The Fortune Teller’s Tent: Circus Card #2
Last week …
I challenged myself to post one original tarot-like card a week. So of course, yesterday, the cat shorted out my scanner by spilling a cup of coffee, and I lost my sketchbook for the thousandth time, making this week’s entry a bit more difficult than expected. So this week’s card is extra rough – colored quickly by hand, photographed with the digital camera.
The show must go on!
The Fortune Teller and her spiritualist illusions may not be part of the modernized, sleek circus scene, but she was once a standard fixture of the sideshow (at least if the movies are to be believed!)
What lies behind the thick, dusty curtains, mystery knockings and crystal balls? Are the spirits trickery, or real? Entertainment, or a fraud? The questions are woven into the appeal, because part of us wants to be tricked, spooked, and left wondering. In fact, if we don’t leave her mystical tent with more questions than when we went in, she’s probably not doing her job very well!
I’m often a harsh critic of woo-peddlers like Uri Geller and the Colon-Cleanse hawkers on TV, but I have a weak spot for old fashioned fortune telling and other minor con artists of the entertainment circuit. It’s just so damn charming, the way they use our own minds and desires against us.
So to me, The Fortune Teller’s card epitomizes a lesson about marketing; it asks you where you draw the line when you spin your sales pitch: Do you sacrifice integrity to spin a sellable illusion? Do you tell your clients the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Do you find a balance somewhere in between, casting an illusion that isn’t a lie, but might be just a little magical?
The real trick, in the end, is to be sure your client is happy with the reveal.
“Is it real?” Showman Ward Hall responds for carnys everywhere: “Oh, it’s all real. Some of it’s really real, some of it’s really fake, but it’s all really good” from Sideshow! Lessons for Skeptics« previous next »