The Ghost Adventures crew of Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world on their hit Travel Channel series, currently in its eighth season. The trio interview eyewitnesses and historians at each location, learning the stories of the ghosts they will later provoke and confront during their dusk-to-dawn lockdowns, from which they don’t always come out unscathed. Their milestone 100th episode (airing on October 4th) features a special investigation of the infamous Exorcist house in St. Louis, where the actual events depicted in the popular film took place.
During this recent interview to promote their upcoming 100th episode and their Halloween special, which took them to historical haunted Transylvania, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin talked about their experience in the Exorcist house, just how unsettling it was to be there, what it was like to go to Transylvania, finally getting to go to Alcatraz, how they’ve matured as investigators and people since they started the show, what advice they’d give to people surrounded by unwanted paranormal activity, the locations they’d still love to visit, their defining moments since they started the series, and how it’s more than just a TV show for them. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Question: How was the experience of being at the Exorcist house?
ZAK BAGANS: The 100th episode at the Exorcist house deals with something that we’ve all been through before – possessions – and this was about learning more about the experiences we went through. We were there for each other, in those moments. It’s something that the three of us will really only understand because we were there to feel it and to witness it. To be at such an iconic home that housed the world’s most famous possession and exorcism, and to learn the truth about it and to actually speak with an ancestor, who is a great niece of the chief exorcist, Father William Bowdern, to interview her and hear her side of the story about witnessing her uncle at a Christmas party, and talking about the actual exorcism, was a true honor for us. To hear her tell us, and look inside our eyes and say, “I will not go to that house to do this interview. I will not even go down the street to do this interview with you,” erased my skepticism that this house is not haunted.
I’m a firm believer that a haunting takes place where somebody dies a tragic death or a suicide. The supercharged emotional event attributed to a death creates a portal, or a doorway to a haunting, and a residual energy that houses a nest for that entity. But, I was unaware that an exorcism that housed supercharged emotional energy dealing with a spiritual event of Satan himself is just as powerful as the deaths. So we went there to investigate a man who claims that he was recently attacked in the home in 2009. A man who’s credibility was really, really strong, through the words of the great niece of Father William Bowdern. She validated his credibility. And ultimately, this is what attracted us to the house. We wanted to investigate with the questions of, “Did the demon re-emerge itself from the exorcism in the 1940s? Was he simply experiencing this psychic scars re-manifesting from the residual energy of the stone and wood surfaces of the home? That is truly what attracted us to the investigation.
BAGANS: In August. That’s why we’re shaken up. We’re still shaken up from it. It’s draining after awhile, not because of the traveling, but because of what we encounter with the energies. The energies are what blows my mind. They drag everything out of you, and sometimes your own soul. You really have to mentally be stable, or else you’ll lose it.
What was it like to go to Transylvania?
NICK GROFF: We have been to very interesting and unique locations, all over the world. Throughout our journey through Ghost Adventures, Zak, Aaron and myself have been on a crazy roller coaster ride. But, there’s nothing like going overseas, back into that very rich history. We did that when we went to Transylvania to investigate Dracula’s capsules. It was just an amazing experience to step foot on the ground and be some of the first investigators ever to investigate where Dracula ruled and his father, Dracu, was born too. It was interesting. Aaron and myself actually captured some amazing evidence, in the process of being able to investigate the former castle that he ruled, while Zak was in this forbidden forest that was absolutely insane. It was just an absolutely amazing experience to be a part of.
AARON GOODWIN: We got to see where he was born, where he ruled, where he was captured, and where he died. We got his whole family history. It was awesome.
BAGANS: We were trying to interview Princess Brianna Caradja. The princess is Vlad Depes’ last known ancestor through blood, and she wasn’t going to interview with us. And then, all of sudden, Princess Brianna Caradja agreed to do our interview, very last minute. She arrived and we were hurrying up to do the interview. While we were interviewing her, she told us that her ancestor, Vlad Depes, came through. We were not expecting that because Romanian people are not open to talking about ghosts, let alone the ancestor of Vlad Depes. She told us that, during a Ouija board session about 15 to 20 years ago, her ancestor, Vlad Depes, came though and spells out V-L-A-D on the Ouija board, and started giving her information and premonitions about her upcoming life. It was really interesting.
What other upcoming investigations do you have this season?
GOODWIN: They’re crazy! They’re awesome. We finally got to go Alcatraz, and that was an experience. We’ve been trying to do that for awhile, and that finally happened. And we did a cool re-enactment scene in Prairieville and we got some amazing evidence. We actually went to a mustang ranch that was really haunted, out in Reno. That was pretty cool, to.
How did you guys originally meet and start doing what you do?
GOODWIN: Me and Nick met back when he was in college, and we helped each other in some projects. And then, I met Zak through Nick and joined the show. I had never even though about ghosts, so I was like, “All right, I’ll help you out.” And then, all of sudden, I was like, “What the heck just happened?!”
GROFF: Zak and I met because he actually DJed my wedding, which was cool.
BAGANS: I screwed up his first dance song.
GROFF: It was funny how the three of us came together. Our paths crossed for the reason why we’re here today. The three of us definitely had an interest in all things paranormal. One night, we were sitting around and I was talking to Zak and said, “Let’s go out and get some gear with money we don’t have and try to go to some of the haunted locations in Nevada and see what happens,” and that’s exactly what we did. The three of us hopped in Zak’s car and we drove to Virginia City, but on the way, we stopped at all the haunted mine towns and all of these cool little off-the-beaten-path locations. After we had all this footage, we were like, “Wow, this is amazing! We’ve got to do something with this. We have to show the world what we captured.” What we did is we said put a narrative to a documentary, and that’s what Ghost Adventures spawned from. The rest is history.
How have you matured over the course of doing this show?
BAGANS: Well, investigating 100 episodes has definitely matured us, and it’s matured our level of knowledge within this paranormal field. The way that we have learned and gained our knowledge is through our various investigations and the different professionals, scientists, demonologists and what not, that we have interviewed. For the 100th episode, we brought in one of the most educated demonologists in the world, Dr. Bradshaw, who’s from Scotland. He and others like him are the people that we ultimately gain our knowledge from in this field. Nobody on this planet will ever be able to answer the question, “What happens when you die?” But, what we can answer are the questions that we have about, “How are we able to capture these voices? How are we able to experience these compelling events?” We still don’t know how they’re able to answer questions. All we can do now is just capture this evidence, and it just keeps getting more and more compelling, the longer and deeper we are in this field.
GROFF: Over the years, a lot of learning comes from experience, with anything that you do. With Zak, Aaron and myself as paranormal investigators, we go to a new location, week after week, and we are learning so much about life, about death, and about all the things that go through everybody’s mind, no matter what their background is. That’s so compelling to us because we feel like we skated on thin ice for so long, on that other side. We’re almost in between two dimensions with what we’re doing sometimes. To me, that’s scary because, most of the time, you don’t know who you’re communicating with or in what dimension. You can theorize and you can talk about different pathways that happen after you die. The scariest thing for me is coming into contact with something that’s negative, where it can actually attach itself to you personally and lash out on your health, your physical well-being and your mental state. It can linger with you for a long time, unless you put yourself in that positive surrounding where you don’t let it win and destroy your life and everything around it. The three of us have gone through that. We’re still going through it, and it’s very scary. It’s dangerous. We didn’t realize that when we first started.
BAGANS: We are dealing with attachments. I’m dealing with them right now. I don’t know what they’re doing. I am seeking various people to help me with it. They’re very real, the things that they do in my home, and the things that they do to people that I get close to. Every girl that I ever try to have a relationship with will have an experience. I have a possessive female spirit. I was also told I have a demonic attachment. They make me sick. They make me agitated. It’s a side that nobody sees. It’s brought us closer together, even though we’ll still have our stupid little friendly fights. These are guys where these 100 episodes have brought us closer together because they’ve been through it and they understand it. It’s crazy.
Going to the Exorcist house and seeing what can happen to a little boy, in a worst case scenario diabolical possession, is when it gets bad. That’s when it goes from just having an attachment to having a full-on diabolical possession where you’re not even in control of your own body anymore. You know that your body is not your body anymore. It’s the body of Satan. And even just saying that out loud is scary. That’s how deep we are involved in these investigations. It’s why we get the help of the most educated demonologists in the world. We talked to the family members of the exorcists from the exorcism portrayed by the movie. While we were at that house, we communicated with an entity and we shared that evidence with a priest who is an exorcist. During the filming of that episode, I had a medical thing happen. We have actually asked ourselves, “How far do we want to keep going with this? Do we really want to keep doing demonic investigations? What have we gotten ourselves into?” It’s crazy, but we’re involved in it and this is what we do.
What advice would give to a homeowner that lives on laylines, or has a vortex on what was once considered sacred Indian grounds, and that are having unwanted paranormal activity?
BAGANS: Move. If you chose to live in a home that is living on intersecting laylines, and you’re living on an Indian burial ground and having paranormal experiences that are bothersome, you’re not going to get rid of them. They’ve taken ownership of that home and that area. You’re laying on nest of intersecting energies, and you’re not going to erase those energies. You can go the route of trying to get the home cleansed and helping that spirit move on from there, but when you’re living in a geomagnetic location and the home is actually placed on top of a geomagnetic intersection of energy on top of a burial ground, it doesn’t matter what you do. I don’t believe that you’ll ever be able to get rid of that, so it’s either you put up with it or you get out.
Are there locations that you guys would love to go to, that haven’t let you in yet?
GROFF: There are so many places, all over the world, that I want go to, especially overseas. There are a lot of really, really awesome places in Ireland, and some really insane places in Australia. There are still some outside of New York. There’s this huge mental hospital that I’ve been dying to go to, forever. It’s just so hard to get permission sometimes. Governments own the whole complexes. But, there are a lot of places. We’ve been hitting a lot of the places that I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, like the Exorcist house. I’ve always wanted to do that one, and that dream came true. I don’t know if it was a good decision that we did it because it’s scarred me.
If you could take just one investigative tool with you, what would it be?
BAGANS: My SP7 spirit box.
GOODWIN: Myself, just because you can sense certain things when it happens. But for proof, I would bring the PX.
GROFF: For me, it would probably be myself, too, just because of experience, and I know the feel and sense of everything. I would also bring a digital recorder to hear what the spirits are saying to me.
What do each of you feel was your defining moment, since you’ve started doing this?
BAGANS: I would say that the defining moment for me was when I went from a boy to a man, in terms of the paranormal world, at Bobby Mackey’s Music World, where I had an exorcism performed on me. I wasn’t expecting that. Bobby Mackey changed everything for me. Once we investigated Mackey’s and what happened to us in the first investigation, then we did an event and brought 100 people there to witness what a lot of people thought was maybe rigged. We’re a TV show, so we decided to bring 100 people there. And that two-day event could have been a real-life horror movie, for all the things that happened to all the people there. It was non-stop. I saw myself actually be taken away by one of the priests there, and had him put medallions and holy water on our foreheads. We couldn’t even bare the pain of how bad it was burning. That eventually lead into another investigation with us to return to Mackey’s, and bad things started happening to all of us, personally. But when I fell under this possession and had to be exorcised, things happened that will never been shown on camera and will never be told to anybody except Nick and Aaron and the priest that was there. That was a defining moment for me. I’m done with Mackey’s. We’re not going there ever again.
GOODWIN: Mine was the Winchester Mystery House because, during that moment, something snapped in me. Since then, I’ve been more aggressive. I’ll do whatever it takes to get the evidence. That was weird. The Hellfire Cave was also a turning point. I was scared half to death. I had never thought about ghosts. I was never into ghosts, so there was this whole shock wave thrown at me. And once your chosen for the paranormal, it keeps you in it, so I just kept doing it. Now, I’ve learned so much over the last 100 episodes that I’m completely different, but still the same. It’s really weird.
GROFF: The one that defines me was when I saw that lady standing there, two feet in front of my face, and was like, “Wow, that’s the moment I’ve been waiting for.” And then, something else occured in Savannah, Georgia. There was this negative energy that just overtook my own mental state. All of these moments and all of these experiences lead up to where I’m at in my life, right now, because it opened my eyes and it made me think that something more evil and sinister lies out there, that we don’t fully understand and that can actually linger on your own mental state and really destroy your well being, your own inner soul and your own spirit. It woke me up at the Exorcist house to hear all of those devil voices come through. And then, talking to the priest really opened up my mind because I wasn’t such a religious dude. I was raised as a Catholic, but I’m more spiritual. In that sense, I’m open-minded with talking to everybody from all types and backgrounds. I woke up and said, “I need to calm down with what we’re doing and be more cautious.”
With the way technological advances are going and the way you keep advancing what you’re using, do you think that you’re going to get to a point soon where you’ll be able to definitively say, “Here’s what we found, and here are your four or five different pieces of proof”?
GROFF: I think we’re already at that level. We live in the digital age with cell phones, and all that kind of stuff. It’s just moving so fast that we human beings can’t keep up with it. But, the one thing that the digital age is doing to the paranormal world, and especially for us exclusively, is that it’s enabling us to work with inventors and electrical engineers who are so enthused about the world of the paranormal, and they’re putting their knowledge and education to building and designing this new equipment and modifying existing equipment. That is really enabling us to take a personal experience and validate scientific data to suggest that there are fluctuations within the environment that are in unison to these experiences that are unexplained.
It’s so important for us to separate ourselves from just a television show. We do Ghost Adventures because we love dissecting history. We love presenting the history of locations. We love to travel. We love to show our personalities and have fun with each other, as friends. But, we are getting more serious about this because we know it’s real. How can we update and actually put ourselves on a higher level by showing our credibility? That is by using all of these new and different scientific pieces of equipment and working with engineers. It is really, really getting to the level now where we don’t know what to do. We’re showing this on television, but we really should be having some more organizations come and witness this stuff.
Ghost Adventures airs on Friday nights on the Travel Channel.