Celebrity psychics might also see your future this weekend at AC Convention Center
Call it the ultimate celebrity gossip.
In her 2003 book, Visits from the Afterlife, psychic Sylvia Browne actually revealed which stars went to heaven, and which did not.
Comedian John Candy "made an instantaneous transition to The Other Side," wrote Browne. His murdered colleague Phil Hartman is, alas, "currently earthbound ... He stayed behind to comfort his children." Rock Hudson shot straight up. Ditto for actors Jimmy Stewart, Richard Harris and James Coburn.
Spencer Tracy hung around for a few years, waiting for Katharine Hepburn. Bob Crane, the '60s TV star whose 1978 murder remains unsolved, "is earthbound to this day." According to Browne, John Lennon, John Kennedy Jr., and Princess Diana went to heaven "before they knew what hit them." Elvis, too, headed due north, to be greeted by his twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, who died at birth.
But too bad for Madalyn Murray O'Hair. On her death, the vociferous atheist "went straight through the Left Door" -- not to hell, but back in utero, presumably to get things right the second time.
The author of these and other debatable claims will be at the Atlantic City Convention Center 7pm Saturday, Oct. 14, for what could be billed as a psychic double-header. Browne and John Edward, two of America's top mediums, will put their paranormal skills to the test in a show sure to thrill believers and exasperate skeptics.
If past performance is any indication, Browne and Edward will identify spirits who lurk among the living ("Your late brother is standing right at your shoulder!"), transmit messages from the dearly departed ("Yes, Grandma was at your dance recital") diagnose illnesses ("Time to see an endocrinologist") and even suggest solutions to unsolved crimes ("Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick").
General admission tickets are $79 (a bargain when you consider that a private, half-hour session with Sylvia Browne costs $750; if you can't afford Sylvia, she recommends her son, Chris Dufresne, an "authentic psychic from birth," who charges a mere $450 a pop).
Born in Kansas City, Browne claims to have discovered her psychic powers at the tender age of three, when she foresaw both the death of her grandfather and the birth of her sister. She calls herself a "spiritual, soul-level healer" who "reaches into your soul, washes out the pain, repairs the damage, then gives you the courage to continue your journey through life."
Don't believe it? Sylvia doesn't care. She has written, "We are not the ones who are having a problem with this. You are. So why do we keep knocking ourselves out trying to prove something we already know with absolute certainty?" Browne even founded her own church, the Society of Novus Spirit, which recently marked its 20th year.
Like Browne, self-professed psychic medium John Edward has been soothsaying since childhood. He grew up on Long Island to a family of non-psychics. His mother had the good sense not to make a big to-do about her son's gift for prophecy. He began his career at 15.
Like Browne, Edward also sees famous dead people. Among them: singer-actress Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 charter jet crash, "Blue Suede Shoes" guitarist Carl Perkins (who Edward says hangs out in heaven with both Elvis and Roy Orbison), singer Ricky Nelson, and John Lennon, who imparted a message for old pal Paul McCartney.
In his 2003 book, After Life, the former host of TV's Crossing Over with John Edward explained his readings this way: "Whether the session is face-to-face, on the phone, or even over the Internet -- which I've also done -- it all works with energy. And energy knows no distance." He went on to explain that the "energies" come through him, but not to him.
"The energies surround and sort of 'travel' with the person they 'belong' to," Edward wrote. "They try to get my attention because ... they know I can hear them."
But can he? Magician and professional skeptic James "The Amazing" Randi says all claims of psychic power are "hokum," and self-described psychics are nothing more than flim-flam artists, eager to leech off a gullible public.
Randi and other debunkers don't have to look far for examples of shyster psychics. The most famous case may be that of Miss Cleo, the supposed Jamaican psychic (oops, she wasn't Jamaican, and she wasn't a psychic) who, along with Access Resource Services and Psychic Readers Network, was put out of business amid multiple allegations of fraud and false advertising. Mark Klaas, father of murder victim Polly Klaas, has said that numerous so-called psychics have claimed to help law enforcement locate missing children; Klaas insists there is not a single documented case to support the claims.
Browne and Edward say they decry the phonies too. And for all but diehard cynics, the desire to believe -- to know beyond question that lost loved ones are nearby, and still present in our lives -- is almost irresistibly compelling. Edward, for one, insists that he is incapable of profiting unduly from his extrasensory talent.
"Trying to cash in my abilities will cost me big time," he wrote in After Life. To prove it, Edward related the time in Vegas he was moved to play number 18 at the roulette table. He lost, again and again, and again. When he stepped away, his number hit.
" I respect the skeptics. I just ask that they respect what I do and come and have the experience before you actually judge me. Not everybody needs closure. Not everybody has unresolved issues. Everyone’s messages are different. But when you witness a reading, spirit talks about such specific details."
Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall
Rush to the Taj