Ghost-hunting with Zak Bagans is serious business.
Two weeks before Halloween, we met up with the 35-year-old host of the Travel Channel's reality show "Ghost Adventures" at Grand Central Terminal.
Looking like the cool dude of the paranormal world, Bagans - with spiked hair and black shades - arrives with his arsenal of ghost-detection tools packed into a Louis Vuitton backpack. He isn't a psychic or medium - he's an ex-skeptic who says he does communicate with spirits, but also uses science to prove their existence. His tool chest includes a mel meter, which detects energy, and a recorder - which Bagans uses to record spirits' voices after he asks them questions.
When Bagans and his team go on an investigation, they lock themselves in a supposedly haunted space - empty except for the guys and, of course, the spirits. Needless to say, Grand Central isn't empty when we catch up with Bagans, but we do get the chance to get the lowdown on ghost-hunting.
How does someone get into this field? A lot of people in this field will have an experience first with a ghost, or what they think is a ghost, and then what they do is, like me, they want answers. I didn't believe in this s---. I really didn't. You have to experience it first, and once you do, it changes everything.
So what happened to you? A little over 10 years ago, I had a full-on spirit of a woman in my apartment. She started screaming my full name, Zachary, for seven straight nights after I moved into this old apartment building. I was just selling cell phones at AT&T wireless — I wasn’t thinking about ghosts. And on the seventh night ... she was [also] staring at me and made physical contact. Those are the most profound experiences you can have with a ghost. So I felt like I was chosen to do this.
Why do ghosts want to communicate with living people? If there are ghosts walking around here, which I'm sure there are, it's like nobody can hear you. Once you find out somebody can hear you, you're like, "Oh s---! Hello!"
What's the first thing you do on an investigation? When you feel a ghost, most people will feel chills - you're feeling the energy. So what I do is, I drain myself out, so I don't psych myself up to feel that way. I go into a place like I'm buying a pair of underwear at Marshalls - like it's a regular place.
And then the tools come in. I want to document \[proof\] on a scientific device. It’s very serious.
Has this affected you personally? I have a lot of problems in my house. I can’t have a girlfriend. I have a territorial female spirit that will not let me date any girls, and if I do, the [spirit] pushes them down the stairs. I’ve seen a girl do a tug of war with a purse in just air. So it is scary.
On TV: "Ghost Adventures" airs 9 p.m. on Fridays on the Travel Channel. Fans can also win a paranormal adventure with Bagans through Patrón XO Cafe's "Hunt for Haunted America" contest. Enter through Thursday at facebook.com/patronxocafe.