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"I spent endless hours reading books at the library, studying magicians and their legacies," he said.Though he never attended any traditional post-secondary institutions, Angel honed his craft on the road as he traveled with other performing acts."I was exhausted at the end of the run," Angel said.

Criss Angel was born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos on Dec. His parents, John and Dimitra Sarantakos, raised him and his two brothers, Costa and J. John Sarantakos, who, like Criss, was dedicated to personal fitness, died from cancer in 1998.

Angel credits his work ethic to his father, who was a successful restaurant and doughnut shop owner.

Angel was bit by the magic bug at the age of 7 when his aunt Stella taught him a card trick. "I felt this incredible sense of power that an adult didn't understand how it worked, but I did." Within a few short years, his illusion skills were honed to the point that he began giving shows, first for tips only and later for a fee.

His first paid appearance was at the age of 12, at a neighbor's birthday party. Even from a young age, Angel lived and breathed performance magic.

"I had to get the word out, so when I wasn't performing, I was promoting." By the time the show closed on Jan.

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