The spring light dims across a Northwest Dallas backyard. The soft glow from a cluster of white candles circling a young oak tree illuminates the freshly tended lawn. Dangling strings of iridescent paper and shimmering white Christmas lights give the yard a heavenly glow. A gray-haired man in Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots steps out onto the porch, makes a brief survey of the area and picks up a pair of fuzzy fairy costume wings from a nearby table. He struggles with the elastic straps, twisting them around the sleeves of his striped Western shirt, ending up with a pair of misaligned wings strung vertically across his back. He accentuates the look by adding a string of colorful Mardi Gras beads.
In a moment, his rotund wife is on the porch, straightening his toy flying apparatus and putting on her own pair. Other winged adults circle the hors d'oeuvres table, nibbling on tiny zucchini slices and ranch dressing. A man named Paul pours himself a glass of iced tea. He's wearing a crown of faux ivy, a sleeveless green jersey tunic and a pair of black leather lace-up boots that come all the way up to his knees.
"Shepler's," he says, kicking out his right leg so I can get a better look. It's hard for Paul to find a good pair of cowboy boots because he's got a heck of an instep problem, but these Indian-style boots suit him just fine. I adjust my sparkly yellow fairy wings and show off my own pair of scuffed brown shitkickers. This may be a magic-infused "fairy party" full of psychics, healers and Otherworld enthusiasts, but it's still Texas, after all.
Flitting between groups of fairy revelers is hostess Kathryn Perry, a blond woman of 49 with glittery blue eye shadow brushed all the way up to her eyebrows. Perry's wings are bigger and more elaborate than the others' and are tied on with shiny ribbon. She has slowly herded the crowd outside to the yard, where she begins with a fairy blessing.
"The fairies are really happy you're here!" she tells our circle of 20, clasping her hands and smiling. Everyone nods, and some make little toasts with glasses of wine. These partyers have come from as far as Rendon and McKinney to meet each other and share their passions: alternative healing, psychic readings, spiritual growth and, of course, fairies.
"We know we're woo-woo," Perry had explained to me on the phone a couple of days before the party. Of course, she said, they know it's all a little silly to be standing around someone's yard, talking to tiny, invisible winged creatures. But it's fun and not entirely without spiritual purpose. Continuing her blessing, Perry explains why it's important for us to embrace the fairies. As children, we start off with an unwavering belief in magic, seeing fairies and other magical entities around every corner. But that changes as we grow up.
Perry recalls her own fairy story for the group. At 9, she thought she'd swallowed a fairy. Her parents told her—in the kindest way—that that wasn't possible. "It's not long before we start hiding the magic from others," she explains. "Then we begin hiding it from ourselves."
The result? An adulthood of onerous practicality, out of touch with the credulousness and openness of childhood. In the spirit of regaining that sense of wonder, Perry gathered her closest fairy friends for a Saturday night in Fairyland.
Special guests were on hand: a sculptor and painter named Arielle, wearing flesh-toned fairy ears, and a psychic named Amanda. With oversized glasses magnifying her eyes and a full head of spiral curls, Amanda introduces herself to the circle with a brief history of her psychic ability, which began when "they were spooning pabulum into my mouth in the highchair," she says. She also plugs her psychic jewelry line. She makes most of it herself, she says, but some she buys wholesale. And when it comes to fairy stories, Amanda says, her own foresight and some fairy magic saved her sister's California land from a trio of advancing forest fires. How? "I called her up and said, 'I need you to start talking to fairies.'" Everyone chuckles. Amanda advised her sister to put saucers of milk in the woods around her home; the forest fires receded.
With the introductions out of the way, we continue to mingle. I meet a short man named Glen over at the iced-tea table; he tells me he has healing hands and has had for about 49 years now.
"Are you still having problems in your lower back?" he asks me.
I rack my brain trying to think of times my lower back has hurt. I sleep wrong sometimes, I guess. So I give him a tentative nod, wondering where he's going with this. He steps behind me, places his fingers along my spine and does a couple of quick whooshing motions away from my back. A few minutes later, he passes me near the porch door.
"That thing you've been worrying about for two weeks?"
As a world-class worrier, this challenge isn't figuring out if I've been worrying for two weeks, but to narrow it down. My relationship? Deadlines at work? Global warming? The war in Iraq? Paper or plastic?
"It's going to be OK," he says. I decide his prediction applies to everything I've been worrying about for two weeks, which is partly true because I still have a boyfriend and a job. So maybe Al Gore's efforts will not be in vain and that little Iraq scuffle will be cleared up in no time. To be honest, I still feel a little apprehensive about the paper versus plastic dilemma, but we'll see how I feel the next time I hit up Fiesta.
As I finish up a heaping plate of spaghetti and meatballs spooned out from big aluminum dishes in Perry's kitchen, I'm flagged down by Aaron. Aaron is the man with the machine: an Evenstar 6000 Photonic Multiwave Oscillator System. Tucked away in a makeshift tent in Perry's side yard, the Evenstar looks like an old, boxy CPU with a cylinder-shaped ring of glass tubes sticking out of the top. Filled with gases, each tube glows a different pretty color—orange, blue, yellow and red. The set-up wouldn't look out of place in an '80s science fiction movie. It costs $8,000.
Aaron explains that this is a take-off on Nikola Tesla's famous electric coil from the '30s, an electronically charged machine that emanates waves of power strong enough to—as Aaron demonstrated—light up a nearby light bulb without plugging it into anything. People sit next to the machine to "heal" all kinds of ills, from cancer to chronic pain.
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When I tell him I have chronic stomach problems, he tells me to stand close to the glowing machine and expose my stomach. Recalling the thousands of dollars I spent last year in medical costs, I figure I'm ready for just about anything. So there I stand, fairy wings, cowboy boots and bare tummy just inches from a buzzing Evenstar 6000. Back in Perry's living room five minutes later, I'm feeling pretty confident, so I load up another plate of acidic cherry tomatoes and fatty ranch dressing. Take that, intestines! I defy you with my glowy electronic thing-a-ma-dooger.
By now it's nearing midnight, and partyers are trickling out to their cars, leaving their wings behind on couches and countertops. There are hugs all around as I make my way toward the door, getting warm wishes from all the psychics, healers and fairy friends who were kind enough to let a reporter into their midst.
"Well, what did you think?" someone asks. "Were we foo-foo enough?"
I think back on all the wayward politicians, skeevy businessmen, money-grubbing preachers and self-important celebrities I've written about over the past couple of years and decide that this fairy-winged group doesn't really come all that close to crazy. As a perfectly happy Perry had said days before about being woo-woo: "We know we are. And we don't mind."