“I See Dead People” — My Review of ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne’s Flim-Flam Act
Someone should have warned me about Sylvia Browne’s utterly shameless and abominable one-woman stage act.
I suspected it would be mind-bogglingly awful.
What I couldn’t possibly have predicted was — her show would actually be worse than I expected.
Where to begin?
Sit down. Get comfortable. Grab a drink. Hell, get a bottle. This review is going to be one for the ages.
BEFORE THE SHOW
Click here to read Part 1: WHO WOULD PAY MONEY TO SEE THIS QUACK?
Browne’s show was scheduled to begin at 8 pm on a Saturday night inside a busy casino showroom. Tickets were priced at $42 a pop, plus tax (I got in for free — story to come later).
Prior to her performance, Browne’s devotees are lined up outside the main entrance. By the time I arrive, a few hundred people are streaming into the arena. There’s a single ticket-taker, who must have been in his 70s. I must admit, this senior took his job very seriously. The way he meticulously checked every ticket (one surely has to be on the lookout for counterfeit Sylvia Browne tickets), the way he tore each in half, and then placed them carefully inside the box — made me think he he missed his life’s calling running the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. Of course, this process slows down the line considerably, making the wait an unnecessary 15-20 minutes.
Fortunately, there’s something to keep those who are waiting occupied. Sylvia Browne has several books and jewelry items conveniently positioned right next to the line to tempt us. How nice of Mrs. Browne to think so much of her followers and their discomfort from having to stand in a long line to (coincidentally?) position her four tables right along the queue. I’m not a psychic, but I suspect Mrs. Browne picked up a few extra sales that way.
Meanwhile, the 70-year-old ticket taker seems to be slowing down. Maybe his hands are wearing down from all that ticket-tearing. Wait, now the line seems to have stopped. Did anyone check to see of he’s still alive?
Photo Caption: Here’s the first table of Sylvia Browne’s books for sale. I’ll say — she is one prolific author!
Photo Caption: You are not seeing the same photo twice. This is the second table filled with Sylvia Browne’s many books for sale at her show.
Photo Caption: Here’s Sylvia Browne’s “Spiritual Jewelry” collection. No doubt, just what those dead spirits demand — you spending your hard-earned money on 10K-gold items festooned with the psychic’s personal blessing.
Somehow the ticket-taker’s pulse survived long enough for me to sneak past him, attach myself to a small crowd, and slink into the show while he was fumbling with the head count.
It’s 7:55 pm and I’m finally inside the ballroom after snapping these phtos.
Now, the fun begins.
From looking around the audience, there are perhaps 800-900 people inside. Ninety percent of the crowd are women, mostly in their 50s and 60s. Probably 95 percent of the audience is White. As I stream in, they’re playing some fluffy new age music — predictably Enya’s “Sail Away.”
Don’t I wish.
The stage is set up with a comfortable living-room chair at center, with some flowers on one side and a table lamp on the other. There’s a microphone stand positioned where Browne will sit and presumably convey her readings and spiritual visions.
Time drags on and 16 minutes later at 8:11 the lights finally go down. Note: If you’re ever in doubt about what to buy a psychic as a present, consider a wristwatch.
With no fanfare, a man comes out from behind the curtain and walks an older lady from stage right to the chair. The woman is tall and has striking blonde hair — and of course we all know this is Sylvia Browne, so she gets a nice ovation from her sycophants.
The psychic is also wearing dark sunglasses. Picture Barbara Enright with a hangover. *
Remarkably, we learn the man that wheeled Browne to her seat is none other than her faithful traveling-companion husband. Apparently, she’s a newlywed (again). I don’t want to insinuate there’s anything other than true love between these two, but the man is considerably younger and somewhat effeminate. You don’t have to be Paul Erdos to do that math on that one.
I didn’t get his name, so let’s just call him “Mr. Sylvia Browne” — make that “Mr. S.B.” for short.
“Mr. S.B.” rambles on for about ten minutes which makes some on the audience start to grumble. Maybe the thing in the chair that hasn’t spoken yet is actually a wax dummy. Who knows?
“Mr. S.B.” instructs us not to forget to turn in our blue tickets which will be used in a special drawing. The drawing will be for a free reading. That’s right — a free spiritual sit-down. But it’s not with the grand dame parked in the Broyhill. The free reading is with her son, “Chris.”
See — apparently Browne’s son, too has this special gift (or at least a shared lust for the financial empire he might someday inherit). Desperate to bolster mini-mee’s reputation, “Mr. S.B.” calls Chris, “an excellent reader.” Well, that’s good to hear. Any doubts whatsoever about the little junior are instantly erased by “Mr. S.B.’s” glowing endorsement.
Wow. Just wow.
Browne herself hasn’t even peeped a speck of ferry dust, and already we’re getting pitched on Chris. I wonder if there are any more relatives we need to know about.
Hey, “Mr.S.B.” — can you recommend a good dentist?
THE SHOW BEGINS
Browne finally begins to speak, erasing all suspicions that we were staring at a wax figure.
The cameras focus in on Brown from the chest up. Two giant screens on both sides of the stage give the audience a clear shot at the glowing face that’s likely endured many facelifts.
The first five minutes of Browne’s act consists of a pitch for her latest book. One must wonder what exactly she forgot to put in the first 17 books that she now feels so compelled to write another?
There is at least one moment of hilarity in all this, and although I don’t believe in a deity, if I’m wrong — then perhaps God was playing a cruel trick.
In mid-sentence, Browne’s microphone suddenly goes dead silent. I guess psychic powers can’t alter the requirements of a $2.50 Duracell battery.
Once Browne’s mike gets fixed, she proceeds to launch into a lengthy recount of her accomplishments. One might think this would be the shortest part of the show, but Browne somehow manages to endlessly stretch this out into perhaps 20-25 minutes. She reveals that she’s studied “26 different versions of The Holy Bible.”
If that’s not enough to drive anyone batshit crazy, none of this seems connected in any way to parapsychology. Her unscripted narrative meanders back and forth between God, Jesus, her health problems, stars, ancient mythological figures, her health problems, heaven, hell, and more about her health problems. I tried to take some notes, but each time she appeared headed in one direction, then she’d dart off to another and bruise that tangent silly until something else popped into her head. Sort of reminds you of the drunken aunt with the raspy voice at the holiday party each year who tells the story you’ve heard 14 times before that doesn’t seem to have a point and never ends.
To be fair, Browne is 75-years-old. She looks tied. At times she seems confused. Imagine a spiritual version of Clint Eastwood.
Nonetheless, I did manage to get a few choice quotes.
“Don’t watch the news,” she tells the audience. “It’s too depressing. You can’t do anything about it anyway.”
Alas, the wisdom of Sylvia Browne in one nutty nutshell.
Note to readers: I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 which includes her mass meditation and performing readings for the audience.
Photo Caption: Here’s quite possibly the only people in the audience who are sane — those at the bar plowing themselves silly with the sauce, while Sylvia Browne is inside reading everyone’s future.
Footnote: I adore Barbara Enright. She’s a fabulous lady. But when Sylvia Browne puts on her shades she looks just like Enright terrorizing a $20-40 Limit Hold’em game at Hollywood Park.