Theresa Caputo, arguably the most recognizable psychic medium there is, has been entertaining, comforting and freaking out fans for nearly a decade with her popular TLC reality series Long Island Medium (not to mention her live events and best-selling books). And now, with this month’s launch of the show’s 14th season, it’s clear Caputo’s got no plans to slow down.
“I’m always excited about a new season,” the big-haired, big-hearted resident of Hicksville, N.Y., tells Yahoo Lifestyle, stopping by the studio to discuss the show, her fame and what she calls her “gift” — the apparent ability to channel others’ thoughts and emotions, particularly those of the dearly departed. Past seasons have seen her not only perform countless readings for the bereaved — in private homes, at arenas and, more spontaneously, in supermarket aisles — but deal with life’s many up and downs, including a house renovation, a separation and then divorce from ex-husband Larry, and now, in Season 14, wedding plans for one of her two children, 25-year-old daughter Victoria, who was once bullied online over her weight gain.
“That was hard,” Caputo recalls. “To watch my daughter be so upset because someone she didn’t even know was telling her that she was ugly, she was fat… [People] have to realize that there’s a person. They’re just posting a comment, but there’s a real person with feelings on the other side of that computer.”
With her divorce playing out on air, she adds, “It was something that helped people. I’ve had men actually come up to me and say, ‘I’m so grateful for what you and Larry put out there.’…It just shows everyone that we are all the same.”
With the focus on Victoria’s wedding, the medium hopes to show a joyous side, too.
“She’s totally not a bridezilla,” Caputo says, adding she’s pleased that her daughter’s been taking it slow. “I’m involved because I am JP Morgan Chase at this point!” she adds, following it with one of her signature belly laughs. “But I try to take that back seat, I try not to be overbearing. I just try to take care of everything.”
Eight years into the TLC series, Caputo admits she’s still not accustomed to her fame —even though she gets recognized everywhere she goes (and has even been accused by a gobsmacked stranger, in the aisles of Target, of “impersonating” Theresa Caputo!). Of a Manhattan restaurant outing with her son recently, she recalls, “I’m walking in first and everyone’s like, ‘Ah!’ and I’m like, to my son, ‘Someone’s here! Who’s here?’ and he goes, ‘Ma! It’s you! Just keep walking!’ I forget sometimes,” she admits, launching into another big laugh. “Like, ‘why is that person taking a picture of me in the airport? That’s so creepy!’ I forget.”
Caputo adds, “I don’t view myself as a reality television star. [But] I don’t hate it. Because if people know who I am, then they’re aware of my gift.”
Though she’d been using it, unwittingly, since the age of 4, that gift is something Caputo says she only learned how to harness in her 20s; that’s when she was suffering from “debilitating anxiety,” prompting her mother to take her to a spiritual healer, who taught her how to channel, rather than suppress, her energies as a medium. Once she understood what was happening, she was able to let go of the anxiety.
“What I’ve learned is that I’m empathic, so my main way of communicating with Spirit is through feeling,” which can, of course, be taxing — but not as difficult as not channeling, she says. “For me, it takes more energy for me to block Spirit… and I went an entire day — you’ll see on this season of Long Island Medium — without turning off Spirit, and it really wasn’t a good idea. I mean, it was a good idea, because there were so many people that received amazing and beautiful messages that day, but I looked drained.”
While much of the earlier seasons of Long Island Medium focused on Caputo’s readings for all manner of regular folks, the later ones have also turned an eye on celebrities, with Season 14 bringing high-profile readings for Tatum O’Neal, Wayne Brady, Louie Anderson, Michael Fishman, Taylor Dayne, Kate Flannery and more.
“It’s actually harder for me to read someone if I know something about them [such as with] a celebrity… They might already come in with that expectation of, ‘She knows, my life is public,’ but it just isn’t so,” explains Caputo. “That’s the thing about Spirit — whether you’re a celebrity or not, with every healing message that I deliver, Spirit has to validate it with something unique to the person that I’m speaking to. So, it might be something from years ago that you forgot about, it could be something that happened since your loved one passed, it could be something that you never shared with anyone here in the physical world. Just to really validate that your loved ones hear you.”
Among Caputo’s A-list reading recipients has been Kim Kardashian, who “had a very beautiful and amazing experience, and it was such an honor and a privilege to share my gift with her.” But more importantly, Caputo adds, was that “she trusted me with the souls of her departed loved ones.” (At the Yahoo Lifestyle studios, Caputo wound up giving impromptu readings to three staffers, including this writer, as she apparently channeled two grandmothers and a brother.)
These days, although she’s put the anxiety of not understanding spirit channeling behind her, Caputo’s got another source of stress, albeit a more welcome one: the readings themselves.
“I have to feel someone’s pain, their sorrow, their loss and their grief — and then, in the next moment, I have to make what I do seem very easy,” she explains. “It is the hardest thing that I do — stand in front of someone and allow spirit to take us on this emotional rollercoaster of feeling all of these negative emotions and then, in the next breath, Spirit telling us to embrace life with happiness and joy. That’s hard. But that’s what we need to do. Spirit doesn’t want us to stop living because they died.”
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