Recession? What recession?
With on-line ticket brokers charging as much as $900 a seat, the hottest ticket in town this weekend isn't for Lewis Black's angry and politically-charged comedy rants, Johnny Mathis' romantic ballads or Hall & Oates' string of chart-topping blue-eyed soul hits.
It's for a guy whose act often triggers a river of tears from his most fervent believers -- or blank stares from those who've never heard his name, or are confusing him with a former presidential candidate.
Television psychic John Edward, the quiet, smooth-talking former ballroom dance instructor who claims he communicates with the dead, brings his live show to Trump Plaza this weekend for performances Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning (March 13-15).
Tickets to the shows -- priced at a jaw-dropping $175 -- sold out as quickly as they went on sale a couple months ago. Internet re-sellers are now asking as much as four times the face value.
Although he's been a practicing psychic medium, lecturer and author for more than 20 years, Edward didn't gain national attention until 1999, when he began hosting the series Crossing Over on television's Sci-Fi cable channel. His latest show, Cross Country, airs on the WE cable network.
Although he was hardly television's first psychic performer, he did latch on to a bigger audience than any of his predecessors, primarily because of the apparent accuracy of the messages he delivered to his audience from loved ones who have died. Edward also isn't fearful of delivering a blunt message from beyond the grave to a survivor. Privately or in a public forum, he doesn't sugar coat the words from the other side.
In a 2006 interview with a West Palm Beach, Fla. magazine, Edward said he thinks it's his honesty that struck a chord with his fans.
"I think it is because I am the kind of person that says it is what it is," he says. "You know, one of my publishers said to me, 'Your next book has to be about the after life.' I'm like, well it can't be ... because I don't live there. I don't know what it's like. I tell it like it is. It is what it is. If I can't read you, I can't read you. Or, if you come to hear from one specific person and you're not paying attention to what I am saying, I am going to get in your face because, you know, don't waste my time."
In spite of his success on television and as an author, Edward has plenty of detractors. He's been vilified by doubters who claim his act is little more than a good magic show, irreverently spoofed by shows like South Park and Saturday Night Live and "even had Miss Cleo kick my ass" on Celebrity Deathmatch.
"I've been the butt of countless jokes, and you know what? It's OK. I'm still here," he says. "So, you can't take yourself that seriously."
Edward was just 15 when he met renowned psychic Lydia Clar, who made him aware of his psychic powers. That sent Edward on a mission to intensively study psychic phenomena and the spiritual world.
As he learned how to interact with people -- both living and dead -- he began working psychic fairs on weekends.
In 1998, he released his first book One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost. The book brought him to the attention of the Sci-Fi channel, and he began producing and hosting his first television show a year later.
On that show -- just as his current program -- Edward singles out people in the audience then delivers to them spiritual messages from relatives and other loved ones who have "crossed over."
" I respect the skeptics. I just ask that they respect what I do and come and have the experience before you actually judge me. Not everybody needs closure. Not everybody has unresolved issues. Everyone’s messages are different. But when you witness a reading, spirit talks about such specific details."