Approximately 7 p.m. on a recent Sunday, psychic medium Joseph LoBrutto III begins burning sage in a small classroom of the Sunshine Cathedral complex in Fort Lauderdale. The classroom’s door is locked, and all of the windows are duct-taped with black plastic tarp, as if preparing for a mild hurricane. Once the evening’s event commences, nothing and nobody is supposed to enter the room—nothing living, that is.
LoBrutto, whose genial face is framed by the flowing black mane of a romance novel cover model, has gathered about a dozen paying visitors for a “Spirit Transfiguration Séance,” a supernatural performance with roots in Victorian England; it’s part of a weekend of events hosted by the Metaphysical Chapel of South Florida. Under the soft glow of a single spotlight in a pitch-black room, LoBrutto is about to enter a trance and allow spirits to physically take shape on his person, througha veil of ectoplasm that he says will appear in front of his face.
LoBrutto has said that, in the past, guests have seen departed loved ones, Native American chiefs, Asian women, Abraham Lincoln—even a tiny baby—transpose themselves in front of LoBrutto. At one event, LoBrutto recalls, 45 people watched him levitate a table 5 inches off the ground.
He tells us we may also see flashes of light, objects materializing out of nowhere (called apports, or gifts from the spirit world) and random knocks on the walls. Needless to say, not every medium can do this. Some will say that no medium can do this; it’s one of the more incredulous phenomena in an already incredulous field.
As the spotlight casts LoBrutto’s face in a barely perceptive flicker, tonight’s event begins with an inexplicable smell: a perfumelike fragrance wafting through the air that LoBrutto says is another common occurrence of spiritual contact.
For the next 35 minutes, backed by a steady musical drone, it looks as if LoBrutto’s face is being molded like Play-Doh into an ever-changing Rolodex of visitors, few of them sticking around for more than a second. Guests call out what they see, per LoBrutto’s request: “I just saw my father.” “I saw my son.” “I see a pregnant lady.” “I see a Mongolian man.”
To continue reading, please pick up a copy of the July-August Boca Raton magazine.