May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

IN THE LATE 1980s, PAMELA SERURE was a high-powered Manhattan fashion executive suddenly flattened by a mysterious illness she blamed on fumes given off by remodeling work in her loft apartment. Flulike symptoms led to crippling pain after two years, and as her weight fell from 105 to 88 pounds, Serure, addicted to a stew of prescription drugs including Fiorinal, Valium and codeine originally prescribed after a car accident, felt herself slipping away one evening. “A light was shining. My friend, who had died, was waving to me. A peace took over me,” Serure recalls. “Then I saw my friends pounding on my chest, administering CPR. I knew I didn’t have to go—that [if I died] I wouldn’t have the integrity that I wanted in my life. I didn’t want to die for no reason. It was a turning point.”

So Serure went cold turkey on the drugs, spent a month at a hospital detoxifying and began a quest that went from the lectures of Marianne Williamson (about love and conquering fear) to getting magnets taped to her earlobes (to balance her energy) to long walks on the beach and sessions of screaming yes and no at the top of her lungs (“to release my strength”). It all went into Serure’s spiritual Cuisinart, and out came a new idea: Bring in the juice, throw out the gunk. Three days of fasting—with only fruit and veggie juices allowed—combined with spiritual renewal is the “spring cleaning for the mind and the body” that she lays out in her new book The 3-Day Energy Fast. “Our bodies want to be lightened,” says Serure, 45, who now lives alone in a two-story, 1910-era Long Island farmhouse. “It’s like a three-day fix to jump-start you back to life.”

Serure has been searching within herself since the time she believes she saw an angel hovering over her sickbed as a little girl. Growing up in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, N.Y. (her father, Hyman, 72, owned discount retail stores, while mother Gloria, 66, was an interior designer), she also inherited the need to feed. “My family,” she says, “was into food. They’d serve you 30 dishes in 10 minutes.”

Life in the fasting lane attracted Barbra Streisand and Christie Brinkley to the author’s Bridgehampton, N.Y., juice emporium (now closed). “I think it was one of the most powerful things I’ve done, because I felt so different,” says designer Donna Karan, who wrote the book’s foreword. Two years ago, the then-46-year-old Karan was exhausted—until she met Serure, who stormed in, unplugged the phone and started her on the juice plus meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. “It was like starting a fresh page on life,” Karan marvels. “It’s like giving yourself a present.”

Harvard nutritionist Dr. George Blackburn, who warns that fasting can cause arrhythmia, is skeptical. “You can’t really cleanse the gastrointestinal tract with a juice fast,” he says. “[But] it does give some people a high. There’s no medical benefit, but for energizing and focusing, it could be a kickoff to a change in lifestyle.”

To Serure, fasting is much more than that; she calls it “a spiritual process on the path to growth and transformation.” She credits her own rebirth to her cocker spaniel Sage, whose companionship helped heal her. Sage’s advice? “She taught me the way to get well is to play a little, eat a little, rest a lot and play a little more.”


ELIZABETH MCNEIL in Bridgehampton

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