I Was One of America's Top Psychics -- And Like All of Them, a Complete Fraud
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In my theatrical sances at the Magic Castle, where I was then still working as medium in their Houdini Sance Room, Dr. Saint was the chosen entity I used to invoke as my spirit guide to reach the spirit of Harry Houdini, since Dr. Saint had been Beatrice Houdini's agent after Houdini passed away in 1933.
There was no sin in omitting the other half of this truth. If Betsy knew who Dr. Saint was, she might question whether or not I was a genuine medium, since Dr. Saint was an ex-sideshow barker and a phony psychic himself for many years. If Betsy knew her stuff on the history of mediumship, she would have known about his exploits. Using his name as my guide should have definitely called my veracity as a "real" medium into question.
Betsy's face remained impassive. It seemed I had passed the first hurdle with the chief Madame of Mediumship. "I see," she said calmly as she unclasped her hands. "So what classes can you teach?"
"I teach a special seminar on corporate intuition, which is very popular." True again. I had performed a lecture combined with an ESP demonstration at several business meetings for Toyota, IBM, and Southern California Edison over the years. It was never intended for shut-eyes or as a religious experience, but I could ante up the bullshit factor for the New Age crowd with only a few minor adjustments. "I also have a lecture on how to develop clairvoyance," I added. This was basically the same lecture as my intuition seminar, just less corporate and more New Agey. Back then you couldn't go into Toyota and tell them you would teach their employees how to become clairvoyant, though nowadays it just might fly.
Betsy seemed happy with what I had to offer. She smiled a knowing grin that could have been tinged with that wink-wink, nod-nod "with it" carny wisdom, but I wasn't sure. She stood up and asked if I would consent to do a sample reading for her chief assistant, Lucretia.
"I would be happy to." I stood and met her gaze unflinchingly.
I thought briefly about the name Lucretia. Lucretia Borgia had been the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, and in the Italian Renaissance had made herself famous as a poisoner, personifying the concept of a Black Widow. Could anyone, even in the younger generation of Goth-minded parents, imagine naming their daughter after a mistress of mayhem? My imagination ran wild with what she might look like. I could hardly wait to be introduced.
I followed Betsy out of her office, back through the dreamlike bustle of the sandalwood-scented main room, and to where the cash register was positioned next to their padded meditation room. The recorded sounds of whale calls mixed with soft New Age music as I entered the room through a dazzling bead curtain.
Suddenly, the background of the room went faintly out of focus. Lucretia certainly lived up to her namesake. She was a wraith-like creature of possibly Hispanic origin who projected complete confidence. She was tall and moved with a slow, seductive malevolence. Her gaunt, olive-skinned face was a mixture of Hollywood gypsy and dark-eyed Medusa, and was dominated by giant coils of luxurious raven-black hair that fell from a bejeweled tiara. Her outfit was in keeping with today's Camelot theme, but with a decidedly strong twist in the direction of black on black. As to be expected, her fingers, arms, and every other uncovered appendage were sheathed in layers of sparkling New Age jewelry.
Unicorns danced with owls, sphinxes, cats, and other mystical creatures from her left hand to her right. This was way before the current obsession with tattooing, but I'm sure there were a few dusky inked embellishments hidden beneath her tresses too, if my carnival intuition was correct.