Days away from the Halloween launch of Cirque du Soleil's $100 million gamble on magic, Criss Angel is convinced he has a monster hit.
That's not just his confidence showing.
"Ultimately it's up to the public, and the public has spoken," the Luxor headliner said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Advance ticket sales have been so robust, said Angel, that "I believe we're beating 'Love' and 'O' and every Cirque show, and we're now the No. 1 or No. 1 best-selling show in Vegas."
It wasn't planned this way, but "Criss Angel Believe" will open on the 82nd anniversary of the death of his hero, Harry Houdini.
The show title comes from one of Houdini's last conversation with his wife.
"After my death, many people will claim that they are still able to communicate with me. If their claims are valid, they will be able to tell you a code word. That word is believe."
Angel has faith that his collaboration with Cirque will win over the disbelievers.
"I mean no disrespect to the Review-Journal," he said, referring to some critical accounts of preview shows. "But it doesn't really matter what you, the Review-Journal, Criss Angel or (director) Serge Denoncourt think."
The public is all that matters, he said. "They're the ones that made me the No. 1 show on television and made me the No. 1 Cirque show in Vegas."
Opening night was delayed a month, he said, mainly because of the Jan. 28 fire at the nearby Monte Carlo.
"It created challenges in ways you can never imagine, and I'm not talking about artistic challenges" he said. "All the fire codes they had in place were then changed. Public safety is paramount, but it delayed us. We went over budget and over the time limit."
Gone from the show will be the song he performed near the end during previews.
"I did the 'Mindfreak' song because so many millions who watched the show know the words," he said. But it was only there because the show-ending illusion wasn't ready.
Not that Angel can't sing. He's been involved in music longer than magic. He was the lead singer of a New York rock band that had "one of the biggest followings," he said.
But he found the music industry "incredibly fickle."
He decided to concentrate on magic and incorporate his own music into it. He has five CDs of his own music in "Mindfreak," his popular TV show on A & E.
The anniversary of Houdini's death adds a "Twilight Zone" element to opening night.
"It ties in beautifully," said Angel. "You have to tip your hat to the past to go into the future."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Riviera headliner Frank Marino, who introduced Bette Midler at Monday's rally for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama at Krave nightclub, wore a black feather coat onstage and asked the crowd if they liked it. When the crowd roared its approval, Marino cracked, "Sarah Palin (the GOP vice presidential nominee) shot it for me."
Actress Jane Seymour, dining at Tao (Venetian) on Tuesday. ... Hugh Hefner's ex, Holly Madison, has been on the town, dining Monday with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps and Palms owner George Maloof at Simon at Palms Place and then having drinks Tuesday at Cathouse (Luxor) with Angel (who gave $1,000 tips to the winner and runners-up in the B-Boy dance contest, saying it reminded him of his start as a breakdancer). Madision joined Maloof again on Wednesday at Lavo (Palazzo). ... Actor James Woods, dining Sunday at Yellowtail Sushi (Bellagio). ... Players on the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team, racing Monday at Pole Position Raceway.
THE PUNCH LINE
"The economy's in bad shape. Today I saw a pimp driving a Kia." -- Jay Leno