Magician and illusionist Criss Angel, whose reality series Criss Angel Mindfreak aired on A&E from 2005 to 2010. The show, focused on street magic and stunts, had episodes with titles like “Shark Cage Escape,” “Mass Levitation,” “SUV Nail Bed,” and “Burning Man.”
Criss Angel was born in New York in 1967 as Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos. (He’s of Greek descent.) These days he primarily performs live shows in Las Vegas.
He also has three children with his wife, Shaunyl. Their names are:
Johnny Crisstopher, b. 2014
Xristos Yanni, b. 2019
Illusia Angelina, b. 2021
His sons’ names echo one another in that “Johnny” and “Yanni” are diminutives of John and Yiannis (a Greek equivalent of John), and “Crisstopher” and “Xristos” are both based on the ancient Greek word khristos (“anointed one”).
His daughter’s first name, Illusia, is clearly a reference to dad’s line of work.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Crissangel?
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a set of baby name data for Austin, Texas, for the year 2017. While it isn’t current, it does seem to be complete — so it includes hundreds of rare and single-use names (which are always fascinating!).
The data accounts for nearly 19,900 births (9,733 girls and 10,163 boys), and features nearly 6,100 names (3,431 given to girls, 2,656 given to boys).
According to this data, which comes from the City of Austin’s Open Data Portal, the top baby names in the capital of Texas five years ago were Emma and James.
Here are Austin’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2017:
Emma, 98 baby girls
Abigail, 59 (tie)
Charlotte, 59 (tie)
Camila, 56 (tie)
Elizabeth, 56 (tie)
Penelope, 51 (tie)
Sofia, 51 (tie)
Avery, 43 (tie)
Zoe, 43 (tie)
Layla, 40 (tie)
Madison, 40 (tie)
Claire, 36 (3-way tie)
Elena, 36 (3-way tie)
Luna, 36 (3-way tie)
Aria, 35 (tie)
Chloe, 35 (tie)
Ellie, 34 (tie)
Katherine, 34 (tie)
Hannah, 30 (4-way tie)
Hazel, 30 (4-way tie)
Mila, 30 (4-way tie)
Stella, 30 (4-way tie)
Cora, 28 (5-way tie)
Genesis, 28 (5-way tie)
Grace, 28 (5-way tie)
Natalie, 28 (5-way tie)
Ximena, 28 (5-way tie)
Clara, 27 (3-way tie)
Eliana, 27 (3-way tie)
Ruby, 27 (3-way tie)
Audrey, 26 (tie)
Sarah, 26 (tie)
Alexa, 25 (3-way tie)
Everly, 25 (3-way tie)
Lily, 25 (3-way tie)
James, 104 baby boys
Elijah, 66 (tie)
Mateo, 66 (tie)
Aiden, 59 (tie)
Luke, 59 (tie)
David, 58 (tie)
Samuel, 58 (tie)
Isaac, 55 (tie)
Julian, 55 (tie)
Charles, 53 (3-way tie)
Jack, 53 (3-way tie)
Matthew, 53 (3-way tie)
Jose, 52 (tie)
Joshua, 52 (tie)
Aaron, 49 (4-way tie)
Grayson, 49 (4-way tie)
Joseph, 49 (4-way tie)
Levi, 49 (4-way tie)
Josiah, 46 (3-way tie)
Logan, 46 (3-way tie)
Santiago, 46 (3-way tie)
Christopher, 43 (tie)
Thomas, 43 (tie)
Andrew, 42 (4-way tie)
Gabriel, 42 (4-way tie)
Luis, 42 (4-way tie)
Owen, 42 (4-way tie)
Adrian, 40 (3-way tie)
Axel, 40 (3-way tie)
Christian, 40 (3-way tie)
On the girls’ list, Allison caught my eye. It ranked 26th in Austin in 2017, but 61st nationally the same year. Interesting.
Further down on the boys’ list was Austin itself, in 95th place — vs. 75th nationally — with 21 baby boys. Much further down was Texas, with 2 baby boys.
And now it’s time for the unique names!
One-of-a-kind names were given to 24% of the baby girls and 17% of the baby boys born in Austin in 2017. Here’s a sampling of the names that were bestowed just once:
Some possible explanations/associations for a few of the above:
Cadeau is the French word for “present, gift.”
Ceiba is a type of tree.
Tsumugi Shirogane is a character from the 2017 video game Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
Ynafets is “Stefany” spelled backwards.
Bruges is the capital of West Flanders (a province of Belgium).
Mistral is a strong late-winter wind in southern France.
The Rigveda is a sacred Hindu text.
I’ve never posted rankings for Austin before, but I have posted rankings recently for two nearby Texas cities: Houston (which is more than twice the size of Austin, population-wise) and College Station (which is about an eighth of the size of Austin).
The Batman-based TV series Gotham (2014-2019), which was set during Bruce Wayne’s teenage years.
The main protagonist wasn’t Bruce Wayne, though — it was Gotham City police detective (and future commissioner) James Gordon. In the very first episode, Jim met 12-year-old Bruce soon after Bruce’s parents had been murdered.
So…why is Batman set in a place called Gotham City?
“Gotham City” was first identified as Batman’s place of residence in the comic book Batman #4 (Winter 1940), which was actually published in January of 1941. Here’s how Batman co-creator Bill Finger chose the name:
Originally I was going to call Gotham City, Civic City. Then I tried Capital City, then Coast City. Then, I flipped through the phone book and spotted the name Gotham Jewelers and said, ‘that’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it. Of course, Gotham is another name for New York.
Why is Gotham another name for New York City?
It’s a tradition that was kicked off by writer Washington Irving, who referred to the city as Gotham in an 1807 issue of Salmagundi — a short-lived satirical magazine that lampooned NYC culture and politics.
He choose that name because of the medieval folktales about the English village of Gotham, the residents of which had a reputation for idiocy. (According to the tales, though, they were simply feigning madness in order to thwart King John.)
The name of the village (which is located in Nottinghamshire) is pronounced GOAT-um, and is derived from the Old English words gat, meaning “goat,” and ham, meaning “home.”
Getting back to the TV show, though…
Toward the end of season 2, corrupt mayor Theo Galavan — who’d been killed mid-season by Jim Gordon — was resurrected as “Azrael” by mad scientist Hugo Strange.
Azrael was only featured in two mid-2016 episodes of Gotham, but he is likely the reason why the rising usage of the baby name Azrael accelerated that particular year:
2018: 150 baby boys named Azrael
2017: 132 baby boys named Azrael
2016: 113 baby boys named Azrael
2015: 64 baby boys named Azrael
2014: 56 baby boys named Azrael
Azrael, the name of the angel of death in both Islamic and Judeo-Christian tradition, is derived from the ancient Hebrew words ‘azar, meaning “to help,” and ‘el, meaning “God.”
Which name do you think is cooler: Gotham or Azrael?
P.S. Ever wonder how Bruce Wayne was named? Here’s Bill Finger’s explanation: “Bruce Wayne’s first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock…then, I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne.”