Back in 2017, we interviewed Shane and Kai of the fabulous Queer Ghost Hunters to follow-up on how their first year on YouTube went. When we first got wind of this wonderful team, we interviewed Shane, Kai, and Scott on their origins and how they all came together to go after the mysteries of the supernatural.
Now Shane is back! This time with fellow Queer Ghost Hunter, Lori, to talk about their podcast, The Q Files. Unfortunately, ghost hunting is not a cheap endeavor to do regularly. So due to their love for podcasts and the paranormal, Shane and Lori decided to start one.
The Q Files does something a bit different than other podcasts in its vein. The Q Files not only uses conversations and interviews, but also audio from the field on Shane and Lori’s ghost hunting expeditions. This can get tricky as often ghost hunting is used as a way to “show” that ghosts are real.
According to Shane, The Q Files is, “…is a clear play on The X Files, and those who know our prior work rightly assume the Q stands for queer. And it does. But we use it in the classic sense – odd, peculiar, strange”. Unlike prior engagements, the Q Files does not focus solely on ghosts! This is a podcast for all things outlandish, mysterious, and well, what you may call queer.
GenderTerror: Why the paranormal, ghosts, the other, etc?
Shane: Why do this? I’ve always been fascinated by the weird world around us. Exploring it, reading about it, creating it with imagination. I find this stuff really interesting. And it’s led to so many great adventures, stories, and friends. I also like the idea of adding a little mystery and magic to people’s lives. So much of that is lost as we get older.
Lori: Because it excites us. Because it brings us to another level of consciousness that opens our minds and our hearts. As queer people, we are very used to being seen as the “Other”. There is a blessing in that. And a whole different way of looking at the world around us that many others might not see. As we say at the end of every podcast… “Be weird. Stay curious.” And we mean that. It is the weird, curious people that have always changed the world. We want to honor that notion and celebrate it. And I think we do.
We also like to connect pressing social issues with the paranormal. Much of what we see in that other “realm” is a reflection of our our world, but often with more wisdom and often with a warning… the spiritual universe trying to inform our physical and human/emotional universe of what we are bringing upon ourselves. We try and connect those dots. Nothing exists unto itself. And what happens in the paranormal world can often be used to educate and inform our own human existence. Shane and I tend to exist in the center of that glorious Venn diagram between the paranormal universe and the human physical world. And we like it there.
GT: This is more for Lori, but Shane can answer too. You mentioned the connections between what you do and current issues. Can you go more in-depth with that and examples?
S: I’m certain Lori will provide an excellent answer to this, but for me, any time we’re creating something we’ve tried to include messages in it that connect what we’re doing to larger societal issues. We’re both warriors for progressive causes. Just by way of example, our episode on the Austin Dam concludes a message about the wealthy using their influence in disturbing ways. Or our UFO episode, covering the fact that minorities experience discrimination when reporting their sightings.
L: Well take for example our episode where we interview Chris Blake. He is talking about how minorities, particularly people of color are less likely to be believed when they experience a paranormal event whether it be a UFO, a ghost or even BigFoot. This conversation led us to examine the larger notion of systemic racism that haunts America. And in our Austin Dam Mystery Man episode, we combined that story of an unexplained haunting of a man in black before the flood that nearly wiped Austin, PA off the map with the notion that maybe these apparitions are trying to warm us about the destruction we are bringing on ourselves via our own greed and indifference. The legend of the Mothman seems to send the same message. We like to link the paranormal with the very issues that we are experiencing both socially, ecologically and politically. because, we believe it is all truly linked. The paranormal and physical. The past, present and furniture. Really…. all the same thing.
GT: Can you talk about the episodes you make from the field? Is it hard to decide what does and doesn’t make the cut?
S: The episodes from the field are something that is relatively unique to our podcast. I’m not sure anyone else is doing that, as most folks are filming their investigations. While it is unique and fun to essentially bring listeners on investigations with us, it is difficult. We end up with hours upon hours of audio because it’s difficult to know when an engaging organic situation will occur. That said, while it does often take a little while to sort through everything, it isn’t usually too difficult to decide what stays and what doesn’t. I try to walk through the investigation as it happened or sort the audio in logical ways – like inside and outside. But we aren’t necessarily telling any kind of story so we do not have to fabricate or over emphasize various parts – we aren’t creating a scripted reality show, it’s just the audio of what happened, how it happened.
L: The field recordings are definitely the most exciting. Because we don’t know WHAT we are going to find! And it would be untrue if I said that Shane and I didn’t go into each adventure and/or investigation with some notion of how we hoped it would turn out. But it NEVER turns out how we expected. And honestly, that is what is most exciting to me. And, I think, most exciting for our listeners (and the viewers of our original series on YouTube, Queer Ghost-hunters). For example, just this weekend, we went to the near-by haunted Bryn Du Mansion… and we expected to talk with an entity there named Sally who we had talked with before. And we did eventually talk to her, but the method in which we ended up communicating with her (stay tuned for the episode!) changed our focus of the evening… and will bring us to an entirely new concept to present on the Q-Files episode. This is what excites me. This is what keeps us doing what we do. It is not ultimately confirming what we know, but instead, leading us down new paths of discovery and new concepts of the world around us.
What we decide to cut or not?
Sometimes that is a tough decision…. especially if we have to wade through an 8-10 hour recording of an investigation. But mostly, the investigation itself produces a very clear through-line of what we want to present to our listeners. The clarity that comes forth from totally engaging yourself in an experience is awesome unto itself. Our podcast is the result of that.
GT: What are the unique troubles of trying to explore and ‘show’ the paranormal world through audio only?
S: I suppose the problem with audio only is the same problem you have anytime you’re storytelling without visuals. What I’ve found is that it’s important to be descriptive with language when I’m narrating and to capture ambient sound to help folks imagine the scene and feel like they’re there.
L: I have come to believe that it is a huge advantage. We are now as a species/civilization so dependent on visual stimulation/confirmation and we often think that only the visual can tell the whole story. I have come to disagree. There is something that happens when your eyes are closed and your other senses must perceive what is happening around you. I believe that our vision is the least spiritual of all of our senses. It is too literal. It is too lazy and easy. But when you just use your ears, or your nose or even the feeling of your skin… you start to pick up on things that your eyes will never see. And not only not see…… I believe your eyes can actually keep you from experiencing what is truly around you. I have no interest in doing a video series anymore. I LOVE the podcast medium… the old school version of telling a really, good story. Your ears make you lean in… to hear… what your eyes cannot see. We want listeners to lean in. Move closer.
GT: Both of you seem to really enjoy the way a podcast evokes a campfire ghost story type feel. Favorite old school story and any plans to cover these types on the Q Files?
S: Oh I’m sure we’ll come up with something to cover based on these. Perhaps something with folklore, or maybe do a reading for next Halloween. I don’t know if I recall any specific campfire stories. When I was younger I enjoyed the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, In a Dark Dark Room (the girl with green ribbon – remember that story?!), and Goosebumps.
L: My favorites story/stories is/are the ones that my own family actually used to tell around our campfires every summer as we camped a great deal. Mostly, the elders would make them up on the spot to scare us kids. But many of them were composed of old local legends and haunts. I would like to re-create this notion in an upcoming episode. Ya know…. just gather our friends around us and tell scary stories, whether made up, real or a combination of both.
GT: Favorite ghost story or experience?
S: As it relates to The Q Files, my favorite experience so far is really just the adventuring it has enabled us to do. Whether it was Lori and I wandering through an old junkyard chasing the story of the “Turkey Men” or stopping at a collapsed dam in rural Pennsylvania and chatting with folks for several hours about a strange man who visited and may have foretold the collapse.
L: I did have a great time during our Queer Ghost-hunters series when I bonded with the Ursuline nun, Madeline. It was quite an extraordinary journey for me and one of the weirdest paranormal experience I believe I will ever have. I had her here in my house. With the EVPs, I could hear her walking around my bedroom. There is something that changes in you when you connect with an entity like that. Life-changing indeed. And Shane and I will continue to try and visit Madeline.. which we have discovered was not her real name. We now know who she was in real life.. Her 100-year death-versary is Feb. 22, 2020. We want to celebrate this date and honor her. Stay tuned. Hehe!
GT: Since the show isn’t only focused on the paranormal, what topics are you excited to explore?
S: One of the limiting factors that we had with Queer Ghost Hunters was the niche focus. It is a great series and I know Lori and I are both very proud of the work, but it was difficult to explore concepts outside of the series title. With The Q Files we don’t really have a road map. I’m honestly just excited to explore all the weird things, meet all the strange people, and hopefully make our listeners curious about the world around them. A recent episode of ours was focused on how minority experiences of reporting UFO phenomenon are made more difficult because folks are less likely to believe them. We’re also working on exploring the connections to white supremacy, Nazism, and the alt-right in the fringe communities of the paranormal. We’re taking these ideas that are outside popular consciousness and peeling back the layers to see what’s there and trying to have the conversations about issues not many folks are thinking about. But we’re also working on fun things like trying to contact fairies, proving the Garden of Eden is in Ohio, and that a car that runs on water exists and it’s inventor was murdered by foreign agents.
L: Everything that is weird and outside of the general human consideration. Especially things that have happened/happen in Ohio…you know… the national center of “The Weird”! We both want to further explore Appalachian magic, African-American “HooDoo”, Ohio pawpaws, an Ohio Saint and even the paranormal life of Abraham Lincoln to name just a few ideas. We want to acquaint and bring to others all of the awesome, miraculous worlds that are just beyond our traditional human grasp.
GT: Dream place to explore? Anywhere in the world, no limits.
S: This is always such a tough question. In the United States, I would really like to do an investigation at The Upstairs Lounge. It’s only rarely investigated by anyone, but I think we would be the perfect folks to see if anything remains there.
Otherwise, I’d really like to do something internationally. I’m not sure exactly where.
L: I personally would love to ghost-hunt on the Gettysburg Battlefield. There is a huge history of paranormal activity there… and it is no wonder. So much life and death. So much emotion. I have even heard reports that now there are apparitions of Civil War re-enactors seen there as they too are experiencing much emotion at that locale. What a complicated, complex and multi-dimensional site to explore. And we have also wanted to investigate the notion of transgender soldiers…. particularly F-M trans people that fought in the Civil War. And while some females may have simply cross dressed to be allowed to partake in defending both the Union and the Confederacy, we also believe that this also may have been an opportunity for transmen to first experience being “out” within their true gender identity. Again…. a complicated and complex spirit communication opportunity. And as a Lincoln aficionado, I would also like to ghost-hunt at his Springfield, IL home because… who wouldn’t?! And we have also talked about visiting the “Upstairs Lounge” in New Orleans, the site of one of the largest queer mass murder sites in history.
GT: Current other side projects or upcoming episodes you’re especially excited for?
S: Ha! Lori and I love getting together and coming up with 50 other side projects that we could start. That said, we have discussed some very unique and exciting ideas, and I’m confident in saying The Q Files won’t be our last creative adventure together.
As for episodes, and not to be flippant or coy, but I’m excited for all of our upcoming stuff. There are episodes we’re slowly working on and putting together and some that we are planning to get footage from. But they cover the gamut of topics and that’s what makes it all so fun. We’re going to do a few episodes with spiritualist ideas, and I think those will be pretty neat and new for folks to experience.
L: Very excited about our next episode…. about when Abraham Lincoln supposedly went down to the South, at night, dressed as a beggar to visit with the slaves and tell them that they would soon be free. These are stories told by ex-slaves about incidents in places where Lincoln could never have been. But something happened to create that collective narrative as there are over 40 stories like this. What happened… truly? I cannot wait to bring this idea to our listeners. We are also doing a seance episode at the end of the month! I have never done a seance before and I am thrilled to get to do this as a podcast episode. Because we have NO idea what will happen! THAT is my favorite kind of podcast!