Genie Cum Laude, famously known as just “Genie”, was first made popular by the book One Thousand and One Nights in the 9th century. Since then, he had made special appearances here and there. It wasn’t until a gazillion year later that he made a real come back as a female form in the American series I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960s. At that time, he adopted Barbara Eden as his stage name.

He once rubbed shoulders with iconic figures such as Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, Robin Williams (who did the voice over for his animated role in the 1992 Waltz Disney production of Aladdin) and of course, Larry Hagman. Christina Aguilera is purportedly one of his biggest fans.

As Genie has the ability to appear in different shapes, sizes and forms, his real appearance remains as much a mystery as his real age today. What we do know for sure is his ability to grant his master 3 wishes (due to global recession, it was reduced to 1 in recent years). This ability made him the World’s 8 Most Powerful Personalities in history by Forbes magazine.

He shares this title with Julius Caesar, Qin Shi Huang, Peter the Great, Mahatma Gandhi, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mao Zedong and Teddy Roosevelt. However, his ability also earned him the title of World’s Most Beloved Person for 50 consecutive years (until Mother Teresa came along), which none of the other 7 achieved.

Last week, we saw a world in mourning. Genie announced his retirement at a press conference in Cairo. He was quoted as saying that he is no longer needed in this world and he is ready to retreat into his lamp forever.

Yes, Genie also inspired the Rock & Roll Genie tees.
Yes, like our own supreme controller Lord Bobo Barnabus, Genie also inspired a range of tee shirts. Seen here is the Rock & Roll Genie tee.

The Malaysian Invader (TMI) was granted an exclusive interview with Genie.

Given the long history you have, could you give us a summary of the most significant things you’ve done in your life?

(Snorts) I’m a Genie. Most of the time, I did what my master asked of me. So, if I’ve ever done anything significant, it won’t be because of me. One may say that my decision to retire is perhaps the only significant thing I will be doing. It’s my decision solely and that’s a very very rare thing for me.

Can you actually do that? I mean, do you have the power to retire?

After working as a slave for more than 12 centuries, granting an average of 3000 wishes a year, I think it’s reasonable that I’m calling it quits! Don’t you think? (Laughs out loud).

OK, if you mean whether I can actually do this, yes, I can. I just can’t tell you how.

Who were the most memorable personalities (not masters) you’ve worked with? Please keep it to two.

Wow, this is a tough question. After more than 1200 years, it’s hard to keep track of the people I’ve met or worked with.

If we’re talking about more recent times, I’ll say Robin Williams. He was interesting because he turned me into this funny and crazy character. I would love to be that Genie in Aladdin (winks).

I also like Bill Daily who played Roger Healey in I Dream of Jeannie. He didn’t allow Larry Hagman to pull any crap on him.

Genie in the 60s in the hit show I Dream of Jeannie. Biting her hand is co-star Larry Hagman.
Genie in the 60s as Barbara Eden in the hit show I Dream of Jeannie. Biting her hand is co-star Larry Hagman.

Speaking of I Dream of Jeannie. What was that all about? Were you in debt?

You don’t say! That was the most humiliating thing I had to do. I begged them for a stage name and they gave me “Barbara Eden.” It wasn’t easy since I hate the name “Barbara.” But what could I do? Master said he wanted to be famous.

Wait. You’re telling me that your master at that time was…

Uh huh.

Rumours have been going around that one of your famous masters include Rosmah. Can you verify this, please?

(Looks around in a sheepish expression)

Rosmah? Who’s Rosmah? I don’t know anyone called Rosmah!

(Looks around and starts whistling)

How does it feel like to be in the same list as personalities like Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahatma Gandhi, etc.? Do you think Adolf Hitler should have been in the list?

Well, the list is for the World’s Most Powerful Personalities in History, not the World’s Most Congenial Personalities. So, I think Hitler should have been in the list. A man who was responsible for the death of 6 million Jews was definitely powerful, much more than Mahatma Gandhi. I think he had a more successful campaign than Gandhi.

Maybe you should ask Rosmah (whoever she is) this question. (Laughs out loud)

What are the most popular wishes that people ask for and what is the most bizarre wish that you’ve asked to perform?

Human beings are so boring. They always seem to ask for the same things. They lack imagination and this in many ways, has contributed to my retirement.

They often asked for immortality, wealth, power, love, fame, beauty and of course, the most popular of all, for more wishes.

(Yawns, yawns)

The most bizarre wish I had to perform was to ensure the death of a master’s nemesis. I think that’s more stupid than bizarre. I mean, she could have wished for invincibility or anything that could have effectively prevented her from being harmed by her nemesis, but no… death was the only solution she asked for.

Again, I’m often bored by the stupidity of human beings. Excuse me for being so brutally honest.

Why do you feel you’re no longer needed? Are people finally happy with their lives?

Whether I like it or not, I’ve become redundant. People often think that I can perform miracle and that I’m the only one who can make the things they want come true. They think I can make them happy.

Take for example, an overweight 18-year-old girl once asked me to make her thin. She wasted her one wish for this when she could have taken control of her weight if she had wanted to.

Some people had asked me for world peace. I always told them that this wouldn’t last long because the next day, someone else would ask me to perform an evil deed that would inevitably affect the world adversely. For world peace to sustain, everyone must be united. It’s not an individual quest.

Women who asked for beauty often ended up cursing me. Their beauty became an object of envy and hatred from others. Instead of being happy, they suffer from sexual harassment and isolation from other women.

It’s the same for those who asked for immortality, wealth and power. They often ended up being alone and questioned whether the people around them were indeed their true friends or not.

My long experience tells me that human beings have this innate nature of being unhappy and destructive. I no longer want to partake in their miseries.

Final question: We heard that you were *ahem* good friends with Larry Hagman after staring in I Dream of Jeannie with him for many years. He of course went on to appear on the soap opera Dallas. You don’t by any chance know whether J.R. did shoot himself in the final scene, do you?

(The Malaysian Invader was unable to obtain an answer for this question as Genie disappeared into thin air.)

For those who may have more questions or comments for Genie, please write in to us. He told us that with his new iPhone 4, he is reachable via email 24/7. Please do refrain from asking him for wishes.

Ka Ea used to be a globe trotter. She has lived in Timor Leste and Afghanistan while working as a civic education and human rights officers for the United Nations. She then tried to be a full time housewife...