I interviewed him for the most recent issue and as I mentioned in the resulting article, “Psychic Coffey“, I am not a believer in the spiritual mumbo-jumbo that Coffey is selling so it was maybe a tad on the shitty side for me talk to him without tipping him to my skepticism.
But I’m unrepentant.
I find that whole mediumship schtick of claiming to contact the dead friends or relatives of grieving people to be a pretty egregious misuse of a talent for cold reading.
But Coffey took things a step or seven further with his A&E show, Psychic Kids, in which he convinced teens and pre-teens that their normal feelings of weirdness and adolescent confusion are actually signs of psychic powers. That was a despicable sideshow of child exploitation. These were kids who needed a sit down with a trained psychologist, or, more likely, a hug and a hobby.¹
Instead they were encouraged to chase chimeras.
I did ask Coffey about the show and the criticism he’s received. And he defended himself in the way you might expect.
After the jump, a transcript of the interview.
Prairie Dog: What can people expect from your show?
Chip Coffey: We divide our show into four segments. The first segment is a basically a getting to know you segment. It’s me answering questions about the shows that I’ve done, my own spiritual journey, my brushes with the paranormal. People can share their stories. It’s mostly a relaxed me talking to the audience and them chatting with me. We take a little break. Then we go back in an do some readings, both psychic reading and some mediumship readings. And we might talk to some folks deceased relatives
Then another another break and then people with VIP packages get a brief meet and greet with a photograph.
[What we do in the] fourth segment, is we try to establish some sort of communication and connection with any spirit energy or entities in the locations where we’re at. We try to do our events in places that have some reportedly haunted activity on site. So that’s the last thing that we do is try to establish some kind of communication with anybody who wants to come out and play with us from the spirit world.
PD: Have you ever done a show in the Park Hotel or the Hotel Sask?
CC: These are both brand new locations for me in those cities. So it’s going to be fun to see what we can conjure up in those locations. Lots of times I go not knowing anything about those locations. It’s not possible here because i know where i’m going to be staying. I’m not putting it out there that I’m clueless
PD: You said “play with”. Is that how the “entities” see things?
CC: I feel like it is kind of playing. I use that term kind of light heartedly. I don’t go in and demand that spirits come in. Lots of people go in and provoke and demand. I’d rather think in a lot of instances that they’re as anxious to communicate with us as we are to communicate with them. Although I think probably a lot of the time they’re like us, “Look at those silly humans again, they’re tyring to talk with us again, lets give them what they want one more time.”
PD: But you’re staying in the same place where you’re going to be communicating with these entities. Don’t you worry that you might piss something off that’ll come get you in the night?
CC: I don’t really worry about that. We are respectful. We’ve had some instances where we’ve had some activity in our hotel rooms. That sounded kind of dirty. We’ve had some spirit activity. It’s never been anything that’s been threatening or malicious. They’re benevolent or benign entities, that just come and want to continue to make that contact and establish some kind of connection with us.
PD: You referred psychic readings and mediumship. They’re different things?
CC: Different. Psychic readings have to do with living energy. Psychic readings have to do with past present or future about an individual. It can be questions they might have about what’s going on relationships, romantic or otherwise, business relationships, family relationships. It can have to do with their careers it can have to do with medical issues. Although I’m quick to tell people I’m not a doctor so what i’m getting is from an energetic source so please check with a doctor if you think you have a problem.
The mediumship is interdimensional communication and the dimension that I communicate with most often is disincarnate beings, people who once lived in the flesh and passed on, and that’s what mediumship is.
PD: What powers do you have?
CC: I don’t use the word powers, it sounds a little grandiose to me and it’s above my pay grade. I’m a psychic and I’m a medium. I was a psychic all my life. The mediumship stuff kicked in about twelve years ago. I would say that all mediums are psychic, but not all psychics are mediums.
PD: What’s the mediumship experience like? What do you see when you’re speaking to the “other side”?
CC: There’s actually no one thing that I can tell you. Lots of times it’s different. Sometimes I see things like little videos in my head, sometimes it’s just a sense I’m getting, an empathic sense that I’m getting, sometimes I’ll see flashes of images. The best way I can describe it is it bypasses my five main senses, it’s implanted in my brain. and it’s just there. It’s almost like an afterthought, if that makes any sense. Its just kind of there, and I don’t know how it got there but it’s there.
PD: In sites that are reportedly haunted like where you you’ll be doing your show, what’s it like?
CC: Sometimes it’s vague sometimes strong. We’ve done some locations where we’ve gotten some amazing results.
I tell people it’s not like Disneyland where you can press a button and the animatronics turn on for you. They’ve got to be willing. Those spirit and those energies, entities, that are there have to be willing to come out and communicate with us, to deliver or we’re not gpoing to get anything.
I’m hoping, will I see them? I don’t know. Sometimes I do. Will they communicate with us through any of the instruments that we have with us?
People often also bring their own recorders or meters or recorders or instruments and they participate in our last segment of our event where we try to do this spirit communication.
PD: What’s the craziest thing you had happen at one of these shows?
CC: A flashlight flinging itself off the table at me. I wouldn’t say it was in a malicious kind of way. But I was kind of chiding. I don’t ever provoke, but I was chiding, “You know you can light up the flashlight, do it for me, light it.” Trying to get the spirits to light up the flashlight that was on the table. And the flashlight just started to wiggle around a little bit then it flung itself off the table in my direction. Like, “Here you go jerk. I decided you keep bugging me to turn on the flashlight, you want a little action? I’ll show you what i can do.”
[We talk about his book Growing Up Psychic and his TV shows. He notes that he currently has no shows in production but that he has some projects on the back burner that he’s bringing to the front burner. He mentions that he went to Australia to film a pilot.]
CC: I’d done some acting work years ago. Years ago I pursued an acting career then sort of shifted gears as many people do as they grow older and mature. I’ve been asked to do some guest star roles on a couple things and did a movie recently that’s a parody of, a take off of the Paranormal Activity movies. And I did another parody film of the television show Dark Shadows. [I’m] looking to do some episodic television things that come up. I’ll brush the old acting chops and go and do a role in an episodic television show or movie.
PD: There’s been criticism of your show, Psychic Kids. I’m sure you’ve read that. How do you respond to that?
CC: Everyone who is successful is going to have critics. Everyone has an opinion. The truth of is, what we did we did very responsibly. What we did we did out of the intention to be able to help these families. And with rare exception, the people who are the critics, well, none of them were present when we were doing the work that we were doing, they saw a cut version of 72 hours or more compacted into 44 min of television time. To say that these children are psychologically damaged or wanting attention or whatever, have they sat with that child have they diagnosed that child, have they had any interpersonal contact with that child or their families? No. So, as I said, there are people who are going to put down anything that they don’t understand or agree with, but for the most part what they’re saying is opinion that can’t be substantiated or validated or fact based.
As far as critics go, I try not to engage with critics because it’s like a sinking ship, they’re looking for attention. A lot of the people that say stuff, particularly about me, I’m out there doing what I feel is the right thing to do. I’m not hurting or harming anybody and if you think that’s the case, speak with any of my thousands of clients and ask if they have benefited from me as a human being. That sounds self serving but it’s the truth.
I would suggest that a lot of the people who find the time to go out and build websites or post on their own blogs or whatever, find something that’s meaningful for yourself instead of trying to rip apart someone or tear down someone who’s trying to do good work.
PD: Have you stayed in touch with any of the kids?
CC: A lot of the kids are doing very well. Some of them I stay in touch with, some of them I don’t hear from. The ones that I know about, they have the normal growing up things, they have some peer things some adjustment things to school, so they’re fust like every other normal kid, but as far as the paranormal stuff, most of them are doing quite well with handling the paranormal issue that they might have had because when they reached out to us, we had 60 kids on the show and we had 6000 plus applications for being a part of the show, so this is not a minor problem that’s going on, it’s just he tip of the iceberg. But the kids we worked with, with extremely rare exceptions were in a much better place than when we arrived where they were in crisis mode.
PD: Doing outreach beyond the shows that you’re doing on the tour? Doing counselling?
CC: My major clientele is adult clients who will call me for readings. And I go and do appearances like I do now, my schedule is typically so full, it’s hard to do any mentoring one on one with the kids.
PD: Can people set up a reading after your show?
CC: Absolutely. What I do is, as my thank you for people coming to my events, anyone who pays money and comes sits in my audience, as a thank you for them, if they call me, I do all my private readings by telephone — all my private readings I do with clients are by phone — if they call to book a reading with me and mention that they have attended one of the events they get a discount on any sort of reading they set up with me.
PD: Over the phone? Picking up energy when you’re not even in the same room? How does that work?
CC: I have no idea. But it just does. Perhaps it’s just the fact that when my clients have paid money to do a reading with me their intent is to have a good reading and for it to be successful. If they pay me money then obviously they’re wanting to get a good reading. So I think that intent with them putting it out and the energy of us connecting on the phone and however that works, it just does. I wish I could tell you there’s a logical rational pragmatic explanation for how it works.
PD: Are you picking up anything from me?
CC: I wasn’t prepared to do a reading for you but if you want to set up a reading with me for some time I’ll gladly see what we can pick up.
PD: You can’t pick up any stray energies from our phone conversation?
CC: I wasn’t prepared to do it at this time. One of the things, and no offense, I generally don’t want to at that point in time be challenged to do a reading.
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¹ Here’s what I plan to tell my kids if they think maybe they’re psychic: “Sorry, but you’re not. <hug> There’s no such thing. What you are is cool. I recommend taking up guitar or cartooning. Avoid fortune telling and poetry. I can assure you from long experience that those will lead you nowhere. If guitar or cartooning (piano, graffiti, student journalism, video game design and animal rescue are also good options) fails to help with any feelings of weirdness or depression, any voices or visions, don’t let them fester. Talk to me and maybe we’ll talk to a doctor. They can do science to that shit.”
I’m still working on the script but those are the broad strokes.