There’s nothing I love more in this world than an astrology gimmick that promises—based on nothing other than the day and time I was born—to give me all the answers about myself, my life, and my tendency not to be rich. So once TikTok’s algorithm started sending me videos of CoStars Pop-Up Astrology Box in Soho, I ran to Iconic Magazines faster than I run away from dating Capricorns. (Just kidding...kind of.)
The box has been inside the infamous magazine store since May 1, but it was Julia Fox’s TikTok (isn’t it always) that finally alerted everyone to its existence on May 5th. “Ok so I came to Iconic Magazine to pick up the New York It Girl issue and they didn’t have it but they did have this!” Fox says in her best I-definitely-just-stumbled-upon-this-and-totally-wasn’t-asked-to-come-here-and-make-a-TikTok-about-it voice. “Which is an astrology machine, I guess?” Wow, great guess. (Also worth noting she’s wearing a “Follow me! I’m a cult leader” tank top.)
But whether or not Fox was (for sure) asked by CoStar’s social team to guerilla market their big white star box for them is not the point. We love the box! CoStar is a ridiculous app whose algorithm does nothing but induce existential panic with alerts and “horoscopes” that feel like a combination of your mom’s worst critique of you, your sixth-grade bully’s meanest insults, and all the thoughts your therapist thinks but would never dare tell you—but some days, that’s exactly what you need. Is this box a 2023 version of the fortune teller games you’d pay $10 for at amusement parks and boardwalks? Yes. Did it quote a Roman poet at me? Yes. But is it free? Also yes!
The box has five categories from which to choose a question: Self, Love, Expression, Social, or Work. From there it gives you about 20 different question prompts—of which you select one—ranging from the standard (“Am I in the right career?”) to the masochistic (“What do people say about me behind my back?”) to the stupid (“Should I be a DJ?”) to the just walk away and call your therapist (“Why do I feel like I need my friends more than they need me?”). You input your birthday, birth time, and birth city, it takes a little picture of you, makes some whirring sounds, and then poof: It spits out a CVS-looking receipt with a grainy-ass black-and-white photo and the “answer” to your deeply personal question.
The woman behind the counter told me she’s seen people “coming back twice a day,” usually before and after work. And since I was there at 8:30 in the morning before work on a Friday, I had time to ask four different questions before another woman lined up behind me. I selected “How do I make more money?”, “What is my secret knowledge?”, “What is a truth I’ve been ignoring?”, and “What should I being doing with my life?” I regret not selecting the prompts that ask if I should trust AI or if I should get into crypto, but I suppose I can always go back for that one before the thing vanishes into the abyss on May 28.
- As to how I can make more money, it told me, “Don’t be afraid to shine your light,” and said I must utilize my “unique skills and talents.” It is an odd comfort to finally learn that the only thing holding me back from making millions is that I guess I’m too scared to shine.
- As to what I should be doing with my life, the box said “exploring many different paths,” which—what other option does a millennial in this economy have? (This question was also where the box threw in a quote from Roman poet, Ovid: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Sure!)
- And what’s a truth I’ve been ignoring? Apparently, “As the saying goes, ‘Emotions are like the weather. You can’t control them, but you can learn to dance in the rain.’” OK, Drew Barrymore.
(Note: My Sagittarius sun, Mercury, Mars, and I will be keeping the answer to “What is my secret knowledge?” to ourselves.)
I’m only now realizing that “What’s a truth I’ve been ignoring?” and “What is my secret knowledge?” are essentially asking the same question, and I fully wasted the opportunity to gain more insight from this thing. But until I am compelled to return to the box, you can find me awkwardly doing a little jig in public the next time it drizzles here and then cheering as I watch the millions pile up in my bank account.