Backside to the future

Sunday, January 16, 2005

MIAMI -- It's 10 minutes before the show goes live on the air, and nobody predicted the developing dilemma.

The show's gossip reporter is having second thoughts about dropping his pants on live television to have his buttocks read by local television psychic Professor Jose Miranda.

"What about reading it over my underwear?" asks the reporter, clearly upset and looking very serious.

"I can't see the lines. How do you expect me to give a reading?" the oracle answers, just as serious. "I have to see the lines."

Following an ardent debate, the producers of the phenomenally popular and raunchy late-night talk show La Cosa Nostra on Spanish-language WJAN-TV Channel 41 finally conclude Miranda must ascertain somebody else's future.

Given the show's popularity, and Miranda's buzz that has made him an overnight sensation, the 53-year-old Little Havana soothsayer and self-proclaimed "rumpologist" should foresee no problem finding volunteers.

The program's highly rated rump-shaking segments of scantily clad models and the flamboyant theatrics of Argentine co-host Javier Ceriani have taken a back seat to Miranda's revealing fortunetelling.

As it is, on the strength of its other features, the nightly show has been one of the most talked-about programs in the Miami-Dade County area for more than a year. Its grade-school humor exploits are recounted and potty-mouthed catchphrases repeated on Spanish-language radio stations everywhere.

But ever since Miranda appeared on the show and read the fannies of some of the show's regulars, the alleged ancient psychic art form has become the butt of the show's jokes.

"The show has taken a different turn, if that's even possible," segment producer Francisco Chinea said. "He's become the show's most important celebrity. We can't have him on the show enough."

Since his first appearance on the show in late November, the producers have twice invited back Miranda, including one recent show devoted entirely to readings of "nalgas," Spanish for buttocks.

Using bamboo sticks dipped in scented oil and crystals -- though they may appear like garden pebbles to the untrained eye, Miranda assures they are "crystals specially imported from the Orient" -- the butt oracle traces every line, curvature, dimple and imperfection of a person's posterior. He does this, of course, with a straight face.

"The left cheek is the cheek of the future," Miranda said. "The right cheek is the cheek of the present. Your love life, your money, your career, everything is there. It's no different than reading a palm or someone's eyes."

Miranda is quick to dismiss his detractors, saying his clients have expressed no complaints and have come back for more. At the same time, Miranda admits that many are bashful about baring themselves in front of him. Fortunately, the magic of technology is available.

"A lot of them prefer to e-mail me their pictures," Miranda said. "I encourage them to send one with a high-resolution."

The trouser-dropping phobia became evident during Miranda's most recent appearance on La Cosa Nostra. With the gossip reporter refusing to go on, and with most of the regulars already having had their behinds read recently, Edwuin Bautista, a disk jockey with radio station WCMQ-92.3 FM, volunteered from the studio audience to be the final spectacle.

Moments later, with the closing credits rolling and the entire studio in hysterics, there on the other end of Miranda's bamboo stick was Bautista's droopy and follicle-adorned rump beholding a fortune.

Both appeared bleak.

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