12-25-2011, 04:07 PM
Despite the one-day delay, the filming of Angel Unaware was completed on schedule. Criss and Nomi worked well together for the few days he was on the set; they seemed to share a certain chemistry between them. But, as with Holly Madison, their respective schedules did not allow them time together. When Criss' scenes were completed, he and Nomi parted ways, though each promised to keep in touch. "Who knows what the future will bring?" he had told her.
When filming wrapped up around the beginning of November, and Criss had finished with The Tonight Show interview, Nomi received a message from the Luxor Hotel requesting she contact Criss Angel through his executive assistant, Eliza. Curious, she called the number written down on the pink message slip, half-expecting to get caught up in a game of phone-tag, what with his busy schedule and all. To her surprise, her call was forwarded directly to his office. To her even greater surprise, Criss answered the phone without delay.
"Hey, Nomi," he said cheerfully. "How ya doin'?"
"Good," Nomi said. "We just finished making the movie. Dave says it'll be out by mid-December. A&E has first dibs on it because you're in it."
"Figured they would," Criss said. "I'm under contract with them. Say, Nomi, I wanna ask you a big favor."
"Sure. What is it?"
"Well, it's not just for me," he hedged, "it's for hundreds of people who need help."
Nomi listened carefully as Criss outlined his plan to her over the phone. "Well, if this is what you really want to do, Criss," she said, "I'm all for it. Just do me a favor, will you?"
"Name it," he said.
"No skimpy costumes or string bikinis, okay? I don't want to be too much of a distraction, if you get my drift."
Criss immediatly understood. "Got it."
"You're gonna what?!?" Criss' eldest brother, JD, stared at him in disbelief. "I mean, you're serious, right?"
Earlier that day, Criss had summoned his family together for a private meeting to announce his plans for homeless relief. His mother, Dimitra, his two brothers, JD and Costa, and his cousin George sat with him in a corner booth of one of the Luxor's finest restaraunts. They had just ordered lunch; while they were waiting, Criss sprang the news on them: "I'm planning on auctioning a few of my cars and motorcycles to raise money for the homeless," he told them.
This sudden revelation came as a complete surprise to the family. They knew Criss loved his customized cars and motorcycles, his "toys" as he called them; for him to sacrifice any of them for charity was unbelievable, if not inconcievable.
"What bought this on?" Costa asked.
"You've been to Sanctuary Shelter, haven't you? All those homeless people crammed into that one building, eating lousy food, practically sleeping on top of one another--it's pathetic! And it's time we did something about it!"
"Waitaminute, waitaminute," JD spoke up. "Who's 'we'?"
"I mean everybody," Criss replied. "Everybody with the means to do it, that is. I got it good here--the cars, the luxury suite, the bling, everything. Don't you think it's time we shared the wealth with those who are poor?"
"Does this have anything to do with your little 'experience' as a homeless bum a few weeks ago?" Costa asked.
Criss looked directly at him. "Cos," he said, "it's more than that. I confess that my 'experience', as you call it, was a wake-up call, but I was there before, remember? In fact, we all were. We all saw the misery those people go through every day, haven't we? Didn't you want to do something to help them at the time? I know I did. I've done my best to give back to the community at large: Make-A-Wish, the Crissmas episode, the military. But I can do more than just entertain a few people. I can make a difference in the world."
"Bull(bleep)!" Costa said, not believing Criss' little speech.
"Costa!" Dimitra exclaimed, indignant over such language.
"It's because you were homeless for a day," Costa pointed out. "It's because you saw first-hand what it was like to have nothing, to be poor and hungry and without a home. Maybe you felt some sympathy the first time around, but you went right back to your rock-star lifestyle the minute taping was finshed! It was only when you got thrown out of the Luxor did you 'wake up' to the plight of the homeless, as you said. It's not out of concern for them that you decided to sell your cars, it's guilt! Plain, old-fashioned guilt! Admit it, you feel guilty after what you went through!"
"Wouldn't you feel guilty if you went through the same thing I did?" Criss argued.
Costa did not answer, but remained sullenly silent. "Well, I think it's a wonderful idea," Dimitra said, glowing with enthusiasm and maternal pride. "I'm glad something good came out of what Christopher went through. And it'll help a lot of very poor people as well. You can raise a lot of money selling those cars of yours, money the shelter can use."
"Thanks, Mom," Criss said, smiling.
George, always the practical one, pressed for more details. "So, how are you gonna go about it?" he asked. "Direct selling? Auction? Raffle?"
"Auction," Criss replied. "That's the best way. Sell 'em to the highest bidder. We'll get more money that way."
"Where you gonna hold it?"
Criss thought about it for a moment. "Well, right here at the Luxor. The Grand Ballroom's big enough, isn't it?
"It should," George conceded. "And which cars are you gonna sell?"
Now Criss was stumped. "I'm gonna have to go over my inventory," he said hesitantly. "I haven't made up my mind yet."
"Well, you'd better hurry," George told him. "Christmas is coming up, and there's a lotta little kids in that shelter waiting for Santa Claus to bring 'em something, and you don't wanna let 'em down, do you?"
"I'm not gonna let them down, George," Criss said confidently. "I swear to God I won't."
After and hour of sitting in his office poring over his vehicle inventory list several times, Criss simply could not decide which of his cars or motorcycles to auction off for the shelter. Every two or four-wheeled vehicle he owned meant something special to him; he could not bring himself to part with any of them. Still, he had made a commitment to aid the homeless, so he forced himself to continue his search. Finally, in despair, he tossed aside his list. "What am I gonna do?" he groaned. "I can't decide what to sell!"
"Maybe I can help," a voice behind him spoke.
Criss sat up, startled. Pastor Bob Beaman stood there in the doorway of the office. "Pastor Bob!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Eliza didn't tell me you were here!"
"One: your mother got hold of me and told me your plans, so I came to see if I could help," he explained. "And two: your secretary or whatever you call her had gone to lunch, so I just slipped inside. Seems to me you're having a bit of trouble deciding what to sell at the auction."
"Yeah, a bit," Criss mumbled. "I just can't seem to make up my mind."
"Lemme see what you got," the pastor ordered, taking up the list.
He skimmed over the printout of the list of cars and motorcycles Criss owned, his eyes widening as he read on and on. "Like I said before," he said, "you got enough here to open your own dealership! Surely you can afford to let go some of these! I mean, you're only one man; you don't need to have all of these things, do you?"
"It's not a question of 'need', Pastor," Criss protested. "It's more like...sentimental reasons."
"You should be more sentimental toward your fellow man than these machines, here, Criss," the pastor admonished. "Cars are just machines; they make millions of them every day. People, however, need food and shelter. They need to live, Criss, they need to eat and keep outta the wind with good homes, feed their children and send them to school. You know, someone once said, 'Live simply so that others can simply live.'. You've made your life complicated with all this materialistic wealth, all these cars and other stuff you got, while there are folks out there barely making it as it is. So if I were you, I'd forget the 'sentimental reasons' and start liquidating your inventory."
Criss's shoulders slumped in deeper despair. "I could sell all I have and not make a dent in solving the homeless crisis," he said sadly.
"I'm not asking you to solve it," the pastor said. "No one person can except the federal government and the public at large. But you can ease the suffering and the misery these people are going through with this auction. Even if you turn just one homeless person's life around with it, you've done more than anyone else." He handed back the inventory list. "Now, whaddya say? We gonna go through with this or not?"
Criss stared at the printout sheet glumly. "I made a promise, Pastor," he said, "and I intend to keep it. I just don't know what I want to sell."
The good pastor pondered this. "I think we should let God Himself decide," he said mysteriously.
Criss looked at him, perplexed. "Huh?"
"Show me where you keep your cars," Pastor Bob requested, "and I'll show you what I mean."