Originally posted 7/17/10 at 3:36 a.m.
Inspired by an Old World Tuscan castle, Criss Angel’s extraordinary 22,000-square-foot home is a breathtaking 2 1/2-acre mountaintop paradise with spectacular views of the mountains and the entire Las Vegas Strip.
Spend a little time gazing at the stunning 2,200-square-foot luxury pool and spa that’s open from the entire back of the mansion, and you’ll understand why the Mindfreak magician calls his palace Serenity. The Association of Pool and Spa professionals named it one of the Top Five most beautiful residential pools in America, and it won the Gold International Award.
It’s the largest home in his triple guard-gated community overlooking the Las Vegas Valley, and, as one of the largest sprawling estates in Nevada, is a fully integrated smart house with lighting, climate control, security and audio video with the latest technology in more than 25 miles of cable.
The magnificent mansion also features 40 TV screens and a state-of-the-art home theater for 20 guests, and 10,000 watts of power booms from more than 100 speakers throughout the house.
Criss took time out during his annual two-week vacation from Cirque du Soleil’s Believe at the Luxor to give me the royal tour exclusively for Vegas DeLuxe readers.
The Olympic gym facility, with its workout machines, is larger than his 14-car garage with his nearly 50 exotic car and motorcycle collection.
Serenity comes complete with an arcade game room, eight fireplaces and fire pits, eight fountains, six spas, nine bathrooms, three guest room master suites, a wine cellar and a magic museum that includes 19th century antiques and artifacts from Houdini, Doug Henning, Richiardi, Siegfried & Roy and other magic legends.
It is a masterpiece surrounded by beautifully manicured grounds and priceless sculptures and eight fountains, including a 15-foot-tall centerpiece. It’s one of the most exquisite dream estates in all of America, if not the world, and after 14 years of filming the world’s most beautiful castles and mega mansions for Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, I can say so with some expertise.
Walk along the exterior gardens called Whimsical Way (although he spells it differently) and gaze upon the priceless sculptures, and you’ll come to his master mega-spectacular, a 3,000-square-foot bedroom suite with phenomenal views and where his pet cat Hammie reigns over the exquisite dream estate. He probably knows more about the secret rooms than anybody else.
You’ll catch glimpses of Serenity in the opening sequences of the new Season 6 of Mindfreak on A&E and on the A&E Biography special about Criss, plus on MTV’s Cribs, but you’ve got the first exclusive look right here at Vegas DeLuxe. Criss moved into the home and its beautifully manicured grounds shortly before New Year’s and has worked on it nonstop ever since to make it the ultimate entertainer’s paradise.
“I was mesmerized the first time I saw it. It gives me the balance that I need in my chaotic career of shooting Mindfreak by day and performing in Believe by night,” Criss told me on our tour. “The moment I saw it, I knew this was it. I said ‘Serenity,’ and it was that quick.
“The first night I stayed here, I emailed my brother. I got very emotional about it. He had it engraved into a plaque, which now sits in my office and magic museum here. I moved in just before New Year’s, and we’ve redone almost the entire house: the pool, the walkway and built an eight-car garage. The Luxor is an amazing place to live, and I still have my place there, but this now is truly home -- and you’re the first to share it with everybody.
“We weren’t poor growing up on Long Island, but it wasn’t lavish -- just a regular middle-class house. I have the greatest childhood memories -- and it’s wonderful to now share the magic and tranquility of Serenity with my mom and my brothers. I have great childhood memories, many of them you’ll see on the new A&E Biography.
“It’s a wonderful Biography. I had an amazing childhood, lots of love. But my dad worked his tail off, getting up at 4 in the morning and going off at 5, 6 o’clock, yet he always had time to spend with his kids and his wife. So if you’re going to ask me if I ever dreamed I would have this, probably not, but I always dreamed big, but not this big. When my mom comes to Las Vegas, she stays here, and we have security 24 hours.
“Even now I find myself wanting to do more and different things. I’m actually tougher on myself as I get older. It’s a vicious cycle. The things that are important in life are the things that you can’t buy in life: love, health and happiness. I say that, and I believe that, and I try to live that.
“I just put in a 1,200-square-foot gym so I can get in the best shape of my life. I’m doing some covers of Men’s Health magazine. I’m older now, too, so I challenge any headliner to go through the rigors that I go through. I try to think of myself as I was when I was 20, and as I get older, I have to continue to think that way. People are spending their hard-earned money to see my show; I have to give them the best that I can give them.
“It’s so funny looking back, but my so-called overnight success actually took 15 years. I remember when I didn’t have any money, and my only car was Mom’s Hyundai.”
I asked Criss for his philosophy of life. “The only thing in life that you can do is be the best that you can be. We get one body, we get one opportunity to do what we want on this Earth. You can spend your life talking to other people negatively and basically have nothing to show for your own life, or you can spend your life trying to be positive and be a force trying to add something positive in this world and benefit others, be a benefit to yourself and be loving. It’s everybody’s choice. For me, I don’t understand why people wouldn’t try to be the best that they can be.
“I think the most important thing is love, health and happiness … but family, we have very diverse families, all types of families, but whatever that family may be, you get one family, and through thick and thin, you have to stick together because if you can’t count on your family, how many people can you count on this world?”
Even though every part of the new estate is full of serenity and tranquility, I had to ask Criss if there was one place above all others where he went to really unwind and find an inner place of peace. “My shower. I have a big shower, and I just sit in there for a half hour or an hour, and I think about things. That’s usually what I do. Or I take a walk down Whimsical Way, where I can be very quiet and private.
“I don’t get to be private that often these days. I normally only sleep three or four hours, but this week on hiatus from Believe, I actually got five hours last night. When I’m working, I usually go to bed by 5 a.m. I do the show, and then until I’m ready to unwind and sleep, I have to eat, then I go to my office, and I have a pile of paperwork that I have to go through that I don’t want to have to do when I get up. Or I’ll be editing. I do payroll, too. I usually get up around 10 a.m.
“I try to go to sleep early when I have interviews or meetings early in the morning. Last night I fell asleep to The Beatles’ song ‘Yesterday.’ If you listen to those words, they’re so profound. I love music. I put a crazy state-of-the-art system in this house.
“I didn’t get into magic to make millions or to be on TV. I got into magic to feel a sense of wonder, that feeling of gratification you get when you have that connection to the person you perform it for and the wonder that they feel. When I was younger and I’d spend my whole afternoon in a magic shop, I would have this feeling, not about television, like a kid in a candy store. It goes very quickly when it becomes a business. You have to produce, and that fun quality burns out. So I made my office like a magic store, all antiques and memorabilia. I wanted to relive that feeling of when I was a kid. I think that generates creativeness.
“People set goals, and the people who don’t achieve their goals, who kind of stay in a rut, they’re at a different level. Not better or worse, but it’s those people who are out there achieving their goals, once they achieve, they set a new one because they realize it’s not enough anymore. I think for me, I’ve gone beyond achieving my goals, so you are always setting new ones out in front of you to stay focused and sharp.
“Now for me, it’s really about my charity and God, but all of this without a purpose, it doesn’t mean anything. In the beginning, it’s easy to get caught up, but as you get older, you realize it doesn’t matter. Now I want to affect more lives in a positive way. Of course I’m going to always be doing projects, but there is going to come a point in time where I will be able to work with a little bit more of a balance and enjoy the fruits of my balance. Right now I’m very blessed to be able to do all the projects that I’ve always wanted to do.”
I had to ask Criss about raising his own family one day and getting married. “I know I will disappoint my mom in saying this, but I don’t see myself having a kid right now. I feel like my dad was such an amazing father to me, and maybe I just don’t think I could be half the father my dad was to me, and maybe it’s because I’m so married and engrossed in my career, I wouldn’t want to have a child unless I’m able to spend the time with them. I have my niece come out here, and she brings a friend. I take her shopping, we go to the mall, and we have a blast.”
Criss ends his two-week vacation next week and returns to Believe on Tuesday night. It will have a new look and feel to it now that the original story line with dancers has evolved to where it’s more about his Mindfreak magic. He has already added many illusions, and now just five remain to have him completely satisfied with the new look. They will be in place by the show’s second anniversary in October. He promises then to have 40 illusions in the show, more than any other magic spectacular in the world.
“Even then I’ll always keep changing it, letting it evolve so it’s always new, different and exciting,” he added.
I asked Criss to sum up Serenity for me in his own words. “It’s the place designed to take me back to when I was a kid. I’ve really turned my office into a magic shop with early 1900 antiques, memorabilia, magic props and the entire history of the art. It brings me back to the boy in me.
“I’ve been very blessed by the man upstairs. My future life will be about charity … that’s in the cards. I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but there will come a time when I’ll be able to work with more balance, smell the flowers and do things for others to make it a better life and a better world.
“My father was an amazing man, and so maybe down the road, I hope I’ll come close to achieving what he did. I’ve always said we get one opportunity to be the best you can be. You have nothing to ever show for negativity, but when your total outlook in life is positive, you can really be of benefit to others.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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