Illusionist Criss Angel speaks out after failed stunt leaves him in the ER

Angel lost consciousness mid-air in front of a Las Vegas audience.

ByABC News
March 13, 2017, 8:21 AM

— -- Magician Criss Angel, known for his death-defying tricks, said the mid-air straitjacket move that sent him to a Las Vegas emergency room last Friday night was not a publicity stunt, as some skeptics claimed.

"This is real," Angel, 49, told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "I blur the line between reality and illusion but this demonstration and the risks that are at stake are no joke."

He added, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and for me it's always about pushing my envelope."

Angel attempted an aerial trick in which he hung upside down while secured in a straitjacket during his show at the Luxor in Las Vegas. As he swayed his body in an attempt to free himself, even the audience knew something was off as he struggled to escape.

"He's flailing his arms and legs trying to do everything he can to wriggle free," Ryan Perez, an eyewitness, told ABC News.

Angel then lost consciousness mid-air in front of a stunned and fully packed audience before being helped down and rushed to the hospital.

"Once I started going up I was told that I began my escape and that's all I remembered until I woke up and I was literally surrounded by paramedics and people putting things in my arm," Angel said.

Angel blamed losing consciousness, which he said was a first for him, on elements beyond the show, including not eating properly, lack of sleep and dehydration.

"I felt like it was really attributed to not eating properly," he said. "I've only been sleeping about two hours a night the past few days and I don't think I was hydrated so I attributed my unconsciousness to those elements that can cause this."

Angel said he was asked to get an MRI scan and to stay in the hospital for observation, but signed a release waiving liability so that he could get back to work.

"I actually left the hospital early because I was so angry because I wanted to get back to doing my show and thrill the audience with a show and a spectacle that the world of magic has never seen before," Angel said.

Within 24 hours of the failed attempt, Angel suited up to give the performance another try. This time he successfully broke free as he hung from his ankles in front of a stunned audience.

The performer said he has been doing the straitjacket stunt since he was 14 years old and when he performs, he expects to be able to deliver an unforgettable experience for the audience.

"It's at the mercy of whether or not something's going to work or not," he said. "There's a lot of things I do to thrill audiences and I really do things that have never been done in the history of the art ... so with that comes life and death risks."

Fans in attendance for Friday's show were issued refunds or were given the option to see a show on a different day over the weekend, according to Angel.