Faye the Tattooed Psychic is a big woman. She is loud and exuberant and says she is an ex-biker (divorced from a Bandito), a heavy-metal fan, and a recovering boozer. She looks the part, her full body covered in tattoos of faces, bodies, names, a horseshoe. It's a little harder to swallow her claim that she's been impaled in nine of her previous lives.
She knows how to work a room—and the room in the Rendezvous is perfect. It's long and narrow with a big center aisle for her to traipse up and down, looking three feet above people's heads (because "that's where Spirit is"), holding people's hands, divining secrets: That the married couple in the back either owns property or eventually wants to own property. That the middle-aged woman who's watched the show with rapt, tear-gilt eyes is "probably going through some changes right now." That the guy in the front row taking notes with reading glasses and a V-necked wool sweater might be some kind of writer: "Why do I get New York from you? I see books. Or big publications."
Be still my beating heart.
It's hokum, but it's pleasant hokum, with all the slick talk of a snake-oil salesman or a Bible camp counselor. (Sorry, Faye.) You pay your money, you get her salty patter and some easy inspirational flattery. Fine. But why call it theater?
"Well, it happens in a theater," Faye said later over the phone. "It's a performance, it's entertainment, but it's also educational."
Her educational program consists of sharing life-altering truths: That last October, the door to "the other side" opened and more spirits have been hanging out on earth since. And that the Iraq war will end in "a two-year time frame." And that Cornelius Vanderbilt, "you know, of the Vanderbilt family? Well when somebody asked him how he made such good business decisions, he said: 'Do as I do. Consultthe spirits.'"
There were a couple of skeptics in the audience: One older man, in the back, who Faye "sensed" was a skeptic. When she asked, he politely nodded. (She's so psychic!) The second skeptic, a middle-aged man with dreadlocks, seemed like a rival psychic, not scoffing at the spirit realm in general, just Faye in particular. One even younger skeptic in a leather jacket sat next to me. When approached by Faye, he asked her a question: "What's your favorite Scorpions record?"
"How did you know I like the Scorpions?" she squealed. "Are you psychic?"
"No," he said. "So what's your favorite record?" She deflected, gave him some advice ("You need to cut ties with jealous people in your life... and you have bad taste in women"). Afterward, as the leather-jacketed skeptic headed for the door, he was heard to mutter: "She couldn't name one Scorps record she likes? Poseur, dude."