On a recent Saturday night in Miami Beach, a boozy crowd of fashion designers, stylists and fabularies were fortunate enough to see two very different concerts from two very different anti-divas: the astrologist Susan Miller, and the “other” Knowles sister, Solange.
This was in Miami as part of the hotel’s 10th anniversary blowout, a sort of wellness retreat meets extravagant love-in that stretched over three days. Scott Studenberg and John Targon of Baja East and the hat-maker Gigi Burris were among those in attendance, as “camp counselors.”
For anyone who has ever read Astrology Zone, having Susan Miller around, in close proximity, is almost like being near Suze Orman or Tony Robbins — someone who can look at you and tell you in two words what you should do with your life. I would have thought that people like that would be tired and exhausted by the hungry, desperate eyes of the masses wanting her words of wisdom, but Miller, it turns out, loves to talk.
She is exactly like her writing style — prolific, upbeat, occasionally spinning off into tangents like a satellite knocked from its orbit. During her special talk, the audience gathered on pillows in the lobby and she told long stories about each sign’s future year. She told Aquarians that “buckets of money will fall out of the sky on you,” and that Geminis need to “work on the home” because “next year is about love” (it’s about time, says, this Gemini!). Leos need to ask for what they want, and March 8th, for Taurus, is all about “love, love, love.” September 25th is supposed to be a hugely lucky day for all us mortals.
While she talked, she told the audience about her own life, how she begged her mom to teach her astrology, and that she borrowed money to create an independent website back in 1995. A short association with Disney was cut short because [former chief executive] “Michael Eisner seemed to think that the Internet wasn’t a good investment,” she said.
As we all left, a fellow guest asked another guest, “Am I wrong or did she not mention anything about Pisces?” “I don’t think she did,” the friend replied. Then they stood there and look at each other with somber, long-suffering Piscean eyes.
At times during her talk, Miller would mention the influence of a planet that just sounded like the influence of everything, like how Neptune was about a litany of qualities that I think I remember involved love, home, security and the self in the universe. But then she would mention a moment of uncanny synchronicity — like how every Libra in the room had recently moved — and all of us were back to being spellbound.
One audience member asked a question about himself and his twin brother, who were born a minute apart and were diametrically opposite. “I’m gay, and in the arts, he is straight and conservative.” Susan Miller didn’t hesitate for a second. “I’m really glad you asked that!” she said, and then explained that she would need to see where their houses aligned because being a minute apart can make a huge difference. Watching her work was watching a professional: someone whose mind is as swift and spinning as a comet.
This is a sales woman. At her talk, she joked about how she would rather “have a root canal than have her picture taken,” but her salesmanship was on fire. Miller’s business approach seems to be about abundance. Anyone with Wi-Fi can read their detailed, wordy horoscope on her site. But she has an app, low-fee personal chart readings through her website, makes personal appearances, and now has a 2016 calendar. This is a person whose business plan is to give them more to get more.
“I am going to give you so much good knowledge tonight,” she said at the start, plugging her calendar expertly and proudly. She was tireless, and did a great job making you believe, fully, that planetary alignment controls our lives, at least for a couple hours. But that’s just me. Sometimes I believe in astrology, and sometimes I think it is total hogwash. Maybe it’s because I am a Gemini and see both sides too easily.
After Ms. Miller held court, the crowd gathered in a circular garden in the center of the Standard Spa’s courtyard and waited for Solange. She came out dressed like a goddess in a metallic dress and cape, and proceeded to make a cynical audience who has seen it all fall in love with her.
This was not just because she looked like a ethereal forest sylph, and not just because she sang beautifully, but because she was approachable, funny, and shattered the stereotype of the over-confident hip-hop diva. “Please disregard this area,” she said, motioning to her lower tummy. “It’s really hard to sing and suck in your pooch from the holidays.”
Her music, which is softer, moodier, and more on the spectrum of Charles Mingus and Roberta Flack than her older sister, is perfect for an intimate acoustic concert like this. I saw the singer in a new light, as an experimenter and future jazz artist, evolving in all the right ways as an artist. Accompanied by musician David Ginyard on keyboards and bass, she sang a few songs, including Rehearsal Becomes a Session, apparently a song on her upcoming, still-untitled new album, and Topanga, “which is really just four lines” about her wish to move somewhere remote and convince her lover to do it, too. A highlight was her rendition of the 1985 Kate Bush song Cloudbusting, which she bestowed with a dreamy, fluid quality. “I sang it at Coachella and no one knew it. The audience was like, ‘What?’ It tells you [something] about the audience in the festival circuit,” she told me later.
Closing out the night with an encore performance of her hit "Losing You," everyone sang along like they were around a campfire. “She never does encores!” someone said. She took her bow and exited with her cape fluttering behind her. “I just want you to get the full effect of the cape,” she said, before gliding off.