Sunday, November 04, 2007
Two Words: Criss Angel
I pride myself on being a semi-expert on erotic celebrity-obsessions, and I dare say the one man on the planet currently dominating that category could well be mentalist/illusionist Criss Angel. As a student of pop culture who blogs about sex, I would be remiss not to post about this fascinating figure and how he has captured the imagination of so many. How does he do it? Let me count the ways...
1. I had never even seen Criss perform on TV until about ten days ago, but it has been hard to miss the commercials for his show "Mindfreak" these past couple of years. I count myself among those people attracted to the long-hair, eyeliner, rock star look, and from first glance I found Criss to be pretty intense. He is a very handsome man with an amazing physique, and knows how to "accessorize" those assets. The hair, the makeup, the clothes, the poses...he could be anyone and get attention looking like that.
2. But to be more than a guy whose pictures you collect for the "Criss Angel" folder on your hard drive, the man has to have talent. And that he has, a-plenty. He's another "Renaissance man" who writes, produces, acts, and even has musical talent. His expertise sets him apart as someone special and noteworthy, someone capable and confident. His looks get your attention; his talent holds it.
3. And, of course, there is the nature of his area of expertise: magic and mentalism. There's no denying there is a strong connection between these subjects and sex. Magicians and hypnotists have strong erotic power to a lot of people. Women, who traditionally find submission arousing, are easily turned on by a man who can make them feel overwhelmed, irresistibly influenced, mystified and enchanted. Magicians and mentalists seem to possess alluring power, and for many women, this is the ultimate kind of sex appeal.
4. Criss is clever enough to understand the elements of the magician archetype most rich in erotic appeal, and has crafted his on-stage persona accordingly. His employing the term "mindfreak" is not accidental; it's the "polite" form of the implied "mindfuck"...meaning in part simply messing with the mind, but also the sexual interpretation. The word is deliberately meant to suggest that while Criss cannot have intercourse with your body, he most certainly will insert himself in your mind and have his way with it.
So, in Criss Angel we have an extremely hot guy, who is fabulously talented, and plays the role of a powerfully magical, influential being who may or may not have a unique connection to the spiritual world. As a result, droves of women (and droves cannot begin to convey the multitude) idolize him.
Now I want to elaborate on that: I'm not talking about mere fans here, people who simply enjoy the man's performances. I'm talking about people who feel a deep psychological connection to Criss, and on a daily basis are affected by their feelings for him. This is the animus phenomenon at its finest; for what I mean by that, please read this post to be enlightened. All you have to do is poke around a few Criss Angel tribute sites, blog posts, and MySpace pages to see the animus phenomenon happening everywhere.
Women are saying things like "Criss Angel saved me," and "I feel him within me." They give him credit for inspiring them, leading them, easing their pain. They refer to him as an angel or even a god. They immerse themselves in watching him, listening to him, writing poetry about him or drawing pictures of him.
These behaviors are not disturbed or deviant...they are the most natural, normal thing in the world. Criss Angel has a gift for capturing the imagination, and as Carl Jung taught and I firmly believe, it is the imagination that opens up the contents of our subconscious to us, the hidden world within us and beyond reality, whence our deepest longings spring and our greatest source of power and enlightenment lies. These women are connecting with their animus, that hidden and fabulously important part of themselves, as he manifests himself through their individual visions of Criss Angel.
He is simply an ideal animus-bearer.
When perusing these various websites and postings, you will find both positive and negative themes. On the positive side, women are truly inspired by their fascination with Criss, energized and enabled. This is the result of their connecting with power within themselves that is finding a new way to manifest itself. The joy and excitement they find, through Criss Angel and their fantasies of him, gives them energy. It can be a comfort, a pleasant distraction, a call to action. On the negative side, however, there is the common problem that it seems to Criss's fans that it is he--the actual man--who is the source of this joy and power, rather than their animus-related experience of him. That of course creates acutely painful longing, frustration, disappointment, and so on.
Having experienced both the positive and negative effects of celebrity-infatuations, I wrote my book Living Beyond Reality: A Jungian Primer for Enhancing Your Life. The theories of Carl Jung were tremendous help to me in learning to avoid the negative and utilize the positive, and many other people struggling with their own "obsessions" have been helped by the book.
Interestingly, I think Jung and Criss Angel would have gotten on quite well. Both are/were rational, scientific men who meanwhile had an appreciation for the connection between mind, body and soul. They both have found an excellent balance between accepted reality and the just-as-real but empirically evasive world beyond reality.
On a more personal note, I must say I'm glad I didn't encounter such a potent guy as Criss twenty years ago when I was not so equipped to understand this stuff. As it is, I just can't help putting him up on my wallpaper and indulging in a fantasy or two...sigh.
(image thanks to http://www.angelofillusion.net/)