Dark Shores: Chicago Ghost Conference 2015 Wrap-Up

61 – Dark Shores: Chicago Ghost Conference 2015 Wrap-Up

So, October 2nd through 4th, I attended the Dark Shores: Chicago Ghost Conference with a VIP pass. My sister, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, as well as one of the guides on her haunted history tour, Estephanie (check out some of her cool handcrafted items here!), also came along and in this podcast we go over our favorite parts of the convention. This is Estephanie’s first ghost convention (Allison’s first was one of Troy Taylor’s events in Alton, IL where we did our first live podcast this last St. Patrick’s Day!)

First of all, if you haven’t been on the Chicago Hauntings ghost tour, you’re missing out, because it’s a lot of fun and a great way to get to know Chicago ghost stories and haunted places. It’s run by Ursula Bielski (and Allison and I always like to see another proud Polish-American in the ghost business!) and she did a great job of collecting an entertaining group of speakers on a variety of paranormal subjects.

The conference was at Gaelic Park, which was right across the street from one of the reputedly most haunted spots in the Chicago area, Bachelors Grove Cemetery. They had special haunted late night tours of the cemetery and even had a quick presentation by the person that took this photo, which in my opinion, is one of the best ghost photos of the past couple of decades…

The Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove (not that Madonna, she’s not a ghost yet, just a skeleton…)

The event was emceed by Minneapolis and Coast To Coast AM radio host, Dave Schrader of Darkness Radio, and he’s just as funny in person as he is on his radio show. Friday night, there was a short video presentation on a Bachelors Grove featuring a local ghost hunting team and then a really cool interview with Father Mike Maginot, who was the priest who exorcised the kids in the “Indiana Demon House”.

The Indiana Demon House was a controversial case of demonic possession from 2014 that happened in Gary, Indiana (home of not only Michael Jackson, but also Blacula himself, William Marshall!) Anyway, you’re going to hear a lot more about the Indiana Demon House in the upcoming months because Ghost Adventures’ Zak Bagans bought the place to make a documentary film on it (and take a look at this CSICOP article for their usual intelligent, but party-pooping take on the whole affair.) Anyway, the interview with the priest was interesting because he was taking about how just the use of the demon’s name was causing trouble for the family, that they couldn’t even get it the name to print out because it kept shutting down the computer. Anyway, that made me want to know the name of the demon (of course I think there’s more to the universe than we can comprehend, but I’m not scared of the oogedy-boogedy religious stuff when there’s real evil in the world happening all the time), but they moved on to the last speaker of the night before I could ask the question.

Darkness Dave and Father Migniot - Indiana Demon House
Darkness Dave and Father Maginot – Indiana Demon House

The last speaker was Christopher Fleming and he was great, mixing talk of ghosts and psychic powers with a little Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and some of The Secret as well (with less of the Oprah-y stuff.) Anyway, I’m a sucker for self-help stuff so I really enjoyed it and I think he had a really positive message that I like to hear. If you want something, you need to believe in it. And whether it’s a flash of intuition, some psychic power, or it’s you creating the “vision” yourself, “vision” is the important thing. If you don’t see where you want to go, then you might never get there. I liked the integration of psychic sensitivity with a grander purpose towards self-determination.

Saturday morning was a lot of fun with presentations by Scott Gruenwald (a funny but definitely NSFW presentation to start the day!) and our good friend, Tea Krulos from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, (who had a fun lecture on ghosts in the Brew City!)  We also caught up with the guys from The Hidden Truth, Jay Bachochin from Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators and filmmaker, Scott Markus.

Catching up with Jay from Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators
Hunting the truth in Chicago wth Milwaukee Ghosts, Madison Ghost Walks, and Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators!

There was a panel on ghost boxes (here’s how to make your own!) and then around lunchtime, it was time for the Guest of Honor. Actress Virginia Madsen was the Guest of Honor and she talked on a panel about Chicago ghost stories since she’s had an interest in it and she’s also a Chicago native. She’s been in movies like Candyman and A Haunting in Connecticut, we talk about Candyman a bunch in the Charlie Charlie episode and she seemed like a lot of fun (and just as pretty in person as on the screen!) But at $25 for a picture with her, I decided to go for a long shot instead!

Is she saying "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman"?!?
Is she saying “Candyman, Candyman, Candyman”?!?

Then we watched Christopher Saint Booth, a British documentarian and snazzy dresser who makes films with his brother about paranormal subjects.  He released a documentary and book based on the diaries around the true story behind The Exorcist as well as and he did talk a little bit about Christian duality (you can’t have God without the Devil, hey it’s like the Yazidi!) Check out his demo reel here, the Booth Brothers do some pretty stylish work!

It’s like a British Paranormal Bret Michaels!

But Allison’s favorite presentation of the day came from the guy who finds the ghost stories for Ghost Adventures, Jeff Belanger. His presentation was totally polished, had plenty of multimedia, and really got into the reason that ghost stories and folklore are important and in the podcast episode, Allison gets into why she even got a little verklempt during it. My favorite part was talking to him about his music and he even tells a story about opening for Eddie Money (which I retell in the podcast.)

Allison and Zombie Jeff Belanger!
Allison and Zombie Jeff Belanger!

Then afterwards, Saturday night was the costume karaoke party at Chet’s Melody Lounge (across the street from Resurrection Cemetery!) and that was a blast. Jeff Belanger and Darkness Dave were dressed as a little bit of Chicago history and after a few Lagunitas beers, I even tried to get the name of the Indiana Demon out of Darkness Dave (to no avail!) Christopher Fleming sang  a wicked version of “Big Balls” by AC/DC, I did a little Judas Priest, and everybody did “The Time Warp”!

Darkness Dave Schrader and Ghost Adventures Jeff Belanger
Mrs. O’Leary and the cow who caused the Great Chicago Fire…

Sunday, however, took a little bit to get going because well, you know, beers, but there were some of my favorite presentations that day. Including some Jewish ghost stories and a fascinating lecture on ghost stories around the world (including the tribe from The Gods Must Be Crazy and Southeast Asian ghost stories that I’ve already integrated a little bit into Madison Ghost Walks!)

Oy vey!
Oy vey!

But the final presentation of the day is what inspired this week’s song. It was about The Devil In The White City himself, H.H. Holmes and various Chicago serial killers. Well, I can’t believe that I’d never heard the term “Murder Castle” before, but all the way home all I thought it was the perfect name for a song.

Anyway, it really was a great time if you love ghost stories or history and it was a lot of fun meeting some notables in the paranormal world (and we’ll be having plenty of them on the show in the future!) I don’t know if I’d get a VIP Pass again, because the only extra this year was a little catered party right before the kickoff (where the pizza was good, but it wasn’t enough time to really break the ice unlike at the Saturday masquerade party.) But the presentations were definitely worth the price of admission espcially that they come with a a discount code for iherb. If you’re interested in the next Chicago Ghost Conference, you can get tickets (at a discount until October 16th!) by clicking right here.

Did someone say Murder Castle?!
Did someone say Murder Castle?!

This week’s song is “Murder Castle” by Sunspot, inspired by the Chicago Ghost Conference!

Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!
Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!

I’m gonna build a hotel,
right by the World’s Fair,
I’m gonna lure you into,
my evil secret lair.
You’re in my little maze trying to run away.
But you can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t get away.
You’re in my little maze trying to run away.
But you can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t get away.

In my
Once you’re in my
Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!
Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!

It’s just a little drugstore,
And we’re hiring, come apply,
You’ll even get some life insurance,
and I’ll collect it when you die.
I’ll be right back, don’t move an inch, baby.
I see your eyes are are are are are a little sleepy.
I’ll be right back, don’t move an inch, baby.
I see your eyes are are are are are a little sleepy.

Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!
Murder Castle!
H.H. Holmes!

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