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Celebs mind their p's and q's
What's pop star Jon Secada really like? One person who says she knows the answer to that burning question is graphologist Charlotte Leibel, who was asked by New Times to analyze anonymous handwriting samples from Secada, singer Albita Rodriguez, and other lesser-knowns, including one of the world's leading skeptics of handwriting analysis. What she discovered about them might amaze and shock you -- or maybe not, depending on your views of the "science" she practices.
Leibel was handed the unsigned writing samples by her publisher and promoter, Jeff Starkman, who in turn recorded her comments. She looked at the writing of the famous (and not-so-famous) closely, examining the script with her trusty magnifying glass. In doing so, she seemingly penetrated into the hidden recesses of the psyches of her subjects. Here's what she found:
Hunky Jon Secada seems to crave what Freud said all male artists really want: fame, money, and the love of beautiful women. He likes "variety, money, and sex...admiration and attention," and, to further those goals, he's "constantly on the go." As befits a skilled song stylist, he's "highly imaginative" and "probably has some technical aptitude." But Leibel points out he's also "quite restless," "doesn't always complete his jobs," and "finds it difficult to concentrate." His emotional reactions create a "constant need of expressing himself in words, actions, and projects." Lourdes Lopez, a spokesman for Estefan Enterprises, which manages Secada, says of these conclusions: "It's fine, no problem."
The charismatic Cuban singer Albita Rodriguez gives her blessing -- with one exception -- to Leibel's report on her. A fiery vocalist who fled Cuba for freedom here, it's not surprising that Leibel concluded that she "wants to be independent and individualistic, insists on her opinions and opposes those that don't agree with her." As a creative entertainer, "many ideas come surging in her mind, which she likes to execute quickly." Still, all is not well: She has "some disturbance in emotions and sex life," and although she "puts on a little charm," she can become "easily withdrawn." And she's a "bluffer." Albita concurred with Leibel, although she pointed out, through a spokesperson, "I'm not a bluffer." (After seeing the results, another staffer, Becky Fajardo, Gloria Estefan's sister, was so impressed that she was eager to have her handwriting analyzed, too.)
Leibel also gave a fairly precise reading on our own hawk-eyed managing editor, Tom Finkel. Without knowing anything about him or where he worked, she found him to have such traits as "good in detail, efficient, good memory, good level of intelligence...rather frank and candid." As those who work with him know, he also can be "highly critical...obstinate." The reading contradicted itself, though, because it said he procrastinated and was "efficient -- gets down to brass tacks." What we didn't know about him was that he "likes to cuddle." "She cast a wide net," Finkel said, "but yes, I do like to cuddle."
She wasn't so accurate when analyzing the writing of Barry Beyerstein, a psychology professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia who co-authored a skeptical book on graphology. But then her assessment was muddied by his obnoxious insistence on deliberately tilting the paper so his lines slanted downward -- as a result, Leibel concluded that Beyerstein was "depressed" when he wasn't. Otherwise, the sneaky professor insisted, he didn't change his handwriting. Leibel said that his effort to fool her "doesn't disrupt" her ability to read his personality. She found him to have only an "average education and culture," and was a "slow thinker" who needs to gather data before drawing conclusions, as well as "possibly [being] a slow reader." She also labeled him as a "somewhat secretive" man who "doesn't express his feelings" and "doesn't like the example of his father."
On almost all counts, Leibel missed the mark, the wily Beyerstein maintained. "It's pseudoscientific twaddle," he contended. "It's the kind of stuff you get from palm readers, full of weasel words." He pointed to her use of words such as somewhat and possibly: "Everyone is somewhat secretive sometimes." As for keeping his feelings bottled up, he's appeared on Oprah challenging psychics: "I'm more open than the average person." He was particularly appalled by her mediocre rankings for his intelligence and cultural background: "I was trained as a concert pianist.... I have a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.... I read six to eight books a week.... I regularly attend the opera, symphony, and art galleries." And he claims to have scored high on reading and I.Q. tests.
He also admired and loved his late father, a former member of the Canadian Parliament and delegate to the United Nations. Beyerstein's book on graphology is dedicated to his father, although, the professor admits, he was troubled by his father's unwillingness to seek more lucrative work. Leibel's analysis, he laughs, "is a hoot."
Leibel is equally dismissive of Beyerstein. After learning that he was a prominent skeptic who derides her life's work, graphology, she added more bite to her original reading. "He's got no insight," she sneered as she examined his handwriting sample a bit more. "He's got a low I.Q. He doesn't know what he's talking about!