09-04-2011, 10:55 PM
Early morning sunlight shimmered on the placid water of the hotel swimming pool. A gentle desert breeze played against the canvas awnings covering the large cushions beneath them. The pool area was empty, save for the camera crew setting up to tape underwater footage of Criss Angel for his Sports episode of MindFreak. Criss had insisted on shooting this segment early in the morning before any of the guests arrived; he needed the solitude for the moment he would perform his underwater illusion.
The camera crew talked amongst themselves as they worked. "Think Criss is fully recovered from that beating he got from George yesterday?" Tony asked.
"Physically speaking, yeah," Keith replied. "I don't know about his ego, though. Knowing him, he'll be demanding a rematch."
"If he does," Tony said, adjusting a microphone, "I'll put my money on George. Swear to God, that guy could punch a hole in a brick wall!"
"Speaking of George," Keith said as he checked the angle for Camera One," you know he's trying out for the exhibition match at the Excalibur next month?"
"When's he trying out?"
"Today at noon."
Tony nodded. "He'll make it for sure," he said confidently. "With the right hook he's got, he could go pro if he wanted to."
"What, and give up showbusiness?"
Both men laughed. Just then Criss entered the pool area, wearing only a pair of ragged jeans. "Hey, guys," he said in way of greeting. "Everything ready?"
Keith nodded. "Just about ready."
His relaxed demeanor suddenly turned into agitation. "Oh, (bleep)!" he exclaimed, slapping his forehead with the heel of his hand. "I forgot my swimsuit! Gotta go back and get it."
"Hey, no prob," Tony said. "Gerard left it in the dressing area for you. It's in the gym bag."
The tension faded quickly. Criss smiled with relief. "Oh! Okay, thanks!"
He left the cameramen for the dressing area, grateful for Gerard's thoughtfulness. He found the gym bag on the narrow bench in one of the booths, unzipped it--and discovered that his hypnotist consultant's motives had not been entirely altruistic. Instead of his usual shorts, there was a tiny red thong that some people referred to as a banana hammock. Clipped to the waistband (if it could be called that) was a note in Gerard's handwriting: To Criss: A little something for the ladies! Ha! Ha!
Criss dropped the thong in disgust. Very funny, Gerard! Real hilarious! You're about as funny as a crutch! He left the dressing area to go back to his suite. Just remember, Gerard: payback is a (bleep)!
He found his shorts in the drawer of his bedroom dresser and returned to the pool area for taping. Tony and Keith were puzzled. "Didn't Gerard pack your suit in the bag?" Tony asked.
"Wrong one," Criss replied dismissivly. "Let's get started, okay?"
He retired to the dressing area a second time, stripped off his jeans, and returned wearing his shorts, a flesh-toned form-fitting brief that clung to his body in all of the right places, giving the illusion of total nudity. "Cameras rolling?" he called out.
Criss took several deep breaths, dived into the pool and glided along the concrete bottom like a dolphin. He emitted tiny air bubbles from his nostrils as he swam past the underwater camera centered by one wall of the pool. The clarity of the water, illuminated by natural sunlight, allowed for excellent closeups of Criss' body underneath the surface, the play of his muscles with every stroke of his arms and kick of his legs. His aquarium underwater escape (which had almost killed him the first time he tried it) had conditioned his lungs to retain air for up to five minutes at a time, so there was no fear of drowning. After nearly four minutes of swimming for the camera, Criss finally emerged to the surface, his dark hair slicked back from the pool water. "We're good?" he cried.
"Good." Criss climbed out of the pool and toweled himself off. The swim had actually made him feel better. Maybe he should consider swimming as part of his fitness program? "Okay," he said, "now for the demonstration." He turned to his assistants. "Take your positions!" he ordered. Then, to the cameramen, "Are you ready to shoot?"
Tony waved that they were ready to roll the cameras. Two assistants unfolded a sheer white sheet attached at either end with a rod and stretched it out over the width of the pool, holding it up vertically. "Okay, lower the curtain!" Criss directed.
The screen was lowered, revealing nothing unusual behind it. The cameras rolled. "Raise the curtain!" Criss shouted.
Again, the screen was raised. This time, Criss dived into the pool and swam underneath it, disappearing on the other side.
"NOW!!" Criss shouted even louder.
The screen dropped, this time revealing seven bikini-clad models flanking him on both sides. The camera panned the group as the girls cheered and waved and cuddled Criss' half-naked body. Criss himself could only smile. God, I love my job! he said to himself.