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Angel, Master Blasters Ready For Spyglass Motel Escape

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: May 25, 2013 at 01:11 PM
CLEARWATER BEACH -

If all goes according to plan Wednesday, magician and escape artist Criss Angel will slip out of handcuffs, scamper to the roof of the Spyglass Motel and be whisked away by helicopter before the nine-story structure implodes.

"We're going to shoot out the heart of the building and then bring down the sides so that they fold on top of each like a deck of cards," says explosives expert Lisa A. Kelly. Her small family owned company has taken great pains to make the televised stunt "aesthetically attractive" for Angel's A&E cable series.

"If it was a typical demo job, we'd just blow it down and let it fall but this is special because we've never had a person trying to get out before it implodes," she adds.

"Every thing has to be perfect and I am sure it will be," says Angel, who is performing his first live televised escape on "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" beginning at 10 tonight.

As president of the Idaho-based Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., Kelly has seen a lot of buildings fall.

"We are the master blasters and we hold eight out of the 10 world records for implosions," she says proudly.

Among those records is the world record for bringing down the largest building, the 16-story, 2.7 million-square-foot Sears Merchandise Warehouse in Philadelphia in 1994.

Kelly and her husband Eric, both 49, run a family operation that started 29 years ago. They also hold the record for the most explosives ever used in a demolition and the most buildings demolished at one time (20 in Canada).

She says their five-member crew has packed 450 sticks of dynamite in columns on three floors: the first floor, the second, and the fourth - just two floors below Angel.

"There won't be any pyrotechnics because Criss didn't want anything flashy to distract from his escape," Kelly says. "There should be six loud 'booms' that will echo and the building will fall in about 15 seconds."

Kelly's 3-year-old daughter, Eliya, in training to be another master blaster, will make the countdown and shout "Fire in the hole!"

Cameras mounted inside the building to transmit close-ups of Angel's escape will be destroyed in the blast. There also will be an exterior camera crew catching the action.

In addition to the cable telecast, live video feeds will be available on www.aetv.com and www.crissangel.com. The event is open to the public and thousands are expected. Spectators will be kept at a distance (beyond 500 feet) for safety reasons. There will be a 9-foot-by-12-foot JumboTron screen set up near the beach.

In an interview this afternoon, Angel said several pre-produced segments will air during the live hour show leading up the escape showing how he prepared for the stunt. "I am ready mentally to do this," the 40-year-old performer said. "It's a challenge for me because it's live and that's a first for my series."

This is fourth season for "Criss Angel: Mindfreak." In past episodes, he has walked on water, sawed himself in half, escaped from sealed containers and survived being run over by a steamroller.

Angel says he has enough ideas to continue through a fifth season. He also has signed a 10-year-deal for a Las Vegas stage show that opens in October.

The Spyglass Motel is being removed to make way for the new Kiran Grand Resort and Spa which will have 350 condominium rental suites and 75 permanent residences.

Kelly says her family will pack up and leave on Thursday morning. They have a demolition scheduled in Texas but first they will visit Miami, where AED is under consideration to bring down the Orange Bowl, former home to the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes.


Reporter Walt Belcher can be reached at (813 259-7654 or wbelcher@tampatrib.com.

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