The clientele at psychic fairs is overwhelmingly female. They come in a range of ages, and often in pairs (bring a friend for half price is a common special). You pay an entrance fee (usually $5) for the privilege of shopping! The better fairs will have short lectures for attendees by the star attractions, as well as a broad selection of vendor booths (jewelry, books, tapes, clothing, candles, herbs, etc.). I got a silver snake pinkie ring and a cool crescent moon combination brooch and pendulum; Clara got some scented candles and a cool angel statuette with a quartz crystal.
Booths are set up around the perimeter of the ballroom. In the center are evenly spaced small tables for the psychics (excuse me, "intuitive counselors"). When you decide which wizard you want to patronize, you buy a "reading ticket" from the ticket table and then put your name by a time on that psychic's signup sheet (most run chronically late at these shows). The good psychics run late because they get engrossed in what they are telling the client. The businesslike ones run late because they are doing a teaser sales pitch for follow-on private readings (trying to hook a long-term client).
comes with the territory incense
new age music
There are some classic types you'll see at any gathering of psychics:
- Chubby female astrologer/numerologists with big hair and heavy makeup, wearing leggings and elaborately decorated t-shirts. Very business oriented, these will have glamour shots and clippings and will give you their card, their 900 number, etc. They tend to have a devoted following of fans. They generally focus on love life. They will do a quick workup for your sign (which is a lot of general stuff) and then get to something interesting just as time runs out.
- Moody male mentalists in turtlenecks and tweed blazers (pipes optional). These usually have brooding promotional photos and titles such as Doctor or Professor (and groupies). They will offer to tape the session (you provide the tape). They will stare off into space while scribbling abstract doodles on a pad of paper (it "helps them concentrate"). They tend to be experts at cold reading and make amazingly specific predictions, especially concerning business and finance (but the timeframe is months or even years away). Note however, that many of their personal statements are metaphorical--you are providing your own interpretation.
- Flakey female talents with long curly hair and long floaty skirts. These will decorate their table with exotic overcloths, crystals, cards, candles and bells. Their readings often focus on emotional states and past life connections. They will also counsel about possible health problems.
The attendees are NOT all true believers. Many are skeptics or cynics, there to "test" the psychics. The most common means is to provide minimal or misleading information. I've found that altering your attire is also very effective at assessing which ones are just going with visual and behavioral clues. Samplers go to as many different readers as they can afford, asking the same questions of all. In comparing results, a sampler may become a convert. It's not unusual to see a client having an extreme emotional reaction in the midst of a reading. A smaller, but consistent and persistent group of attendees are the me too's--people who believe themselves to be psychic. They may be exploring the idea of setting up shop as a psychic, or just looking for guidance on how to deal with their symptoms (hearing voices, vivid dreams, prescient visions).
Subgroups true believers
The real fun came later, when we retired to a restaurant to compare notes (and aura photographs). As I was relating what the magician/palmist told me about the meaning of various lines, our waiter arrived and asked what we were doing. We told him we'd been to the psychic fair and he assumed WE were psychic readers. We ended up reading palms for him, the hostess, and one of her friends. We read his fortune using beer coasters as tarot cards! It was a hoot (and we got really great service!)
Best part of the fair: Unusual jewelry and stones.
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