JOHN EDWARD NEVER PLANNED TO CONNECT WITH THE AFTERLIFE. BUT AHEAD OF HIS RETURN VISIT TO AUSTRALIA, THE STRAIGHT-TALKING MEDIUM SAYS HE IS GRATEFUL FOR HIS GIFT
How John Edward discovered he had psychic abilities.
Back up,” John Edward says over the phone from Los Angeles. “It is something I can turn on and off.” The world-famous American psychic is talking about his professed ability – he dislikes the word “gift”, saying it implies superiority – to communicate with the dead. You might think that constant contact with the afterlife is exhausting. But as Edward explains the process to Stellar, he makes it clear he isn’t exactly on the metaphysical plane around the clock.
“It’s like when you’re daydreaming and you totally get lost in that,” Edward explains. “There is this whole other world happening around me. I relate to you what I’m hearing, feeling and seeing. But I’m not constantly picking things up. I live a very normal life.”
Indeed, the 47-year-old father of two, who divides his time between homes in New York and California, has in fact “had to power myself down. Part of that is getting my ego out of the way – it isn’t appropriate to walk up to a stranger and give them information they didn’t solicit.”
Edward is something of a reluctant psychic, anyway. He didn’t set out to have his own TV shows – Crossing Over With John Edward was a hit when it screened in Australia in the early 2000s – write books, or tour the world performing readings. The grandson of a skilled Sicilian cook who grew up in suburban Long Island, just kilometres from New York City, he actually wanted to own a deli. But a chance encounter at age 15 changed his course.
The only child of New York City police officer Jack Mcgee and office manager Perinda “Prin” Esposito, he moved in with his grandmother after his parents’ divorce. That was when Edward met Lydia Clar, a psychic who was doing readings for his grandmother and her friends.
“Dad forbade that sort of thing – he didn’t like it. But when Mum and I moved into my grandmother’s house, I was exposed to it.”
In actuality, says Edward, “I have a very logical, sceptical approach. I overthink everything. I’m a little OCD,” he says with a laugh. “So when people were impressed by what this psychic was telling them, I wanted to debunk her.”
It didn’t happen. Edward says Clar took his high school ring and, without so much as glancing at him, rattled off information no one else could have possibly known.
“Then she said, ‘The reason I’m here today is to meet you.’ And I am like, ‘OK.’ [She continued], ‘You have highly evolved beams of white and gold light around you and I’m going to put
you on your path; you’re going to change the way millions of people feel about my field.’
“I thought, ‘Wow, she is crazy; a real looney!’”
But within two weeks of Clar’s predictions, her forecasts started happening. The teenager took notice.
“Unnerved” yet intrigued, Edward went to his hometown’s public library and spent every afternoon after school reading about the subject. “It was 1985 and everything was under the occult section. I was too embarrassed to check out the books,” he says.
He began doing private readings and later, after working in public health as a phlebotomist (he’s a few credits short of gaining a Masters in healthcare administration) and being a dance instructor (he met wife Sandra while ballroom dancing), committed to being a medium full-time in the mid-1990s.
He and Sandra, 45, married in 1995. “She keeps everything together,” he says, fondly. “She’s on the job.”
That includes looking after children with hectic schedules of their own. When Edward calls Stellar from the US, he has just left the set of a TV sitcom called Better Things, in which his daughter, Olivia, 10, plays the youngest child of a single mother. Son Justin, 14, excels at science, maths and music – next month, the young violinist will attend a top music school in New York.
Neither of them, says Edward, is fazed by his left-of-centre career: “My kids understand the world of energy. They trust their intuition, they meditate, they pray – to give them an edge on how to navigate the world.”
Edward was raised a Catholic, and says his faith has only intensified with age. Far from conflicting with his work, as some might presume, it actually emboldens him.
“I look at religion as being a business: you have to pay for it in one way or another. But faith is free, and you should have an abundance of it. I’m a pretty big proponent of faith and prayer.”
Mediums, especially those in the public eye, must constantly face down cynical naysayers, and Edward is no exception. But he rose to fame before the age of social media; now, he says, the attacks have a decidedly harsher sting.
“I’ve never cared what the cynics say,” Edward says, “but I don’t love the fact they get personal. I respect the fact some people don’t have a belief system, but I don’t stand outside a cynic convention and do free readings and hand out my books. I don’t exhibit any child-like behaviour. Apparently you can be the [US] President now if you do.”
Ahead of his seven-city Australian tour later this year, Edward acknowledges this country as his favourite overseas destination. The reason? “I’ve thought about this long and hard and it has to do with the energy in general – I feel like the level of community in Australia is huge.”
He explains: “I come from, quote unquote, the “United” States, but I don’t feel like we have a community as much as Australia does. People living in Perth know what’s happening in Sydney and they kind of care. If U2 were on tour in Seattle, nobody would know or care in Miami.
“If the level of community is strong, the level of communication is deeper,” he adds. “I’m a pretty direct person – what you see is what you get. And Australians appreciate that.”
During a previous Australian visit – he says he has lost count of how many times he has come here – Edward gave a reading to Sydney-based comedian and entertainer Simon Kennedy. During their encounter, Edward connected Kennedy with his mother, Yvonne, one of 10 Australians killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“I was a doubting Thomas,” Kennedy says, “but he went into such specific detail, without drawing anything out of us, that I walked away more than 60 per cent convinced.” He subsequently authored the book 9/11 And The Art of Happiness, a memoir about reconciling his grief, and credits Edward with helping him find comfort after his loss. “If what he is doing is selling connection, then he should keep on selling it,” Kennedy tells Stellar.
Edward’s own mother died of lung cancer at 48, a year older than his current age. “I have psychological warfare going on over that concept,” he admits. His father, who had an “alcohol problem for years”, also died of cancer at 60. The losses only strengthened his belief that those wanting to connect with deceased loved ones are invariably trying to fill a gaping emotional hole. His advice?
“Don’t take people for granted. There is always going to be a deadline, a bill to pay, we get distracted, but all those moments add up to wasted opportunities.
“People tend to avoid the concept of death,” he says. “Which is kind of foolish… because it’s the one guarantee anyone gets.”
“I’VE NEVER CARED WHAT THE CYNICS SAY. I RESPECT THE FACT THAT SOME PEOPLE DON’T HAVE A BELIEF SYSTEM”