Tyler Henry Communes With the Dead – and RuPaul
Tyler Henry Communes With the Dead – and RuPaul
Mild spoilers ahead for Life After Death with Tyler Henry
Tyler Henry is known to most as the “Hollywood Medium” from his E! reality series of the same name that ran from 2016 to 2019.The professional psychic is back on our screens in the new Netflix series Life After Death with Tyler Henry, which takes Henry from the mansions of rich celebrity clients to readings with everyday fans on his extremely long waitlist. The series shows Henry’s personal life, introducing viewers to his boyfriend, Clint, and depicting Henry and his mother searching for the truth about their family after a DNA test reveals shocking secrets from the past.
In addition to Life After Death, Henry is also busy with a new tour and book, but he made time to sit down with Logo to talk about everything from what it was like growing up gay in his small California town to communicating with Bette Davis from beyond the grave.
This series delves into your family, which is a side of you audiences haven’t seen before. Is that something you were looking for in your next project?
It was so synchronous. It really aligned with the discovery of my family and the murder mystery element of it all. My mom had recently discovered that who she thought were her parents indeed weren’t, but it was only when we started filming that we really got into the ins and outs of that and really tried to pursue an understanding of the mystery of what happened and why it happened and what led up to it, so it was definitely unexpected, very vulnerable. If anything, I think I was very proud of that vulnerability. So often in Hollywood Medium, people saw me just kind of delivering the message and then you see the car drive home, and then that’s the client who is kind of experiencing that emotional intimacy. Whereas on this project, I was crying, I was ugly crying, I had my hair disheveled, so it was definitely very personal.
I loved seeing your relationship with Clint. Did you have to talk him into being on camera? What was that whole conversation like?
He’s definitely more shy, so he really wanted to be as helpful as he could be. He was extremely instrumental in helping us get clarity on my mom’s side of the family, helping, working with the genealogist. He was really helpful in that regard. There was a natural synergy with his role on the show, and I think he was comfortable with that, but beyond that, he’s very low-key, very private. I just am very lucky to have him.
How did you two meet?
You know, modern age. We met on Twitter.
Yeah, absolutely. He actually reached out after the show had aired, and his mom had as well, synchronistically. His grandfather had actually passed away a few months prior, and so I saw him and knew that I wanted to talk to him and had a message from his grandfather and actually explained how he passed. This was something that only the family knew and so immediately we had a bond. He was grieving this loss of his and I was able to provide some clarity and just immediately, we had a very close connection. It’s been five years and I feel so lucky to have him.
And you grew up in a religious household, right?
I did, yep. Presbyterian and very conservative community, pretty small town, agricultural community in central California, so I grew up and had to come out of multiple closets, both being gay and being a medium. I found that both were challenging in different ways.
How was coming out as gay? Was that harder with your religious upbringing?
It was hard in different ways, and I’ve given differing answers as far as which was harder, coming out as gay, coming out as a medium, because they were challenging in different ways. I think people even in that small town had heard of what a gay person was, so at the very least, they knew what that meant. Coming out as a medium was challenging in a different way because people thought that was more of a shirt size, right? People didn’t know what a medium was. And then when they found out, there was often kind of some religious hesitancy as certain people didn’t feel theologically that what I was doing was in alignment with their beliefs. So I dealt with a lot of scrutinies, a lot of criticism, at a very early age, which I think prepared me for an adulthood of being in a career that is rather controversial but one that, for me, I think, has really made a big difference in people’s lives.
Do you go out to gay bars? What was your first gay bar?
So fun fact, actually, I went to a gay bar on Hollywood Medium, where I met a number of drag queens and read them. That was my first time that I’d ever gone to one, and I have not gone to one since. It was in Atlanta. I texted RuPaul, I was like, “Tell me which one I should go to.” And he was like, “Swinging Richards.” That was really an interesting experience. I got to read a drag queen, I think two of them, and it was really nice to be able to kind of connect with my own community in a way that hadn’t really been done before.
So that was your first and only time?
First and only. I know it might seem surprising. I guess I’m just a bit of a bore.
And that’s been your only drag show?
Yes. It was my first time ever seeing drag queens perform, other than on RuPaul’s Drag Race. In person, it was really intense.
So do you watch Drag Race?
Oh, yes. And since, I’ve gotten pretty close with a number of the queens. They follow me on Twitter, Instagram, we follow each other and I love seeing them flourish. I think the evolution, even over the past decade, that we’ve seen with drag and the community, the popularity that comes from it, for me it’s really heartwarming to see that representation.
Who’s in your “drag coven?” Who are your three favorite queens?
Probably… Let’s see. Roxxxy Andrews, Max Malanaphy, and then RuPaul would be on that list of course.
You said that your RuPaul reading was one of your most memorable celebrity readings. Why?
I would say that one was so memorable for me because growing up, I watched RuPaul, he was somebody who I felt a sense of relatability to when I grew up in this little small town and I didn’t really have people around me that spoke like me or acted like me. So to see that, and then to be able to meet him as an adult and help give him an experience of closure around the death of his father, I felt like it kind of came full circle. I was able to give him a little bit of help when really he helped me in ways he could have never imagined just by representing – by being on television, by giving access to a kid from a small town the knowledge that there is more to life than just crops and cows and kind of the small town I was in.
I hope you got to tell him that in person.
Oh yeah, absolutely. And we made chocolate together, so I think I’m one of the few people can say I made chocolate with RuPaul.
You made chocolate together? Because you were in the candy store, right?
That’s right. And that was surreal.
And you said you texted him?
Yeah, we stay in touch, and yep, I asked him if there were any big drag bars to go to and he recommended Swinging Richards. I don’t think we ended up going to that one, but next time in Atlanta, I might have to make my second visit to a gay bar.
Seeing RuPaul on screen made you realize that there are other ways to live your life. Do you ever think that there are young kids seeing you on TV who feel the same way?
Oh, you know, that’s really sweet. I think if anything, representation has improved over the past decade, which, to me, is really special, and I’m thankful to be a part of that. I think it’s just important that we have people on screen that we can look at and see ourselves in. So I don’t even really give it much thought as far as my role in all of that, but yeah, I hope it provides comfort for people to know that you can come from a small town, you can be bullied, you can be ostracized, and you can stay true to who you are and what you are, and that thing can be the very thing that makes you successful. That’s really what the greatest takeaway is. I was bullied for being gay, I was bullied for being a medium, and those two things are the very things that people now applaud me for, so others can do that as well.
You don’t go gay bars, but you watch Drag Race. What about pop divas? In the series, you interview Kesha, but who’s your pop diva go-to? Like, are we going to see you at Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball this summer?
No, I’m more of a Lana Del Rey stan, but I got to say, the last album, I wasn’t living for it. So I don’t know, I’m kind of going back and forth. We need to bring back the Born to Die era. But yeah, Lana Del Rey’s probably my pick.
Wow. Do you have a favorite Lana Del Rey album or song?
“Blackest Day” is one of my favorites. And “Salvatore,” that’s a good one.
So Bette Davis makes a cameo on Life After Death…
That was insane.
And also Bette Davis as Baby Jane, which is… so gay.
It was so weird and so campy and so unexpected, and then the fact that it came through as Ruth, which was her birth name, that was bizarre. I mean, it really caught me off guard and I think was really a demonstration of how as a medium, I don’t know everything. I just know what I get, so I’m even often surprised.
Yeah, you seemed really excited by that.
I was thrilled. And it helped so much because I like her so much more than Joan Crawford, so I was like, this is amazing.
I think you said that on the show. I was like, “Is he just saying that?”
Nope. No, no wire hangers. Sorry, Joan.
Are you a fan of classic movies?
Yeah, I definitely am more familiar with older celebrities than the newer ones, you know, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Mildred Pierce. I actually used to live right on the beach where those were filmed, funnily enough.
So, since you don’t go out to gay bars, I’m guessing you’ve never wanted to do drag?
RuPaul tried to get me to dress up. He was like, “Tyler, you have the cheekbones for it.” Unfortunately I had to pass, but you know what? Hey, there’s always time. I might explore it in my 30s, right? I could be in my 60s and be a fabulous medium drag queen for all we know.
I know Ru likes to give out drag names. Did he give you a drag name?
I can’t remember, but mine was Mr. Period.
Missed Her Period.
That’s pretty good.
Yep. I chuckled. He did too.
Life After Death with Tyler Henry is streaming on Netflix now.
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