Over the past year, my views on psychic and supernatural phenomena have grown from those of a total nonbeliever to a reticent accepter, thanks to a number of enlightening bits of reported evidence I’ve discovered. But I remain something of a skeptic, especially toward television psychics. Having seen enough “documentaries” that fudged the truth and lied by omission, I know that it’s all too easy to edit a product into the desired result. I’ve seen Theresa Caputo provide astonishingly accurate and impromptu readings on her hit show “Long Island Medium,” but I’ve always wondered how many psychic “misses” were left on the cutting-room floor. I can buy psychic abilities, but not reality television.
So I jumped at the chance to see Caputo ply her trade in a live setting, to witness and verify, face-to-face, her psychic gifts. Last night, she “performed,” if that’s the right word, in front of a crowd of 4,000 at Miami’s James L. Knight Center. Wearing a glittering dress and sparkling high heels, she opened with a few jokes – “I can do two things: I can talk to dead people and work an iPhone with these nails” – before getting right down to business, offering nearly two hours’ worth of uninterrupted readings with guests from the first few rows all the way up to the highest nosebleed seats in the auditorium.
The way Caputo put it, the spirit world guided her toward certain people. It was as if she had a thousand radio stations blearing in her head simultaneously, delivering information in a sea of static, and that it was her job to block out the noise and channel one spirit at a time. She probably read a couple dozen teary-eyed groups or individuals over the course of the evening, and the specificity of her readings was astounding. She started with universal questions – “who lost the brother around here?” or “who lost the loved one in a car crash?” – only to offer details that no one in the physical world could possibly know, from funereal flowers made into a piece of jewelry to an athletic field named after a departed loved one to the presence of balloons released in honor at a child’s funeral to the exact name of a loved one tattooed onto a young girl’s foot.
To one mother, Caputo mentioned the importance of a set of earrings; the woman confirmed that prior to the show, she asked her daughter, in spirit, to communicate to Theresa about those earrings. Even when Caputo was seemingly way off-base, she wasn’t. A reading that struck out with a widowed man turned out to perfectly fit another widowed man a few rows back, down to the exact detail.
The show was not riveting for every second; occasionally Theresa’s wires would be crossed, as it were, or she would focus on audience members who did not wish to communicate, which is par for the course with any kind of unscripted entertainment. Eventually, the evening took an uncomfortable turn, as Caputo described, in detail, the car crash and beheading of a loved one, even verifying that the person was just two houses away from reaching home when the accident happened.
Many in the audience cried along with Caputo’s grieving subjects, but I never did. At times like these, I couldn’t shed the feeling that I shouldn’t by privy to this information; the connection was too personal, and I felt like a voyeur, watching the faces of strangers break down on the JumbroTron. In her introduction, Caputo said that for a good eight years, she never did live tours for this very reason – because readings are inherently intimate affairs. Her performance last night proved, for me, that her ability is amazing and legitimate, but also that her apprehensions about touring remain valid. I’m not sure a 4,000-seat performing arts center is the right venue for what she does.