It's in the stars, of course--and the numbers, and the cards: Mike Kurban, onetime host of his own public-access TV series, The Mike Kurban Psychic Show, and author of 41 self-published books on the occult, is through with the book-writing business. His 42nd and final tome, Beyond the Sensuous Man, is in the hands of his editor, he says, and women are already clamoring to buy it. Beyond the Sensuous Man explains how any man can make love to a woman for 24 hours and even longer, and is going to get him on Howard Stern, which is right in line with his other plans. Because from now on Kurban is "moving all my energy into entertainment," determined to fulfill a 15-year-old prophecy that foretold: "You're gonna be onstage singing. You're gonna be dancing. You're gonna be a Danny Kaye. You're going to go to Hollywood and they're going to put you in a motion picture, and you're going to have money comin' out of your hind end." Kurban has brown button eyes in a cherubic face and an inscrutably deadpan delivery. Facing him across a table over a cup of tea, I'm not thinking Danny Kaye. If Kurban is any kind of telepath, he must know I'm thinking Andy Kaufman stuck in a character.
Kurban--Mr. Psychic Chicago, reverend of the Door to Heaven Church, proprietor of the Third Eye Psychic Institute--is back in town after a couple of years in Florida, where he was "spiritual healer for the Brazilian people" but was plagued by fire ants and bad drivers. He bought a house on the northwest side sight unseen, painted the interior lilac, and reestablished the Museum of Ancient Spiritual Artifacts, which used to be housed in the back of his storefront New Age Psychic Center at Lincoln and Montrose. The first floor of the house is lined with framed snapshots of himself and his pets in the company of the spirits: one picture supposedly shows one of God's fingers, right in front of the camera lens, tapping Kurban's head; others purportedly capture Kurban's third eye, the golden-barked tree he grew in the backyard of the old place ("If I was the Catholic church, I'd've had thousands of people coming"), and a statue of Siva that changes gender on camera. He's already growing a new gold tree and teaching people about all things psychic through the Third Eye Institute. But after time out to write his last books, get a divorce, and find a new girlfriend ("Psychic looking for companionship," his personal ad said, "must have car, money, be beautiful"), Kurban is ready to hit the big time with his all-new entertainment venture: the "World's Only On Stage All Psychic Saturday Night Comedy." The show includes a psychic magician, a psychic cat, singing, dancing, and readings, with every actor a trained psychic, Kurban says. "In three weeks we'll have a tape, and I'm taking it to New York, Las Vegas, California. I'm talking about making money."
Kurban, now 46, found his special talent 25 years ago, when he heard voices and saw a vision after a four-day fast. The voices disappeared when he started eating, but they had piqued his interest. He went to a psychic fair where he was told he was a natural reader and healer. Since his home life included a mom who stomped around to blaring music at midnight, brandishing a big knife and shouting "I'll kill you," this seemed like promising news. Soon after, Kurban met the glamorous blue-eyed blond the spirits told him to look for and married her. A naprapath old enough to be his mother, his wife encouraged him to try out his healing powers on her patients. Soon, he says, he was levitating bodies and performing psychic surgery. He started producing psychic fairs, and when public-access TV came along he put together his own half-hour talk show, a sort of low-low-rent Saturday Night Live skit (though he says he'd never heard of that program), interviewing actors who improvised as Mr. Death, Mr. Crusher, and other off-the-wall characters. The show ran for 13 years, generated a fan club--the South Side Psychic Sluts--and led to Kurban appearances on several mainstream programs, including The Jerry Springer Show, where as the Reverend Kurban he performed on-air marriages for transvestites, transsexuals, and homosexuals. These marriages were not legally valid, but "Why not?" reasoned the Rev. "On my own show I married a man and a ghost." Still, when he took a picture of the transsexual wedding, it turned black, leading Kurban to conclude that the spirits disapproved.
The first book Kurban published was Numerology Proven Science, which explains how each letter of the alphabet is assigned a number, and that the important numbers (one through nine) are based on the planets. Figure out the values for a name, a birth date, and, most powerful of all, a social security number (all chosen by us before birth, he says), add them up according to the code, and you'll have the lowdown on yourself or others. He'll talk about it at Borders Books & Music, 1144 Lake in Oak Park, next Thursday, September 21, at 7:30. It's free; call 708-386-6927. The Museum of Ancient Spiritual Artifacts is located at 2528 N. Luna. It's open by appointment; a $5 donation is suggested. Call 773-385-9840 for more information.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Eugene Zakusilo.