The tipping point was Friday night's show, when celeb blogger Perez Hilton live-Tweeted about how bad "Criss Angel Believe" was during the performance. Angel's people evidently noticed and told Angel, which means they enabled what came next. At the end, according to Norm's Sunday column, Angel asked Perez to stand. "I have to recognize someone special here in the house," Norm quoted Angel as saying. "Perez Hilton, please stand up. We have the world's biggest douchebag asshole in the house!"
This is really a toughie. Angel's words about Perez were true. He's a terrible, unethical, vainglorious human being. But this was a G-rated show with children in the audience and a really outrageous and unprofessional thing for Angel to say in public. (Similarly, by the by, I'm baffled that the Review-Journal, also read by people of all ages, would print the word "asshole.")
But the incident is notable because Angel has now lost the support of Hilton's enormous web following as well as of Clarke. Also, there's no love lost between Perez and Clarke either, so it's not like Norm was sticking up for a buddy. How Angel ever expects to get anything approaching good PR anymore is a mystery; he's shut himself down to all media and even killed a profile of him that I was set to do for The New York Times. A strange strategy.
It's worth recalling what I wrote almost exactly a year ago in my 4/23/08 Las Vegas Weekly column about the Cirque-Angel alliance:
Yet if the MGM Mirage folks think they're in the clear, they're not paying enough attention to the burgeoning disaster that is Criss Angel Believe at the Luxor. Cirque du Soleil, usually synonymous with the safest bet in Las Vegas, is certainly going in a new direction this time.
Indeed, with Angel, Cirque is now laying in a bed of nails with one of the most controversial and egotistical figures on the American pop landscape. Last week, he physically threatened Review-Journal gossip columnist Norm Clarke, virtually ensuring his show will never be one that "Norm Recommends" on the outside flap of the R-J. It also promises to sour much of the Vegas press on him, creating a tabloid PR challenge the likes of which the Cirque folks have never had to confront.
The Cirque suits in Montreal must be sweating, but they also failed to either make a public statement condemning Angel's threats or force him to apologize. They're powerless, it seems, and thus it's only a matter of time before they helplessly watch their enormous investment be hijacked by a man not given to respecting much of anyone.
Prescient words, no?