The astrologer Susan Miller perched on a wooden cube in the basement of what used to be Barneys. “I’m going to start a museum for taxpayers,” she said, “and I’m going to be the blockbuster exhibit.” There’s no truth to the rumors that Apple partially owns Astrology Zone, the Web site that Miller founded in 1995, where her monthly horoscopes draw 1.3 million unique readers. The I.R.S. has audited her seven times, she said, without finding a single error.
Miller was at the Madison Avenue space to give a talk, gratis, in connection with Louis Vuitton, which has installed a pop-up display called “200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries.” The company asked two hundred somebodies (including Miller) to design a trunk to mark the malletier’s second centennial. Archivists passed her Vuitton’s birth information, and she drew up his chart. “If I was in the hospital when Louis was born,” she said, “I would tell his mother that her son would be very successful.” The Miller trunk looks like an haute school science project: space-blue on the exterior, with a circular aperture that reveals the inside, where orbs representing Saturn and Pluto hang. Saturn, she said, “is very similar to Balanchine. He was a hard teacher, but the things you get with Saturn you never lose.”
Miller does not disclose her age or birth date. (A fair guess would place it sometime in the nineteen-fifties.) Readers would have a field day if they could draw up her astrological chart, she explained. The reticence about her age enhances her Upper East Side grand-dame élan. The spirit of Barneys was alive in her look: flesh-toned flats, a rose-printed sheath, drop earrings peeking through her blowout. “I love Dolce & Gabbana,” she gushed, pronouncing it “dol-say,” thumbing a crucifix hanging from a necklace. Celebrities (Pharrell, Kerry Washington) are her friends. Machers in fashion come to her for counsel. “Cynthia Rowley, she had a bad date for the fashion show. Mercury’s turning, too many models cancelling,” Miller recalled. Rowley took her advice and changed the date. Miller also helps novelists flesh out characters when they get stuck.
Her verbosity is legend. Each horoscope tends to run more than three thousand words. She writes from her couch or in bed, with “Law & Order” playing in the background. An unspecified illness, at fourteen, kept her in bed for a year. She lifted the hem of her dress to reveal a scar on her leg. When her health problems cause her to be late with her horoscopes, which happens often, her followers can get miffed. “I’ve had forty blood transfusions,” she said.
Her mother, whom readers know as “Little Mom,” practiced the astrological arts. She told her daughter that she would be a writer, and that, around the age of forty, she’d begin working with a new form of technology. Susie chased her mother around as she vacuumed, hungry for more information. “She said there are little invisible dots or lines that go through the air that have something to do with your writing,” Miller recalled. “She predicted the Internet!”
As a young woman, Miller abandoned her dream of becoming a photographer, and became a photo agent instead. Directed in part by Little Mom, she studied astrology, and became accredited in 1995. She recently launched an online community called Susan Miller’s Stars. To become a member, you must buy one of her N.F.T.s, for $199.99. She also sells a Cosmic Beauty box of “mostly full-size products,” for forty dollars.
Once thirty-odd people had assembled, Miller picked up a microphone and asked, “Did anybody have a terrible day today?”
A security guard nodded, as did some audience members. “First of all, this isn’t a girl thing,” Miller said. She talked about a meeting she’d had with Time Inc., in the nineties, and bristling at an executive’s suggestion that she write her horoscopes with women in mind. In ancient Mesopotamia, she said, male leaders consulted astrologers to protect their citizens. “I’m friends with a mathematician from Harvard,” she said.
Returning to her question, she said, “I had a very hard day. Someone at the company left and still has the company computer. We haven’t backed it up yet.”
A Capricorn raised her hand: “My partner told me he may be moving to London.”
“I think moving to London is exciting,” Miller replied. The Capricorn looked chastened by Miller’s optimism. An Aquarius with a topknot raised a hand: “My best friend of eight years, we just had our first fight.”
Miller asked where she was from. “Kazakhstan? You’re the first person I ever met from your country.” She suggested that the friends go on a vacation to “a happy place, like New Orleans.” She advised a lovelorn Sagittarian publisher to “get away from your computer and socialize until the month of May.” To a Libra in hot pink who needed real-estate advice: “Don’t close until January 18th.”
Miller was surprised that not many Pisces had shown up. She says that they’re generous. “Barron Trump is a Pisces,” she said. “He’s going to give away his father’s money to philanthropy.” ♦