Channel 4, a British television production company, called me yesterday afternoon and asked if I would do a tarot card reading for Brian, one of the men in their entourage. They’d just finished shooting in the wine country and wanted to squeeze in a tarot card reading in San Francisco.
I told them that Brian should prepare three questions for the cards, that there is no such thing as a silly or stupid question if it is a sincere concern, and perhaps Brian would prefer privacy for his tarot reading.
But there was no privacy; Brian arrived with three large cameras and ten people. Turns out Brian Badonde is a popular comic in England whose shtick is to be obviously out, gayly proud, and a bit of a tranny. He is a character comic like Mr. Bean or PeeWee Herman. Brian invented his own speech pattern based on burette (not tourette) syndrome whereby he sputters and makes up words.
My living room is good for filming because it is small enough to light well, has good feng shui so it just feels right, and there is no clutter. Brian does know his art, so he asked that we close the red window curtains to make a solid backdrop for him, and not have him sit where my clients usually sit in front of a bookcase. So with a few changes and minimal hassle, we were ready to shoot.
Monty Python aside, my idea of funny is Groucho — not British humour. But Brian stayed absolutely in character the entire time, asking the classic tarot questions of when will I find love, will I always be successful, and for camp value he asked me if he would die young, although for both of us that ship sailed decades ago.
Brian is an Aquarius and a Dragon, and I could see the Aquarius in his off-beat individuality and the Dragon in his power and focus. For his love question, I read his palms for marriage lines and a big love is on the way, probably in Dragon year 2012. Brian responded, “What? I have to wait that long!” He’d recently split with his boy toy Sinbad (Sin Bad) who showed up in the cards as a little Three of Wands. I rolled along with the jokes as if this were all in jest, but still the cards came through with real information.
Brian actually had very good cards and very good fortune. A prominent tarot card for him was the very lucky Knight of Cups. In his grandiose burette accent, Brian read aloud from my book Introduction to Tarot, “The Knight of Cups is a very special Knight because he is the Knight of the grail legend. The story of the grail is an allegory of seeking truth, beauty, purpose, and salvation in life.” Then he turned to me and flatly deadpanned, “What the hell does that mean?”
I didn’t miss a beat. I said, “That’s why there’s a divinatory meaning.” I pointed on the page to where there’s a brief meaning about the card tacked on at the end of each card’s description. So Brian read aloud for the Knight of Cups “If you are stuck or stagnant, he will bring good luck, inspiration, advancement, new opportunities and friends, and emotional fulfillment. He is a spiritual Wheel of Fortune.”
This seemed to be working, even with Brian in full character, so I laid out more cards. Brian ended up with three Queens, which I found appropriate. For his last question, with tongue firmly in cheek, Brian asked if he would ever have children, which was the Death card. This is only time in my life that the Death card was funny.
One thing that might not have worked for Brian is that he didn’t get much of a response from me when he said or did something dramatically campy or over the top. I’m so used to gay culture that his shock the squares, or as the French would say épater le bourgeois, was lost on me.
But I’m so impressed and appreciative that Brian Badonde is out there like a true Dragon leader, shocking those who need to be shocked, representing for gay rights in such a positive, zany, and brave way. He’s breaking down cultural barriers through his humor and art. Or as Brian would way, through his bumour and bart.