Miss Cleo is an icon. If you were alive and watching TV in the 90s, you saw plenty of Miss Cleo’s commercials. They seemed to be on all the time, on every channel, day or night. Miss Cleo is the pseudonym of a playwright, artist, and pyschic whose real name is Youree Dell Harris. Miss Cleo was born August 12, 1962, and she rose to fame mostly thanks to her role as the spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call service that ran from 1997-2003, under various names. Other names Miss Cleo has used in her career include Cleomili Harris and Youree Perris, and she’s worked in many different fields, including the theater, TV advertising, and even spent a few years in the early 2000s working as a car salesman. Miss Cleo has lived an interesting life, to say the least.
Here’s one of Miss Cleo’s famous commercials. If you’re like me, watching this YouTube clip of a Miss Cleo commercial will take you right back to the 90s, to the days of Super Nintendo and Crystal Pepsi, to a time when MTV still played music videos and the Internet was mostly used for chat rooms and message boards. Check out this clip for a classic dose of Miss Cleo.
Her commercials seemed to run all the time. There’s no telling how much the company paid for her near-constant presence on the TV. If you search YouTube for Miss Cleo, you’ll come up with hundreds of clips just like this; her commercials seem limitless, and there’s no lack of awesome Miss Cleo quotes to be found online and especially in YouTube videos.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding Miss Cleo’s Jamaican accent, which was revealed to be a put-on. The Federal Trade Commission brought a lawsuit against the parent company of Miss Cleo’s services, and though Miss Cleo was not indicted, the fact that she was born in Los Angeles, not in Jamaica, came out during testimony. So the whole “Miss Cleo” thing was an act, and if you watch enough of her clips on YouTube, you’ll hear the inconsistencies in her accent. Sometimes she sounds extremely Jamaican, other times she slips and she sounds more American.
But does it really matter if Miss Cleo was putting on an act for the TV cameras? The company that hired her to do the commercials, which was never convicted of any wrongdoing or false advertising, also paid her to put on a persona, that of a Jamaican shaman. Miss Cleo was just doing what her bosses told her to do; something we all do, day in and day out, to pay the bills.
Regardless of whether or not you think that the whole fake Jamaican accent thing has any bearing on her abilities as a psychic, the services she provided were very popular for the six or seven years that they were in operation. When Access Resource Services, known better as the Psychic Readers Network, was sued by several state governments in 2001, the charge was that Miss Cleo and her parent company were using false claims in advertising. But the company was never found guilty, and in fact, testimony emerged during trial that “many customers were satisfied with the service,” according to Consumer Affairs magazine.
Miss Cleo Quotes
The commercials and clips on YouTube that you see when you hunt down Cleo’s videos always include a few standard quotes. One of the most memorable is “Cleo Can See Your Life,” followed closely by “Call Miss Cleo Now.” The commercials for her service are a real hoot, not just because the Miss Cleo character is funny, but because of the way the callers interact with her.
No commercial for the Psychic Readers Network would be complete without Cleo’s trademark “Callllll me now,” complete with a big smile and a thick Jamaican accent. Later commercials included the phrase “Call me now for a free tarot readin’,” and when users would call the 1-800 number associated with the service, they’d get a free pre-recorded tarot card reading, followed quickly by offers of further services, each for an additional cost.
One thing about her commercials that always stood out to me was when she’d ask “What question would you have for me in YOUR tarot readin’?” While the commercials were mostly sound clips of her doing live tarot card readings for her customers, that question always stuck in my head. I never called Miss Cleo’s Psychic Readers Network, but I remember thinking about that question any time one of her commercials came on, which was quite often. Being interested in psychics, fortune tellers, and tarot cards, I must admit that the commercials did a good job of cementing Miss Cleo in my head.
More Miss Cleo Quotes and Clips
Sometimes, the commercials for her service centered more on clips of her talking live to her customers, such as this memorable commercial where Miss Cleo chides a woman for giving all her money to her boyfriend:
I love it when she says: “You run around lookin’ like a pauper and he runs around looking GQ.” Coupled with her Jamaican accent, the line is just plain funny. I guess that’s what made Miss Cleos commercials and quotes so memorable, the combination of her accent and the Jerry Springer-style stories and gossip being tossed back and forth between Cleo and her clients.
You don’t see much of her these days. The Fuse network, a sort of MTV-style music and pop culture TV channel available on cable, hires her occasionally for specials, interviews, and advertisements. Other than that, Miss Cleo has fallen out of the public eye. If you place a call to her old psychic hotline, you’ll find that the service has ended, and another company now owns the 1-800 number used by the Psychic Readers Network to offer Miss Cleo’s shamanic and tarot reading services. But even though the Miss Cleo character is gone from our TV sets, for the most part, it’s hard to get her voice and her quotes out of your head. For a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s, Miss Cleo was easily the best-known and most popular medium in America, and maybe all over the world.