No. No, no, no, no, no. Not me. Uh-uh. No. Never would I believe it
if someone told me I’d be sitting here talking to you about my
relationship with a dead creative genius: my muse, Anthony Newley.
That’s crazy. Maybe other people have experiences like that but not me.
And yet I look back upon my life and see that following my inner
guidance has led me into some strangely luminous, numinous places.
Performing on Broadway was my only goal in my early years. I don’t
exactly remember when I became familiar with the work of Anthony
Newley, but he instantly mesmerized me. The songs he wrote. The way
he sang them…his voice, his hands. If I could be like anyone on stage, I
wanted to be like him. He lit the fire that blazed my way to Broadway.
And I did have an early career there, performing in seven Broadway
shows before the age of twenty-four. It may have been where I started,
but it sure isn’t where I finished. Because AIDS struck. Before my eyes,
friends and associates in theater began dying. Virtually an entire
generation of directors, choreographers, sound and lighting designers,
actors, singers, and dancers were cut down in their youth. For the arts,
it was devastation.
I left Broadway, moved to Florida, opened a school of the arts, closed a
school of the arts, began doing dinner theater, then started singing in
Palm Beach nightclubs. AIDS followed me. Soon my friends were dying
there, too. When AIDS took my pianist and musical partner, I finally
broke. Grief nearly killed me and there was no support back then for
someone mourning her gay friend who played the piano. His death
brought me to my knees in a dark pit of suffering I thought was endless.
But it wasn’t. When I finally emerged, I decided I would learn everything
I could about death and dying. Never would I be so blind-sided by death again.
I studied everything I could on death, dying, and what might come
after. Soon I was either working or volunteering with hospice
organizations all over the country. After eighteen years of
companioning the dying, I intuited a process for communing with the
dying, especially with those considered “unresponsive.” It was about
creating a sacred space and perhaps sharing a bit of the journey the
dying inevitably undertake. That process was put forth in my book The
Art of Death Midwifery: An Introduction and Beginner’s Guide. I am gratified
to say nearly ten years later the book still sells and is used by some
hospice organizations as a textbook.
I was tutored in the art of death midwifery by a group of inner teachers.
Once the book was published, I felt them melt back into the mists. It felt
very lonely after having their company for so long. However, by then I
was a member of a Western mystery school and dedicated myself to its
study. I didn’t realize it, but that study was to prepare me for the next
phase of my work. The shift into that new work arrived in a stunning
way. Through many instances of synchronicity, during my second
Saturn return, it became startlingly clear that my work would evolve
from a focus on the dying to a focus on the dead.
So once more death was my teacher. This time it arrived in the
awareness of my first husband who’d died a year or so previously.
He just…appeared. Not physically to my eyes but his essence, his
energy, his life force was unmistakably present. Not just present, but
through those synchronicities putting me in touch with people here on
Earth who could fill me in on his life after we separated. Over time he
made it clear that my new work would be communing with the dead.
Now that was a bit startling, as I do not have any innate skills as a
medium, not that I am aware of. The talent I do have is in working very
hard to develop talents I don’t have.
My studies included reading everything I could find by Rudolf Steiner,
a brilliant mind considered one of the finest clairvoyants of the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries on connecting with the dead;
classes with several mediums, local and across the globe, unknown or
infamous; and finally mentoring with Dr. Raymond Moody. More to
come on those two men in a bit.
All this study resulted in my starting a blog about my transition from
death midwife to one who speaks with the dead. It is the Community of
Spirits and can be found at communityofspirits.org.
My first husband made it clear that he was not the destination of all this
new study. He was merely the gatekeeper. Over time, I felt his presence
slowly fade into the background much like my inner teachers did after
publishing my first book.
The next step was to clear out my time to be able to better focus upon
the work I was tasked with doing. That was a bit traumatic. It required
me leaving the Western mystery school, something I never anticipated. I
figured I would grow old and die in that community, but it was not to
be. Making all that happen was messy and painful. After leaving I found
myself sinking down deeper and deeper into—what? I had no clue. None.
Nothing. I sank down into nothing. At one point, I surrendered to the idea
that maybe I was done with this life’s spiritual development and practice.
Soon, I was alright with that idea.
Then it was the winter solstice and a lightning bolt of inspiration hit,
setting me afire with knowing. I knew what my new work was. And Lady
Synchronicity had her way with me once more.
It started with my second husband and I watching a concert by Barbra
Streisand on Netflix. We are great fans of hers. Towards the end she sang
a few duets. The last one she sang was “Who Can I Turn To?” written
by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the
Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd. On a huge screen to her side played a
clip from The Ed Sullivan Show in which Anthony Newley performed that
song. Something went off inside me like firecrackers. It was the first time I’d
seen Mr. Newley perform this piece and it was staggering in its perfection.
Here was a man, dead for nearly twenty years, totally upstaging perhaps the
best female voice of the twentieth century.
We immediately went onto YouTube and found the clip. Watched it
over and over. I was shaking and unable to go to sleep that night. And there
he was: my creative and performing idol, dazzling me after all those years.
I’d lost touch with him sometime in the seventies but now he was back—
and he had a lot to say…
FEBRUARY 8, 2018
Me: Maybe it’s a sign we should start there. With your Gracie, your mom.
Tony: Okay, she’s here now with me. Not now, now she has other things to
do, but I was there for her when she crossed over and we did spend a good
bit of time trying to untangle the knots of our life together this go-around.
Tony: Well, most importantly, I’ve forgiven her for trying to abort me, for
leaving me when she fell for my stepfather, keeping me a secret for several
Me: Let me just interject this quote from Chaplin here, if I may.
Tony: I was on a bit of a roll there, but if you must.
Me: I think it’s pertinent to this conversation. Towards the beginning of
the play Chaplin’s brother Syd says of their mother, “After years of slaving
to keep us alive…”
Tony: “…her mind simply slipped away. But you were too young to understand
and you never forgave her, did you Charlie? So you just took revenge
on every woman who ever loved you.”
Me: Yes. Who is really speaking here?
Tony: Oh please, Madame Freud. I never tried to be anything but transparent
in my shows. Of course, it’s all about me. Well, except the part about his
hoarding money. Money flew from my hands faster than I could make it.
Me: But back to your mother. You said you’ve forgiven her now.
Tony: Yes. She loved me the best she knew how and took care of me the best
she knew how. I’m not sure about her mind just slipping away. Hers was
always a little on the shy side of a full tank to run on in the first place. But
she strove to do her best. And really that’s all we parents can do in the end,
isn’t it? We’ll never get it right. I surely didn’t, but that we try...
Me: When you were making a lot of money during your cabaret days, you
hired a private detective to find your biological father.
Tony: George, yes.
Me: And he found him.
Tony: Yes, he did.
Me: And you did what I guess all children of divorce do.
Tony: Though this wasn’t even divorce; the sod never even married her, told
her to get rid of me, abort me, and though he sent a pittance to her for my
care at first, that dried up early and she was on her own.
Me: Yes, not a candidate for father of the year, yet you wanted to find him,
to maybe get to know him and he to know you.
Tony: You can tell I’m still working on forgiving him.
Me: No judgment here, Tony. I think what you did was very lovely, and it
broke my heart just a little.
Me: You set them both up in a lovely apartment and gave them an allowance
when your father had plenty of money of his own. He was a successful
businessman and really didn’t need your money.
Tony: “Can’t Buy Me Lo-ove,” to sing a bit of my friends’ song. (a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
Me: You tried, though.
Tony: Yes, I guess I did. I wanted them to be happy together, to live a
happily-ever-after so that I might believe that one day, I could too.
Me: Heart breaking a bit more over here.
Tony: It is a bit heartbreaking, isn’t it? And foolish and puerile and naive
Me: Sweet. It was an act of kindness and hope. But it didn’t work.
Tony: No, I suppose it never does. I’m glad I got a chance to know him a bit,
though I couldn’t say I liked him. And I always thought he’d be tall, very
tall as he’d gown to be in my imagination. But he made me look Herculean.
And ultimately, I wondered, “How on earth did I come from these two?”
Me: That’s where I was heading. It’s another point of connection that joins us.
I wondered the same thing about my parents.
FEBRUARY 9, 2018
Tony: So, what was your story?
Me: I told myself that my true parents were from another planet with a very
advanced race. They traveled to Earth on a special mission and left me in
the care of this Earth couple while they worked. They would come back
for me when they were through but something terrible happened to them
and they never came back. I’ve been longing for my true home and my true
parents ever since.
Tony: I’m sure your analyst had fun with that one.
Me: Yes, the classic yearning for God and the life to come beyond this one.
What was your story?
Tony: Oh, I’d say more of a classical Greek mythology. One where my
mother—seems Gracie and I are bound to each other in this life and others—
is made love to by a great white swan who is actually a god (shades
of Zeus here), then leaves her, the randy bastard, for other conquests. I am
born a demi-god but tasked with at least twelve labors I’ve struggled with
the rest of my life. Not too grandiose, heh?
Me: If these fantasies we create as children help us survive, really, what is
Tony: What, are you saying I’m not a demi-god?
Me: [Laughing] Well, you are to me, and I imagine to quite of few others
Tony: That’s sweet. Thank you, Jo-Jo.
Tony: I’m sure you’ve noticed my habit of giving the women in my life silly
little pet names.
Me: Yes, I have. Am I now a “woman in your life”?
Tony: You’re a woman in my afterlife and I’m continuing the tradition.
Me: Well then, I’m honored to be your Jo-Jo, and I promise not to wince
when I hear it.
Tony: You’re going to need a bit of practice on that one.
Before working with spirits, Joellyn St. Pierre spent over twenty years in theater, performing in seven Broadway productions, including A Chorus Line and Pippin. While many of her friends suffered from AIDS, she studied death and dying, which led her to another twenty years as a death midwife, communing with unresponsive patients.
A lifelong spiritual aspirant, she learned the ancient Greek culture's rich history of communing with the dead under the mentorship of Dr. Raymond Moody and has also studied with the medium James Van Praagh.
St. Pierre now resides in Virginia Beach with her husband, Richard, and their three dogs, Bodhi, Leela, and Nestor. With a passion for reading and education, she is always learning something new. Once teleportation is invented, she intends to travel more.