The flames from the large stand-alone heater flicked closer to my hair with each breezy gust. I have thick, long curly hair. One errant spark and both my hair and the nightmarish trauma witnessed by the guest seated across from me would turn this corporate event from a fun, relaxing tropical party in the hotel gardens, to absolute disaster.

The close call could have been so easily prevented.

If only the party coordinators or hotel wait staff hurriedly removing dirty plates and glasses strewn on linen-topped tables had thought, “Hmmm. I wonder if we should move those patio heaters a tad further from seated diners. The flames seem to be escaping their confines with each wind gust.”

I confess. I was so intent on entertaining and providing witty insights to the guest for whom I was doing a palm reading, that it took the burnt orange flicker of flame advancing my way for me to even notice how perilously close those licks of fire now were. I stopped a wait staff person, explained my concern, and asked for assistance to have my table moved away. That was soon done, but I have since wondered why the possible danger of that situation wasn’t apparent to event staff roaming through the event, ensuring that all ran smoothly.

Fortunately, few of the situations I’ve faced as a psychic for corporate and social events could have resulted in injury. Most are humorous incidents… at least when I look back on them in the retelling.

Dark psychic look requested for this corporate Halloween party.

For instance, there was the time I worked a Halloween corporate party for morticians and their families. The client’s previous events were running late. Entertainers chatted with one another. Everyone was hesitant to even run to the restroom in case the guests suddenly arrive. My designated location was in the farthest corner away from the band. Normally, that would have been a plus. However, on this night, because it was Halloween, the room was severely darkened to create a spooky atmosphere. The only exterior light I had was a slim beacon creeping in from slight gaps in the hallway doors. There had been a miscommunication between the client’s meeting planner and the hotel about the party start time. The group finally showed up, one-and-one-half hours passed the expected start time.

Of course, the first thing on their minds was to feed their families, not scout the darkened room for entertainment possibilities. I opted to walk around the tables lined along the left ballroom wall and introduce myself while assuring them of my fun, family-friendly readings. I pointed out the location of my table adorned with metaphysical tablecloths, tarot cards, runes, crystal ball and candles. Usually when I leave my set table, I cover it with a cloth. I mentioned to the coordinator standing at the nearby giveaway table what I was going to do.

I made my rounds and hurried back to my table, positive guests would soon arrive. As I approached, I saw a family seated all around my table. I think, “Great, my greetings worked and they’re waiting for me.” When I got closer, I realized they had set their food plates and drinks down on my cloths, shoved my accessories aside, and were enjoying their meal. I looked for the coordinator to assist this delicate situation, but she was gone. I approached the family and said that this was my worktable (which should have been obvious). I apologized for the inconvenience, but they would need to find somewhere else to eat. One of the kids, who by now was playing with my real crystal ball (not an inexpensive object), looked up and asked what was going on. The father replied angrily, “This lady is making us leave.” They picked up their drinks, left their dirty dishes, and stormed off. My immediate reaction was a stunned, “What?” When the coordinator returned, I explained what happened and she just shrugged.

Reading palms for multiple people simultaneously.

That wasn’t the only time people have abandoned dirty dishes and glasses on my table, but I have lost track of how often it’s occurred while I’m seated there reading one or more guests. It’s as if we are invisible or they are just too lazy to look for a nearby bar tray. I’m unsure who is more taken aback at the rude interruption: the guest/s I’m reading, or me.

As a point of clarification for those who have never seen me working an event. I am typically dressed in flamboyant, colorful costuming and glitter makeup to enhance themed events. Which reminds of the time I was told the event would be the ever-popular Mardi Gras theme. The room was to be ornately decorated to the theme and the agent thought guests would be costumed, so I needed to stand out. I pulled out all the stops. Beads, feather headdress, makeup looking like a mask, costuming focused on purple, green and gold with a splash of hot pink. I walked in and received a stunned quiet from the first guests who spotted me, as if I had spouted two heads that lolled in separate directions. No wonder. There was no décor. No one wore a costume. I was the only “decoration” in a room of casually dressed business people. To ease the awkward silence, I laughingly said, “What. You didn’t get the memo to dress up?”

Handwriting for a three-day trade show.

When street attire is preferred (rarely), I have BoHo-but-professional clothing from which to choose. Most of the time I am strolling among the guests, offering my signature palm readings to multiple people simultaneously. If seated, I provide my table décor and offer a variety of readings, from tarot to runes, energy, handwriting analysis, or perhaps lip print readings that I created (on a request for a specific event) many, many years ago. My gigs (yes, entertainers use the word gigs, which has confused some musicians I’ve met) are booked through agents, referrals, social media and networking. For many years I was the only psychic working at theme parks for group events before I expanded more heavily into the social party circuit. I love reading family dynamics, BFFs, couples, random strangers, teammates, and of course, individuals.

As with any profession, one learns from experience. I have had to become more adaptable to functions that were anything other than what was contracted. Sometimes it’s simply jumping in to assist, whether helping to put Mardi Gras beads on tables when set up wasn’t finished, or to welcome guests at the door because no one thought to do that. I LOVE what I do, from dressing up to providing WOW positive moments. In the days of pre-pandemic, I often gave out hugs or were just spontaneously embraced by guests.

And just to get one thing clear to skeptics and naysayers: Yes, I do have a gift. (We all have gifts but not everyone acknowledges them.) No, I don’t make predictions, such as who will die, win an election or the lottery, or describe a future spouse. My readings are personality and relationship driven. Fun. Positive. Engaging. Interactive.

Sit with Natasha, The Psychic Lady for brief couples and individual readings.

I require little when I’m working. I need more Illumination than my battery candles provide and even though I always have a lighted magnifier, additional light is preferred. Plenty of water. And please, not to be placed beside or directly in front of amps that are blasting out tunes from the band or DJ. I enjoy being in close contact with guests, but I don’t want to scream in their ear to be heard. I can hear you laughing at the image. Now think through that scenario. The guest can’t hear me, so I have to repeat and repeat, and they end up not getting the full value of what I have to say. As my throat gets raspy, I have to drink more water. All of this takes more time, so quick readings to maximize the number of guests read, becomes fewer read. I have more tips for hosts to maximize my services. Just ask.

Whether seated or strolling, I always have my bag of tarot cards, runes, crystals, magnifying light, extra reading glasses etc with me… just in case what was supposed to happen, doesn’t. Two particular events are etched forever in my memory. Both involved reading coffee and for both, I had to travel many hours to get there. To read coffee (something I’d seen my Aunt Golda do growing up), you need coffee with thick grounds that leave a residue in the bottom of a cup. Coffee such as Turkish, Arabic or Cuban works,  made in a small pot for that purpose. There are other needs, such as good lighting, a place to put dirty dishes, and the hot coffee. Bless my agents in both instances because they clearly delineated all I would need, from the type of coffee to the color and size of cups and saucers.

At job #1, the co-owners sat before me. The waiter arrived and poured instant coffee and hot water into the cups, which dissolved instantly. I quickly explained why that wouldn’t work and what coffee had been ordered. He nodded yes and said he’d be right back. He returned with the same coffee and just added more into the cup. I again explained. He left and returned a third time trying to do exactly what he’d already done twice before. By now, the clients were expressing their impatience and unhappiness. I worked to keep them calm and asked to speak to the catering manager to see if the coffee was available. No, it wasn’t. I quickly said I could read palms and tarot instead in my own original method, instead. It went over so well that they hired me (through the same agent) for another gig in Orlando months later.

Job #2 was at a resort. I arrived with my full bags of gear, including candles and tablecloths this time, because I’d “had a feeling” that things would not be as planned. I was to begin reading at 9, inside a lighted tent. When I arrived at 8:30, a table had been set up outside. No lighting was available. There was a coffee station nearby, so I asked if the attendant had my coffee set ups. She said no. I searched for the coordinator or banquet manager. Finally, minutes before 9 the coordinator comes over. When I asked where the coffee set up was, she was surprised. Her paperwork just said a table and chairs, and not even inside the tent as my contract specified. She called over the banquet manager, who was clear that they had not been informed of needed coffee, cups or saucers. While we are in this discussion, the three clients arrive by golf cart. The coordinator explained there was a miscommunication and the higher-dollar coffee readings weren’t going to occur. The tension crackled. I jumped into the discussion promising I could read palms, cards etc and that we’d have a great time. I hurriedly set up the provided table. More chairs were brought. I proceeded to do some teambuilding-styled palm readings. Those three sat there a full half hour, laughing, asking questions, and enjoying. When they finally arose to leave because their guests were now milling about impatiently, they all generously hugged me, thanking me profusely.

There have been quick moments when I wonder what the designers were thinking when staging the event. Why would you put me outside to read tarot cards when the wind is gusting? Why would you put me into a pitch-black tent (for atmosphere) and then tell me to read palms?

Why would you hire me to work a party when none of the guests spoke English? Oh sure. Laugh now. No one ever thought to ask when the party was sold. I was working for an international division of a major corporation. I had brought two other psychics with me that evening to a hotel ballroom. We were costumed, tables set, and ready to greet our guests. Except they were Japanese and none spoke English. We spent the next two hours bowing, smiling, and posing for photos.

Lip print readings even fun for men.

I have learned to doublecheck details for every event, from what theme or color scheme, length and time of event, and name and address of the venue. I learned that lesson the hard way. In Orlando, we have several hotels with similar names. My contract listed the address and name of hotel on International Drive. I arrived, schlepping all my gear down multiple steps and pathways and asked at the front desk where the event was. It wasn’t at the location I had thought. Maybe it had been moved? Not moved… just the wrong hotel. It was actually in the Disney area, a 20-minute ride with traffic. I called my event contact, explained what had happened, and he just said, “It happens. Get here as quickly as you can!”

Not only do I stress if I think I will be a minute past call-time, but I try to arrive sooner. I first had to get back to my car (at least a 15-minute walk) and then get to the hotel and set up. That is definitely not a lesson I wanted to repeat, so now I double and triple-check the venue and address no matter what my contract reads.

Like all meetings, events and hospitality professionals, going-with-the-flow and adapting quickly is crucial. I’ve had agents call me as I’m getting ready and say the client just moved up the event and could I come immediately and be there in less than an hour? I made it happen, despite the hotel being a 45-minute drive.

Another time the guests were late and while the tropical steel band was warming up, I danced around in front of them. I am a ballroom dancer, so the movements to their fabulous music came easily. Just as the guests began arriving, the party’s meeting planner pulled me aside and said the client had seen me dancing and asked for me to do a Latin dance as a performance piece with a partner. Ummm. I didn’t come with a partner and the open heeled sandals I was wearing weren’t really geared towards spins and fast movements. The planner pleaded. She had asked the wait staff if anyone danced. One did. How many ways can it go wrong to be performing a dance to unknown live music with a person I’ve never danced with in front of an audience and an excited host? Thank goodness, my “partner” proved to be an adept leader, the music was divine, and the only indignity I suffered was the pain in my feet later from struggling to keep my shoes on while moving.

I’ve been working events professionally as a psychic for more than 30 years. These are just some of my stories, but they are ones that live within my memories.

I would love to hear some of your stories. I’d love to hear how you are adapting your talents to new industries or how you have turned a passion-you-never-had-time-for into a new business because of the pandemic decimating the hospitality, meetings and events industries.

I am elated knowing I will soon be working events again, at least ones outside and where guests are masked and socially distanced. I treasure my memories of events, the people I have met, and the positive impression I believe we have left on one another. Let’s create some new magic!

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of International Live Events Association and Meeting Professionals International and is now serving on the 2021-2022 MPI Global Advisory Board for Independent and Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events.;;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.