Rhymes with Sewage, Part 2: Get Your Photography Curled

Kirlian photograph

[In Part 1, I told you how I enjoy exploring the fringes. Sometimes I actually discover something that works (Hypnosis. Hubba hubba!).]

The first time I went to the newage fair was in 2003 or 2004. As I mentioned yesterday, it was partly to see if I could find the little bit useful among the very much crap. It was mostly, however, to have a laugh or two.

I used to watch a lot of paranormal TV back in the 1970s. UFOs were all the rage back then, but there was other crap too. One piece of raging crap was Kirlian photography. Allegedly it shows your aura and whatever else its promoters could dream up to con the gullible. Nevertheless, it fascinated me. I wasn’t sure what was really going on there.

Lo and behold, what did I see at the newage fair in one of the vendor booths but a bunch of Kirlian photographs! Sweet! I had to check that out. They had a couple of gadgets there that people were sticking their hands into, then the vendor pulls the Polaroid out of the gadget, waves it around to make it develop faster, and then voila! They had themselves a Kirlian! Me! Me! Me! Do me! I want a Kirlian photograph!

It turns out it was part of a sales pitch (wouldn’t you know it!). The guy at the booth directed my attention to the numerous photographs hanging in the booth. It turned out they were all pairs; a Before and an After. The Before pictures were all poor images. The corona around the fingertips was incomplete or totally missing. The After pictures were all beautiful. The coronas were complete and easy to see.

The guy told me that I was looking at photographs of these people’s auras. The Before pictures showed that their auras were sick (Oh no! I sure hope my aura isn’t sick!). The After pictures show that their auras are all now strong and healthy after wearing his magical pendant for just a few hours (He didn’t call it a magical pendant. He had some pseudo-sciency quantum-mechanical string-theoretical boson-strange-attractor name for it.). Lucky for me, he still had a few quantum-boson pendants left, and I could buy one for the low, low price of $49.95.

But I just want Kirlian photograph! Oh, please, mister, just let me have a Kirlian photograph!

Here’s the even better news, he told me. I didn’t have to take his word for it that the neutrino-quark pendant works. I could prove it to myself! All I had to do was let him take an imprint of my credit card, which he wouldn’t even submit (yet). He’d just hang onto it for the duration of the show. Then we’d make a Kirlian photograph of me (yay!) to use as the Before picture. Then all I had to do was wear his reptilian-hydrocarbon pendant for the rest of the day, then come back by his booth before the show ended. We’d make another (Yay! I get two!) Kirlian photograph of my fingers. The After photograph would prove that the pendant worked. If it didn’t, or if I didn’t want it, I could return the pendant and he’d tear up my credit card image.

I thought about that for a moment. I could easily come by here by the end of the day and return the pendant. If the guy tries to defraud me and runs the charge anyway, I could dispute it with the credit card company. Polaroid film costs about $1 per shot, so I’d actually have to pay someone real money to get them made anywhere else. So I handed over the card.

After I signed the credit card receipt, he took me over to the Kirlianator. It was a heavy metallic box. The top of the box was covered by a long tube, made of some sort of black fabric, flopping off to the side. He placed an unexposed Polaroid into the box through a slot in the side and then pulled the top sheet of the Polaroid off. The bare film was now waiting for me to reach in and fondle it. I stuck my arm into the long, black tube (which protects the Polaroid from stray light) and placed my fingers down onto the film.

It was then that I noticed an electrical cord running from the box. I had never really thought about how these photographs were made. I guess that’s why they seemed so mysterious to me. I didn’t remember any of the TV shows mentioning this part.

He placed his hand on the outside of the tube and gently pressed down on my hand, to make sure it made good contact with the film. He told me to touch a particular piece of exposed metal on the outside of the box, which I did. Reluctantly.

He said “You’ll feel a slight shock.”

“How slight is—”ZZZAAAPPPPPP! “Sonofabitch! That freakin’ hurts!”

I then removed my numb, tasered arm from the tube. He pulled the Polaroid out, waved it around, then peeled it open.

It turned out my Kirlian photograph looked a lot like the other Before pictures. The coronas around the fingertips were not fully formed, and they were of varying strength. But at least I finally had my Kirlian photograph! I reached out for it, lovingly.

And he snatched it away from me.

“I’ll just staple this to your credit card slip,” he said. “Then when you come back later today, we can compare it to your After photo.”

But… but… that’s my Kirlian photograph! You can’t take it away from me! I was tortured for that photograph!

Then he gave me one of the pendants. It looked really cheap. I hung it around my neck, but I stuffed it inside my shirt. No point in advertising how foolish I am with money.

I wonder how many people forgot to go back at the end of the day. He probably sold a lot more pendants than he otherwise would have just by that fact alone. Well I sure as hell was going to remember to go by his booth before the end of the day. Not only did he have my money, but he was holding my photograph hostage!

[Tomorrow: More of the fair. And do I remember to get my money back by the end of the day? Do I manage to rescue my photograph from the clutches of this fiend?]

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