11-year-old muggle-born aspiring stage magician Criss Angel's dreams come true when he receives the Hogwarts acceptance letter.
At age 11, Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos wasn’t playing sports, watching TV, and getting into trouble like the rest of the boys in East Meadow, New York. He didn’t have many friends, but that didn’t bother him. Social interactions were entirely unnecessary as far as he was concerned. They “broke his focus.”
He wasn’t doing very well in school either. Not because he wasn’t smart, and certainly not from a lack of determination. He simply didn’t care about that sort of thing. Instead of wasting his life away, studying trivial things like math, history, and literature-- he spent nearly all of his time practicing and meditating on the one thing that fascinated him more than anything else in the world: stage magic.
Ever since he was 6 years old, he had known what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be a performer, a magician, a rock star. A cross between Houdini, Alice Cooper, and the lead singer from The Cure. He wanted to be... Criss Angel.
Criss Angel was the alter-ego that his 6-year-old self had created, over that fateful summer in 1974, when his Aunt Stella had taught him his first card trick, and he had since then been analyzing and reanalyzing all of the specific details of what his magician identity would become. And although the name "Angel" sounded a tiny bit lame to him now, at the weathered and mature age of 11, he could no more change the name than he could change the nature of his soul. For Criss Angel was his soul. He was a creature of faith, enlightened. A believer in the balance between free will and the power of God. He was, and ever shall be...
Besides, he’d already designed the little A symbol for “Angel”. He’d worked really hard on that.
Criss began his morningly descent of the stairs with an elegant sigh. It was 6:32 AM. Not that he was wearing a watch. In fact, he didn’t own a watch, and there was no clock or any other time-telling device in his bedroom at all. But he had awoken that morning, as he always did, at exactly 5:57-- three minutes before his brother’s alarm clock in the next room would have gone off, had it been a school morning. During those three minutes, Criss would get out of bed, brush his teeth, and put on his makeup. Then he would stand in the middle of his room, arms spread out wide like the wings of his spirit animal, the eagle, and meditate for the next half hour. Then, at 6:31 and 6:32, respectively, he would get dressed and begin elegantly descending the stairs.
And this he did, on that fateful, otherwise average morning when our story begins.
Being now 6:33 on a summer morning, Criss was, of course, the first member of the Sarantakos family to wake. He preferred it this way. He enjoyed silence. He glided into the kitchen and pressed the button on the coffee maker, which would eventually wake his parents with the sweet aroma of fresh coffee. He was a good son, a loving and loyal family member. He loved doing things to make people happy.
Turning on the light in the kitchen, he saw his reflection in the window and paused for a moment to pose with one thumb in his pocket, the other hand making a sideways peace sign, and a forlorn look upon his face. His long black hair, earrings, ripped jeans, 4 chain necklaces, and a black wife beater, which showed off the muscles he was trying to grow, made him look like quite the ruffian. But he was a sissy boy at heart, and most people knew that. After crouching down on the floor and snuggling for a while with Athena, the family cat, Criss began making his breakfast and doing his sleight of hand warmups.
When he’d finished eating, he placed Athena on the table across from him, and proceeded to go through his entire card trick repertoire with her, including the Mystery Ten trick, the Spelling Bee trick, the Switcheroo, and his favorite, the Criss Cross.
“Hold on, gorgeous,” he told her charmingly. “Let me just take out my unlucky card before we do this one. This trick involves forming a cross, and I don’t want my unlucky card to be part of such a holy symbol.” He gave her the sparkly eyes as he sifted through the deck and pulled out an arbitrary 5 of clubs, while noting the Queen of Diamonds at the top of the deck.
Slowly, dramatically, he placed the deck on the table and said “Go ahead and cut the deck, princess. Anywhere you like. You have the freedom to make it a big pile or a small pile, it’s all you.”
Athena stared at him and kept flicking her tail, while he picked up some of the deck for her, and set the new pile next to the first.
“And now you have chosen,” he purred. He maintained eye contact with her, smiling slightly, just enough to captivate her, as he stacked the first pile on top of the new pile in a criss-cross fashion.
“Behold, Athena... the Criss Cross. This is the symbol which speaks to me, personally, which allows me to access the secrets within. Take your card now, Athena...” and he gestured to the top card of the bottom stack. He slid it out for her and placed it face down in front of her. Intrigued, she reached out a paw and pushed it to the left a couple times, then lost interest and went back to staring at him.
Criss concentrated for an exaggerated amount of time, back and forth between Athena’s card and the crossed deck it had come from. Finally he made eye contact again. Probing Athena’s feline brain through her mildly curious eyes, for some sign, some hint of the identity of the card she had not actually looked at. And then Criss’s expression changed, with that subtle, almost imperceptible “aha!” moment he had practiced so diligently in the mirror all these years.
“It’s the Queen of Diamonds.” He smiled, flashing a brilliant set of pearly white teeth, one with a smudge of black lipstick on it.
It worked, he thought. She totally didn’t see how I did it. Gets her every time!
“Mind Freak!” he whispered, and fluttered his fingers in the air.
With his routine finished, he began to start on the daily chores, which he volunteered to do every morning. It wasn’t that he loved doing chores, or that he didn’t have anything better to do... He was simply better at doing them than everyone else in the family. His mother, Dimitra, seemed perfectly content to cook lunch while dirty dishes sat in the sink. His brother JD was a typical 13-year-old boy, who wanted nothing to do with chores and didn’t mind if they never got done at all. And his father, John, was happy to at least take out the trash, but he would only do it the night before trash day, which gave the neighborhood dogs plenty of opportunity to scatter the trash around the whole yard. Not only was that inconvenient to clean up, it was also damaging to the dogs’ health, and Criss wouldn’t stand for that. He was a true animal lover.
He thought about these things as he started a load of laundry, took out the trash, and brought in the mail.
A strange letter in the middle of the stack caught his attention immediately. It was emitting an energy unlike any he had ever felt before, and he knew in that moment, not only that this letter was for him, but also that it would change his life forever.
He studied the letter, a fancy piece of stationary with an official-looking seal, and a coat of arms: The letter H surrounded by a lion, a snake, an eagle (he gasped: my spirit animal!) and some other creature. Looked like a weasel or a badger maybe.
He was definitely curious. But he didn’t wet his pants until he read, in a crooked children’s book font:
"Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
He read through the rest of the letter three times in a daze. He was more excited than he’d ever been in his entire 11 years. A school of magic! This was the best moment of his life. He didn’t exactly remember the name Hogwarts, or applying to it, but he’d applied to so many of these things that he’d probably just forgotten it. Or maybe one of the other ones had recommended him for this one. But it didn’t matter! He was going to magic school!
He read through the body of the letter one more time.
“...Term begins on September 1.” So he’d be starting this year! He was so anxious to wake his mother and share the good news with her, that he didn’t even glance at the enclosed “list of all necessary books and equipment.”
He sprinted up the stairs, bubbling over with his boyish glee. Then he stood at the top for a moment, calmed himself down, regained his coolness and control, and criticized himself for having lost it just then.
“Mother!” he said soothingly as he entered the room. “I’ve done it! I’ve gotten into magic school! I’m going to be a magician!”
“That’s awesome, Criss,” she grumbled, and went back to sleep.