If the city of Durham hasn’t already issued a High Hair Alert for Thursday, they should consider it. Theresa Caputo, star of TLC’s popular “Long Island Medium” TV series, brings her 30-city tour to town for a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
Caputo – her fans adore her, her skeptics don’t trust her – has built her career and reputation on the claim that she can receive messages from spirits. And who’s to say that lofty halo of white-blond hair isn’t some kind of supernatural antenna that allows her to do just that? Caputo will work the DPAC crowd for two hours Thursday, during which time she says she will channel spirits of the deceased who want to get a message to loved ones.
The outspoken TV star also released a book this month (“There’s More to Life Than This,” Atria Books), the week before her TLC series returned for the second half of its fourth season. We talked to Caputo a few weeks before her trip to Durham (no channeling – just a regular telephone chat) about what people at the Durham show can expect, what she says to skeptics and how she feels about the South.
Q: How do your larger venue shows like the one at DPAC work?
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A: I’m actually in the audience reading people. I’m onstage for about 15 minutes. I share a few stories about how I got to be where I am today, how a spirit will communicate in a large venue, what my expectations are. And also, kind of relax everyone. And I just start channeling spirits. I walk through the auditorium, stand in front of the person and deliver the message from their loved one.
Q: Do you get any kind of information about a person before a reading?
A: I have no idea who is going to be at the show. There are thousands of people. The way the spirits work is even if you don’t get a direct message from your loved one, something happens within those two hours and you leave that theater feeling different. The experience is maybe knowing that there truly is more to life than just here in the physical world, that what you are saying to your loved one, they really hear you. The little coincidences you’ve been seeing every day ... that is a sign from your loved one that they are with you at that moment. What I do is so much more than just communicating with people who have crossed over. Someone may leave that night feeling restored faith.
Q: Do you back away from negative topics during readings? Do you ever get warnings from the dead?
A: The only way that I want something negative is if it can help us or if it can prevent something. Besides that, I don’t want to know because there are so many things we have no control over.
Q: So you can you control what you get from spirits?
A: The spirits, they know the rules. The rules are they can talk about something negative but it has to be in a positive way that can help your loved one.
Q: Have you noticed any difference in your ability to receive messages when cameras are around?
A: Spirits definitely are not camera shy. I’m the one who’s camera shy, believe it or not!
Q: Have you ever been to the South prior to this tour?
A: I was down in the South before ... I absolutely love it. It was one of my favorite places to be on tour. When you talk about Southern hospitality, that is exactly what it’s like in Raleigh and Durham. It’s just unbelievable. The people are just amazing. The towns are so charming and it’s so comfortable, being down South. And I don’t look like no Southern belle!
Q: What do you say to skeptics, to the people who challenge you?
A: I don’t look at it as a challenge. I get it, I understand it. I understand why you might feel this is not real, or why there might be a fear prohibiting you from believing. But I usually say, ‘Look, this isn’t about me. This is about us knowing that there truly is another life.’ I also say to the skeptics, ‘You know what, come. Come to one of my events, witness it, and then speak to the people who have received my messages and see how it has helped them.’ And that’s it.
Look, the bottom line is we’ve all lost somebody. We’ve all lost somebody in a common way. What do you want me to do about that? People die and people die in a common way. Heart attack, cancer. I have no control over that. But what you will witness during the experience are the little things the spirit talks about that you’re like, ‘How would she know that? That’s crazy.’ And it’s not me, it’s the spirit telling me to tell you these things. So that’s where it separates it, where you have to sit back and go, ‘You know, I don’t know if I believe in this, but something happened tonight.’ You know what? Then it was all worth it.