There’s a thin divide between entertainment and real psychic abilities. Youree Dell Harris, aka Miss Cleo, the 51 year old who became famous for her come-on spiel of “Call me now for your free tarot reading” from 1997-2003 knew that there’s also a very thin line between genius and insanity, with the genius being in the manner that she kept people calling and paying good money for a reading.
Money, Money, Money
What is it about people who turn to psychics who blatantly advertise themselves over media? Only trained psychologists and psychiatrists are qualified to give a competent answer to that, but opinions are free, and everyone is entitled to them.
The opinions that float around online about Miss Cleo and her believers are mostly not favorable, and it’s all to good reason. After all, she and the Psychic Readers Network, which made her famous in their TVCs as a Jamaican shaman whose “psychic gifts” could be accessed through a simple phone call were eventually sued by the feds, and the whole thing went over in bankruptcy.
Hype: A Marketer’s Best Friend
Fortune telling has fascinated people for ages. In fact, its origins can be said to be lost in antiquity. There have been many hits regarding fortunes told, but there have been just as many, if not more, misses. It’s the hits that get talked about, though. The more that people talk about how this-and-that psychic made an accurate prediction, the more they will want to find out for themselves if what they heard or read about has some truth behind it.
Hype has much to do with it. Hype is a marketer’s best friend. For people who claim to have psychic powers, the best way to draw people in would be to give them what they want to hear. If they’re a writer, tell them that they’re someday fated to write something so stupendous, it will give them fame and fortune. If they’re a parent grieving for the loss of their child, tell them their child is in a happier place, and let them know that their child wishes them well and they would stay in touch.
Miss Cleo knew all of this. After all, she was no stranger to drama, having been once involved in a play, as actor and producer, shown at the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center in Washington. The sad part was that the grant money for mounting the play was mismanaged, and she left town, resurfacing as the inimitable Miss Cleo who intoned in Jamaican-accents over infomercials that “The Cards Never Lie.”
Of course, cards never lie. They’re inanimate objects. But in the hands of marketing geniuses who were skilled at hype, spamming techniques, fraud, and other unsavory aspects of life, everything could be manipulated to make anything look truthful. To paraphrase a recently famous song, many people want drama. Plenty of it. The more dramatic, the better.
And that’s why Miss Cleo, exotic, mysterious, and sufficiently dramatic, raked in a pile. Still, for all the past controversies, she continues to act in some small roles in various places. No longer as a psychic though. Thank goodness.