Communicating with the dead is what Laura Steele, a self-described “spiritual medium,” considers her greatest talent. She gave John Edward one of his first readings, but her most famous triumphs seem to involve conversations with lost slides; she’s worked for Condé Nast for nearly fifteen years. It all started in 1990, when a magazine photographer named Barbara Walsh died of cancer. Walsh’s husband was looking for slides of her last expedition, which had been published in Condé Nast Traveller and then returned. The magazine referred him to Steele, and she directed him over the phone: Look by the stairs, under the ribbons, by the blue sweater. There they were. Magazines and photographers like Bruce Weber have used her ever since.
Philosophy: “I have spiritual gifts. I am blessed to carry the message.”
What to expect: Steele, a great big redheaded grandmother in red silk pajamas, gives readings at the dining table of her Central Park South apartment, which is filled with teddy bears and low leather couches. She speaks softly, with a distinct southern accent (she got her start working as a child evangelist in the Blue Ridge Mountains—“At first, everyone thought I just had too many imaginary friends”). She holds clients’ hands, asking relatively vague questions, often about the older people in your life, and making predictions (“You’re going to meet a tall man in a crowd, maybe at a supermarket”). Given her track record with the slides, it’s tempting to believe everything she says, even when it’s vague.
220 Central Park South, No. 3D (212-645-3722)
Cost: $100 for 90 minutes.