Tia Belle (a.k.a. Psychic Tia) likes to tell people that her job involves playing “charades with the dead.” But it’s far from just being fun and games for the New Jersey clairvoyant, as she takes her paranormal abilities quite seriously.
On Psychic Tia, premiering Aug. 3 at 10pm on A&E, viewers will get to see the former police detective (she left the force after a near-fatal illness made her reprioritize things) in her new line of work, giving readings and channeling the spirits of departed loved ones at her shop, The Craft. They’ll also see parts of her home life, where her tendency to act as “Mama Bear” — a nickname she says has been with her for “forever” — comes through as she likes to take care of everybody.
She’s blunt with her advice (“Stop thinking with your [male reproductive organ]”), but it all comes from a sincere desire to help people. She’s also very forthright, which became apparent in our chat about the show, the spirit world and her journey toward accepting her gifts.
Channel Guide Magazine: So how did you go about getting your own show?
Tia: I live close to the proximity of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. And I’d started getting a reputation among the people who live in the area, you know the chitter chatter, “Oh, you’ve got to go see this psychic!” So that’s how that came to be, and then Jacqueline Laurita came to me, and then soon after pretty much they all did. And I was given a phone call, “Do you want to go on air?” I’m like, “Sure, Jacqueline, we’ll do a little segment together.” And that’s pretty much how the whole thing started.
CGM: Has it been a whirlwind since then?
Tia: The filming of it was something that, uh, I equate it to being back in the police academy. It was something that I didn’t know what to expect, it was all brand new to me. Doing the readings? That’s old hat. Crossing over with the dead? That’s old hat. But doing it in front of cameras was completely different.
CGM: How did filming affect what you normally do?
Tia: When I go into that trance I go into, I actually forgot [the cameras] were there. There is a certain concentration and a certain place … My producers would make fun and mock me a little bit. They’d be like, “Oh, there she goes. She’s gone.” Because you do go to another place in order to receive the messages that you get. It was fabulous that happened, because I did indeed forget the cameras were on me.
CGM: How do the spirits you’re channeling perceive the cameras? Do they acknowledge or notice them?
Tia: That’s a good question, actually, but I’ve never had an issue with that. They’re trying to come in. Think about it from where they are: They just want to reach the person that they love. They just want to send a message. They couldn’t care less who was there. That’s never been a problem, it never impaired any of my readings at all.
CGM: How do you feel about your portrayal on the show?
Tia: I think my producers did an excellent job in portraying my personality, because that’s really what I’m like. I’m a strong woman. I kind of take care of everybody, I’ve been called “Mama Bear” forever. My family, and my clients that come in, so I think they did a very good job portraying who I am. Very no-nonsense, I’ll do anything for you. I’ll give the shirt off my back for you, and if you want to take advice, fine, and if not, so be it. It’s a free world.
CGM: There are a lot of psychics out there, and a lot of psychic shows. What makes yours stand out?
Tia: The fact that I’m a medium also, and I do psychic readings. It’s always been in my findings growing up as a child and trying to find help from people who were older, they either had one talent or the other. I could remember going to see a woman as a child, and I said to her, “What am I?” And she said to me, “You’re a lot stronger than I am, and so therefore I really can’t help you.” There’s all different levels, and I think due to the fact that I carry both is what makes us a little bit different and segregates us from the rest.
CGM: You have a background as a police officer. Have you worked with police since you left the force, using your psychic abilities?
Tia: I still have all my friends on the job that I had that I associate with, so I’m still friends with everybody I was friends with before. But as far as being able to actually go in and do cases, thank God we haven’t had many here where it’s been that unsolved mystery. But if they do need me at any given time I would be there for them.
CGM: Talk about what went into your decision to leave the force and become a psychic.
Tia: Stacey, I was so sad. I was literally in the bed praying to God that, I don’t care if he took me. I knew where I was going. But I didn’t want to leave my son, and I didn’t want to leave my family, because I am the backbone. I just wanted to remain here in order to make sure everybody was protected. And I felt that there was another path for me after that close call with death, because I was that sick. I felt my body shutting down. In that direction, he took me to a new direction, and I have no regrets at all. I miss my job sometimes, going in and doing the policework, but not as much because the rewards of helping people has just overwhelmed me.
CGM: Help explain what it is you see as a medium. When you say that the person is in the room, are they standing there like any other person would? Do they look like a ghost?
Tia: It is hard to describe. I call it charades with the dead. That’s the best analogy that I could give to a layperson. I will see the physical being and be able to explain it to you. Nine times out of 10 I will [feel] whatever they died of. I’ll get the sharp pain in the head, I’ll get the heart attack feeling, I’ll get the chemo nausea. I’ll be able to pick up on the sense of what made them pass. They will also come through, and I’ll hear them, and they’ll also show me pictures. Such as, let’s say it’s your birthday. A loved one of yours comes through, I will see the birthday cake with the candles, and then I’ll ask you, “Whose birthday is it? Because there’s a ‘Happy Birthday’ and it’s relative to you.” So that’s why I call it the charades with the dead.
CGM: Can you hear them?
Tia: They talk. You hear them, but I tell people, “It’s not AT&T.” They’re a little farther away than that. So with that type of being, in order to make something really stand out, they’ll show me that image.
CGM: The show is set in New Jersey, and Jersey has come to be associated with a certain Jersey Shore style attitude in TV. Where do you think Psychic Tia fits into that?
Tia: I think the fact that we’re pretty outspoken is something we could use as general, but I don’t particularly like to put myself in the classification, “Oh, she’s a Joisey Girl!” Because I really have never behaved as such. But we are outspoken people, and we are full of energy and full of life, and I think that’s the part that I would like to come through on the show. Not the derogatory side that’s been shown.
CGM: How do you deal with skepticism?
Tia: You know, if they come in and they’re a skeptic, but they’re a little open-minded, you can work with that. Usually by the time you’re done with the reading they’re walking away with something questioning what they’ve done to themselves all these years by closing themselves off. And then there’s the people who want to fistfight you. I call that psychic fistfight, and you know that’s exhausting for the psychic as well as the person in the chair. That’s so much negativity. They’re going to exist and there’s nothing I can do about that. If you’re open-minded, and you want the help, and you want to come on in, my door is always open.
CGM: How does this knowledge you have of the spirit world affect your views on religion?
Tia: I was raised Catholic, I was in the choir, went to catechism, and did all my sacraments. So I have a very large religious background of Catholicism. There are things that I do believe as far as that’s concerned, and there are things I do not believe. But I tell people all the time, in order to have the gift that I have, who gave it to me? It had to come from somewhere, and because I’m working with spirit that has crossed and is over in the heaven — if that’s the word that we want to use — you know, it’s God’s gift to me. Why, I don’t know. We’ll find that out when I cross over. But I think it’s in order to give people some sort of faith from what they can’t see into that blind world.
CGM: What do you think of other TV psychics? Long Island Medium, for instance, comes to mind since she’s in your general neck of the woods.
Tia: She definitely has a gift, we all just have different personalities with it. Aside from the fact of what I do it’s your personality. That’s what makes us all very different.
I guess it’s just sometimes there are people who are more credible than others. It’s like anything else in it. That’s why I called [my business] The Craft. Look, you can be a better electrician than the other guy. … There’s ripoffs in every part of life. There’s a stigma attached to psychics that hopefully I can make somewhat of a break with.
CGM: So other than getting good ratings, what would you say your bigger goals are for the show? What do you want people to get from it?
Tia: I hope that we could bring some sort of peace to people who have lost their loved ones, because the pain is so traumatic when they go that they can actually have that hope and that faith that they’re going to see them again. I think that traumatic experience tends to cut off the faith. Not from everyone, but for a lot of people that I see. Hopefully with what we can do, it’s not just for me to sit there and come up with frivolous things when I do a psychic reading. It’s truly for me to say, “You’re going to get in the accident. I need you to slow it down.” “I need you to go in this direction, be careful what happens with work.” It’s in order to guide. I always tell people, “Look, I’m not your psychic on the boardwalk.”
CGM: Are you prepared for the fame that may come with TV success?
Tia: You take one day at a time. It’s again the unknown, and you deal with it as it comes. Every day you thank God that you’re still here. I’ve lost so many people, especially coming in, all different ages and the one thing that working with that and working on crime scenes, I appreciate life. Whatever it has to throw at me, as long as we’re happy and healthy, I’m good to go.
Photo: © 2013 Credit: A&E