John Edward, peripatetic psychic | San Diego Reader

The Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, where the land meets the sea, and where John Edward plans to reach from this world to another.

I just got off the phone with John Edward, the self-described psychic medium who came to prominence around 20 years ago on the television programs Crossing Over and Cross country, through his appearances with Larry King and Oprah, and through countless public psychic readings. But Edward’s career as a psychic began long before his stardom. He grew up in a family that was at least partially hospitable to the possibility of psychic phenomena — his father was averse to it, but Mom and Grandma were interested — and says he identified his abilities while still a child. He had some guidance from an older psychic mentor who took a special interest in him, and began working in the field when he was just 15 years old. He started small, doing psychic fairs, readings for individuals, and parties that he jokes were “like Tupperware parties, but with a psychic instead of Tupperware.”

That was nearly 40 years ago. Now, Edward is touring, and on April 22, he will be hosting coming to a live event at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel on Harbor Island. Edward has been to San Diego before, as well as lots of other places in California. He prefers to be near the ocean if he can be. “I’m a water person”, he says. On one of his last visits, he held his event at a hotel Downtown where he met and befriended Jo Frost, the Supernanny. He took his niece to see the seals in La Jolla. Now as then, he will be offering the audience his services as someone who — through the perception of symbols, letters, numbers, or personal presences — claims to be able to connect people here in this world with those who have left it already. That is his specialty.

John Edward: “I’ve been doing this for longer than most people ever have.”

I wrote “audience” above, but when I use that word in conversation with Edward, he lets me know that there are no spectators at his events. As he puts it, “Everyone is in the pool,” and nobody should expect to not get wet.” Though Edward says that “the accuracy is the same” for readings done in person as for those that happen remotely, he also says that there is a special “energy” — a word he uses frequently, in various contexts — in the live events. In fact, he tells me that one of his producers for Crossing Over once said he wished that the show could somehow capture the feeling of a live event. Something more like being at a concert than seeing a recording of it. This makes sense to me: a live event allows the person in the “pool” to feel the charged expectation of seeing a man at the front of the room who is a reputed bridge to another world. The crowd buzzes with anticipation. They gasp in recognition when he gets something right. Doubters have their sense of what’s possible expanded. Tears flow as people experience what feels like reconnecting with their lost loves.

When I talk to Edward, I am of course curious about what he says he is perceiving when he is doing a reading. I note that it seems he sometimes reports whole names or words, while other times, he gets just a letter or a number. “I wish it was always the same,” he tells me, but it seems it’s just the case that levels of psychic clarity vary. He may get whole names or words, or he may get something more suggestive, less well-defined. All he can do is work with what he gets. He sometimes repeats a motto he received from a mentor: “You don’t always have to be right, but you have to try to be as accurate as possible”. He says the specificity of what he has in mind is what gives him the confidence to be insist with the reading — and adds that his doggedness once earned him a comparison to a terrier from a fellow psychic.

Edward can seem insistent while he is reading, engaging his subject in a way that probably looks pushy to skeptical eyes. It may look like he is playing on a person’s suggestibility. I ask him about this, and he says that he is not concerned about pushing people, because if something is there, “then it’s there.” He describes himself as reporting what he senses, even if it is there amid a less-than-ideal murk. And once he has something in his perception, he says that his “brain is like a runway” and that he has to “air traffic control what’s there,” getting things out of the way and moving them along.

He also says that some people don’t realize that “there needs to be a connection” between himself and the “sitter” — the process has to be collaborative. When he sees evident resistance, disinterest, or a forcing of the experience away from whomever or whatever is “coming through,” he will even stop the reading. “The face,” is his shorthand for this reaction, which I’m given to understand often comes accompanied by certain face. “I’m not a big fan of the face,” he says.

I appreciate comments like that one, and when he tells me at the interview’s start, “You do you,” and when he says that he thinks many psychics are “lazy.” These serve as reminders that this medium is also a New York guy, the Irish-Italian-American son of a cop who was raised, and still lives, on Long Island. He curses once or twice during our conversation, and he talks a good deal about his family.

At one point, I admitted to Edward my surprise that he would want to talk with someone like me — Oprah I ain’t. He said that he treats interviews and media contacts of all kinds as important: they are ways to reach people with what he does, and he believes that people are brought together for a reason, whether those people are the ones who end up as producers of his TV show, or a client for whom he is doing a reading. He believes that if even 10 people see an interview he does, those 10 people are important.

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