and lows of her life channeling information from the "other world." She describes her book as "tender" and a "love story to my work." It is also an homage to growing up in Buffalo in a large, close-knit Sicilian family. Along with her brother Frank and her sister Rosemary, both of whom share Iacuzzo's psychic abilities, lacuzzo spent winter days as a child mesmerized by Buffalo's snowy landscape, as she writes:
One morning after my parents left, Frankie guided us through the house with our eyes closed. "Now girls, place the palms of your hands over the eyes. And no peeking!" He pulled us by our shoulders one at a time to the side door. Lowering his voice, he said "Now it's going to feel very cold, but you'll never forget what you 're about to see. Don't open your eyes until I tell you to." He opened the door with one quick swoop and a blast of frigid air hit us smack in the face. Frankie shouted out, "Now open your eyes. May I present The Miracle of the Magic Colored Snow! Ouuuuoooo." Outside on the landing was a case of soda pop that had been left out by mistake. In the freezing cold the carbon-ation made the bottles explode and all the pop ran out leaving a rainbow trail in the snow. The lime green, cherry and pineapple soda made a magic-colored staircase. We believed in Frankie's extraordinary powers.
Yet, from an early age, Iacuzzo's perceptions of the world carried with them forceful personal impressions,
ONE STEP BEYOND
BY MELISSA SANDOR
F or Terry Iacuzzo, life can best be defined as "out of this world." Literally. As the youngest daughter of Mary and Andy lacuzzo, psychic, and author of Small Mediums at Large (published by Putnam in January), lacuzzo has spent her life honing her psychic abilities, first on Buffalo's West Side where she grew up, and then on New York City's Lower East Side during the last three decades of the twentieth century.
It is a gray and rainy Tuesday evening when I climb the steep flights of stairs to Iacuzzo's walk-up apartment on Prince Street in Little Italy. I hear her voice by the time I hit the third floor landing, apologizing and encouraging me to continue the climb up the remaining two flights in a mellow, even tone. Iacuzzo's grounding quality strikes me immediately and continues to impress me as we talk.
I am initially surprised by her petite stature and the fact that she looks, well, "normal," dressed in a coral-colored blouse and black pants. She invites me in to her doll-size apartment and offers me tea. We sit at Iacuzzo's kitchen table, her cat Carrie snoring away on the floor next to us, the cat's head rest-
ing on a toile-patterned stuffed pig. We begin talking as if we are old friends from home.
lacuzzo speaks of her life as part expedition, part "magical mystery tour." She is clear about the psychic responsibility she feels, describing is as a "gift," as well as the intense anxiety and consistent interruption her abilities continually create as she ventures out into the world:
"It's not something I can turn off. I just choose not to 'go there.' Restaurants are the worst. People have so many issues around food and hunger. When I walk into a restaurant I am bombarded by it. My friends know, I have to sit with my back turned to the other people or I would never be able to concentrate and enjoy the time. Then when I get up to leave, I can take a quick look around to admire the decor."
Iacuzzo's memoir, Small Mediums at Large, is a testament to the highs
SOMETHING FORCEFULLY SHOVES ME AGAINST THE TUB. I'M STARTLED. AN ORNATE MAHOGANY BED COMES FLYING INTO THE ROOM OUT OF NOWHERE.
evident in the shadow they cast on her daily life:
/ thought the whole world came to a com-plete standstill in winter. Frankie, Rosemary and I spent long days together inside the house. We'd wake tip and it would be snowing, we'd go to bed and it was still snowing. From the window in our living room, we'd watch the parked cars and houses vanish under white mountains. I was never afraid of being bur-ied alive by snow. I wished for it.
Iacuzzo's psychic vivacity came to its full flowering in New York City during the late sixties and seventies. Since that time, she has read for peo-ple from a wide array of backgrounds and experiences: world-famous movie stars, heads of state, writers, and Wall Street brokers, as well as waitresses, dancers, and priests. However, Iacuz-zo is quick to point out that the questions people ask differ only slightly, usually focusing on love and career, Iacuzzo refuses to tell tales out of school. (No names of clients are ever revealed.) She opens her book with a particularly compelling account of a broken-hearted young woman who came to her for a reading:
/ look at this woman at my table and I can hardly remember who she is. She's smiling, watching me, eager to hear what I have to say. What's happening here? I recognize the feeling. Abandonment. Someone just walked out of my life without any explanation.
I look around the room trying to reconnect with myself. In the corner, my old stove from the '40s; its clock always says five after four. One the wall, the green shelf where I keep my tea pots. The refrigerator. The bathtub.
Something forcefully shoves me against the tub. I'm startled. An ornate mahogany bed comes flying into the room out of nowhere. ...I see a magnificent wedding gown and a veil carefully laid out in the center of the bed. They're sleeping, preserved in a dream."
Iacuzzo's approach to her clients is compassionate, peppered by a tone that is direct:
Your boyfriend was a romantic, telling you all the things you wanted to hear. He went with you all the way through the wed-ding plans and then he called it off. I've got to tell you, he's done this before. Twice! Did you know this?
lacuzzo continues in a characteris-tically straightforward manner:
Listen, you're lucky he called off the wedding. You would've been miserable with him. I can see his whole life. There never was going to be a marriage between the two of you. He was planning to run away one month after he met you. I could look into the reasons why he behaves this way, but that won't change anything for you. You were just a character in his confusion.
When asked about the value of her work, as well as her own belief system, Iacuzzo's response is energetic:
I'm constantly changing. And not only me. We all are. We're changing, transforming, redefining. Even if you're not thinking of it. Your internal awareness is constantly imagining, changing.
...The difference with me is I am always thinking about it. I am always feeling it. I am in this place inside myself that is undiscovered. I want to go in there. So, "Do I believe in past lives?" is a question that is sa small. ...I know that if you want to say, "Did I live there before!1", probably. I have strong ties to Venice and Amsterdam, England, Scotland, parts of the Old West. I do believe in cell memory. I think that the way all of us are born is from each other. ...and I think our whole bodies hold memory and sometimes that goes to the brain.
Since September 11, Iacuzzo has given up personal readings. However, she does continue to practice her psychic work. She has begun to work with patients in comas and has an expressed interest in assisting medical researchers. In addition, she is already thinking about her next book, an exploration of the power of money in people's lives.
As is so often the case for native Buffalonians, it is to Western New York that our conversation eventually returns. Iacuzzo relaxes into her chair and speaks with fondness, conjuring up dreamy musings of the city that maintains its strong presence in her psyche:
My favorite place in the world is Niagara Falls. Oh, and the Albright-Knox, and I love the Psych Center. 1011 have dreams that I'm
hi Buffalo. It's so in my unconscious, it really is. I have dreams of the houses. I have dreams where I still look in the windows. You can go for a drive and look at those houses, and see the people and just dream. Oh God, it does something to me."
Melissa Sandor is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.