Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Criss Angel Finding His Groove?

[UPDATE: A MGM Mirage spokeswoman wrote me back: "At this time, it is all temporary signage."]

His show has been deemed by every professional critic as an unredeemable mess, Cirque du Soleil's announced "fixation" plan for the production has evidently stalled out and his personal antics have alienated him from even his most trusted advisers. Yet there's some evidence that Criss Angel and his show, "Criss Angel BeLIEve" are settling in at the Luxor against all odds.

Amongst them is the photo above, proof that, in fact, the belly-up bar at Luxor has been rebranded as "Criss Angel Liquidity." In my July 30 post, I mocked Angel for having referred to it vaingloriously that way when, according to MGM Mirage F&B spokeswoman Andrea Brown: "They are NOT changing the name of Liquidity, but Criss will be making appearances every Friday and Saturday night beginning Friday, Aug. 7 at Liquidity." The capitalized "NOT" was her emphasis via email, not mine.

Turns out, they were. Another MGM Mirage spokeswoman wrote me today after I received a scathing comment on that post noting that I was an ignoramus and all that jazz. Stephanie Heller of MGM Mirage wrote: "At the time that Andrea spoke with you there were no plans to change the name but that has changed. The bar is officially Criss Angel Liquidity."

Well, clearly someone had such a plan. Angel has put six of his motorcycles around the bar and appears there regularly, as Andrea wrote. (According to the signage, Angel appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in fact.)

But, any which way, it's an interesting development. Take that, coupled with Angel's Tweets regularly and joyously announcing packed houses for the show, and what you get is some indication that far from leaving town, Angel may be finding his groove. Who knows how accurate Angel's Tweets are -- at least one insider told me that Angel doesn't know how to distinguish between a sold-out house and a full house, between paying customers and a papered audience -- but for MGM Mirage to rebrand its central watering hole in his honor means they must be fairly confident that he's sticking around. He did make it all the way up to No. 4 on the weekly TicketNews.Com rankings of Vegas shows last week, although he was MIA on this week's list:

Still, just when you might think the corporate parent would be distancing themselves from the controversial star who bellowed cuss words at the vermin Perez Hilton from the stage, they've actually chosen to hug him even tighter. They must know something we don't know.

I write this somewhat tentatively. It will be interesting to see if the hotel's signage changes to reflect this rebranding. So far, it hasn't...

...but clearly this all came about pretty quickly. At the moment, the only things indicating it's Criss Angel Liquidity are large stand-up posters as shown atop this post. They're easy to remove.


mike_ch said...

Uh, really?

It seems to me that it's extremely cost efficient for MGM to make some temporary signs like the one in the photo that tack "Criss Angel" above the Liquidity logo. That the central name and logo remains the same means not having to go around changing directional signage or the sign on the wall itself.

Changing the name of a bar is a pretty simple way to remind people of your show. If it sells tickets, great. If it doesn't, it just goes back to Liquidity again.

So really, how is this being taken as a sign of confidence instead of a bottom of the barrel effort?

Michael said...

I don't doubt it's possible for Angel to be settling in, but why would you think that it means someone at MGM believes in him to rename Liquidity for him. Let's look at some facts. Liquidity, Aurora, and the Flight bar all wound up being 3 of the exact same types of bar with no style to speak of. Angel's show is a dismal failure to start, if I'm MGM I'm making him make regular appearances somewhere in my property where people don't have to pay him. Perhaps at the very least I can recoup some of my investment on alchohol sales.

At least that's when I thought when I first saw the announcement on their site that he would appear regularly at Liquidity.


Mikes: See the update atop the post. You could be right, but I still think that rebranding a bar is a vote of confidence. And say whatever else you will about Angel, but he clearly likes to be accessible to his fans. I don't know of another headliner who kicks back on a regular basis in a public bar after shows.

mike_ch said...

Steve: Don't doubt that C.A. is pretty accessible, met him myself when I found him standing around outside the Luxor minimall (by the Excalibur tunnel) just standing around and having the occasional conversation and photo op with whoever noticed him. There was no big mob, no line, no advertising, just a completely unpretentious thing that benefited those who happened to notice him. So I give him credit in that regard.

I'm just simply saying, if this was longer than a temporary thing, they could have called it "Criss Angel: The Lounge" or something. But then the powers that be would have to invest in updating casino directional signage and advertising and those booklets in the rooms.

My guess? He decided that maybe more people would pay to see the show if they could hang out with him for a while afterward. He told management and they helped in the effort by throwing some temporary signage around and wheeling the motorcycles out.

It's a savvy move, but after they invested so much in him already this hardly compares.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see if Criss Angel can turn his teenaged girlfriend Sandra into a real woman!!

Now that would be magic.

He looks like a fool dating a kid.

Michael said...

Agreed in the accessibility issue, I definitely think that in order to separate the belief that he was a primadonna this was a good move.

It can only help, especially considering if you do a comparison to say Penn and Teller that greet every fan after their show.

Putting Angel up on a pedestal ala Celine Dion wasn't working, so they needed to play to his strengths as an elevated street performer.

And while I didn't think about it, Mike_ch brings up some good points, I wouldn't call it a vote of confidence considering the rebranding is miniscule and by their statement to you, seems to be off the cuff at the moment.

However we all think of the reasons for it, I think we are in agreement though that this is likely a very good move for Angel, MGM, and the Luxor. After all, there is something missing from the uniqueness of the Vegas experience with high end branding and what better way to provide a unique experience is to showcase Angel in an area where you aren't required to wait in a line for 3 hours or spend 1k on bottle service during the night for a glorified stage appearance. It's a step in the right direction for utilizing the uniqueness of resources available to Luxor and I'd like to see the other resorts follow suit with some out of the box thinking like this.

By the way Steve, congrats on the MJ event success, very well deserved.