Cold reading techniques are used by both strippers and psychics to entertain clients. But psychics claim to have supernatural powers.
Mystery and intrigue make for great entertainment, especially when it ends with an answer to a burning question or the exposure of a hidden truth—or in the case of a stripper, body parts.
When I stepped out onto the stage and into the fake smoke and black lights, I scanned the faces of my audience, taking mental notes of who was where, their body language. Are they sitting with their arms crossed? What are they wearing? Gym clothes, office attire, or jeans? Do they seem interested or preoccupied? What are they expecting to get out of this experience, and how do I give that to them in a way that will ultimately benefit me?
Stripping, or exotic dancing, is much more than simply taking your clothes off in a way that vaguely coincides with the music coming out from the speakers. It is more than simply a sexual performance. It is the presentation of a fantasy, but one that must be believable. And that requires skills that go far beyond simply aesthetics or dance moves.
Before I approached a customer as a stripper, I needed to know what fantasy they were looking for. To do that, I needed to glean every bit of information I could. Every piece of clothing, unconscious posture or movement, or vocal inflection was a tiny clue. I became very good at reading people. I tailored my performance to fit their fantasy.
Long before I became an active skeptic, I was aware of the term “cold reading.” I knew it was what psychics used to give readings to their clients. I had a vague awareness of what it involved but hadn’t given it much thought. An avid ghost hunter, I enjoyed the exploration of the paranormal, which included the idea of psychics and those who claimed to have knowledge of the world beyond what our senses and science could tell us.
Underneath the spooky and sometimes alcohol-fueled fun with my friends, a festering skepticism whispered. When I finally allowed myself to listen to it, I discovered that I was a psychic.
A real, bonafide psychic
I had been practicing cold reading and didn’t even know I was doing it. It’s really not all that hard. After collecting all the visual information I could about someone, I asked a series of questions in the midst of casual small talk that directed the rest of the interaction and created their fantasy.
It is very literally how psychics fool people into believing that they know things they shouldn’t. It’s how they “talk” to dead relatives and seem to know their subject’s deepest thoughts. It is totally natural and not super at all.
The only real difference between the two performances is the amount of clothing the performer is wearing. I might argue that the stripper is the more ethical of the two, although I will concede my bias. Most people walking into a strip club are looking for and expecting a fantasy. They are aware that they are likely to be presented an untruth for the sake of entertainment. There are of course, strippers who will use emotional manipulation in order to make a buck. But with psychics, it is pretty much guaranteed. Particularly in the case of those who claim to speak with the dead. Those mediums or psychics are sometimes called Grief Vampires. An apt description for someone who preys on those grieving the loss of a loved one.
The most vile and successful of these real-life monsters don’t even bother with cold reading, but use hot reading instead, gathering information on their mark before meeting with them, then relieving them not of their grief but of their money.
And they never even bother to show their boobs.