Unlike the ghost-besieged boy in the movie, “The Sixth Sense,” Chip Coffey does not see dead people. Well. Not often.
Usually, spirits and wandering souls communicate to the Atlanta psychic through energy, mental imagery or by speaking to him, he explained.
“It’s rare for me to see them as a full apparition,” said Coffey, who will speak at the Circle of Life Expo this weekend at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds. “But it happens.”
The soft-spoken 54-year-old said he has been psychic “since childhood,” and a professional medium and paranormal investigator since 2001. Most would recognize Coffey, with his trademark buzz cut and glasses, from his frequent appearances on the A&E cable series, “Paranormal State,” which follows a team of investigators from Penn State University’s Paranormal Research Society.
Organizers of the Expo, a physical, metaphysical and spiritual festival, say they are excited to present the celebrity psychic.
“I watch Chip on ‘Paranormal State’ just like everyone else,” said Cindy Greene, event organizer and owner of The Mystic Cottage, a metaphysical gift store on Mobile Highway. “So many people are interested in the paranormal and in Chip. He’s so down-to-earth.”
Coffey certainly is matter-of-fact when it comes to discussing what he believes are his God-given abilities.
“This is just a part of me, like my eye color or shoe size,” he said. “I don’t remember a time I wasn’t psychic. By the time I was 2 or 3, I was telling my parents that the phone would ring, before it did, or that unannounced people were coming to visit.”
He said his parents accepted his quirks without question.
“My great-grandmother was Minnie Sue Morrow Foster, a famous Native American medicine woman, and my dad’s mom read tea leaves,” Coffey said. “It wasn’t a big deal in my family.”
It wasn’t until 2001, while he was working in the travel industry, that Coffey’s ghost-whispering skills emerged.
He said he was startled when he was contacted by a coworker’s deceased brother.
“I thought I was going crazy,” Coffey said, laughing. “This man started talking in my head, and I thought I had really gone round the bend.”
The grieving coworker wasn’t convinced that Coffey was chatting with her brother’s spirit until Coffey described what she had been wearing the last time she’d seen her brother at the hospital.
“He pushed me into an Italian restaurant, and showed me a red-and-white checked tablecloth,” Coffey said, describing the vision. “When I told my coworker this, she gasped and started to cry. She’d worn a dress with that same fabric.”
Since then, he has become a full-time psychic, medium, paranormal investigator, author and speaker. He travels internationally, giving private readings, and is looking to expand his national gallery readings, which he calls, “Coffey Talk.”
Coffey isn’t bothered by those who scoff at his claims of psychic and spirit channeling — skills that aren’t backed by scientific fact.
“People have the right to believe or not to believe,” he said. “I never dealt with many detractors until I started appearing on TV, but you know, I try not to engage with those people.”
Ericka Boussarhane, a Pensacola psychic medium, said that people should keep an open mind when it comes to “anything that’s outside of their experience.”
“It’s not something that everyone believes, but I think most people would be surprised if they gave it a chance,” she said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chip before, and I’d encourage anyone to come out and see what he can do.”
Fans can see more of Coffey on “Paranormal State.” He just completed his 26th episode of the show and said he hopes to film another installment of his A&E show, “Psychic Kids,” in the future.
Why are such shows so popular? Coffey said the reasons range the gamut.
“Some people love being in dark, spooky places with meters,” he said. “But others just want answers to those eternal questions.”