By Ryan Yousefi
By Chuck Strouse
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By Michael E. Miller
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La Toya Jackson came up with one. So did Dionne Warwick. And Walter Mercado. And Celia Cruz. Never one to miss a trend, premier actor and recording artist Philip Michael Thomas has pounced on the infomercial-clairvoyant craze, promoting his own network of psychics on late-night TV. Presumably handpicked by the onetime Miami Vice star for their mystical abilities, these seers-of-things-to-come offer predictions regarding love, happiness, and wealth. "What I'm about to do is totally revolutionary," Miami's favorite thespian declares at the outset of his 30-minute program. "It's a place where dreams really can and do come true. And it is my gift to you -- the Philip Michael Thomas Psychic Connection."
The "free psychic reading" he plugs more than a dozen times during the program is indeed a gift -- for the first three minutes. After that it's $3.99 per minute. Then again, when your psychics are "the best in the world," it's worth every penny.
That's right, we couldn't resist the pitch. Below is a transcript of an honest-to-goodness conversation with an actual Philip Michael Thomas Psychic Connection psychic being. As you'll see, we learned so much about ourselves that we could hardly bring ourselves to say goodbye.
TAPE-RECORDED VOICE: Welcome to the Philip Michael Thomas Network. Now experience a real psychic reading for once from a true expert. Our psychics are real. You will be very surprised. So get comfortable and really enjoy yourself.
ACTUAL PSYCHIC: Good afternoon, welcome to the Psychic Network.
NEW TIMES: Is Philip Michael Thomas there?
NT: Philip Michael Thomas.
PSYCHIC: Philip Michael Thomas -- no, he isn't.
NT: Does he ever answer any of these lines?
PSYCHIC: No, he doesn't. He's too busy. He has other things to do, that's why he has all these psychics working for him.
NT: Well, what's your name?
PSYCHIC: My name is Patricia.
NT: Hi. My name is Jim.
PSYCHIC: How are you doing today, Jim?
NT: I'm a little hung-over. Say, is Philip Michael Thomas really psychic? I mean, he hasn't made some of the best career moves over the last few years.
PSYCHIC: He is very psychic.
NT: Have you ever met him?
PSYCHIC: Yes. Once a year we have a great big party where all the psychics get together, and he is there.
NT: And you feel that he is psychic?
PSYCHIC: Yes. Now would you like me to do a reading for you?
PSYCHIC: I need your age.
SYCHIC: And your date of birth.
NT: August 11, 1962.
PSYCHIC: Okay, now what I am going to do for you today is do you a Tarot card reading. I am going to lay out the cards, and once they are all laid out, I will do a brief meditation over them.
NT: Okay. Say, that's a lovely accent you have. Where are you from?
PSYCHIC: My family, they come from Romania.
NT: Are you a gypsy?
PSYCHIC: Ahhh, somewhat, yeah.
NT: Philip Michael Thomas is kind of a gypsy in his own way.
PSYCHIC: Yep. He sure is.
NT: Did you like Miami Vice?
PSYCHIC: Oh, I loved it. I never missed it.
NT: What was his co-star's name?
PSYCHIC: Don Johnson.
NT: No, that's not it.
PSYCHIC: In Miami Vice? It was Don Johnson.
NT: No, it wasn't. You know, it was that guy with the scruffy beard who was married to Melanie Griffith.
PSYCHIC: Don Johnson.
NT: No. I don't think so.
PSYCHIC: No, it was Don Johnson! That was the reason I used to watch it. I was madly in love with Don Johnson.
NT: You didn't like Philip Michael Thomas?
PSYCHIC: No, I liked him as an actor. But I was in love with Don Johnson.
NT: Say, how much is this costing me so far?
PSYCHIC: Ahh, I don't know. But I know how much it is costing you per minute A $3.99.
NT: Wow! So how are those cards coming?
PSYCHIC: I've been laying them out here, and, well, they are now laid out. The first thing that I see for you is that you are going to live for many more years to come. You have a long lifeline. I am also looking right now and see that you are a person that is very goodhearted, very kindhearted.
NT: Thank you. I try.
PSYCHIC: You don't like to hurt nobody or take advantage of nobody.
NT: Not me. Not unless I was sure I could get away with it.
PSYCHIC: That's right. But you never really were the type of person to wait around for others to help you. You have always been a very hard-working person.
NT: Sort of a self-starter.
PSYCHIC: Yes. In your life you have had a lot of good, but you have had more than your share of bad. But you always took the bad and the good together and tried to work it out. I'm seeing that for the past couple of years, there has been some hurt, there's been home disappointment, and there has been some heartache in your life.
NT: Any love for me on the horizon?
PSYCHIC: Of course. You just haven't found the right person. That's why you went through all that hurt and all that disappointment. But the right person is coming for you.
NT: Say, you sound kind of cute.
PSYCHIC: Thank you [giggling].
NT: Where do you live?
PSYCHIC: I live in Texas. I'm right near Fort Worth, Texas.
NT: Can I come by sometime?
PSYCHIC: Sure. But I'm not allowed to give you my phone number, my address, or anything else.
NT: You know, my cat died a few days ago. His name was Tommy.
PSYCHIC: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I had one, too. She got run over.
NT: That's exactly how mine died. He got hit by a train. I think mine committed suicide.
PSYCHIC: How could he have committed suicide?
NT: I don't think he was very happy. Is there any way we can psychically contact the spirit of my dead cat Tommy?
PSYCHIC: You need a clairvoyant for that. I'm not that type of a reader.
NT: What about Philip Michael Thomas, is he clairvoyant?
PSYCHIC: I don't really know. It's possible. Now, getting back to your love life: There is a special person coming. Someone who will make your life very happy. Someone you will be comfortable with. And I also see a lot of success coming your way financially. I see you getting involved in some business dealings with other people that are going to be very, very good for you.
NT: Are they crooked? Anything illegal?
PSYCHIC: No, it's not illegal. But you know, nothing is perfect these days.
NT: I'm not going to have to kill anyone, am I?
PSYCHIC: Oh! Of course not. You wouldn't do that, anyway.
NT: I mean, I'd be willing to break some knees, but killing would be out.
PSYCHIC: Breaking some knees would be fine -- they'll heal. But you shouldn't go around doing that, either.
NT: Unless the money was right.
PSYCHIC: No, you won't do that. Why break somebody's knees? Then they can't get up and go to the bathroom.
NT: Well, at that point it wouldn't really be my concern, now would it?
PSYCHIC: What kind of work are you doing right now?
NT: I'm a fireman.
PSYCHIC: You like to live dangerously.
PSYCHIC: Have you saved any lives?
NT: No. Not really. Just the opposite. I bungled a couple of things. But I really don't want to talk about that.
PSYCHIC: Oh. Well, don't worry about that. Like with anything, the more you do it, the more you learn.
NT: You would hope so, but sometimes people are just really bad at what they do. That's why this whole career thing is interesting to me.
PSYCHIC: I do see a change. Because for the past few years I see that you've gotten into things that you really didn't want to do. You just haven't found the thing that you enjoy doing. Don't worry, nobody's perfect.
NT: Philip Michael Thomas is.
PSYCHIC: Why is he so perfect?
NT: He was on Miami Vice.
PSYCHIC: So? So was Don Johnson.
NT: And where are they now?
PSYCHIC: I don't know. They are out living their lives.
NT: What kind of a percentage do you think Philip Michael Thomas is getting off the phone lines?
PSYCHIC: I don't know.
NT: Psychically, what would you guess his percentage is?
PSYCHIC: I couldn't tell you. It could be a lot.
NT: I bet he's making a bundle off this.
PSYCHIC: I'll tell you what, I've had my phone on since before 9:00 a.m. this morning and I haven't had time to put on clothes.
NT: So you're naked right now?
PSYCHIC: No. I mean --
NT: So what exactly are you wearing?
PSYCHIC: A pair of black pants and a white shirt. I finally took the time to put them on because I was in my pajamas till noon. That's what I meant.
NT: You know, you didn't have to put anything on for me.
PSYCHIC: No, I was just trying to make the point about how many phone calls are coming in.
NT: I mean, I'm not wearing anything either.
PSYCHIC: That sounds interesting.
NT: Have you ever been to Philip Michael Thomas's house? I hear it's lovely.
PSYCHIC: No. I have not. Do you have some sort of an obsession with him?
NT: It's not really an obsession. But there might be a restraining order in the works. Did you get to shake his hand?
NT: Could you feel the psychic energy?
PSYCHIC: Yes. Somewhat.
Total cost: $39.90