher says, he will be a doing a Madhouse on the Strip. And amazingly, he is coming to the Mirage resort this time -- though the Mirage has yet to make an official announcement.
Why amazing? Because Beacher’s first days in Vegas found him banned from all MGM-Mirage properties after he broke into an aquarium at MGM Grand wearing little beyond a sign promoting his Hard Rock show. That sort of behavior was unknown in Vegas at the time, and MGM-Mirage was a very angry company. But time heals most wounds, and in Vegas money heals the rest.
“The Mirage is going to build out the ballroom, and we are going to do one-off Madhouses monthly,” Beacher said. “It is a bigger room than we had at the Hard Rock. And, this is going to be a much bigger show. We have changed the show tremendously. I learned a lot being on the road about how to keep the energy up. The pre-show used to be the best part of Madhouse, and now it is the whole show.”
For more Vegas coverage, visit the Movable Buffet blog.