Strange but true

More tales from the beat

Lea Thompson, Dateline NBC We once conducted an entire interview in Dallas using a “bra cam.” We were exposing a fortune teller and her lucrative racket. Sandra Thomas, the producer, was shooting with a hidden camera embedded in a tiny crystal necklace attached to her bra. We’d already paid the fortune teller $1,200 to supposedly help save Thomas’s marriage, but now she was asking for an additional $11,700 to build wax effigies in the desert to rid Thomas of her “guilt” and save her husband from certain death. The fortune teller fled with our $1,200 when we revealed who we were, but her father agreed to give us an interview. He insisted, though, that there be no NBC camera crew; Sandra would have to shoot the interview with our hidden camera. He made us sit on this very low couch, affording him a better view. Not missing a beat, Sandra crouched over, put her hands on her knees, and used her legs like a tripod. Our crew couldn’t resist videoing this bizarre scene through the window; we could hear them laughing so hard they were crying. But we got the interview.

Jeff Kramer, freelance writer, Syracuse, NY The Boston Globe sent me in April 1992 to get reaction to the acquittal of the cops accused of beating Rodney King. I was trying to report the story in South Central Los Angeles, when my car was surrounded by maybe a half-dozen thugs. They tried—but failed—to pull me out of the car, and then one of them shot me twice in the lower left leg. I tried to drive away but couldn’t gain much speed because they’d shot out my tires. As I was leaving the scene, I was shot in the upper back. I managed to keep driving and found a side street where kids were playing on a lawn. People in that house and their neighbors offered to drive me to get medical help, though by then the entire area had exploded into an all-out riot. They dropped me off at a Unocal gas station that was being used for medical triage purposes. I was in the hospital for three days. I had no lasting effects from my injuries, though the .38-caliber slug that hit me from behind remains embedded in my upper torso.

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Marla Jo Fisher is a staff writer, blogger, and columnist for the Orange County Register.