Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ghost Hunters are Afraid of Mannequins and Planes

Last week we got the chance to speak with Barry Fitzgerald and Dustin Pari, two cast members of Syfy's "Ghost Hunters International." The show is now three week's into the second season and it does not disappoint. First they tried to track down Hitler's ghost (apparently legend has it he did not kill himself in Germany but escaped to the Gran Hotel Viena in Argentina where he lived out the rest of his days with other runaway Nazis), then they contacted the spirit of a small child who in is said to have passed at the Eden Hotel. Tune in tonight as they travel to Australia and visit a quarantine station.

In the meantime, check out what the seemingly fearless ghost hunters Barry and Dustin had to say about what they are most afraid of and their experiences with the paranormal as children. They also explain in scientific terms why children are more in tune with the paranormal than adults.

Q: How hard or easy is it to spook you?

BARRY: My biggest nemesis has to be mannequins. And I have to say that those truly frighten the living hell plain out of me… In Argentina, they had death images that were taken back in the Victorian times where people would have been propped up with different things around them. And a photograph would have been taken. So I was in a dark room obviously with my own camera taking photographs of these photographs... And the only thing I had… light-wise … was the autofocus on the camera. So I turned around and there was this small dummy of a child leaning against the wall. Well I have to tell you this, I screamed louder than Brandy Green ever could. And I think all of them nearly split their stomachs laughing at me. But I hate those things, I really do.

DUSTIN: I've always been a bit of a thrill seeker… demolition derbies and skydiving. I used to do all that kind of stuff for fun. But there’s still some things that kind of frighten me. I have to say as of recently the biggest one would be probably flying back and forth across the world so many times just because of the state of things in the world and the problems that you have with planes. And you almost feel like you're kind of playing the lottery every time you’re up there, you never know what’s going to go on. And we've been on a flight or two that’s had, you know, mechanical problems and things like that so it gets to be a little bit nerve-wracking at points.

Q: What's scarier — castles or prisons?

DUSTIN: I'd have to say prisons. I get a little on edge when I have to walk down those long hallways with all the open darkened cells. My wife will bust my chops because I can't watch horror movies. I don't like it when things pop out. And I know it seems really silly considering what I do out there in the field. But I'm okay with spirits and such, I just don't like it when things pop out of dark corners. So prisons definitely rank up there with some of the spookier of places.

Q: Have you had paranormal experiences growing up in your childhood that sort of led you to do this?

BARRY:  A lot of people who get involved in this field do have experiences as children. And certainly I was no exception. And growing up in a property back in Ireland, it presented phenomenon to my parents. And they of course not wanting to frighten the children said nothing about it. But it was just a matter of time when the children themselves were going to be introduced to this. And certainly I was the first. And it was the middle of the night and I had seen the figure coming up the stairs. And I was aware that that person should not be there. And that was my first time of seeing an apparition as it climbed the stairs. It was only years later that I confessed to my parents to seeing this. There were other things that happened on the property as well which would still plague my dreams.

DUSTIN: It’s hard to follow up such a tale. The Irishman really knows how to relay his experiences. I had a similar experience though. When I was about 8 or 9 I was living in a house in Providence, Rhode Island with my family. And I was awoken during the night and I had seen a shadow figure that was standing in the doorway of my bedroom. It was just one of these very shadow figures that I've actually encountered a couple of times since doing my investigations. But they’re very elusive. They seem to move very quickly. But that was the first thing that really got me interested in going out and looking for these answers. And since then it’s kind of taken on a much larger picture and almost like a spiritual quest, if you will, to get more confirmation about, you know, what happens to the spirit after we pass on from this life.

Q: Why do you think that younger people are so much more in tune to seeing things like that?

BARRY: Dustin and I wrote about it in our last book, "The Complete Approach," because this has happened many, many times. It’s quite a frequent thing that will happen to children. And the biological reason simply is because there’s a filter that thickens over the eye. As we change from children into young adults between the ages of 7-13 that filter thickens up totally and develops completely. And we no longer can see into the light spectrum. So as adults we can no longer see what our children see. And that’s one of the reasons why the full spectrum camera was developed to open up that spectrum again so that we could start to see what was being reported by mediums and psychics and our children of course.

Q: How do you approach child hauntings and do you approach them differently?

DUSTIN: It’s funny that you would ask that because it actually relates to the case that’s going to be shown this week. One of the stories was of this young child who had passed away on the property. One of the things that we do technique-wise to try to better make that connection is a simple thing, actually. It’s just kind of lowering our stance while we’re in there, you know, when we sit down to our EVP work instead of walking around the place we'll sit down on the floor just like when you deal with a child in this life. If they don't know you, a stranger, the mere height can be intimidating to them. So you kind of bring yourself down to their level in a way to try to ease that fear and try to coax them to come forward and to communicate with you.

Q: How did you actually get into ghost hunting first as a hobby and then as a career?

BARRY: Certainly for me it was a hobby first. I was like any young man asking questions how, why, when, and where? And it just happened to be that it was with the paranormal. And I was always fascinated by the old black and white movies, Bella Lugosi and things, and that was one of the principal factors for taking my first holiday to Transylvania, to see: does such a place exist and was Dracula real? And find out about all this history. And of course following in the steps of Frankenstein, which brought "GHI" to the old Frankenstein castle in Germany. And so those were the initial building blocks that took me on the path to where I am now.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

DUSTIN: I try to spend as much time as I can with my family when I'm home just because of the travel. But I also still work when I'm back in the States as an anesthesia technician for oral and facial cosmetic surgery and stay busy trying to write another book with Barry. We’re working on another project that should be out early in the year. We try to do that to keep enlightening people about the field on a deeper level. And for hobbies I work on a lot of old American muscle cars. I'm starting a small collection.

BARRY: Certainly for me photography is a big thing and so much so that I'm planning to open a gallery in Austria. And I'm always traveling back and forward between Ireland or America or Austria. And then the cases that come up, the private cases, that I've attended on as well, just to keep my hand in the scene and to see what new developments are happening and understand the continual development of technology. And I’m working with a good bunch of engineers now in Colorado. And we’re devising a new video system, which is truly state of the art and takes the full spectrum technology much further than ever before.

Q: Looking through all of the places you guys have hit, is there any talk of going to Russia in the future?

BARRY: I would love to go to Russia. I've been making a few inquiries into a couple of locations there in Russia. However I'm not so sure that the Russian authorities might let us go in there. The old… KGB stations underground that you can only access wearing total body chemical suits. Places like that intrigue me to wonder what type of history went on inside, but of course we need to get the permits. And permits in Russia can be extremely expensive. And even after you get the permits then you have to still bribe people on the street and so that could become hugely, grossly expensive. And then there’s the threat of the equipment being stolen as well. And so I would love to see it. Will it happen? I don't know. But only time will tell.

Q: In your opinion what was the most convincing piece of evidence that you ever collected on an investigation?

DUSTIN:  I'd have to say that for me one of the best pieces of evidence we ever captured was we were doing a prison in Latvia and there was a voice that came through there - it was a just muddied voice of a woman who spoke in Latvian for about seven or eight seconds. And it was captured on all the pieces of equipment that we had in the room as well as our production equipment. And to me that was the most impressive pieces that had come down the pike. And it was very emotional. There was something in her tone that was very touching. And to this day it’s one of my favorite experiences.

Q: If you really ever did get something that was completely incontrovertible, what effect do you think that would have on society?

DUSTIN: Getting irrefutable evidence is always challenging. There’s always going to be people that will question everything even if they were there with you at the time. For me personally I think it’s important that I try to show others that there is something after this life. I think that by proving to people that there is life after this one maybe they'll start to live this life a little better being a little nicer to others and a little more considerate and thoughtful of what may happen to us when we get out of here.

Written by Amy & Nancy Harrington

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