Magician Criss Angel has revealed that he was genuinely frightened when R&B singer Ginuwine passed out during a magic trick on Angel’s TV series.
Ginuwine, 52, whose real name is Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, had been submerged under water in a glass box and instructed to hold his breath on Angel’s “Magic With The Stars,” but he panicked as his blood pressure skyrocketed, forcing Angel and his team to retrieve the terrified man from the box. Ginuwine looked as if he passed out after he was taken out of the box.
“My heart was in my mouth at that moment. I didn’t know what the hell was going on until we got him,” Angel told The Daily Mail. “You just never know. My concern was whether he had a stroke or heart attack. Thankfully, it all worked out.”
“When the video was leaked I was shocked how viral it went,” Angel confessed. “Honestly, it showed the world that there is a real danger in doing the stunt. Ginuwine was fine thanks to the safety protocols we had in place.”
“When Ginuwine first came to me he could only hold his breath for about 15 seconds,” he explained. “We worked with him on breathing exercises and built it up to a minute, which was a huge improvement. I explained to him you have one breath. Would you bet your life on being able to escape the handcuffs in order to liberate yourself and get your second breath? Ginuwine took that challenge.”
“That is the mental state he had to be in,” Angel recalled. “When he started to train underwater, he had challenges keeping in mind what he learned. He got scared of the water and therefore he was not focused on the technique. That is what got him in trouble. And as he struggled he told me that he blacked out.”
“It has happened to me in the past,” Angel acknowledged. “It is similar to being in a tunnel where you feel the longer you go on your sight of light gets smaller and until your vision turns black. He told me that the last thing he remembered was being in the water and the next talking to me outside of the box. He was not aware of what happened.”
Somehow, Ginuwine returned the very next day to complete the stunt. When he asked to do so, Angel recalled, “I could believe it at first and said: ‘Listen man this is good — you do not have to do this.’ Ginuwine really wanted to overcome his fear and convinced me it was something he needed to do. The medic team cleared him, but still it was an incredibly emotionally difficult decision for me to agree.”
“In his training he’d achieved so much, but this was a major step back,” Angel said. “But this man had a unique drive and determination to accomplish something.”
Angel watched the second attempt with fellow show judges Loni Love and magician Lance Burton. “It felt like everyone was holding our breath when he was doing the escape again, because it felt so, so scary,” he remembered. “I was a few meters away at the judges’ table, but I was ready to run up in a second. But he centered himself and his breathing, and accomplished it. It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of joy of that moment. The relief and release of that emotion streamed down our eyes in the form of tears. He was crying too.”
“It was an incredible emotion that went beyond escape or magic, but really was the magic of emotion,” Angel concluded. “It was something beautiful and beyond a TV show.”