Brian J. Cano Interview Exclusive (Part 1 of 2): Going Beyond With A Ghost Hunter!
It’s that time of year. The air is crisp, darkness falls early, and memories turn toward things that sent chills up your spine as a child. What kid didn’t grow up in a town that had ‘that house’? You know the one, the scary one on top of the hill with the broken windows, busted doors, rickety stairs, and screams heard only at night. The one your so-called friends dared you to enter. As an adult, would you go there now? Brian J. Cano would.
Growing older we sadly tend to lose our sense of awe in what cannot be scientifically explained. Fortunately, there are a unique few that choose to search for answers. Enter the paranormal investigator. With 15 years of experience under his belt, Brian J. Cano is a veteran on the paranormal scene. As a scientist and skeptic, Brian made it his mission to uncover the truth behind the tales. He began his journey in 2002 with friend Chris Mancuso as they shared their urban exploration of well-known haunts on the show Scared on Staten Island (2002-2004). It was not long though before the show was changed to Scared! (2004-2013) as Brian and Chris ventured beyond Staten Island to explore notorious places such as Danvers Mental Institution, Philadelphia State Hospital and The Lizzie Borden House to name a few.
“The paranormal investigation episodes delved into more serious methods and evolving equipment. Psychic Lisa Ann was brought onto the team and the Three Pillar System was born: Psychic, Scientist and Skeptic. Three different viewpoints to make for a more well-rounded investigation.” Source – NeverStopSearching.com
Brian takes his investigative work quite seriously and has a passion for educating those sharing his interest as well as the those new to the world, myself included. His honesty, work ethic and attention to detail are refreshing in a realm that can often be inundated by those simply looking to gain notoriety. Brian has a wide array of experiences when it comes to his investigations ranging from a quiet whisper picked up on an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) device to ghostly images captured on camera to actually feeling a presence close to him. Rest assured though, he is a man of integrity, that is what sets Mr. Brian J. Cano amidst the top in his field.
“I’ve been best friends with Brian for 23 years and during that time I have been fortunate enough to work on many projects with him. He’s talented, creative and a team player. One thing I can definitely say about him professionally is that he is a perfectionist in everything he does. His participation in any project will only guarantee to make it that much better.” – Paranormal Investigator/Skeptic: Chris Mancuso
As years passed, Brian built up a solid reputation for his skills as an investigator and it was in 2011 that he joined the team on SyFy’s Haunted Collector. Led by paranormal expert and demonologist John Zaffis, the Haunted Collector team was called upon to visit presumably haunted locations in hopes of removing objects or artifacts causing unwanted paranormal activity. Brian served as the technician specialist on this incredible crew of seasoned investigators. For 3 seasons he traveled to locations across the world assisting those in need of quieting paranormal disturbances. Crawling under creepy spaces, endless hours monitoring readouts, unburying unsavory objects, Brian did it all. Without a doubt, he has some fascinating experiences to share.
It was only weeks ago that I had the pleasure of meeting Brian. I was immediately intrigued by his paranormal passion. He even filled me in as to how he was leaving for Australia the very next day. What?! Apparently Brian was in the midst of his 2017 ‘Once More Around The Block Tour’. I had no idea just how many events were dedicated to ghost hunting all over the world. Not only was Brian getting to enjoy doing what he loves, he was able to experience it in places some can only dream about. From Asylums in Australia to Castles in the UK, no place was safe from his investigative expertise.
“I met Brian during his recent Australian tour at Black Rock House. He was very approachable and friendly with our night consisting of lots of laughs, some NSFW hashtags and of course some paranormal learnings too. He sparked our passion for the paranormal again and we all left thinking differently about how we do things. The door will always be open for him to come back to Black Rock House.” – Australian Paranormal Investigator: Sarah Chumacero
I will admit that my own knowledge of the paranormal is limited at best but I am not oblivious to the ever-growing number of shows dedicated to it. The biggest problem is being able to separate that which is done strictly for entertainment and that which is done to research, educate, and progress. I feel completely fortunate to have crossed paths with a person that is not only a solid supernatural expert, he is also quite entertaining and easy to speak with. Brian took time from his busy schedule to answer some of my own questions regarding his paranormal path…
Linda: What drew you into the paranormal?
Brian: A rediscovery of wonder. There are possibilities again. Especially now at the times we live in. Everyone assumes they know everything because of social media and the news cycle and we have information fed to us so rapidly at a moments notice. When I was a kid I would watch shows like In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy and at the end of every episode I vividly remember the ending credits and the music and at the top, there were little pictures of Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Loch Ness and there were all these mysteries. I would watch and go oh my god, the world is filled with these amazing mysteries. I’m gonna get to the bottom of all of them! As you grow up you have Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and one by one you’re told that these things don’t exist. You find out that the world is just normal, ordinary. There became a time after college I became very jaded, very skeptical and when I first started doing Scared on Staten Island, I was the skeptic. I wanted to get to the bottom of all the reports that people told. All the ghost stories you heard, all the urban legends. There’s a logical explanation, there’s a rational reason for this and I’m gonna find it. In becoming involved in the work [paranormal investigation]… reading, research, getting mentored just immersing myself in it, you get back that feeling of fascination and wonder. The world is infinitely an amazing place. There is so much yet to discover and we are such an infinitesimal part of it that you could spend your entire life searching and you’re only gonna find a minute amount of it but, it’s out there. Now I’m not looking to prove or disprove, I know it exists, I know it’s out there. I consider myself a scientist so I’m looking to measure it. My mission is still the same, I’m looking to demystify it.
Linda: You coined a term that I feel is quite clever regarding your thinking towards paranormal exploration… ‘paralosophy’. Could you please define it.
Brian: In the industry, in the environment, there are a lot of people running around and I don’t think they know why they’re doing it. The answer usually is that they want to help people. That’s great, that’s amazing but there are other reasons. A lot of the paranormal groups out there want to get a TV show because they see the fame. I want everyone to slow down, I want people to think more and do less. Thousands of groups across the globe running around, going through the motions and a lot of them are doing the right thing and doing the work but we’re not really working together. We’re not advancing at all. I want people to be patient, we have time to figure it all out. Paralosophy is needed in the paranormal realm.
Linda: What are the biggest misconceptions regarding your investigations?
Brian: One of our most popular episodes from Scared! was our investigation of The Lizzy Borden House because Lizzy Borden is infamous and there is so much out there on it. You get varying attitudes. You get the, “Oh the psychics are fake, this is stupid.” and others like, “You’re trying to be Ghost Adventures.” Then other people are like, “Wow this is amazing, this is great, I feel what you’re doing, I understand it.” There are extremes in emotion when it comes to the paranormal. I think it comes down to… if you don’t believe, then you’re going to attack. If you believe, you understand so there’s room for conversation. Everyone’s truth is a little different. It’s all relative, you have to experience it for yourself.
Linda: Have your family and friends always been supportive?
Brian: My parents were very supportive. They are supportive in anything I do. I am blessed in that respect. Not to mention it wasn’t just paranormal for the sake of it, we were also producing a show. So my father was very proud. My father is always the first to point out how much work goes into everything that is done. My dad is one my biggest fans and my mom has always been a creative person. I am a product of creative people.
Linda: Do you have siblings?
Brian: Only child. So that being said, parents are very supportive. You surround yourself with people that are going to be supportive to you. My friends are either involved in my projects or are like hey it’s awesome that you do that. I’m not in the upper stratosphere of success but, I’ve done all right.
Linda: You’ve been doing it for 15 years, something you love, that you enjoy. To me, that’s success. And you’re traveling all over the world. People want to hear what you say. Check out this small clip from Brian’s interview on The Today Show in Australia while he was on tour earlier this year…
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) September 5, 2017
Linda: Along the lines of success, what knowledge is needed to make for a good investigator? What is your background?
Brian: Time and patience. For the most part, the paranormal is something that has no direct education because we’re still trying to figure it out. That being said, I think everyone has to acknowledge that you need as much education as you can get. No matter how well-intentioned you are, no matter if you grew up in a haunted house, you cannot offer your services to someone and expect to be taken seriously [without being educated]. You can’t be offended when people say this is a hobby because it is. Some people like myself can make a living off it because I can speak to my experiences and give my opinion. There’s a saying out there right now that’s very hot button, actually, there are two topics. One is paraunity, the term ‘paraunity’. There’s those that believe we need to all be together and in some respects yes, I feel there needs to be a coming together, there needs to be a sharing of ideas, we’re really all on one team. On the flip side, it’s now a disparaged term because you say paraunity, some people are [exasparated]… [they say], “There’s no such thing, I shouldn’t have to do things the same way.” It’s the same problem you see in the world. We can’t agree because we have different ideals, but those ideals are pretty much surrounding the same truth which is, why can’t we all get along. The second hot button issue is people like to say, “There are no experts in the paranormal.” I disagree with that. Usually, that phrase is uttered by people that have just started and wanna bring down everyone to their level. You look up to people like John Zaffis, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Keith and Carl Johnson, Hans Holzer. You look up to these names and you say these are guys who have been in it for decades. John has been doing it for 40 plus years… I would feel safe to say he’s an expert. I consider myself a sophomore, I still have a long way to go. I recognize the fact that everyone’s growing, everyone’s evolving. My training on this? I read as much as I could, I researched as much as I could. Every convention I go to I buy everyone’s books because I want to get the collected knowledge. I have a diploma in astrology and parapsychology. It shows I am serious, I consider myself a parapsychologist. This is not a paranormal thing, a parapsychologist looks into abilities of the mind that are considered powers… esp, telepathy. All those things that are not on the books but come from within.
Linda: What has been your scariest and/or most surprising investigation?
Brian: The Grand Midway. So much comes back to The Grand Midway. Some of it was in the moment, some of it was the realization after, some of it still continues to evolve. Scared the team was built on what I call the Three Pillar System… Psychic, Scientist, Skeptic. Our skeptic was Chris, Lisa Ann was our psychic and I was the scientist, but I had started out as a skeptic. So it was almost like we had two skeptics on the team and so much of what lead up to The Grand Midway was what you could call tepid results. You go on YouTube and a lot of people were like, “Oh you guys didn’t find anything.” Well, A – Were not gonna fake anything, so if we didn’t find anything we’re not gonna show that. B – It’s a documentary, it’s just our time there. C – I think maybe we were too skeptical at the time. So the things we present we might have downplayed or not really related in the proper way, and you’ll see that as our growth. But when we got to The Grand Midway, that kicked the door down and we said, “All right, it’s on!” Everything has changed. And the very next investigation we did… [nothing]. I think it was the East Bridgewater Townhall and we were like oh, ok. And it was great because of Chris, being so skeptical, to have something like this happen and to get him closer to where I’ve already been, [was good]. Because anytime I would research something and I would find a new concept or new term or something, some report, he would shoot it down, he wouldn’t even want to hear it. I’m trying to pull him into the middle and he’s resisting. So when something like this happens it’s like, all right he’s on board! And then a lukewarm next investigation, that’s just the way it is.
“I remember when we did The Grand Midway we were so blown out of the water by what happened there that we couldn’t even appreciate the gravity of everything until looking at it in hindsight.” – Paranormal Investigator/Scientist: Brian J. Cano
I don’t remember what the question was. [laughing] Oh, unexpected results. I tangent so much. (Note: Yes, yes he does.) In the early days I expected nothing, rather I almost aimed at nothing because I was looking to normalize it. Grand Midway we went in knowing there was potentially something [paranormal activity] like this there. So it wasn’t surprising per se but I think it was surprising how this place continues to echo in my life. The Grand Midway was where I was introduced to the demonic in a personal nature but at the same time the owner of the hotel, a good friend of mine, Blair Murphy, we’ve done so many creative projects together; writers jail, world’s largest ouija board. Like it keeps coming back to the place.
We did an expansion for our card game, The Three Pillars called A Night at the Grand Midway. We spent a lot of time trying to make the set feel like you were there and it had to be true to all the elements of the hotel. If it didn’t ring true, if it was just a card for the sake of having a card, we didn’t include it. I have such an affinity for the place. And you would think, oh my god you encountered a demon there, why would you like it? You know that’s one instance. I feel I’m as much a part of it as it is of me. So, there will always be a connection to that place. A lot of people assume that because I’m a scientist, everything is very cold and by the numbers. And while those things do have to be for the experiment and for the science of it, you’re dealing with people. And there are interactions with people that… it’s a very personal thing. So when you’re working a case, you’re getting involved with that person for better or worse, for whatever the outcome is. Lizzy Borden House, I’m great friends with the owner. So when I go there, I’m not going to investigate, I’m going there to hang out with my friend. All the places I’ve been to, if I’m in the area, I’ll pop back in because I now have personal relationships with those people that… I wanna see that they’re ok. I want to say, “Hey, how are you?” The sun never sets on Brian’s empire. (laughing)
Note: The astonishing events that occurred during The Grand Midway Investigation had an immense impact on Brian’s growth both professionally and personally. After hearing the story firsthand I felt it necessary that Fan Fest News feature a Part 2 on Mr. Cano which will include details of the heart-pounding adventure… Coming Soon!
Linda: What has been the impact of social media on interest in the paranormal?
Brian: Everything is done for a purpose. You’re trying to get attention, you’re trying to advance yourself, you’re trying to make someone else feel small, you’re trying to share a story. There’s a full spectrum of reasons why people post. There are times where there’s a conflict. Especially in the paranormal, there’s the, “You guys are fakes, you guys are frauds, we don’t believe you, you guys are nuts, you guys are crazy.” It is what it is. If someone said 100 years ago we’d have a device that recorded everything we do, [they would say] you’re crazy or we’d be burned at the stake. I mean our world is social media. When you wake up, what do you do? You check your Facebook.
Linda: As I did some of my own research on you, I read that you’ve always wanted to investigate the White House. So, if you were suddenly given full access, what do you do first?
Brian: Good question. It’s like what would the dog do with the car if he ever caught it. I guess it would depend on how much time I had there.
Linda: Nope, no depends. You get one week. (laughing)
Brian: That’s pretty good, a week. I would spend the first night just walking around to see what I feel, just explore the place. That place has secrets, that place has been at the center of so many important decisions that have shaped our world. We’re not just talking about ghosts and spirits but in the perfect situation, I’m that kid again that wants to know all the mysteries. I wanna know the answers to all the mysteries and I feel like The White House would be a good start. It would be interesting just to be there. Not on a tour but just like really…
Linda: Run rampant?
Brian: Call up Nick Cage and be like, “Let’s do this man!” The urban explorer in me wants to go into all the tunnels and see where they lead out.
Linda: Is there any president you’d be most interested in exploring?
Brian: Maybe Polk. Nobody knows who Polk is. Why Not? JFK has been done, Lincoln… I get it. Anyone who’s got their face on a monument or a mountain, it’s been done. That guy Polk… let’s get our second stringers. These guys need better agents. (laughing)
Linda: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Brian: Not in the field, but my father always told me to do your best even when no one is watching. His specific words were, “Do your best because you never know who is watching.” I try to pass that on to people too because so many people are running around trying to get TV shows, they’re doing the work for the sake of the potential reward. I tell people just do your best and if it’s merited, it will get recognized. It’s funny because of all the advice from my dad, I guess you don’t take it when it’s first given. Just the parent/child relationship, they tell you they have advice and you’re too busy or know better. Then it comes back and it’s like, yeah he was right… about all of it. That’s probably the best piece of advice.
Linda: It all goes back to dad. I’m sure he’ll like that, I’ll make sure to put it in.
As an added bonus, I asked Brian if he would be up for a game of 20 questions. Having reviewed several of his interviews, I noted that there was very little information regarding him on a personal level. I wanted to share some fun bits just to show another side of Mr. Cano. (I specifically requested that Brian answer quickly with the first thing that popped into his head. Mostly he did.) Enjoy!
Q1. Dream dinner party. 5 people. Who’s coming?
Phil Collins, Seth MacFarlane, Sting, David Copperfield, Neil deGrasse Tyson
Q2. Two weeks fully funded vacation. Where are you going?
Japan and New Zealand
Q3. Favorite male and female superhero?
Spider-Man, No favorite female
Q4. Superpower of choice?
Healing for self
Q5. A food you refuse to eat?
Haggis (I must agree – yuck!)
Q6. Movie you’ve watched the most?
(After a 10-minute discussion regarding the variables surrounding this question… we move on. Lol)
Q7. Hidden talent?
Q8. Talent you wish you had?
Master the piano
Q9. Jeans and t-shirt or jacket and tie?
Jeans and t-shirt
Q10. Lights on or off?
Q11. Who plays you in a movie of your life?
Q13. Time or money?
Q14. You can travel back in time. Where and when do you go?
Q15. It’s almost Halloween. Trick or treat?
Work (I pointed out that was not an option) Fine, treat
Q16. One episode as anyone on The Walking Dead. Who are you?
Rick Grimes – He’s my favorite
Q17. Dream car?
1969 Corvette Sting Ray Black
Q18. Kiss, Marry, Kill… Cersei, Danaerys, Sansa
Cersei – Kill, Danaerys – Marry, Sansa – Kiss
Q19. Spontaneous or planned?
Q20. If one your senses had to be taken away to save your life. Which would you choose?
It has been an incredible experience tapping into Brian’s world and I cannot thank him enough for his time and patience in teaching me what is only a very small part of a very big world. Keep an eye for Part 2 as we dive into National Ghost Hunting Day and The Grand Midway Hotel. To learn even more about Brian and to check out his investigations, be sure to visit his website NEVERSTOPSEARCHING.com. Follow him on social media to keep up to date on his latest news and adventures. Facebook: Brian J. Cano Twitter: @BrianJCano
Never Stop Searching!