Despite becoming a household name thanks to his role as a real-life crime-solving medium on Sensing Murder, Kelvin Cruickshank stills gets surprised by the flurry of interest that accompanies him.
On his way to our Woman’s Day shoot, the 45-year-old stopped into a clothing store, where an excited staff member demanded, “You’re the psychic off Sensing Murder – go on, tell me something about my life!”
“When the show first aired a few years ago, I’d be in the supermarket and people would follow me around, asking me to tell them things! I mean, there’s a time and a place. If I was a gynaecologist, would they ask me to examine them in the middle of a shop?”
But with Kelvin’s new book, Soul Secrets, which is a mix of lessons he has learned on how to live a happy life even in times of loss, the demand for his psychic abilities is not going to slow down any time soon – but he is finding a balance.
Kelvin lives in a small town in Northland, where the father-of-two juggles the school run with domestic chores -“My biggest challenge is keeping up with the housework” – duck shooting and fishing in his little pontoon boat Slayer.
“I only tour a couple of days a month now,” says Kelvin, “and even though I get about 50 emails a day about private consultations, I’ve stopped doing them completely.”
Kelvin’s psychic visions started as a young boy, when he had a vision of Maori warriors. “It was scary,” he recalls. “I couldn’t speak Maori, but when my grandfather passed a few years later, he translated for me. That’s how I learned to do this – by listening to him.”
Diagnosed at 11 with dyslexia and later with attention-deficit disorder, Kelvin admits he’s had his fair share of struggles, including a marriage split, an addiction to the prescription drug Ritalin, several life-threatening seizures and a nervous breakdown. It was after the breakdown that the former chef turned his supernatural talent into a successful career.
When he does tour these days, his audiences are mainly women “because they’re more in tune with their emotions”, but results can be mixed. Sometimes he is spot on, sometimes not but that all depends on the person in spirit. Kelvin enjoys the unpredictability of live shows, but there is one in particular he will never forget.
“Once, there was this young girl, 17 or 18, in the audience” he recalls. “I kept seeing her out of the corner of my eye and eventually asked her if she had a question for someone who had passed.
She got teary and said, ‘I do, but everybody will laugh at me.’
“I replied, ‘No, they won’t. Come on, tell me.’ And she asked, ‘OK, can you speak to my guinea pig?’ The whole audience was crying with laughter. I felt so bad. I had to walk off stage to compose myself.”
Even with six books and hundreds of shows under his belt, Kelvin admits he still gets nervous and he’s still learning. The key, he reckons, is finding time for yourself.
“The biggest thing is to have self-time. Love, grief and life – they are all intertwined. People don’t realise sometimes that they can’t bring someone back. They need to realise that coming to peace with it is about self-time. It’s all part of the circle of life.”