Eight hundred and sixty thousand of Housing and Urban Development’s taxpayer
dollars were recently discovered to have gone to Michelle Lusson’s “Creative
Wellness” program, an assortment of New Age treatments including incense
burning, lucky stones, sexual healing and color therapy. Scheduled to be
taught in public housing centers in 26 cities across the country, the program
gave whole new meaning to the term “Voodoo Lounge Tour.”
After some digging, the New York Post’s Brian Blomquist uncovered invoices in
the “Creative Wellness” project for expenses including $3,240 for color
charts, $6,270 for gem bags, $3,174 for incense packs, $6,255 for aroma oils
and $624 for nutrition kits that included sugar, salt, candy and Jim Beam
whiskey. All the funds were drawn from HUD’s drug-fighting budget.
Here’s the way it works. In step one of Ms. Lusson’s feel-good recipe for
“Creative Wellness,” public housing residents are identified as one of 14
different types, determined by pinpointing the weakest and strongest glands
in their bodies.
In step two, “Wellness” professionals who are gifted in something called
“Applied Kinesiology” find out which one of the “gods” or “goddesses” each
public housing resident represents. A woman may be, for example, a “Minerva,”
and a guy may be an “Apollo.” Step three, the healing, is about getting the
Karma right, lighting up the right incense aroma, wearing pants and hats that
color coordinate with one’s gods, glandular points and goddesses.
Ms. Lusson, with zero professional training in medicine or nutrition and an
$860,000 federal contract in her pocket, gave the Post an example: “If you
have a thyroid disease or an obesity problem, you don’t wear red around your
neck. All other colors are fine. Certain colors aggravate certain energy
systems in the body that have an impact on the glands, like red on the
And if the crackheads in your building are staging rooftop pit bull fights
and flinging the underdogs to the street below? “Rose is kind of a universal
odor that will go right to the brain stem and relax you,” says Lusson.
“Lavender is also a calmative for the brain stem.” And if there’s a shortage
of sex? “If you have low libido and you’re adrenal type D, the smell of musk
stimulates the creative urges in yourself to get up and go.”
All this sounds like a lot of fun, and who knows, some of it might even work.
Right now, as I write, I think it’d do me good to hear James Brown singing
“I Feel Good” enveloped in a purple haze in a white room with black curtains
and the scent of musk and clove flavored incense floating through my limbic
region, but why should the taxpayers fund it?
Taxpayers, hardworking and practical people that they are, want us to keep
our crystal visions to ourselves and pay for them too. They pay for their own
creative wellness, after all.
I can just imagine what Gary the auto body guy
would say about his tax dollars funding mood rings and goddess religions
since he has to pay for his own good vibrations after a 12-hour shift
rebuilding wrecked cars. He pays for his Merlot and 7-Up Spritzers with the
money he’s earned pounding dents and ripping fenders.
His brother who owns a
tanning salon mellows out with Stoli’s Ice Picks and Frank Sinatra singing
“My Way.” Donny the bus driver’s Dr. Feelgood is Captain Morgan Original
Spiced Rum with Coke in the biggest glass you can get while dancing to
“Memory Motel.” Cathy and Phil who work for the post office drink Cuervo and
Coors Light and play “Take This Job and Shove It” to keep from going postal.
Other locals, more spiritually inclined, stand all night in a four block line
waiting for Virgin Mary images to appear on the wall of a Brookline dormer.
Rosary beads or love beads, whatever gets you through the night.
A spokesman for former HUD head Andrew Cuomo blames Lusson’s $860,000
contract on a “rogue action by a lone civil servant.” In fact, the money was
handed to Lusson by HUD bureaucrat Gloria Cousar, a longtime friend and
co-worshipper with Lusson in a church in Herndon, Va., known as the
Center for Holistic Healing, and approved by Howard Lucas, a Cuomo political
The whole thing may be seen as nothing more than an attempt by co-worshippers
Lusson and Cousar to get a jump on the idea of delivering “faith-based”
solutions to poverty, a concept much loved and religiously promoted by the
Bush team. In any case, whether it’s the wrong “faith” or wrong incense, the
program’s been axed by the White House.
“The upper echelon of Washington really doesn’t know the needs of the
people,” says Lusson, offering as testimony a letter from a woman who was
sleep-deprived for years in Alabama’s public housing until she met her own
black magic woman in Lusson’s curative powers. Now she sleeps like a baby.
The cure? “I cleaned out my closet,” she explains, “and removed the
Ralph Reiland contributed to this column.