Psychic's Can't Predict The Coming of Their Own Holiday

I want to believe in the supernatural. But how can I? National Psychic Week kicks off in August and many professional psychics don't even know it exists.

"I guess it's just not on my radar," said David Felder of the Zodiac Group, a psychic telemarketing group in Florida that has used Paula Jones, the former Arkansas state employee who sued former President Clinton, as a spokeswoman.

The Zodiac Group promises "accurate answers from caring psychic advisers for life's tough questions." Yet it's hard to explain why there's no awareness of National Psychic Week among Felder's psychics.

Apparently glancing at his desk calander as he speaks to me over the phone, he said, "I see today is a bank holiday in Ireland."

Pressed for further explanation, Felder rushed me off the phone. "I'm actually expecting a call," he said. "May I call you back in five minutes?"

I never heard from him again. And I tried. Twice.

Only one of the five clairvoyants The Wolf Files contacted knew about the event — Fran Baskerville of Dallas, known to believers as "The Singing Psychic."

"Oh, it is so wonderful that our profession is honored," said Baskerville. "Some people look down on us."

Baskerville claims she developed her special powers in 1979, after she was hit by an 18-wheel truck while parked outside her beauty parlor in a Chevy Impala.

"It ruptured an artery in my head. After that … strange things began to happen and I could see with new eyes."

The Ghost of a Liar

This is not the first time The Wolf Files has quizzed psychics about National Psychic Week. Back in August 1998, The Wolf Files asked Gail Summer, president of the American Association of Professional Psychics, if she had any special plans for the big event.

"Wow, this was a complete surprise to me," Summer said. But she explained that "just because we're clairvoyant doesn't mean we know everything. We're psychics, not gods."

Summer is the blond woman on late-night TV who urges folks to see "certified" psychics, like the ones available through 900-lines, who will tell you your future for $3.99 a minute. As you might predict, your future will begin with big phone bills.

How, then, did National Pschic Week begin? And is it all a scam?

Hard-driving Hollywood press agent Richard R. Falk dreamed up National Psychic Week in 1965. But Chase's Calendar of Events and similar references don't explain why. It's a mystery Falk apparently took to his grave in 1994, after half a century of outlandish PR.

Falk had a talent for bombastic publicity stunts. One of his specialties was dreaming up spicy names for aspiring starlets — such as Suzie Sunshine, Sugar Cane and Hope Diamond. One client modeled an edible bikini made of frankfurters. Needless to say, none of those ventures hit it big.

To ballyhoo the arrival of a flea circus, Falk booked a room for the star flea — "The Great Herman" — in New York's Waldorf-Astoria. Such antics inspired New York Mayor Robert Wagner to dub Falk "The Mayor of 42nd Street."

50 Percent of the Truth

"You need a press agent when you have something that's 50 percent real," he told The New York Times in 1991. "You make it a little fantastic or humorous, bring in enough pseudo-facts and the papers will buy it. I always say that everything I write is guaranteed to be 50 percent true."

With that sort of resume, you'd think Falk instituted National Psychic Week in 1965 as another publicity gimmick. After all, one of his clients claimed to be a "Psychic to the Stars."

But the truth behind National Psychic Week remains murky. Fortunately, back in 1998, a psychic belonging to Summer's association offered The Wolf Files a telephone séance to communicate with Falk and ascertain his intentions.

"I have a clear picture of him. I see a man with a great smile and intense eyes," said Barbara Gable, a Baltimore medium. "This man has a great sense of humor. But he tells me he believes in National Psychic Day. … He is a believer in the paranormal."

My Future in Song

Summer said she founded the psychic association in 1992 to certify psychics such as Gable and make sure they are ethically serving the public. The association, incidentally, has trademarked the term "Certified Psychic" and issues "accuracy certificates" to its members.

The séance concluded with Gable announcing that Falk happily resides in the afterlife. Falk didn't mention, however, if he had ever finished the autobiography he once claimed he was working on, which was to be titled Liar for Hire.

Many years before he contracted lymphoma, Falk wrote his own epitaph: "Famed Flack Who Exploited and Promoted Stars and Shows Finally Gets His Reward."

Worried about my own future, I asked Baskerville, the singing psychic, to croon to me about my fate.

"Wait," she said, "let me get my guitar."

And then she sang:

"Hey, Hey, Hey, Buck Wolf, I see a career change, a-comin' soon. Money-money-honey and great success, a-headin' down your way. There'll be hot lovin', A beauty of a wife — a baby girl, and a boy, too. Beware your anger, and to your friends, always be true."

A true love, success and children! For me! There must be something to this after all! How dare anyone call this is bunk! I'll see you in the future.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.