This is no ordinary chat room.
When Justine Kenzer sits at her keyboard in Los Angeles to talk in real time with Sadgegirl about her new job, there is another dimension to their virtual space, an otherworldly element that defies the fact that the two women live on opposite coasts and have never met in person.
During one 30-minute session, Kenzer -- a Los Angeles psychic and spiritual advisor known as "Psychic Girl" -- tunes in to her New York City client's energy and vibrations, even though the only contact they've had is through the instant messaging service on their computers. In what seems like a flash, Kenzer delves beyond the pros and cons of Sadgegirl's important life change, to the search for her higher self, to her spirit world.
"In person you can read cues from her and have an intimate exchange, but with that loss of anonymity also goes the putting up of walls, and you might not reveal as much or ask about what is really on your mind," says Sadgegirl, a 28-year-old magazine editor, who did not want her real name published. "With the IM [instant messaging] format, you can let go. Justine tends to hit things on the head that I didn't even know I was thinking about. Of course, I'm going on the premise that I actually believe all of this is possible."
As more Americans experiment with and study psychic phenomena, more psychics are capitalizing on the simplicity and swiftness of conducting business on the Internet. Since she launched www.PsychicGirl.com in 2000, Kenzer has given more than 3,000 online readings for clients of all ages from all over the world.
"IT really is my favorite way to do a reading now," said Kenzer, 34. "Everything in the universe vibrates at an energy frequency, and I am able to tune in to that, whether you are sitting across from me or not. There is no time and space for healing. If you're ready for a healing, you're ready for a healing."
The daughter of a shoe salesman who was very "intuitive" and made spontaneous predictions for clients as they tried on shoes, Kenzer resisted for a long time that she was a "supersensitive freak of nature." After college, she became a fashion designer and used her sales skills to open a clothing company in San Francisco.
"All the while, I was doing readings at private parties and clubs and kind of making a name for myself, but still resisting it," Kenzer said. "Then around 26 or 27, it picked me. It was like I no longer had a choice in the matter, so I went to psychic boot-camp training."
For five years, Kenzer devoted herself to studying and meditating at a psychic development center. Because of her fascination with alternative healing and natural products, she dubs herself the "holistic Martha Stewart."
She has made a name for herself with her A-list celebrity clients, which prompted Entertainment Weekly to call her "the latest must-have for the Hollywood posse." Coming soon: Psychic Girl's jewelry line.
"I've always been really good at marketing, and now I'm selling spirituality, which sounds so gross," Kenzer said. "But I feel blessed that I can help people this way and make a living too. There are a lot of people who do what I do, but there aren't many reaching out to the younger generation."
Jane Sorensen, an Encinitas mother of three who has visited 10 other psychics, recently turned to Kenzer for online help with a difficult family problem.
"I'm very comfortable with the metaphysical thing, but it surprised me that she was so connected and so right from so many miles away," said Sorensen, 43. "It was as if she was just sitting across from me. She really did know and she was so helpful. The fact that she was on the other side of a computer didn't make a difference at all in her ability to connect to me."
On the Web: www.PsychicGirl.com
Cost: Readings (via instant messaging),
$60 for 30 minutes; $100 for an hour; in-person readings in the Los Angeles