This cool new original series from The Travel Channel (and presented by our friends over at Dread Central) "Paranormal Paparazzi" features a season (at the midway point, now) of 8 half-hour episodes, each of which follows Aaron Sagers (journalist, pop culture enthusiast, editor-in-chief of the Paranormal Pop Culture blog) and his team of intrepid reporters as they travel around the country.
It's their mission to track down the most current, bizarre and unsolved paranormal stories. Through the lens and perspective of each reporter, viewers vicariously travel to New Orleans and experience Will Ferrell's haunted trailer, a UFO sighting at the Jersey Shore, a teenage exorcism squad in Arizona, a zombie survival camp in New Jersey and much more.
We were lucky enough to snag this exclusive interview with Sagers — here're my "Fast 5" questions:
Staci Layne Wilson: How did you and Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton meet, and what led you guys to collaborate on Paranormal Paparazzi?
Aaron Sagers: I met Steve through Zak Bagans, our executive producer and lead investigator on "Ghost Adventures," who has known Steve for a while now. But as a horror nerd, I've been a longtime fan of Dread Central. We met in person at San Diego Comic-Con at the "Con of the Dead" Friday the 13th party over drinks and bloody treats. Steve won't be appearing on the show since the Dread segments are about exploring the horror world but his presence is felt through those segments.
Describe the feeling of traveling to and visiting some of the most haunted places on earth — such as the Amityville House… or Will Farrell's haunted trailer.
I have been a mainstream entertainment journalist for a long while, and my professional focus on the paranormal began in 2009 when I launched the paranormalPopCulture.com entertainment site. During that time I've traveled to, explored and spoken at some of the coolest supposed paranormal hotspots. My favorites include Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The jail is like massive castle in the middle of Philly, and it is a dark and forboding place where the darkness seems alive. Another location I never tire of is the The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo. The inspiration for Stephen King's Overlook Hotel in "The Shining," the majestic destination has a rich history of ghost stories and speaks to my love of horror. I don't know if it is true, but I can't think of many finer accommodations to pursue specters than this lavish hotel
Do you actually believe in ghosts and vampires and the like, or would say you're more of skeptic?
I am a skeptic, which means I neither completely believe nor disbelieve. I remain open to the possibility of all things but encourage asking pointed questions, and I try to constantly explain and add fact to theory. However, like Fox Mulder's poster, I want to
believe. As important for me is to believe in the people telling the stories, even if I don't necessarily believe the stories themselves. The tales of things going bump in the night is part of our human experience, and I cannot get enough of them. I try not to label
someone's story as true or false - especially when I'm not there to witness it - and think sometimes the important role I can serve is give them a place to share it.
You've had a few episodes of Paranormal Paparazzi air now; which episode or segment would you say has garnered the biggest response? And what's your own personal favorite moment?
I like all of them for different reasons. Some stir up conversation or controversy, while others are just sexy and funny. Viewers especially seem to love watching Scott Gruenwald go crazy and get naked for ghost hunting, or things like that. They love Branden's verve, Joshua's gadgets and research tactics and Rachel's willingness to throw herself into adventures while staying sexy. Personally my favorite part is being gathered in the newsroom to debrief the reporters on their stories, and to discuss the results. Since we're not an investigative show where we are trying to dig up evidence, the facts and interviews of the stories take precedence. I enjoy pushing the reporters on their stories and getting to the heart of what the story means for the people involved, for the paranormal and for the larger culture. I try to be the voice of the evidence and ask the questions I think they may be asking.
Is there anything that's off-limits?
We cover many elements of the paranormal, from the people experiencing phenonema to celebs who are involved in making paranormal entertainment (and also who have their own experiences). Our aim is not to be paranormal investigators but investigative reporters who collect a story without trying to declare it as true or not. And we strive to either uncover completely new stories or add new dimensions to older stories. With all those goals in mind, it's important not to limit ourselves with rules and off-limit topics. Myself and the other producers did make judgments on what stories we should not cover, and I think we made the right calls. We also tried to avoid interviewing personalities blatantly seeking publicity, attempting to sell a book or land a TV show. Outside of that and some other guidelines, we wanted to be open to everything.
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