Psychic Tyler Henry on Minneapolis thrift stores, reading RuPaul, and the importance of skeptics

It’s a Friday night and psychic Tyler Henry is on the phone talking about his upcoming casino gig -- his first of this size -- at Mystic Lake this Saturday. His entrancing E! series, Hollywood Medium, has him traveling to the homes of celebrities such as the Kardashians, Moby, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler.  

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

Part of the show’s setup is that Henry is supposedly unaware of whose home he’s visiting. When they open the door, he often claims to not recall them, citing his age. Sometimes he does recognize who’s standing before him; as a young gay man he was over the moon to read RuPaul, calling him an inspiration. He also gleefully recognized rapper Lil Kim (a feat for anyone these days). 

Henry has had his share of critics, many in the law enforcement and religious worlds, who say he is a “grief vampire,” using hot and cold reading techniques to arrive to conclusions about his subjects who are often dealing with loss. Believers, however, could point to the episode with the late Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke: Henry told him to be aware of potentially fatal heart problems (Thicke passed away just months later of an aortic rupture).

Regardless of whether he's legit or an excellent fake, his 3.2 million viewers would suggest that he’s at least entertaining.

So, what was the first psychic moment you had?

I was 10 years old. I grew up in a pretty conservative household. We didn’t talk about psychics or mediums or anything like that. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and one night I went to bed and woke up with this feeling of urgency. It felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I woke up with a total knowingness that my grandmother was going to pass away. I couldn’t explain how I knew it, it just felt like a memory that hadn’t happened yet.

Wow, so what did you do?

I ran to the other room to tell my mom, and the phone rang. When she picked it up, it was news from my dad that my grandmother had just died. That was obviously shocking for everybody. But at the time I didn’t understand that was an ability. I didn’t really see that as being psychic, it was just something that happened to me.  

How did you grow this ability from there?

It took a lot of time and refinement. It took a while to understand how this works. I would go antique stores and go with my friends and hold onto an object. My friend would place the antiques at random behind my back and I’d say any impressions I’d get about the object. I’d give the history of the object or something about it. And I slowly got better through that process.

Funny enough, Minneapolis is huge on thrifting and antique stores. I read an article once that said buying objects from thrift stores can haunt your home.

I have a pretty open mind, but I’d never crossed paths with an object that I felt was haunting a person’s home or bringing any ill will. I don’t’ completely understand the way energy connects to objects. So keep going thrifting, Minneapolis! [Laughs.]

What was one of your most memorable celeb readings? The Alan Thicke one stuck out to me.

Alan is a great example of startling validation, and the follow up with his wife was really special. It was really emotional for me to watch back. My reading with RuPaul though was probably the most profound one I’ve done on a personal level, just because he’s someone I really look up to. On a secondary level, it was just incredible to be a part of; he got some really amazing validation about his father. It was a really good example of how the other side can come forward and teach us what really matters and what doesn’t.

You knew Ru and of his career. And then there other celebs that you don’t know at all. Sometimes I watch and think, ‘Does Tyler not watch TV?’ But then there are some I don’t even know, and I’m 38. Do people ever challenge you on that?

Oh, for sure. It’s funny when that happens, I think people sometimes forget I’m only 21 years old. I was born in 1996, so that makes Boy George a liiiiiiittle before my time.

He was a skeptic.

Yeah, he was. But I deal with a lot of that on the show... It’s important to demonstrate all types of belief systems, ranking from people who identify as believers to people who are totally cynical. It’s good to cover that spectrum, because there’s viewers who come from all angles.

Do you keep in touch with anyone you met while reading on the show?

Yeah, Moby and I have. He’s actually referred quite a few friends, so we stay in touch.

Who do you want to read that you haven’t yet?

Lana Del Ray from an artistry perspective. From a creative perspective, maybe [American Horror Story executive producer] Ryan Murphy.

Do you ever get strangers that ask you to read them?

Yeah, people on the street will come up to me and say, 'Oh, can you talk to my grandma?,' and I try to explain that readings are like therapy: there’s a time and a place... I talk in my lecture about how I was in the supermarket once in my earlier years and I walked up to this lady and gave her a message from her father. She broke down crying on aisle seven. I didn’t know what to do, but it showed me that there’s a time and a place.

What will the show cover, what will the format be?

The show really focuses on the six lessons I’ve learned from the departed. That lecture is going to revolve around telling my story and getting more of a behind-the-scenes look at what a lot of the people get in the show. I also go into my childhood, and the lessons that I’ve learned after over a thousand readings. We’ll take a look at a reading I did on the show where I’ll break it down for everybody and show what I was seeing and feeling... From there, we’ll got into a bit of Q&A so people can ask questions. If I get any impressions, we’ll talk about those. I’ll also select a member from the audience to receive a full one-hour private reading.


Yeah, it’s kind of a mix of information, telling my story, and also giving people a chance to be read.

Have you done this type of show before?

This is actually going to be the largest venue I’ve ever done, so I’m a little nervous. But I’m excited, it will be great... The show in Minneapolis is a special one because it’s the first time I’m really trying this.