“…for that is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives.”
With every passing year, that line from Ed Wood’s camp classic Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) rings truer. Why? Because in an era where the medium is the message, this particular message was delivered by a medium.
Of course I’m talking about Los Angeles television psychic Jeron Criswell Konig, better known as The Amazing Criswell, whose status as a cult legend was sealed by becoming a member of Wood’s posse. In addition to narrating and appearing in Plan 9, Criswell also appeared in Wood’s Night of the Ghouls (1959) and had the starring role in Orgy of the Dead (1963).
But Criswell was also a star in his own right. He gained notoriety in the ’50s and ’60s for making outlandish predictions of the future, first locally on channel 13, and eventually nationally through appearances on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. He was also an eccentric soul whose many claims to fame included wearing heavy cake makeup in public, sleeping in a coffin (allegedly), and having his very own song, recorded by his friend, actress Mae West.
Heading into a very literary weekend with the Festival of Books, it’s as good a time as any to re-explore Criswell Predicts: From Now to the Year 2000! (Droke House, 1968). Now celebrating it’s 40th anniversary, Criswell’s first book made astonishingly innacurate predictions that range from the government-sanctioned rise of homosexual cities in the U.S. (1970), the assassination of Fidel Castro (also 1970), the very first interplanetary meeting (1990 in Las Vegas), and the destruction of Earth itself in 1999.
A few choice predictions from Criswell’s book after the jump.
On birth control:
I predict that birth control will no long be a major problem in the United States. Placed in the water system of the country, in every city, regardless of size, will be chemicals which will act as contraceptives on the entire populace. In addition to this, the electricity that comes into each home will have certain ionic particles that cause contraception.
I predict education will be given children through the television screen, no personal teachers, but there will be a warden on duty to see that one-hundred per cent interest is sustained. Later, education-memory pills will help give you all of the education you can possibly use.
I predict that Broadway plays will soon have casts entirely in the nude and depiction of the sex act, normally or perverted, will not be unusual. This will mark a renewal of legitimate theater for it will mean that such acts may be portrayed in theater before they will be portrayed in movies.
On plastic surgery:
I predict that by 1980 you will be able to lift your own face in your own home for only $5.00. A new chemical will be developed in our Veterans Hospital for battle scar tissue will soon be available to the public. You will buy it by the jar, put it on your face and in three days look half your age.
I predict there will be no newspapers, as we know them today, operating after 1980. Today many television stations are owned by newspapers and are an adjunct of the daily paper. After 1980, the reverse will be true: newspapers will be fed into the home via television transmission, where hard copies of print-outs will roll out of the set each morning and afternoon, complete with photos, features, etc. And because television is under government control, every newspaper will be under government control also.