Criss Angel perfects Harry Houdini escape at Foxwoods

Mashantucket — The most important thing to know about superstar magician Criss “MINDFREAK” Angel’s outdoor appearance Tuesday afternoon in front of the Pequot Tower at Foxwoods?

That, mercifully, the ambulances and firetruck were NOT needed.

The vehicles were indeed parked just behind a platform above which, over about five tense minutes, Angel successfully pulled off a trick billed as the Harry Houdini Death Escape. It’s a complex bit of self-liberation wherein Angel — suspended 75 feet in the air by his ankles, mummy-trussed in a straightjacket and trailing a 50-pound weight from his neck via a hangman’s noose — managed to disentangle himself before torque, centrifugal force and gravity could render him first unconscious and then, possibly, dead.

As it turned out, the only injury suffered by Angel was a bloody gum — the result of chewing on the noose as he loosened it — and only visible by a dollop on his straitjacket.

A crowd of several hundred people turned out to witness the spectacle, which Angel performed in commemoration of Veterans Day and “MINDFREAK LIVE,” his upcoming six-show, three-night residency, Thursday through Saturday, in the casino’s Fox Theater.

The “MINDFREAK LIVE” presentations will be global premieres of a new production and mark Angel’s first live performances outside of Las Vegas in six years.

While the Harry Houdini Death Escape is in fact based on one of Houdini’s signature tricks, Angel added the weighted-noose twist to increase the difficulty factor. And, for any skeptics out there, the Foxwoods version was the second time Angel has done the trick. He pulled it off last year in Times Square — but during the attempt, shredded shoulder muscles; the injury required major surgery, seven implanted screws and months of intense rehab.

What, then, does it look like when one is actually pulling off a Harry Houdini Death Escape (With Added Weight and Hangman’s Noose)? Well, first, it’s worth noting that Angel, dressed in rock-star black, welcomed the crowd and made several gracious comments in honor of Veterans Day.

“Whether I succeed or fail today,” he said, “it pales next to what is done daily by the men and women who are protecting the greatest country in the world.”

After those remarks, a roadie securely locked Angel in a name-checked Posey straightjacket — Posey apparently being the restraining-garment of choice by professionals in the lunatic business — and then affixed the large, coin-shaped weight by a Wild West-looking noose around the magician’s neck. Prone on the stage, Angel’s ankles were then attached to a crane cable and he was then lifted, feet first, into the sky.

For the first few admittedly anxious minutes — when Angel wriggled like a worm on a fishhook — it was hard to tell what, if anything, he was accomplishing. Slowly, though, his arms started to have increasing range of movement — even whilst still bound by the Posey — and finally, his left arm appeared. From there, Angel was able to maneuver and use his teeth to work on other jacket restraints and the knots on the noose.

He started bucking at the waist — like doing mid-air sit-ups — and then both arms were free! Quickly removing the remaining straghtjacket strap, one that bound him by the crotch, he then released the weight and noose. Freedom!

Blowing upside-down kisses to the astonished crowd, Angel was lowered to the platform and, after a few minutes spent kneeling in recovery, stood and smiled in worthy triumph.

Yes, it was amazing.

r.koster@theday.com

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