Browsing Through the Psychic Boutique | Miscellany | Chicago Reader

Browsing Through the Psychic Boutique 

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If it's money they need, maybe Phil Watt and Annie Stebbins should hook up with J&M Enterprises, a Hoffman Estates-based outfit that runs "psychic fairs" throughout northeastern Illinois and the upper midwest. True, there's a difference between psychics and channels, but there must be a niche for them somewhere in J&M's stable of tarot readers, palmists, numerologists, and other diviners.

The weekend after the channeling session, I attended a J&M psychic fair at the Unity Church in Evanston. Two bucks got me into the church's basement, where a dozen or so psychics sat at card tables giving readings. The accent was very North Shore and the crowd was overwhelmingly female; the few males in the room looked like they'd been dragged there by their wives, daughters, or girlfriends.

A man at the front desk explained that browsing in the "psychic boutique" and attending the lectures were included in the admission fee, but consultations with the seer of my choice was extra: $12 would get me 10 to 15 minutes of prophecy; the half-hour sessions were $22. Of course, the more readings I had, the likelier I was to get an accurate look at my future. One man I spoke with had already had three readings and was waiting for his turn with the numerologist.

After collecting a fistful of business cards and fliers--one of which assured attendees that J&M Enterprises "denounces Satanism and devil worship of any form" and "is the sole support of an evangelistic mission in Hyderabad, India"--I sat down to await the lectures. While flipping through the Sunday paper I overheard one teenage girl say to her friend, "Your mom's been with him [one of the psychics] for a long time. Maybe they've got something going on."

"That's all I need," the friend replied. "My mom married to a psychic."

The first lecture was by Gwen Pip Yin, a tarot reader who does a weekly radio show on WFXW AM. She was a slim, attractive young woman with a refreshingly candid attitude about psychic phenomena. "I don't see lights, I don't hear voices" she said. "I probably have spirit guides around me, but I don't know who they are. But I do know that the technology of the tarot cards works."

Pippin then talked a little bit about how she used the cards and gave some people in the audience, including me, brief readings. "Oh, you're getting complicated," she said to me as she flipped over several cards and examined them.

After asking me my sign, what I did for a living, and whether I was in a committed relationship, she concluded that I was going to be writing more in the next couple months, that I'd be involved in a "problematic" relationship with a woman in the next seven to eight weeks, and that my personal life would take a turn for the better in February and March. If I can only wait that long.

The star of the fair was Joseph DeLouise, who has gained something of a national reputation as a psychic stockmarket analyst. He was charging $22 per person per half-hour session and was booked solid all day.

DeLouise, who's a third cousin to comedian Dom DeLuise but looks more like Robert Bork, claimed to have predicted the October crash months before it happened. He said the Dow Jones industrial average will rise to 2,200 before falling back another 600 or 700 points, and recommended a handful of stocks that would do well anyway, including Sears, Bristol-Myers, and Avon. DeLouise also predicted that next March an earthquake registering seven on the Richter scale and centered about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles would jolt southern California, and that the Soviet Union would take over Iran within 25 years. I checked some of DeLouise's past predictions in the first and second People's Almanac. Among other things, he had said that marijuana would be legalized by 1979, Japan would undergo a revolution and merge with China, and an economic panic in the late 70s would cause thousands of people to lose their homes and businesses.

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