Monday, July 12, 2010

Strange State Finds Out What Makes Divas Tick (and Ticked Off)

On more than one occasion, a firestorm of controversy has erupted around a group of opinionated women (and one guy) who take on all comers in a no-holds-barred critique of the paranormal community. The Ghost Divas have battled paranormal investigation teams; one-time SyFy cast members; and called into question the authenticity of the network's popular program, Ghost Hunters.

While it might be easy to dismiss the Divas as caustic detractors, a growing fan base and rising profile seem to suggest the group is striking a chord among the more disaffected and dissatisfied in the field. With an outright disdain for the trappings of the modern fame-seeking investigation teams (merchandising, video promotion, media appearances...), the Divas have also lambasted (less than scrupulous) psychics, the notion of orbs, and even addressed fashion in the field (they are all for it, by the way).

I hadn't read too many interviews with the Divas, so I decided to pick Ghost Diva Tonya Hacker's brain and find out what makes them tick - and what gets them ticked off.

What got you each into the paranormal?

All the Divas entered the field under different circumstances, but I do believe that we all at one point had something we would call "paranormal/unexplainable" take place. As with most people, something strange happens it kick starts you into some type of research. Then later on curiosity gets the best of you and you pretty much try to see if you can witness unexplainable activity again. No matter what people may say, it is a personal quest for each and every person that explores and researches things that go bump in the night.

How did you ladies meet; and how did the concept of ‘Ghost Divas’ arise?

Tonya and Tammy met while Tonya was investigating Tammy's home in Enid, Oklahoma. They instantly became friends. A few years later. The cable network TLC produced a then-new TV pilot titled "America's Ghost Hunters". This was way before all the TV shows being produced today. During the show, we both were pretty verbal about what we looked like on the show. We were also very verbal about not being "coached" into doing or saying things we felt were dishonest. We were going to be on National TV and did not want to come across as "screaming girls" or anything like that. The camera men and crew literally deemed us "The Ghost Divas" and well, we adopted it.

At the time the show aired, Tammy and I had already started blogging about the nonsense taking place in the field and how people are spending more time marketing themselves than actual research. The Blog title was "The Ghost Divas". It was a place where we could vent and let it all out, no matter who "hated" us. We really didn't care. We then played around with building a radio show, where we went "Live". Mainly because people thought we had "Keyboard courage" with our rants. We proved them wrong.

Janice Oberding, a respected author in the Las Vegas area was a "fan" of the blog. After seeing her writings and her own eloquently written "rant" blogs, we asked her to become a Ghost Diva. Tonya K was a written skeptic. She had a different and practical non-believing outlook concerning subjects of the unexplained and we loved how she was not condescending as a skeptic. She accepted and agreed to help out with the blogs from a skeptical viewpoint.

Later Amanda Wagaman was becoming a great debater on our blog. She was a friend of Tammy's, but now lives in the OKC Metro area. After realizing she offered a "Non ghost hunter" perspective on the subjects we talked about, we asked her to team up with us. We wanted to offer many diverse opinions about the paranormal field and we found a great team of ladies willing to put it all out there and simply, Just say it!

We met our "Ghost Daddy" Bob Hunnicut at some conferences and he was a guest on our show. We loved the way he spoke about paranormal investigations and asked him to be on our show each week.

Do those of you who were also members of various teams still keep up with those, or have you moved on to other projects?

Tammy stays busy in Enid, OK. She also has a team of researchers titled EErieOK. She works on a case by case basis only. Tonya still operates the GHOULI team in Oklahoma. Celebrating over 11 years in the field, she too only accepts cases, depending on the case. Amanda works with both teams in Oklahoma. Janice is very active in Nevada and writes about all of her adventures and haunting history within the state. Bob H. runs the Georgia Ghost Society and is active in the field as well. All of us have other "projects" taking place. We are all writers and we enjoy hitting the airwaves each week.

As your popularity grows, so too has the number of your critics. Does this fuel you (รก la Kathy Griffin), or is it an obstacle you see yourselves overcoming?

We love critiques, when they actually know how to critique someone! We don't mind feedback, we just don't care for the insanely fueled haters out there that spread lies and basically make things up to "take us down". Those people are like those crappy Enquiring magazines you see at the check-out stand. They really don't have anything on us, so they just make crap up. We figured they are seeking some sense of feeling power in their lives to do what they do, it's rather sad in reality. We have been "attacked" by so many people, we always overcome it. We overcome it because we speak about the truth. A lot of people do not want to hear the truth so hey instantly start boycotting us, making things up, going on drunken rages, blogging about us, attempting to harass us and so on. People are truly INSANE in this field at times. We do take everything with a grain of salt because we know we are just being honest, we laugh a lot at people. You have to! We sleep well at night and we do not take this field as "Ghost Divas" too serious. It's a big joke 98% of the time. Kathy Griffin is awesome by the way! LOL!

What’s the ultimate aim of the Divas? Education? Entertainment? A bit of both?

The Ghost Divas LIVE show is for smart people. Believers, skeptics and those who may be on the fence when it comes to what is seen on the internet and TV. Smart people in our opinions are people that have a true open mind, sense of humor and do not believe that leprechaun ghosts are forming a society under their beds at night. Smart people as in those that do not believe every knock on the wall is a demon straight from hell. Common sense is very hard to find in the paranormal field. Everyone wants to believe they have the bigger, badder demonic entity hiding in their clients basement. Smart people do not believe that way. We have fun on our show, we try to educate but our listeners already have common sense. No matter how hard we try to explain that "orbs" are not ghosts, there are people that are going to believe. We are pretty much done walking into brick walls. So, we poke a lot of fun.

What are your biggest criticisms of the field as it stands now?

Ghost Hunting TV shows and the "fans" they create. They are like a cult! The church of TAPS is a big one! Those people look up to a science fiction cable TV show and believe everything and everything they say to be the "Word of God". Fans pour out piles of money to assist the "church". They dump out money on things like $400 conferences, to "meet" the masters of the TAPS church. To paying $10 to have the "leaders" pose in a photo with them. t-shirts, promotional items the list goes on and on. Last year, the leaders of the cult purchased a "haunted hotel" where followers can pay more money to be taught by the para-gods! It's crazy! Outside of the horrible TV/Media influence. The cult mentality has leaked into every state in this nation. There are fly-by-night teams popping up anywhere and everywhere. They have never read a book or studied anything outside of what they have watched on TV. They have a ghost hunting goal of being famous and nothing more. They have agents and sell their image online. They have no articles, information or anything about theory or opinions, they are just for sale and feel they are ready for TV. It's really pathetic!

Many follow the protocols laid out in Troy Taylor’s famous how-to, while a great number of newer ghost hunters echo the likes of T.A.P.S. Do the Divas have a different set of guidelines, and is this something you will share with the public in the future?

Common sense is the best tool to investigate claims of the unknown. Read everything and anything related to "ghost hunting/paranormal research". Also, if a team is claiming to be "scientists", they need to take 8th grade science class again and recall the format of how to properly conduct a "scientific" investigation. Protocol, we all use a common sense approach to investigation. Most of the Divas are big fans of the psychological impact of hauntings and, of course, the historical significance of each case. People shouldn't watch TV to learn how to hunt ghosts. What is seen on TV is not real. It's for entertainment only! Besides, you can't really "hunt" ghosts, but most people today think they are. It's rather sad.

Can you share some of what some of those improvements might be?

People need to have a TRUE open mind instead of constantly being in attack mode. If these people can't handle criticisms, they should not be posting videos, photos and pile of other crappy information on the internet for the public to read. The best improvement this field could ever make is to eliminate the "star struck, Paranormal Idol" types so the general public can find some reliable help when they need it. More and more "film crews" arrive at peoples homes and of course, there is always a demon in little Timmy's closet. If these teams are for "Entertainment" it should be mandatory that it is places on their websites. These people are lying to the public, just to add video to their YouTube accounts.

Have you regretted anything you may have said on your show or blog?

Not really. We have a disclaimer before our show! We all stand behind what we say on our show. It's just us, not some "radio personality" hiding behind a computer microphone. In real life we are this way! We are not characters, this is who we are. We rant and rave a lot and have fun. We get email after email from people stating "I may not agree with you ladies all the time, but I have a lot of respect for you all". This is all we could and ever will ask for. We just want people to stop and really think about claims of the supernatural before believing in them.

1 comment:

Word Woman said...

Great interview! This kind of dialogue is so needed.