TV psychic Miss Cleo hit the scene in the late 1990’s and quickly became a notorious pop culture personality because of her eccentric, Jamaican-themed psychic infomercials.
From 1997 to 2003, Miss Cleo worked for the Psychic Readers Network and those interested in getting a glimpse into their future through her tarot card reading could call a pay-by-the-minute line.
In 2002, after a series of lawsuits filed against Psychic Readers Network, it was disclosed that 51-year-old self-proclaimed shaman wasn’t actually a Jamaican. Instead, the TV psychic (real name: Youree Dell Harris) was born in Los Angeles and her parents were U.S. citizens, though likely of Jamaican descent.
In 2006, Miss Cleo came out of the closet and revealed she was a lesbian. In an interview with Peter Knegt’s Bent blog to promote her participating in Tony Shaff’s new documentary “Hotline,” which looks at the extensive world of phone hotlines, Miss Cleo admits that many of her Jamaican relatives cut her off after learning about her sexuality.
“I’m as gay as a two dollar bill, same as you,” she said. “And I mean no disrespect, because I’m gay. And in the black community and the Jamaican community, that’s not easy. Not at all. As a matter of fact, when I came out publicly in 2006, I lost a large portion of my family. It’s so difficult.”
Miss Cleo, who also was featured in the 2010 documentary, “Becoming Psychic,” said she’s happy the younger generation has an easier time with disclosing the sexual identity.
Though she’s often joked about and imitated still for her infamous psychic commercials, Miss Cleo said she’s at peace with her life and all that comes with it.
“Even though it’s 2014, not every person you run into is going to embrace you. But at some point in time you have to stand for something or you fall for it. So by the time the media had thrown me out there to whatever devices, I thought, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take back my power. I’m not going to let them out me, I’m going to out myself,” she explained. “I think only about 30% of people who know of me know that I’m gay. They’re clueless! I don’t hide… I’ve been gay since I was about 16. I went to an all girls boarding school and loved my mother for it. She would die if she heard that but she’s already dead so it doesn’t matter.”
“Hotline” has been showcased at recent screenings in Toronto. No word on when it can be seen in the U.S.