Do you believe in fortune telling? I didn’t. Until the soothsayers’ predictions came true.
This part of my story begins during the autumn of 1928 when the leaves turned a rich mahogany and scattered to the winds like secret thoughts. My friend Maxi got me a job working for a clairvoyant in his mind-reading act. She had photographed the occultist for a weekly newspaper devoted to astrology called The Seer and believed he possessed a true gift.
With high unemployment and their children’s empty bellies haunting them, discouraged workers looked to the occult to find answers in late 1920s Berlin. Astrology was a profitable business, along with palm-readers, séances, alchemists, doomsday prophets and stage mesmerists.
Like Herr Doktor Gandolf. A startling figure–dark, fiery, arched brows, yellow-blond hair clipped short. He ruled over a private club decorated with large water tanks holding exotic fish, Napoleonic-era furniture and rich Prussian blue draperies that hid an intricate system of microphones used to eavesdrop on his clients.
What better way to glean their thoughts? he smirked.
He made it clear to me my job was to act as if I were hypnotized then pantomime the exquisite sounds of a woman aroused by a imaginary lover. To enhance my performance, I rubbed a silky smooth perfumed oil all over my body, the oil glimmering like a shiny second skin under the flattering spotlight.
One night as the audience watched me lubricating my fingers with oil then circling my bare breasts with slow, sensual strokes, the clairvoyant swept his long golden cape too close to where I lay on the divan and spilled the perfumed lubricant all over me.
What happened next I shall never forget. The overpowering scent threw him into a mad frenzy. He went into a trance, yelling and grabbing me around the neck, warning me about a man I would meet who would try to kill me, a man who held the secret to immortality…
Frightened, I screamed, then fainted.
I admit I faked the fainting. I had to do something to stop him before the mad doctor killed me.
It wasn’t until years later in 1939 in Port Said that a second fortune teller made the same prediction in a seedy bar when I had my fortune told. I wrote it all down in my diary in Cleopatra’s Perfume:
“You will meet a man within a fortnight,” he insisted, “and his fire will peel the skin from your bones, making you lose all control–”
I pulled my hand away. “Sounds unpleasant.” I tried to keep my voice steady, not let him see how his prediction affected me, nurtured the elusive dream I craved, but even as I said the words, my lower belly ached from want of a man I didn’t know.
The fortune teller continued, “With him you will find immortality.”
Believe. For it did happen.
Lady Eve Marlowe