Two magicians, a private investigator and an actor team up to bring down a double dealing scumbag raking in millions. It reads George Clooney and Brad Pitt short of a Vegas heist flick. In reality, it’s the story of the crew, lead by The Amazing James Randi, that successfully embarrassed vile huckster Peter Popoff.
A television preacher, Popoff made millions with a traveling road show where he “interpreted the word of God” to find victims of Earthly ailments and “healed” them by with “God’s power.” In reality, as was sussed out by Randi, Banachek and others, he listened to his wife read a list of names she’d gathered from prayer cards with ailments on them then yelled.
In his opinion column on Wired.com Randi goes over some of the behind the scenes details for those that haven’t read his opus on the subject The Faith Healers.
My team then — the mentalist Banachek, private investigator Alec Jason, postman-turned-actor Don Henvick, and several others — visited Popoff “revivals” in several cities. The clincher came when Henvick disguised as a woman named Bernice, was “called out” (The Holy Spirit had notified Popoff of her need for healing, you see) and was cured of uterine cancer, even though he lacked a uterus.
Now, that is a miracle.
It’s an incredibly sad tale made sadder by the fact that Popoff is still making a living. Which only means you are doing a good service by continuing to pass along Randi’s findings.