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Create a new password. Sign in to complete account merge. Resend Verification Email. Verification Email Sent. Email Verified. Change Password. More than two million Canadians a day have tuned into those after-hours infomercials - minute ads masquerading as TV talk shows, complete with game show host Geoff Edwards, guest appearances by soap opera stars and melodramatic re-enactments of predictions-come-true.

That response has brought a windfall not only to the self-styled "Goddess of the moon and Queen of the stars," but also to the country's telephone and broadcast companies page And, although previous American psychic lines have used such personalities as pop crooner Dionne Warwick to plug their wares, it has launched Savard as the chief Canadian example of a new show business species - the infomercial star.

Already a fixture in Quebec tabloids like Allo Police , she has no qualms about her newfound fame. As she notes, "People see me and they don't seem to forget! Over the past 16 months, both have generated thousands of calls a day - not to mention huge profits for Ormazd Inc.

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Although Savard's line remains a modest player in a field notorious for its secrecy, it ranks as the top-grossing entrant in the Canadian sector of the new dial-a-destiny industry. As Savard observes, with her customary fractured exuberance, "It's mind-smashing to see people are so much in need of a human connection. But that need lies at the heart of the contentious question that hovers over the psychic phone trade: is it merely a harmless high-tech update on old-fashioned fortune-telling fun - or, as Savard's critics charge, costly hucksterism designed to cash in on the era's rampant loneliness and alienation?

She herself characterizes her service as "light therapy - it's almost replacing a certain disappointment about religion and psychiatry. People are searching for something more. Who else are you going to call - your psychiatrist? Some psychiatrists have argued that those who are depressed would be better off doing just that. Los Angeles psychiatrist Daniel Borenstein worries that, by turning to a psychic hotline, truly disturbed patients may put off needed professional help. But Zindel Segal, a psychologist who heads the cognitive-behavior therapy unit at Toronto's Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, hesitates to damn those who are telemarketing reassurance at 3 a.

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Ironically, the most scathing denunciations of phone psychics have come from Bob Garfield, the Washington columnist for Advertising Age. Despite the fact that their increasingly slick infomercials have proved a boon to the ad world, he rails at them as "sleazy. One would appear to be Jonita Anderson, the year-old wife of a U. Said Baltimore circuit court Judge Thomas Bollinger, who gave her a three-year suspended sentence: "We are talking about a sickness here.

Garfield compares telephone soothsayers with the purveyors of phone sex, who employ the same technology. It won't last forever. Turning to the otherworldly for counsel is hardly new. But computerized telephone technology has brought a revolutionary twist to the prophecy business. A member of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, Beyerstein is a militant nonbeliever. Says Fraser: "Any kind of psychic nurturing takes concentration and focus. Savard counters that the telephone heightens telepathy. But some low-budget services such as the British Columbia-based Evanly-Rays Psychic Answers run boiler-room-style operations: their card readers ply their skills from a noisy office on the outskirts of Kelowna.

Still, to the shock of many of her infomercial fans, Savard doesn't do psychic phone duty herself. In fact, as she alights in her cozy Outremont living-room, where crystal balls stud the rose-colored decor, she ignores her own private line ringing incessantly beside her. At five feet, nine inches, with a gold ankle bracelet and an earthy laugh punctuating her energetic monologues, she seems even larger in life than on her infomercials.

But she admits even she failed to foresee the scope of her success.

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So staggering was the initial response to her ad last year that she faced an unforeseen crisis: "We were out of psychics," she says. On a recruiting blitz, she and her backers papered New Age outlets with flyers announcing, "Psychics and Astrologers! Money-making Opportunity! But otherwise Savard leaves the details to aides - among them, Tom Slupski, her husband of one year. A boyishly handsome Polish immigrant, his business card features a picture of her in a low-cut scarlet gown on one side and, on the other, his title: impresario.

Slupski fields the offers that have poured in: endorsements for JoJo dolls, tarot decks and even her own makeup line.

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With her JoJo's Love Horoscope and astral calendar sold out, she will launch a new national horoscope column later this month. And she is booked up this fall as an after-dinner performer on the province's banquet circuit, where she is currently predicting grim times ahead for Premier Jacques Parizeau and a united Canada in As for her own future, she says that Ormazd may export her bilingual psychic line to Paris.

She credits Slupski with her good fortune. But, as he notes, "it wasn't hard to sell JoJo.

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But she says she had already seen him in her chart. Thirteen years and countless hosts later, she still does that weekly gig, with stellar ratings. In , two young Montreal promoters hired her to prerecord generic horoscopes. She swears she checked out their charts, but two years later they fell out over her fees. And within a month, a courier arrived with a two-paragraph missive.

But Gourd received no indication of her displeasure. With her usual penchant for looking on the brighter side, she even promises that the current global upheavals—which have produced the very alienation and despair on which her service thrives—are but a passing planetary phase, the last violent shudders before a new spiritual age dawns. After all, as she says, nothing lasts forever—either astral transits or perhaps even the psychic phone-line phenomenon itself. Hours earlier, she has whipped up dinner for her husband and two daughters, tidied the kitchen and tucked her brood into bed before lying down for a nap herself.

But while her family slumbers on, the clock beside her waterbed jolts her awake at p. Slipping behind her desk, Bouchard punches in her pass code on the dial pad of the extra telephone line she has had installed in her house. Then, the year-old housewife listens to the recorded message that details the daily TV schedule for JoJo's infomercials.

A computerized switching station has already begun transferring calls to her extension. Ever since she was a child, Bouchard claims she has had visions.

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But during a card-reading game at 14, she saw her grandmother's death two weeks before the woman was rushed to the hospital with terminal cancer. That experience so unnerved her that she avoided dabbling in the occult until she ventured into a New Age bookstore 12 years later.

By then, she had spent years as a telemarketer, peddling everything from lab equipment to cold cuts. She quit to offer psychic readings in her home, but the profits were proving meagre when a friend called to inform her that JoJo Savard, the astrologer she watched every Friday night on TV, was looking for psychics. But two weeks later, he apologized. Not that Bouchard pretends her job is easy. Browse Issues Search Subscribe Now. Click to View Article Pages. But she says she had already seen him in her chart.

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