The Traveling Psychic Road Show - How It Really Works
© Atham Z 2002-2013
This piece is more of an anecdote about my experiences and not perhaps for those who lack curiosity about the political workings of psychic reading as a vocation If the frustrations about being a "reader" aren't interesting to you, just skip ahead to the next feature please.
This tale is about when I went out into the big bad world this summer, to try to give my reading name and business more exposure. I am still healing from my crippling accident of 10 years ago, and my consulting business must be limited to my home via internet and telephone through the winter months when mobility can be treacherous, so some face to face promotion was overdue.
In this rural area there is an annual county fair. Now this is a big deal in a farming community, where the farmers have their crops judged, and the farm wives enter their baking and preserves into competitions. The fair is supposed to be about everything that is going on in our county, so merchants and hawkers appear, all trying to make a buck or at least promote their businesses to potential customers. Of course the carnival shows up so the kids can lose themselves in the rides and midway while the adults take in the exhibits.
Being in, as opposed to simply going to the fair for fun, was a totally new experience for me. I paid my exhibitor’s fee and purchased my 8 by 10 foot space for the next week. I was ready with tables, chairs, signs, divination tools and promotional papers all unpacked and displayed for best effect. I was so organized about this that each morning I arrived with enough sandwiches, soda and caffeine to keep me going through the long 12 hours until closing time.
The first day, my booth neighbor stated: you know there is another fortune teller and she is charging less than you are, maybe you need to lower your prices! That was a shock! So I “cased out” the competition. She had obviously come with the carnival, because her home for the week included a 20-foot motor home and a huge, gay
tent (with mosquito netting) for plying her trade. If I had bought that much space for the duration my costs would
have been quintupled!
As people wandered along, some stopping for readings and others stopping just for a chat, I started to hear some horrendous unsolicited stories about my carnival competition. I heard repeatedly that she completes readings for younger teenagers, something that is prohibited by law in my country. And then the nature of the readings! Thankfully this did not come true, but predicting to a 15 year old that she will be raped in the next year and end up pregnant from the experience is an incompetent, dangerous, illegal and deplorable reading! I wasn't lowering my price and when
questioned about the pricing discrepancy the response became simple: you get what you pay for. My legal disclaimer signs, age restriction notices and regular price stayed proudly displayed.
The organizers of this fair noticed the popularity of both “psychics’ that were available, so on the 3rd day they imported yet another one. She also had double the space I had, but compensatory from my perspective was the fact that she was located at the very far edge of the grounds. Someone of course carried me the news that she was the same price as the original competition. At this point, I was too busy to care.
A few hours later a very short and solid man with quite curly, longish grey hair, dressed like a weekend golfer, came to the front of my tables and he was literally dancing from foot to foot in his excitement. There is a body language stance that is also an inherent component of a threat. He had his shoulders hunched forward in that fashion. I got out of my seat to ask him what was the matter (and thankfully I towered a full head’s height over him)! He was sputtering that he had brought the lady psychic to this fair at great cost, in their very expensive motor home from a large city about 300 miles distant. I was cutting into his profits, and I had no right to be there, cutting into his “carni take”. My bristles came up and the retort was that this was my county and of course being a local, I had every right to be there! Being met with someone he couldn't intimidate, he then carried on about the 3rd reader that had arrived and how I should be complaining to the fair organizers. Blah, blah, blah. Competition never hurts a professional.
This was Psychic Pimp number one. I guess I was just too close to his woman’s “corner” and he was trying to scare me off. I wasn't scared, but I was startled and a bit amused.
This has been my year to promote my business in person, and through a very loose verbal agreement I joined a group of traveling psychics who would be working throughout my part of the province. If the organizer for these events was careful about her costs and promotions, the events could be quite profitable for everyone involved. Sometimes they were geographically a little too far away for my limited physical capacities. So I was really looking forward to the one scheduled in a nearby town.
I am sure most of you have heard of the large psychic expositions that are scheduled at least once annually in the huge convention centers in the major cities. Those fairs cost triple what my county fair cost me for exhibiting and then the competition in the huge volume of psychics present makes the atmosphere very tense due to their jealousy of one another. Every psychic’s prices have to be quite high (which only hurts the clients) simply to recover their costs from being there. It is standard that those psychics usually only break even. Again I was looking forward to the small group of traveling psychics because the plan was that everyone doing readings was to share the modest costs equally.
It didn't exactly work out that way. It became apparent that my expenses covered equipment purchases that the organizer would retain and use for years, although my participation was only by intermittent invitation when it mutually suited. It became apparent that the boyfriend (a reader but not a business partner) of the organizer was also having his participation costs covered and he was not sharing the expenses. I became uncomfortable with the quality of the other readings that I overheard. I was quite frightened when two young girls announced to me midway through a reading that they were 3 years younger than the minimum age the law allows for such entertainment. Meanwhile the organizer had blithely sold them their tickets for readings. I bailed out of this entire venture when it became obvious that anyone who questioned, irritated or challenged this group would be threatened and ostracized by her theatrical and pretentious, but none too intelligent boyfriend. The lady organizer has a "real" day job, but he does not, so guess who supports whom there? Psychic Pimp number two, unfortunately identified.
There is much benefit to being completely independent in this line of work. Being differentiated from the telephone frauds with the large 1-900 companies. Having client expectations about your service untarnished by reports of mediocre and thus unsatisfying readings from psychics you are obviously associated with, where some of the readers' motivation is to pocket the money rather than empower the client. I guess pimps are simply a job hazard when you are engaged in work that is so far out of the mainstream and historically susceptible to fraud and the abuse of power.
They say you haven’t lived until you do the work you love. So I guess I am stuck in this vocation now because I do enjoy the work. My customers have never given me the fear, pain or stress that the competition has generated through their pimps.
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