Sylvia Browne Gives Me the Creeps (But in a Good Way)

I have taken a six-week-and-counting unannounced hiatus from my Bamboo Nation podcast, which continues to build a healthy listenership despite my absence, and I fully intended to post a new episode today but I got distracted.

As you may know, I have lunch everyday in front of the TV to watch Judge Marilyn Milian metaphorically whip the asses of wayward litigants on The People's Court. I was willing and able to skip today's show to finish a new podcast episode, but I remembered that it was Wednesday. You know what Wednesday is, right? It's the day that I actually switch over to The Montel Williams Show during the one o'clock hour because every Wednesday psychic Sylvia Browne is on and tells people what to do and talks about dead people. (I switch over to The People's Court during the commercial breaks.)

Sylvia Browne looks and sounds like an old drag queen. Her voice is deep and raspy like a chain smoker, and her pretty nails could poke out your eyeballs. During the show, she dispenses psychic advice to the audience of true believers (who are mostly women wondering when they're gonna find themselves a man), relays messages from the dead to their living relatives, and talks a lot about angels and spirit guides. In terms of showmanship, she's not flashy and creepily convincing as John Edward, but she's got an air of casual authority that makes you want to believe everything she says. (If you have ghosts in your house, you're supposed to scream, "You are dead! Go to the other side! Go to god!")

(By the way, I've had Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on in the background while I work for the last few days, as I do now, and I have one question: "Does this movie ever end?!")

I do believe that I am one of the few playwrights in the world willing to step outside of the intellectual confines of The Theater to admit that he is not only fascinated by, but believes in, weird-ass shit. As well as low culture. Tom Stoppard is not even that daring. I'm just saying.

—Reporting From Glendale, California

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