Youree Dell Cleomili Harris

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Youree Dell Cleomili Harris (born August 12, 1962 in Los Angeles, California[1]), better known as Miss Cleo, is a self-proclaimed psychic. Harris became well-known through television ads in the 1990s, where she introduced herself as "Miss Cleo" hawking a psychic pay-per-call service.

Background

Seattle

In 1996 in Seattle, Miss Cleo (known then as Youree "Ree" Perris) and her partner opened a production company which produced several of her plays.[2] She acted in her first project, Women Only: A Celebration of Love, Life and Healing. This play was autobiographical. She also performed in her last project, Supper Club Cafe.[2] This venture was not successful and she "left town with a trail of debts and broken promises".[2]

The actors in her productions were not paid and "Miss Cleo", aka Perris "told her cast members she had bone cancer" and "her medical costs would prevent her from paying people immediately, but she wrote each actor and crew member a letter telling him or her how much money she owed them."[2] The actors and crew were never paid.[2]

The Psychic Readers Network

In the late 1990s Harris had a career as a television infomercial psychic in which she claimed she was originally from Jamaica. The Psychic Readers Network sent spam e-mails, which stated, "[Miss Cleo has] been authorized to issue you a Special Tarot Reading!... it is vital that you call immediately!..."

Starting in 2001, Access Resource Services d/b/a Psychic Readers Network was sued in various lawsuits brought by (among others) Missouri and Florida, and the Federal Communications Commission. Ms. Harris herself was sued only by the State of Florida because Florida law allows a "spokesperson" to be sued as well as the company, however the case was dismissed on the condition that Ms. Harris waive her ability to sue the State of Florida regarding the case. The company owners, Steve Feder and Peter Stolz, purposely marketed the company to appear that Miss Cleo owned and operated the Psychic Readers Network. Later in 2002, a Florida newspaper reported Miss Cleo's birth certificate identifies her as Youree Dell Harris, and that she was born in Los Angeles.

She was paid $1700 for her first infomercial with the company, and was paid a flat fee for each commercial she appeared in thereafter. The company coined the title "Miss Cleo". Ms. Harris used her middle name Cleomili or Cleo when she worked on the psychic line. At the time of the lawsuit, Ms. Harris had severed ties with the Psychic Readers Network. Harris did not have any ownership interest in the Psychic Readers Network and was indeed a paid spokesperson for the network. For more than a year, Ms. Harris worked on the actual "hotline" before appearing in any of the company's commercials.

Miss Cleo has been researched by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Bob Steiner, CSICOP Fellow and magician, has observed that her techniques and methodology were at best questionable.[3]

Personal life

In the October 2006 issue of The Advocate magazine, Harris stated she is a lesbian.[4]

Harris also has a son (adopted), named Billy Harris.

In 2003, Harris returned to her private practice as a spiritual advisor.[5]

Legal problems

Long before becoming "Ms Cleo" the psychic advsor, Harris had several run-ins with the law.[2] In 1999, lawsuits against Harris and her promoters concerning the psychic network were filed.[6] In 2002, the FTC Charged Harris' promoters, Steven Feder and Peter Stotz, with deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices, though Harris was not indicted. [7] Her promoters agreed to settle for a fraction of the amount they took in.[8]

In late 1999 Stephen Schwartz was in a "state of depression" and looking for answers he called Miss Cleo.[9] After speaking to the "pyschic" who "commented on his personality and character, but offered little else in the way of a psychic reading until, disappointed, Schwartz ended the call."[9] He was billed full cost ($300) for the call, but sued, ultimately getting back $200.[9]

The "associates" that gave psychic readings read from a script, made available by Court TV here.

She has had to pay fines, according to the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive business practices relating to paranormal claims.

Trivia

  • Miss Cleo used the catchphrases, "The cards never lie!" and "Call me now!" She often referred to her viewers as "babies," as in "Call me now, babies!"
  • Miss Cleo has been parodied on a number of different TV shows including: That's So Raven; Futurama; Madtv;Charmed; Chappelle's Show; The Man Show; That's My Bush;Celebrity Deathmatch; and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in which singer Vicki Randle imitated her. Recently, on an episode of The Simpsons about outsourcing jobs to India, the cousin of Apu answers the phone saying, "This is Queen Mama Jama!" in a fake Jamaican accent.
  • Ja Rule imitates and mocks Miss Cleo on his album Pain Is Love in a skit called Leo. He later reprised the character he invented in this skit on an episode of MadTV.
  • She also landed a brief voice acting job to voice a Haitian gang-leader character, Auntie Poulet, in the Rockstar Games title Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Aliases

Miss Cleo uses numerous aliases. In the past, she has gone by:[2]

  • Youree Cleomili Harris
  • Youree Cleolil Dell Harris
  • Youree Perris
  • Cleomili Harris
  • Cleo Harris

External links

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  • 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Template:Cite news
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  • The lawsuits pile up for Miss Cleo
  • FTC Charges "Miss Cleo" Promoters with Deceptive Advertising, Billing and Collection Practices
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  • 9.0 9.1 9.2 Template:Cite news