Ghost Hunters International's Robb Demarest, Dustin Pari and Barry FitzGerald. Photo copyright of the Syfy Channel.
When it comes to job satisfaction, Dustin Pari has no complaints. Since childhood he has been interested in the supernatural, and as a teenager, he and some of his friends would conduct their own paranormal investigations. A chance viewing of the hugely successful Syfy Channel reality TV series Ghost Hunters led Pari to become a member of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) and, eventually, the GH team.
In 2008, his investigations went global when he was invited to take part in GH's first spin-off series Ghost Hunters International, which has fast become a hit in its own right. Season two finishes airing tonight (Wednesday, February 17th @ 9:00 p.m. EST) and, like the show's first year, was a joy for Pari to work on. The latter half of GHI's second season began with two cases in Argentina, the second of which, Silver Shadow, focused on The Eden Hotel, a 19th century luxury resort once frequented by the world's rich and famous. This case proved especially memorable for Pari.
"The Silver Shadow investigation is one that became very emotional for me," he recalls. "I wasn't expecting it, but the little house and the story of the young child who died there kind of pulled at the heartstrings. Being a father and having children myself, any time there's a report of an apparition or the spirit of a child being left behind, it's always something I focus on and see if there is anything I can do to get that spirit to come forward. And more importantly, to urge it to move on from that place.
"As much as I enjoy documenting paranormal activity, I'm not there to leave the place haunted, especially if it's something like that. When that little shadow kind of stepped out and showed itself, it definitely scared me quite a bit. Again, I wasn't expecting it and it really startled me. However, I did stay there and try to speak to it further about how to move on.
"The thing is, I look at ghost hunting as more of a spiritual thing, and to have witnessed as well as captured firsthand evidence of some sort of afterlife or spirit world, is especially gratifying for me. Also, on a personal level, to be able to reach out to the spirit of that child hopefully made a difference. I really hope that the little guy found his way out of there.
"It's funny, too, a lot of people will ask me, 'How can you speak with the spirit of a child, especially someone who passed away so young?' I believe the age of this child was around 18 months or so. There are several theories out there about universal consciousness that say after the spirit passes on and we leave our mortal shell, that you tap into something larger than what we are here on Earth. As a result, you're able to understand other languages for one thing, as well as have a greater understanding of life in general. So in this instance it would be limited to the understanding and vocabulary of a young child, if that's how old the person was when he or she passed away. So that's what we keep in mind when we try to make an appeal to a younger spirit."
Australia was GHI's next destination, specifically Quarantine Station, once the first stop for immigrants carrying infectious diseases, and Port Arthur, a 19th century penitentiary known as "hell on Earth" by its inmates. "The cases in Australia were really sweet," says Pari. "The country itself is fantastic and we had a chance to chase some kangaroos and really enjoy ourselves.
"Of the two cases we did in Australia, Quarantine is the one that really stands out. Obviously there was a heightened probability of capturing [paranormal] evidence just because there were so many locations on the property and such a rich history of people who had been detained there and passed away there. To top all that off was the opportunity to capture that photo of the young boy standing outside the church, which is one of the best photos we've captured in a while. I think that they [the show's production company] did it justice, too. When editing the episode in post-production they put a little outline around the image to give it a bit more contrast, because you do lose a little something by the time it gets to TV. Again, though, I think they did an outstanding job of presenting the image as we saw it, and it's one of those things that makes you think twice."
Besides Argentina and Australia, Pari also traveled with GHI to Tasmania and Costa Rica for the season two episodes, Tasmania Death Sentence and San Lucas Prison. "In Tasmania we visited the courthouse, which was particularly interesting because it's not the type of building that we often get to investigate," he notes. "There were certainly some unique happenings there that we had the chance to further look into.
"Malaysia I found interesting insofar as catching up on the different ways that they perceive paranormal activity as well as their belief systems and how things are structured, so there was a great deal to look forward to there. It was a challenge as well, though, with the language barrier probably being the toughest that we've so far come up against."
It was necessary for Pari to bow out of GHI's season two finale trip to Jamaica in order to help out Ghost Hunters while two of its investigators, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, shot the first season of the second GH spinoff series, Ghost Hunters Academy. Pari and GHI teammate Barry FitzGerald subsequently flew to San Francisco, California to make a guest-appearance on the 100th GH episode.
"That was fantastic," enthuses Pari. "First off, it's always good to get that old Irishman [FitzGerald] back in the United States and my home territory, and it was terrific to be back with TAPS and work again with the GH team as well. To then go to Alcatraz was incredible. I hate to sound like I'm quoting an old line here, but it really is a paranormal investigators' dream location.
"The history of Alcatraz is, of course, extremely well-known and there were men of much ill-repute who were held there. There is definitely some sort of essence within the place when you're walking around it, especially at night when everything is dark. It almost feels like Alcatraz comes alive. It's amazing, and to be standing there in the cells and looking at the California mainland; imagine the torture that must have been for those prisoners. To be that close and see freedom, but knowing there was no way you could ever get to it. It really was an unforgettable experience."
Despite their busy GHI schedules, Pari and Barry FitzGerald managed to find time to collaborate on a book, The Complete Approach - The Scientific and Metaphysical Guide, which was released last summer. "The response to the book has been just phenomenal," says Pari. "We've heard from people all over the world, from different groups and at different points in their investigative careers. They found a great deal of information in the book that they'd been looking for, as well as a number of things that I don't think a lot of people out there speak about.
"So we were very happy to hear the response to the book. We put it out there in an effort to document exactly what it is we do, how we do it, why we do it, and as a reference for people who want to get involved in this field. Barry and I have now taken that a step further with our second book [So My Home Is Haunted, Now What?], which we're just putting some finishing touches on and hope to get out in the coming months.
"This book is going to speak more to an understanding of the paranormal field and how to deal with hauntings when they happen. We've taken a worldwide approach to this and interviewed people in every country that we've gone to, from different faiths and walks of life, to see what their opinions are on why these things are happening and how they come about in the first place. Then from there, what steps do they take to deal with such things, based on, like I said, what their faith as well as family traditions have taught them.
"We actually found that there is a lot of common ground from all corners of the globe, and it was quite interesting to see this underlying understanding of the paranormal community and the spirit world. We had the good fortune to work with several people who are very knowledgable and were very kind in sharing their stories with us. We're presenting all of it anonymously just to protect those people who wanted to share some of the darker side of things, which I think is good because it really allowed them to open up and say what they wanted to say."
Of all the people he and FitzGerald talked with for this second book, is there one whose information Pari found especially surprising? "We spoke with this one gentleman in Malaysia about an entity that they know and respect very much," he says. "We would classify it as an 'inhuman entity,' meaning that it was never a person like you or I at any point in its existence.
"The way he explained it to us is that these entities are actually here to test mankind out of a duty to God. However, they can be very destructive and harmful, and he has seen them tear apart families and cause a number of problems. Again, he was really kind enough to go into detail about how these things happen, what signs to look for, and ways to clear them out and release them from someone's home."
Away from the paranormal world, Pari holds down what he refers to as three "normal" jobs and takes great pride in being a devoted husband and father to three children. While he is looking forward to production starting up this month on season three of GHI, he is, as always, going to miss being away from his loved ones.
"We're not exactly sure yet what's going on as far as what locations the team will be travelling to this time around," he says. "So at the moment we're all just absorbing those last few precious moments with our families and enjoying the comforts of home before we get ready to start filming again."
To find out more about Dustin and his paranormal work, check out his website at www.paranormalrockstar.com
As noted above, photo copyright of the Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!