Orlansky said he isn’t “looking for ghosts” but instead “looking for an answer.” His goal, he said, is to help people, whether psychologically, practically or supernaturally.
In a place as historically saturated as New York, people like Vroon will stumble into haunted places and will need people like Orlansky to help them figure out what to do. But, not everyone has these encounters by accident. Some people go looking for the city’s ghosts.
Anthony Long is the “Chief Ectoplasm Officer” of The Brooklyn Paranormal Society. He talked about how he started the society in 2015 over blasting rock ’n’ roll music at a “ghost hunt” event at Wonderville, a neon-speckled arcade and bar located in the Bushwick neighborhood.
“It took off immediately — people couldn’t get enough of it,” he said.
Ironically, when asked about his experiences with the paranormal, Long said, “I don’t believe in it at all. I just did it because I knew I could do better. Yeah, I don’t believe in this s—. There’s been like 100,000 ghost hunts since they became a thing, and no one’s found that real, conclusive proof. A lot of people don’t realize that seances — all this — it was entertainment. It was always entertainment.”
He described how many of the ghost hunting TV shows frustrated him. He said he started BKPS “kind of in response to feeling offended by shows like ‘Ghost Adventures.’ To be entertained, you almost have to suspend your belief. … We’re here to find evidence. If we can do that and have fun doing it, then we accomplished a goal that other people can’t.”
After downing a beer, he said, “People used to say, ‘You shouldn’t drink or do drugs while you’re ghost hunting because it leaves you more susceptible to spirits.’ Well … why wouldn’t I want that?”
Andrew Arnett was a man sitting at the bar who Long pointed to, referring him as the “co-founder.” He ordered an orange juice before speaking about the organization. Both referenceed the fact that BKPS now takes “caravans” to different haunted spots, with a recent one being Kentucky to see the Goat Man, who Arnett says is a half-man, half-goat cryptid that coaxes people out to train tracks where they are killed.
At a gathering last spring, the arcade was full of mostly millennials. Many conversations could be overheard about different theories people had. The group included both skeptics and believers. Most people said this was their first time time attending such an event.
That’s not what it’s about. Long said it’s about being “in the vibe (he wants_ to be in.”
“If I don’t make it,” he added, “it won’t exist.”
What religion says about ghosts
New York, being an old American city, has deep Christian roots despite its secular nature these days. Nearly 60% of New Yorkers identify as some form of Christian. Christianity is known for having a rich lore of angelic and demonic forces. In addition to this, one of Yahweh’s many names is “The Holy Ghost.” And though Biblical stories about the most traditional understanding of ghosts — spirits of the dead walking among the living — are infrequent, there is a one scene in which King Saul visits a medium and speaks to the spirit of a deceased prophet, and Jesus Christ does restore the lives of several dead individuals.
Despite its limited supply of intensively ghost-related and spiritual stories in its holy book, Christianity has still wormed its way into much horror pop culture. Perhaps the most famous example of this is David Gordon Green’s “The Exorcist.” But this is just one example in a long line of horror stories that involve Christian themes.