If you ever turned on a television between 1997 and 2003, you remember the Miss Cleo infomercials. Miss Cleo was the indomitable star of The Psychic Readers Network advertising free psychic readings over the phone. With an exaggerated Jamaican accent, her catchphrase was “Call me now!” It became an American household phrase, much like it’s predecessors, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and “Where’s the beef?” The Miss Cleo commercials were infamous and in heavy rotation.
Of course, the psychic readings weren’t free. They were free for the first three minutes of the phone call. Not exactly a bargain. The psychic’s job was to give callers confidence and resolve with a thorough – scripted – reading and, most of all, to keep them on the phone as long as possible. A one-hour reading would end up running callers US$300. By the late 90s, The Psychic Readers Network was under fire for false advertising. Miss Cleo (real name: Youree Dell Harris) was accused of being neither Jamaican nor psychic (which we all knew already, let’s face it). Harris, as it turns out, is a playwright. In an interview with VICE magazine, she maintained that she came from a family that practices voodoo but that she was never psychic; she just knew how to play the part.
There are still plenty of psychic networks accessible over the phone or in chat rooms. How interested parties suss out the fakes from the for-reals, I do not know. I know of one site that claims to be a clean site with a professional aesthetic that seems to be fairly straightforward about assorted costs. There are multiple links that lead to payment information and FAQs.
Another website I found, advertising “totally free readings,” needs an editor and maybe a publicist:
“A talk to a psychic online free offers you right advice and proper guidance that will surely shed some light on your issues in life. You don’t stand alone in fighting in life and there’s nothing you cannot find a solution.”
That is verbatim.
The shimmering purple boxes you click on to get started say: “Confused? Want to get advices?” Yes! That’s sounds great! They’re not only offering advice, but also multiple advices! I couldn’t find the fine print explaining how much their “advices” really cost. The answer probably lies in the rabbit holes of those shimmering purple boxes.
No matter how much one is willing to pay over the phone or online, the question remains: How many of these psychics are who they claim to be? How many psychics tell people what they want to hear, even if they have to make it up?