“Call me now!” Fraudsters looks back on the life of psychic grifter Miss Cleo

Conan O’Brien Needs A FriendDeon Cole

Illustration for article titled “Call me now!” iFraudsters/i looks back on the life of psychic grifter Miss Cleo

Image: Apple Podcasts

The laughs are big and boisterous on this weekly podcast in which the veteran talk-show host chops it up with a celebrity pal, as well as his longtime (and long-suffering) assistant Sona Movsesian and producer Matt Gourley. This guest this time around is Deon Cole, who was an on-air regular/writer for O’Brien in the early 2010s (not to mention the first African-American ever hired to the show’s writing staff). They get into how Cole’s killer set during O’Brien’s memorably brief tenure at The Tonight Show led to the job offer; Cole was apprehensive about taking the job, but mostly because it meant he had to arrive at 7 a.m. He was also a bit uneasy about being the lone Black guy in a writers room full of pale-faced smartasses. And, yet, it was his hilariously racial takes on news and pop culture that made him a breakout mainstay—the Black-and-proud Chris Elliott to Conan’s white-and-nerdy David Letterman. They also reminisce about the time Cole wiped out an expensive hotel mini-bar and did an extensive liquor-store run to replace each item. [Craig D. Lindsey]


Fraudsters
The Psychic Readers Network Part II – Great Fraud, Bad Psychics, Rich Dudes

Illustration for article titled “Call me now!” iFraudsters/i looks back on the life of psychic grifter Miss Cleo

Image: Spotify

The commercials for the Psychic Readers Network, fronted by the tarot-reading Miss Cleo, were in constant rotation from the late ’90s to the early ’00s and remain a source of a fuzzy nostalgia for many. Fraudsters pushes past that nostalgia to explore the inner workings of what was, in reality, a billion-dollar phone scheme. Hosts Seena Ghaznavi and Justin Williams lay out the basics of the scam: The Psychic Readers Network advertised a free consultation through a 1-800-number but would then redirect callers to a 1-900-number that charged $4.95 a minute. They interview Bennett Madison, one of the former phone “psychics,” who explains he was paid pennies per minute to keep callers on the line no matter what. Madison details various tactics used to stretch out calls, including adopting the persona of a slow-talking southern belle named Cassandra. The hosts also give a rundown on Miss Cleo—actual name Youree Dell Harris—who worked her way from ripping off African American non-profits in Seattle to pretending to be a Jamaican psychic who commanded viewers to “CALL ME NOW!” [Anthony D Herrera]


Lovecraft Country Radio
A History of Violence

Illustration for article titled “Call me now!” iFraudsters/i looks back on the life of psychic grifter Miss Cleo

Image: Apple Podcasts

Filling the void left open by Watchmen, Westworld, and Game Of Thrones, Lovecraft Country has become HBO’s latest must-see Sunday programming. The official podcast Lovecraft Country Radio provides some much needed commentary and context, as hosts Ashley C. Ford and Shannon Houston (one of the writers from the show) unpack each episode of the complex and compelling horror drama. In the most recent episode, the podcast applies the writing of iconic civil rights activist and poet Audre Lorde to examine the themes on display in the series. “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” is one Lourde quote in particular that raises the question of what happens when oppressed peoples oppress others. As a drama, Lovecraft Country lingers on the horrors of the Black experience in America, seen through the lens of a genre established by iconic and infamously racist cosmic-horror writer H.P. Lovecraft—and Ford and Houston are here to help contextualize it all. [Jose Nateras]

 

Read More