The following is an excerpt from Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium (Feral House, 2012) by Mark Edward.
Every time I get a little too high on my psychic horse or start taking myself too seriously, I stop myself from spinning off into the dark world of delusion and psychic self-deception by watching the 1947 film-noir classic Nightmare Alley. It helps me cope.
Tyrone Power is the Great Stanton, a carnival psychic. He gives the sheriff that famous standard reading that manages to turn the tables to his advantage and directs the law away from their initial plan to bust him. He convinces the sheriff that his "Scots blood is working right this minute," and that he somehow knows the lawman's deepest, darkest secrets. This ruse works beautifully. This same cinematic scene is reenacted all across America on a daily basis, from shady storefronts in Miami to Hollywood socialite parties. This ten-minute lesson in petty fraud is a rare glimpse of just how easy it is for a savvy, persuasive person to claim they have second sight.
Twenty-five years of working the psychic streets has taught me many truths, for better or worse. Sure, I have a pile of testimonial letters. Yes, I can see the future, given the right perspective and information, and of course I can read the paw of your pet poodle. I may indeed have a great gift, but it's the gift of gab mixed with a healthy dose of imagination and nerve that has allowed me to be a psychic professionally and to now write about it.
My overwhelming interest in the magical realm began when I was a small child, watching in awe as my grandfather made candies and coins disappear and reappear at will. His magician's hands entranced me. Add to that my propensity to always listen to my inner voice, though in the current New Age it's been re-tagged as something other than basic common sense and a willingness to pay attention to intuition. Intuition is defined as knowing something without knowing how or why. It's acute insight. So, is this what we mean when we say psychic?
I'm quite confident that I would know by now if I had a spirit guide or my Aunt Ethel's watchful ghost alongside me. I have looked and searched, then looked again. I've traveled all over the planet and humbled myself in front of everything from Celtic priestesses to UFO abductees and their recruiters. This process has been repeated over and over, only to circle back endlessly into the cul-de-sac of my own personal nightmare alley. There's nothing there in the dark, though I have frequently found myself wanting to believe there are supernatural elements to converse with and take refuge in. Their existence would have made life so much easier to understand and exploit. Still, I have a head start at getting your goat. And I will. It's Darwin's survival of the fittest, and a sideshow tent is never far from a psychiatrist's couch; there's just more sawdust on the floor.
The Great Stanton in Nightmare Alley starts out his ill-fated voyage as a carnival mentalist who climbs from the ragtag traveling carnival to the giddy heights of super-psychic stardom in a glitzy New York City club. In thebeginning of the film, he witnesses the terrifying spectacle of a sideshow geek tearing the heads off chickens in the geek pit and asks the circus owner, "How could a guy go so low?" By the end of the film, Stanton has fallen from the summit of society's psychic mountain and become that pitiful, alcoholic geek himself. The last lines in the film are between a circus owner and his stagehand, who again asks, "Gee, boss, how could a guy go so low?" To which the owner replies, "He reached too high."
That line of dialogue echoes in me every time I'm told that I'm "blessed" or whenever I'm praised for how accurate my reading has been. That line never loses its sting. My conscience has never let me get too high--not yet, anyway.
It's been a damn near miss a few times, as the following pages will reveal, but I could never outright lie through my teeth and claim that I see spirits or cheat a sitter by making up only what I sense they want to hear. Instead, I have consistently opted to tell people what I feel in my gut is what they need to hear.
Choosing that option has made a huge difference in the lives of the people I have spoken with. Seeping through the cracks in the mirror of the New Age is humor too. Is all of this comical or prophetic? Have we reached a terminus of rationality or are we returning to our roots? I have witnessed a woman at a healthfood store swinging her pendulum back and forth over several raw chicken breasts, trying to determine which to purchase for her dinner by their various vibrations. Who am I to judge?
I got into the psychic business in much the same way Stan did in Nightmare Alley. I started off as a kid doing magic for whoever would watch. I craved attention. This took me through years of standard magic. But there was a problem. Where's the drama in watching a dancing cane? I grew tired of turning the red handkerchief into a green one and so got into mentalism--the performance of mental magic that still uses sleight of hand, but without pulling rabbits out of hats or wearing a cheap tuxedo. Mentalism appealed to me because it had a more believable premise. Mind reading, telepathy, extrasensory perception, and moving objects with the mind all seemed as if they might just be plausible. Or it seemed to me, as a teenager, that more people had a serious interest in these possibilities than an interest in fancy rope tricks. Soon, I was on to more bizarre nontraditional magick and there was no turning back.
I kept doing readings whenever possible. I was being appreciated on a whole new level, like the Great Stanton when he seized the opportunity to get out of the carnival racket in order to receive the greater approval, admiration, and remunerations of high society as a "real phenomenon," not just a cheap trickster. I identified with that character. And I still identify with that character and all the turmoil he went through. In fact, repeatedly watching the rise and fall of Tyrone Power's character in that film has probably rescued my life more than I can ever fully realize. If not literally, at the very least it saved me fromthe darker paths I might have chosen had I not seen this admittedly oversimplified version of the tale of Icarus. ...
So what does a church have to do with being psychic? Back in 1848, when the Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York, stirred up a flurry of belief in spirits and spiritualism by making their toe knuckles crack in the dark, churchgoing took on a whole new meaning. Thousands of churches sprang up that didn't always feature Jesus as their savior. Mediums and phony psychics taking on the persona of religious preachers were all the rage. During the early 1900s, when spiritualism began to flourish in America, talking with dead people was a major attraction in such popular enclaves as Camp Chesterfield, Lily Dale, and Cassadaga, where whole communities were based on mediumistic stunts and psychic readings.
Not much has changed since then. If anything, the idea of a church dedicated to "spirits" has grown even bigger since the New Age movement took hold in the late 1960s.
Orange County is a strange part of the universe. It's conservative country. It's John Wayne country. Some of the wealthiest families in the United States come from this sprawling Southern California landfill, but they are notorious for wanting to spend as little as possible on anyone else but themselves. Boats, cars, and homes are collected like less affluent people collect baseball cards. Assets per household are some of the highest in the nation. People in
Orange County--or the OC, as the locals more frequently call it--are used to getting whatever they want whenever they want it.
Yet the citizens of this cozy, insulated world are no less likely to crave, and pay good money for, the encouragement and guidance of a clever psychic or spiritual guide. In fact, the psychic business here is one of the busiest and best-kept secrets on the West Coast. A converted church in Anaheim, called the Light Path Foundation, held legions of psychics cashing in on that trend. I encountered many in this wonderful world of the Woo-Woo Gurus who were truly kind, compassionate souls. A few even truly meant well. But to paraphrase Theodore Sturgeon, ninety percent of science fiction is crap, but then ninety percent of everything is crap. Many of these self-proclaimed devotees of metaphysical sharing were merely business-minded opportunists, and I must regretfully include myself among these fortune-seekers. I had come there to learn, but I also needed to make some money out of the deal.
Just how provincially minded and lowbrow these new-money denizens could be was related to me once by a palmist who plied his trade in and around Orange County. Quinn was one of the top palm readers in town when I first became acquainted with him. While I got to know Quinn and his wife Jeanette, he shared some of the brightest gems of wisdom of any of the psychics I have ever worked with. He was a charming, genuine, down-toearth guy--the type of fellow you would be happy to talk to about anything.
I suspected he was a fugitive from a hippie commune. Shy, self-effacing, and slightly balding, he chose to never appear too "New Agey." He often dressed in Hawaiian shirts and khakis, and sported a neatly trimmed handlebar moustache. I immediately recognized in his demeanor a kindred soul.
One evening Quinn told me he had worked a private party in Laguna Beach. The police had shown up and summarily handcuffed Quinn, taking him to the police station for nothing more than performing as a palmistry expert. It seemed there was a law on the OC books stating that it was perfectly legal to read the lines on a client's hand, but if the palm reader touched that person's hand or made physical contact anywhere else, this was considered "massage," and if the citizen decided this constituted a severe breach of etiquette or that the palm reader had somehow gone too far, that reader could be arrested on the spot. Charges could even be brought from a third party who had witnessed the exchange. Unfortunately, it's always the sitter's word against the reader's. And the reader could be jailed simply because a sitter didn't like what the psychic had said during the reading, or had decided the reader was a gypsy (read: vagabond or transient), or even if that sitter disliked the psychic's cologne or the cut of his or her clothing.
Every time a client in the OC wanted to book me for a performance, I remembered Quinn's plight and crossed my fingers. I still prefer to have professional agents and event planners take the heat from megalomaniacal lunatics who book parties and frequently invite the most punitive, vindictive, and mercenary guests. If I discover a client lives in Orange County, I will ask a lot more about the who, where, and why of an engagement before I agree to anything. Fortunately, there were a few venues that offered a safe haven for psychic readers, though whether or not they had any special legal arrangements with the powers that be within the OC city council was an unspoken mystery.
I had honed my magic chops and built my profile early on while working at a members-only magic club on Lido Isle called Magic Island. This was the OC version of Hollywood's Magic Castle. In its early years, this elegant Egyptian-style club was a recognized jumping-off point for OC millionaires and their mistresses. Hundred-dollar tips were easily had for a mediocre card trick. It was here, in the splendor of Magic Island's main bar and lounge, that I first became aware of the appeal of tarot cards and palm readings.
I was completely dazzled watching my friend Jules Lenier receive five to six times what I was earning as a magician (in cash, no less) by cannily chatting up the very richest of the rich. Luckily for me, Jules was happy to share his secrets. Jules has said I have him to blame for much of my slightly depraved and duplicitous psychic background.
But it took years before I even began to catch up to the level of charm Jules could exude and the profits he could make. Both grew slowly for me, and part of this growth came from the Light Path Foundation, a place that was just about as far away from a dark, seductive bar scene as one could get.
One particularly slow Sunday afternoon in 1991 I was working a small psychic fair in a hastily converted industrial mall in Fullerton, California, with my friend from the KYAK days, Peter. Psychic fairs were like small farmersmarket arrangements that rented halls or rooms at hotels and attracted a decent amount of interest from the local neighborhoods. It was hit or miss waiting for the bookings to come through. Peter and I were not doing well, psychically or financially. So Peter suggested that I contact his friend Betsy, who was the general manager at Light Path. Many psychic veterans, the walking wounded from either the Psychic Friends Network or the KYAK years, were gathering at various psychic fairs and venues in and around Los Angeles during the 1990s, and the biggest and busiest of their psychic supermarkets was the Light Path. Peter told me that people like Sylvia Browne and Kenny Kingston--two luminaries in the big-time psychic business--were regulars at Light Path and that the foundation's reputation was top of the line, as far as working the masses went.
Sadly, Jules has since passed on to that magic lounge in the sky and is no doubt flipping over tarot cards and gently pulling on his elegant cigarette holder there now. I called Betsy, dropped Pete's name, and was greeted by a giddy-sounding woman with the happiest of voices. I liked her immediately.
"Hey, any friend of Pete is a friend of mine! Great to hear from you! We have psychics working every day, but our big psychic fairs are on Saturdays. We have a big one coming up next weekend. Why don't you come on down and we can talk?"
"Sounds like a plan. If it's okay for me to ask, how many psychics do you have working when you do a big fair?"
"Usually between twenty and thirty readers work the floor at one time. That includes astrologers, tarot readers, runestone readers, reflexologists, healers--you name it, we have it. We also have a huge marketplace where vendors sell books, incense, crystals--all that kind of stuff."
"Wow, it sounds like a busy day. I hope you'll have room for one more psychic."
"That shouldn't be a problem. The main church chapel has all the pews removed and holds a lot of people. What do you do?"
"Mostly tarot and palm readings right now, but I have also worked with ghost-hunting and mediumship over the years." I was hedging my bets here.
The more skills a psychic can offer and more versatile he or she can be, the better--especially when dealing with someone who might like to turn a profit on those skills.
"If you're a medium, that opens up a whole lot of other possibilities. Are you clairaudient or clairsentient?"
"Eh, well . . . I hear 'em and see 'em both, I guess. It's hard to describe. It comes to me in a lot of ways. It doesn't always happen in the same way twice in a row. It depends on the situation. Usually, it's pictures that come to me. They make more sense later."
"I totally understand."
So it was pretty much open season for creatures of all spots in the OC. My "pitch" would have been a much harder sell in Hollywood.
When Saturday morning dawned, I put on my best peasant shirt, packed my mojo bag with all of the goodies I thought would impress the boss, and an accumulation of press I had garnered from the Psychic Friends and KYAK.
I finished the grueling hour drive into the heat and smog of Anaheim and pulled up to a small church, complete with miniature steeple, that stood in the middle of a strip mall, which also included a pizza take-out joint, a thrift store, and a television-repair shop. A large red-and-white banner fluttered above, proudly proclaiming Camelot Psychic Faire Today! What Camelot had to do with Anaheim I was yet to find out.
A bustling crowd of bystanders milled around the front door. I made my way through them into the formal church entryway and was met with an unexpected sight. Packed in from the back wall of the church to the front, where some steps led up to the altar and the main pulpit, were eighty to a hundred people sitting perfectly still with their psychics, some with their eyes closed. Each of thirty or more small school desks contained a seated psychic animatedly gesticulating in different modes of dramatic expression while the client they faced sat perfectly still with eyes closed in a semi-trance. The crowd was a cross section of gothic Americana. Charles Addams would have felt right at home.
Every table and desk was a marvel of personal sculptural significance, festooned with a glittering array of New Age trinkets that advertised each psychic's individual character in complicated assemblages of angel and Buddha statues, crystal balls on wrought-iron stands, fans of gypsy cards, numerology charts, and all manner of flowery mumbo-jumbo. People scurried about holding tickets and clutching armfuls of booklets, flyers, and incense sticks. Everyone looked ecstatic and gleefully determined in his or her quest for the divine. This fascinating beehive of occult activity would never have been apparent to a random passerby, considering the church's front parking lot was littered with pizza boxes and mountains of abandoned television sets.
A matronly woman--whose gauzy purple, tightly laced bodice accentuated her Rubenesque pulchritude--quickly materialized in front of me with a cheery, "Greetings, seeker of knowledge! We have a special deal today, a two-for-one American cartoonist known for his darkly humorous and macabre characters. ... Buy one half-hour reading and get the second reading for free. Are you interested?"
"I'm always interested in two of anything for one," I replied, not able to avoid looking straight down at her ample cleavage. "But I'm actually here to see Betsy."
"Oh, sorry, honey. She's in the back office. I'll go get her."
Her voice had changed immediately from a goddess' bright melody to a chain-smoker's croaking rasp, and her posture had reverted to more of a slump as she moved away from me. This was going to be fun.
I noticed that many of the women in the room wore medieval costumes, plus many were tottering around in tall wizard hats with flowing scarves attached or fancy turbans to match their dresses. I figured this was what the Camelot angle was all about. I had to admit that it did add substantially to the overall magical feeling in the vaulted chapel. Without this theme, the group would have looked pretty much like any other church ice-cream social.
The production values were good. The tall church windows had been sprayed over with some sort of opalescent sheen that allowed the sunlight to shine in rainbow colors across the floor. Any warm Christian fuzziness was an unintentional bonus to the gigantic wooden cross that dominated the nave.
To remove this integral part of the pulpit's architectural plan would have caused the roof to collapse.
I waited and watched the anxious clients as they got up and sat down like assembly-line automatons. This was a regular factory operation. After each got up, they were immediately replaced by another, happily proffering a ticket stub for their session. Some of these sitters must have been returning customers, as their chosen seers would stand and give them a loving bear hug and generous greeting before sitting back down to resume their work.
The ratio of women to men was about five to one. Men were not only getting readings, but I was pleased to see there were a few giving them. And I was relieved to note that none was wearing medieval garb; I had reached my limit of Hollywood costumery with the Magic Castle turban suggestion and preferred a more casual approach.
I spotted my friend Peter deep into a reading with a sitter. He made eye contact with me momentarily and shot me a knowing smile. It looked like Pete was keeping himself in the money. Peter was smart enough to know that there would always be plenty of room for more psychics and more than enough work to go around. I also noticed a few of the older stalwarts I had seen at other venues look up from their work surreptitiously.
"Hi! You must be Mark," Betsy said, as she swept into the room in a brightly colored muumuu. She was a jolly, overweight vision wearing a beaded headband and covered in numerous jangling baubles. An oversized pentagram necklace completed her stunning accessory collection. "Why don't we talk in my office? It's a bit noisy out here."
It was. And there was hardly a place to stand. We went through a long hallway into an adjoining room and Betsy closed the door. This was evidently the sanctum sanctorum of Light Path. On the walls assorted East Indian and African masks competed with cheap reproductions of Krishna and Jesus. Every possible flat surface was piled high with books and dusty clusters of knickknacks representing eons of religious belief systems. The bookshelves lining the walls were in a condition of near collapse. Whatever light managed to shine on them fought through the accumulated grime that covered the single cracked window and an amber haze of floating microscopic debris.
I sat myself down in an African cane chair and surveyed this New Age sanctuary, complete with an everlasting stench of sage smoke. The room's whole atmosphere seemed to exhale a medley of half-forgotten superstitions.
I felt at home in this joint already. Not even Hitchcock could have sketched a better set. It reeked of hard work and hours of real-world experience. All these things also told me that Betsy was no pushover and I had better be pretty good at whatever I would try to pass by her.
Betsy cut right to the chase. "So, what's your experience with mediumship? We always need good mediums to teach classes and promote our programs. We have plenty of card readers already."
"I have a lot of experience doing sances." I was telling the truth. I did seances, just not the kind of seances Betsy might choose to attend.
Betsy folded her chubby hands on her desk and leaned forward. "Tell me about your spirit guides."
"I only have one," I replied. "My spirit guide has been Dr. Edward Saint for the last nine years." This was once again a true statement. Every respectable ghost has to have a spirit guide. It's kind of like their agent on the Other Side.
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.
Lucretia looked me over like a snake fixing on a mouse. I met her gaze with the strongest impersonation of a mongoose looking back at a snake that I could summon. I had to remind myself this was Anaheim, not Atlantis.
I offered my hand as Betsy introduced us. Lucretia's features softened into a well-rehearsed smile that could have melted butter. I prepared to offer her my best shot.
"Would you like a reading?" I asked politely.
"Why, yes. What kind of readings do you do?" she asked, like the spider to the fly.
My mind immediately went back to Nightmare Alley. What would the Great Stanton have done in my situation? I decided to make a leap and curry favor with the best method at my disposal: pure unadulterated bullshit.
"I do many different kinds of readings, and I have my tarot cards with me.
But for you, I think I would like to just sit down and see what my spirit guide tells me about you, if that is all right."
"Perfect!" She smiled even more deeply into my eyes before she lowered her gaze hypnotically. This one was a real worker.
We were offered a small corner table and before we even sat down she immediately threw me a curveball. Taking one of her dozens of rings off her hand with almost a movement of defiance, she dropped a heavy, antique gold ring into my palm and asked me, "So what do your spirit guides tell you about this?"
I took the ring in my hand and closed my fingers around it reverently. All "objects of invocation" should be handled as if they were very precious, even if they aren't and were made from thrift-shop purchases. I closed my eyes and hunched my shoulders in mock trance for a stage beat or two. Then I relaxed totally, took a deep breath, and released it slowly through my nose as I spoke.
"The vibrations are marvelous! My psyche is absolutely tingling. There is energy all around us. It's a sort of ahhhh . . . mmm. In fact, I'd say it was the best ahhhhh . . . mmm I've ever experienced. This ring belonged to a person of great personal power. Here is a woman who possessed an almost unstoppable willpower . . . very strong. I might even say that she was in some ways an incredibly stubborn person.
"She was self-reliant and independent to a great degree. And I see something that had to do with a horse and carriage, great movement, and a commotion of some kind. I see a broken wrist, or part of a hand or fingers, and this had to do with what made this person so persistent, passionate, and maybe even a little angry. This ring was on that hand or very near it. I also sense that this ring has traveled a great distance and been lost and found many times. It always manages to find its way back onto your finger. It is a good-luck beacon of some sort and is bound to you by some very dominant ancestral energy. It's not something you picked up at JCPenney's down the block, that's for sure."
I handed her ring back to her as if it had given me a slight electrical shock. A bit of respectful fear mixed with amusement flashed across my face. I stopped, blinked, rubbed my eyes, and waited.
Lucretia burst out with an enthusiastic, "Wow! You have been talking about my grandmother. She escaped from Russia with my grandfather with nothing but the clothes on her back. I think I remember her telling me that she broke her arm or fingers when she was a teenager. I don't know about the horse and carriage you saw but it certainly could have happened that way.
I know from living in New York City with her in her last years that she was as stubborn as they come. When my grandfather passed away, before I was born, she had to fend for herself in the city for many years. This ring is a very powerful good-luck charm for me. She was a gifted clairvoyant. Everything I learned about being psychic came from her. My parents never understood me and were not supportive of my spiritual goals, but she was. That was very good, Mark. Thank you."
Lucretia smiled contritely and then abruptly stood up, backing away, as if bitten by a vampire bat. My guess was that either I had been amazingly accurate or she had recognized that I was her equal in bullshit. Either way, I knew I was probably home and dry, with a new job reading at Light Path.
How did I manage such an accurate reading? It was another standard monologue I have rattled out for years. The key is to begin by noting two important things. First, does the ring look like it could be more than fifty or sixty years old? And second, does the wearer's finger that held the ring look as if the ring has been worn there for more than a few years? If both these facts are apparent, then it only matters whether you can tell a good story, which is all this reading had been. Almost everyone has broken an arm or a leg at some time in his or her life. And how many grannies aren't stubborn old crones?
Especially if their granddaughter looks like she walked out of Dracula's castle. Stubbornness, great passion, and self-reliance are all desirable attributes to attach to any woman who looks like she could suck a tennis ball through a stovepipe.
To be a good psychic you have to prefer the company of strangers. It's much easier to convince absolute strangers than it is those who know you. Then, you only have to be able to fake the truth, or your particular version of the truth, with a mystical spin.
Copyright Feral House and Mark Edward. Reprinted with permission. All Rights reserved. From Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium