Tyler Henry: 'Hollywood Medium' at the Golden Gate

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Tuesday March 7, 2023
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Tyler Henry
Tyler Henry

"There's nothing wrong with skepticism," said Tyler Henry, the openly gay self-described medium, in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter to promote his appearance at the Golden Gate Theatre on Thursday, March 16.

The star of Netflix's "Life After Death" says he inadvertently began receiving messages from the dead at age 10 and, over time, honed his ability to the point where he says he can now facilitate communications between the living and their deceased loved ones.

"It's fine to question belief systems that are different from your own," said Henry in regard to his doubters. "But skepticism has really been hijacked in this country and taken to an extreme place that's more like cynicism."

"We have people who are skeptical about vaccines," he continued. "Believe it or not, we have people who are skeptical — regardless of how many academic papers on the benefits have been published — about whether it's healthy to do some gentle stretching when you get up in the morning."

See what he did there?

If you've been rolling your eyes incredulously since you started this article, you've now been put in a position where you may want to draw a distinction between yourself and a vaccine skeptic. Maybe you're a tad more inclined to give Henry the benefit of the doubt, lest you be grouped with those people.

Clever boy. So clever, in fact, that he's a pleasure to watch in action, whether you believe it or not.

Magical validation
Asked for a nutshell description of the live presentations he gives on his theater tour, the golden blond 27-year-old McCauley Culkin lookalike (Another Henry self-description) sums it up without a second thought, and without a mention of clairvoyant powers.

"It's an evening of connection and conversation around grief. And at the end of the evening, a lot of people leave feeling much better than they did when they came in."

As on "Life After Death" (and his prior E! series, "Hollywood Medium"), the "readings" that Henry does with a few audience volunteers each night don't feature bulls-eye factual accuracy. Henry's speculations (or "communications," depending on your perspective) are more Nerf balls than darts.

"I feel a pain in your mother's heart or chest area," he might say to a reading participant who has recently lost their parent.

Given the prevalence of cardiac disease as a cause of death, there's a good chance this will elicit a nod of agreement and perhaps lead the volunteer to fill in some details.

If not, Henry can go down the "broken heart" avenue; either the deceased or a survivor surely had some heartache in connection with the death.

As soon as any aspect of Henry's statements is validated by the volunteer, he validates them right back. When he says "Yes, yes" or "Right, that's what I'm feeling," a positive feedback loop is established and Henry runs with it, generating a string of further interrelated vagaries for the volunteer to agree with until Henry ends the session, inevitably on a positive note.

"I try to meet people where they are," Henry noted, "and I put an emphasis on levity and joy."

These exchanges are remarkable to watch, and clairvoyant or not, Henry is a whiz at them, orchestrating the conversation in a way that honors both the living and the dead.

He makes no predictions, but offers plenty of reassurances that survivors are loved, need not feel guilty, and are not wrong in feeling an ongoing connection with a lost friend or relative.

When it comes to harsh critics, Henry noted, "It's really a very loud minority. The people who accuse me of 'preying' on people also say that the people who have me do readings for them are stupid and ignorant. I don't push what I do on people. I don't think if you're in great pain after a loved one dies you should rush to see a medium first. You should see a grief counselor or therapist."

Asked whether he felt like there was any relationship between his claimed clairvoyance and his homosexuality, Henry (who lives with his boyfriend of six years) noted that "I think that coming out of the closet and living my truth in that area reinforced my ability to feel confident and push back against people who want to deny any aspect of me."

See what he did there?

Tyler Henry, March 16. $76.50-$258. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St. 888-746-1799. www.broadwaysf.com

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