Richard Simmons: Aging recluse or prisoner of black magic?

Richard Simmons, the exercise guru famous for his almost impossibly upbeat demeanor and Swarovski crystal encrusted tank tops, has disappeared from the public eye. It’s been nearly three years since his last public appearance, a CNN interview on New Years Eve in 2013 where he teared up at the the thought of not being able to help enough people. (He did recover by the end of the segment though.) Apparently, it’s not just the public that hasn’t seen Simmons in years, but even some of the people who considered themselves among his closest friends have no idea what is happening with the 67-year-old health icon.

In a lengthy report in the New York Daily News, several people close to Simmons explained that he cut off all contact with them around 2014, often times with no explanation. One such example in June Park, a woman who runs a wig shop in Los Angeles that Simmons was known to frequent. Park tried to bring Simmons flowers on his 66th birthday but was met instead by Teresa Reveles, Simmons’ housekeeper of nearly 30 years. Park said Reveles wouldn’t allow her to see Simmons and was told, “He doesn’t want to see anybody right now.”

Park explained that she did not believe Reveles, and most of the testimonies from Simmons’ former friends seem to point to a combination of Reveles, Simmons’ manager Michael Catalano, and his brother Lenny Simmons preventing anyone from contacting Richard.

The oddest comments, however, come from Mauro Oliveira, Simmons’ former assistant and masseuse. Much of the story focuses on him, as he was willing to speak at length about his uniquely close relationship with Simmons. Throughout the article, Oliveira keeps making references to magic and evil spirits:

I think it was (caused by) black magic, witchcraft. That’s not close to your culture, but to my culture in Brazil, and to Mexicans…That is a real thing. They invoke the spirits. They light black candles, and red and blue candles. I’ve never participated. I only saw from a distance. But at services, they do special meals. They offer meals to the bad spirits, and light candles, invoking with words.

When speaking about a trip to Europe he was initially hesitant to take, Oliveira says, “It’s extremely hard to explain to you how someone is when they are tormented by a bad force. That’s the thing. Fucking Teresa is putting black magic on him. Like I put in the book.” The book he’s referring to is an e-book called “King Rich and the Evil Witch,” a fictionalized telling of what he thinks is happening to Simmons through the lens of a fairy tale.

Of course, evil magic is a weird explanation for Simmons’ sudden disappearance. Even Oliveira himself seems to have a more plausible understanding of what could be happening:

I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life. Controlled in the sense that they are taking advantage of his weak mental state. Controlled in the sense that they are controlling his mail, controlling his everything. His brother, the manager and Teresa. Those three people.

Catalano denies all of this. “Richard is enjoying life at home after a 40-year career of traveling the world and inspiring people to take better care of themselves,” he says. “He is working on several projects and continues to encourage those that need his help.”

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Simmons is just old, tired, and completely burnt out. Perhaps he can’t bring himself to explain that he no longer wants certain people in his life, and this is how those truly close to him are choosing to protect him. It’s impossible to know. Hopefully he’s happy and not somehow being held captive in his own home. Whatever is going on with Simmons, though, it probably isn’t the result of magic.

[New York Daily News | Photo: Getty]