Bull Valley magician Joe Diamond is a man of many talents, but come Halloween time he provides a more unusual service.
Diamond, 27, has been called upon several times – 30 to be exact – to remove Ouija boards from people’s homes. Apparently, individuals who bought the Ouija boards – also known as spirit or talking boards – used them and later became fearful of the game’s alleged bad luck and historical association with evil and the paranormal.
“Study after study has shown that when people are placed in a dark room, their brains create ‘ghosts’ and create connections that make them afraid,” Diamond said. “It’s the ‘Jaws’ effect. Once they get scared, people are afraid to get back into the water.”
Diamond said he’s not exactly sure why he has become the go-to guy for removing the boards that were regarded as an innocent parlor game back in the 1890s. The boards are marked with letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0 to 9, the words “yes” and “no” and occasionally the words “hello” and “goodbye.”
The magician/entertainer removed one Ouija board for a homeowner and eventually, through word of mouth, other people requested his services. This time of the year, the requests for Ouija board removals spikes, Diamond said.
“I originally posted a picture on Instagram when I removed a board and eventually other people called me asking if I could take their board,” Diamond said. “I have a lot of followers in the Goth culture and word spreads.”
Most people seeking Diamond’s help are merely creeped out by the boards, he said. Very rarely has anyone ever stated something specifically happened to him/her after using the game. One woman said she started hearing strange noises in her house at night after she and friends played the game.
“She lived in a 90-year-old house that had bad plumbing,” Diamond said. “She ended up calling a plumber about five days after I removed the board.”
Diamond doesn’t charge for his services in McHenry County. He’s happy to take the boards and keeps the ones he likes for his collection. His leather wallet bears the embossed design of a board. His iPhone case is decorated with the design of a board, as well.
“It certainly keeps people from stealing them,” Diamond said.
Diamond has amassed quite a few boards over the years and said even most antique stores won’t carry the games anymore.
“It’s kind of funny considering how many antique malls in the area have a reputation of being haunted,” he said. “People often get them, use them and pack them away because they were scared of the phenomena experienced. It eats away at them how much they want to get rid of it, but are frightened to even touch it again. That’s when they usually come across my Instagram feed and ask if I would be willing to take the board off their hands.”
Diamond does not consider himself a superstitious man, but for the sake of the homeowners, he always wears gloves while removing the boards and burns sage in the houses once the boards are out.
Grateful homeowners have offered Diamond gasoline money (to travel to their house), cookies, rosaries, prayers and even spiritual protection.
Diamond said he is fascinated by the board game because of how it is misunderstood by the public at large.
“If you sit down and learn about the fascinating history of the board, you would learn it was the cause of America’s first patent battle, its ties to literature and pop culture and the science behind why it works,” Diamond said. “You will see it’s not all the horror movies make it out to be. It almost seems, this day and age, people prefer to avoid learning about the things that scare them and just try to get rid of them. And if that’s the case, I’d like to try and bring some people some peace of mind during this spooky time of year.”
Diamond estimates he will extract another 10 boards before year’s end. He will display his antique Ouija board before his show titled “Paranormal” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at The Listening Room at the Dole Mansion/ Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. Discounted advanced tickets can be purchased at JoeDiamondLive.com/Halloween. Anyone interested in having a Ouija board removed can email Diamond at firstname.lastname@example.org.