Katrina Weidman, known for her work on Paranormal Lockdown (with Nick Groff) and Paranormal State, began her most recent investigative endeavors alongside celebrity Jack Osbourne on Travel Channel’s Portals to Hell. Katrina’s passion for the paranormal shines as she digs deep to find otherworldy answers.
“Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman investigate the world’s most sinister haunted locations they suspect are gateways to the spirit world. They peer into the dark void of the unknown as they document evidence of paranormal activity and search for answers about the afterlife.” Source: Portals to Hell
Fan Fest News had the awesome opportunity to chat with Ms. Weidman during Pennhurst Paracon. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, Katrina offers up some valuable insights that go well beyond the investigation. Check it out…
Linda: Hi Katrina! I don’t want to take up a lot of your time so, I’m heading straight into Portals to Hell. Could you talk about the show and working with Jack [Osbourne]? How did it develop?
Katrina: Yeah, it’s fun. We didn’t know each other personally, but we obviously knew about each other. I got kind of like a cold email or cold call being like, “Hey I’m working on this project, I’m a fan of yours.”
Linda: From him [Jack]?
Katrina: Yeah, from him. Because he used to watch Paranormal State. He’s always been into the paranormal. Those shows started coming around, he would watch them. He loved Paranormal State, he knew me from there. I knew him obviously from his work and we met in person and we had breakfast together one morning for like three hours and just talked all paranormal. It wasn’t even like, how did you grow up? None of that. It was just paranormal this, paranormal that. And we were talking about different theories and our thoughts, our personal beliefs on it. I was surprised with how well we meshed because I come from a really objective place right now and he does too. It just seemed like a really good fit and the project made sense to work with each other at that point.
Linda: That’s awesome, I wasn’t aware he was so into the paranormal.
Linda: I watched a few of the episodes and you two gel together really well. What has been your favorite investigation so far as a duo?
Katrina: I think The Alaskan is one of them because it was just so creepy and that was the first one we did together and everything just moved so smoothly as far as our working together. I think that out of all the ones we did together, I think it was the creepiest one. I still have a lot of questions because I don’t think we got the truth at all.
Linda: Would you go back then?
Katrina: I would. Yeah. I think there’s a lot to be discovered there.
Linda: How many episodes are you in so far?
Katrina: Eight for season one.
Linda: Season 2 is coming?
Katrina: I can’t say anything.
Linda: I hope that it is. I’m sure you are asked this a lot, but what’s the strangest thing that’s happened so far?
Katrina: I thought this was really interesting, when we went to the Lalaurie Mansion there’s so many myths surrounding that thing and so much of it is just exaggeration. I think it’s kind of like that game telephone. We know she had slaves, we know she tortured them, we know it was horrific enough to run her out of town. And we have a lot of accounts of what it was actually like. And kind of through the years people are like, yeah there was a crab lady … and there wasn’t a crab lady. It was just a woman that had her arms broken and people described her as that and it kind of morphed into this thing.
Interestingly enough, when you do the research on the house, the house that’s standing today is not what it looked like back then. And there is some debate in the research community about whether or not it’s the actual house with a different top or if they tore down the actual house and rebuilt the thing entirely. But everyone, when you go to New Orleans, they’re like, that’s the house. The slaves were tortured in that attic, on that third floor, right there. And that third floor didn’t even exist.
Even if it was, it was just a tiny little attic and she wouldn’t have kept her slaves there anyway, because that would’ve been her house. She had slave quarters and she had a couple of other buildings on the property. What I found interesting, we went there hearing all the legends and then we start to dig into the research and we’re like, yeah, okay, they have some things happen in the house, but the more haunted location is the slave quarters. And there were a lot of things we couldn’t show on television… I mean, things get cut out because there’s not a lot of time.
To me, the most interesting thing was that the most significant pieces of activity we had were in the slave quarters, not in the actual house. It’s funny to me because all these tour guides are coming by and being, like this house. And it’s like, well actually it’s the building right next door. Which is still on the same property but it’s just not the house. It’s interesting.
Linda: How do you determine which places to visit for the show?
Katrina: You have your wishlist and then you see which ones can we get into because there’s a lot of red tape you have to go through, some places don’t want their location on camera for this stuff. They don’t want that, they think it’s a negative thing to be associated with or the timing doesn’t work out. And sometimes it comes down to budget.
Linda: There’s a lot of factors.
Katrina: There’s a lot of factors. It’s kind of like you make your wishlist and see which ones you can get.
Linda: Do you and Jack have the same kind of wishlist?
Katrina: I think we do, it’s funny because he falls more on the side of… he’s really passionate about aliens. We’re both passionate about ghosts and aliens but he’s more passionate about aliens, I’m more passionate about kind of all things in the paranormal/haunted house kind of realm.
Linda: What is the best piece of advice for someone experiencing paranormal activity? What actions should they take? What should they not do?
Katrina: This is my number one piece of advice I give anybody because I have a private group too. We get a lot of emails about this. I tell everybody to start a journal and start marking down the dates, the times, who was present, what happened just before, what happened just after, what was the weather, what was the moon phase that day? Anything that can maybe help us recognize patterns. Because that’s the biggest takeaway from all of this that we’re trying to figure out is, are there patterns to this? Is it completely random? We know this stuff happens and we have these terms and definitions for them, but we have to be open to the idea that we could be completely wrong about all of it because again, it’s called the paranormal because it’s not proven by science.
We have to understand that that’s part of the research that we’re doing. That we’re really walking around with speculation a lot of the times. And I tell everybody to do that because you might start to notice patterns in your family. And you also might start to notice maybe this one thing I thought was paranormal, is actually explainable and maybe this thing is paranormal, I can’t explain it. Because what happens is once people start to experience some level of paranormal activity in their house, then everything becomes paranormal because they get hypersensitive. We need to start breaking that down and figuring out what’s really happening.
Linda: Great advice. How do you feel about social media’s impact on the field?
Katrina: I just kind of think, generally speaking, that social media is positive and negative. For me personally, I like it because I get to connect with friends and fans and I get to hear directly from people that are in the field and people that want to be in the field or just enthusiasts about what they like, what they don’t like and you get to share ideas. I think all of that is really positive. The negative sign, I think what everybody experiences, is obviously the bullying. I get it too. I’m not immune from it. I just had it over the last couple of months because I started doing Portals and people were very upset with the fact that I was… Our other show was canceled and I just moved on to another show and people were very upset about that, so I got some heavy bullying for it. And that’s not the first time.
You get the bullying, you get the negativity sometimes and I guess it’s part of the territory, but I think it can have a real negative impact on what you do as a person but, also in the field… our field is already under a lot of scrutinies. I think when you see that kind of stuff coming through, then it makes it look even worse. [That] there’s no credibility there. [That] there’s no integrity within the field and that’s obviously not the case. There’s so many wonderful amazing people within this field on and off TV. I think that that’s the negative side of it. But hopefully, the positivity will outweigh that.
Linda: You’re right, there’s always going to be skeptics with regards to the field in and of itself. How do you handle the skepticism?
Katrina: It’s funny because since it’s a field that’s not proven, my viewpoints of what this is and what isn’t are going to be ever-changing until we have those concrete answers. And I’ll tell you a story because years ago I used to be like those skeptics. Blah, blah, blah! You know, I would get on my little podium and because I never understood it, I didn’t grow up thinking that it wasn’t real because I always had experiences. And what changed, I don’t wanna say change… I guess it was definitely a paradigm shift, and I got it, I understood where the disconnect was between believers and skeptics. I was on my way to Dragon Con sharing a car with all the other speakers. So I was sharing a car with a science fiction writer, an older gentleman, and his wife came with him. He was upfront with the driver, I was in the back with her, and she turned to me and she was like, “What do you do?”
Linda: Oh, boy!
Katrina: Sometimes I lie because sometimes you get negativity about what it is that you do. I’m like, should I tell her? Does she seem open-minded? I’m thinking, we’re at Dragon Con, of course, she’s open-minded. And so I told her. And she turns to me and she’s like, “Uh…” Stuck up her nose to me about it. And I said to her, “Oh you don’t believe in this stuff?” She goes, “No, I do not.” Very, very, proud of her answer. And so I asked her, “Well do you think we have everything figured out?” And she had this moment of, “Oh, I didn’t even think of it that way.” And she turns to me, and she’s like, “Well, no.” And so we had this conversation, and it made me realize that it’s not so much that skeptics don’t believe in the paranormal, that things happen that we can’t explain, it’s just that they’re not on board with the definitions and the terms that we have. And that completely shifted my view and I realized that I was bringing too much of my beliefs into the field. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
I used to work with Lorraine Warren, who was a religious demonologist. She very proudly put that out there, but that’s the thing when you worked with her, you knew where she was coming from. For me, I work from a place of, I’m going to come in objectively. I kind of know all the ins and outs of the different text and spiritual texts and religions and how that might play into this, but I also had to be aware that that might not be the case at all. When I meet a skeptic, that’s the conversation I have. At the end of the day, what I can rely on is I know these things happen. And some of them can be explained away. Even if, let’s say for argumentum sake, it’s all neurological. To me, that’s still something we need answers for because then we’re all hallucinating and they’ll be telling us what the fuck is going on and that’s the problem. We should know the answers to that. I just think that there’s things that we don’t understand quite yet.
Linda: It sounds to me like you had an educative conversation with this woman. That’s a good thing.
Katrina: It was a very good thing. I don’t even really remember what was said after that first couple of sentences. I remember it was very much a thing of, oh, I see my fault on this side of the conversation. And now I get it and it completely shift my whole views of how I do my job. I think I’m a better investigator for it.
Linda: For those seeking to educate themselves, how would they determine who’s legitimate and who’s not?
Katrina: There’s so many amazing, wonderful psychics that I’ve worked with, but there’s also some people that purposely try to take advantage of others. And I think we’ve all seen that. Right? And it sucks because it gives a bad name to the people who really do amazing work and who really are legitimate. And I think it’s the same thing with paranormal investigators, ’cause there’s no school that you go to to get a certificate. There’s no overall program to go through to know that somebody’s on the level. I think the best thing you can do is through your research, look the people up, get referrals and figure out… are they the type of person you want. So for example, if you’re not religious, do you want a religious demonologist or do you want somebody that’s more objective? Do you want an atheist investigator? Who do you think you connect with best? Maybe start there and then work your way, ’cause everyone kind of has different specialties in the field.
Linda: I feel like there’s also people out there sensationalizing their findings to boost attention which hurts authentic investigators like yourself.
Katrina: That’s kind of the realm that I live in too. I think if it’s going to be falsified then it should be, this is the work of fiction. I guess it’s no different than a book about prayer. If you put out a book calling it factual and it’s not, then there’s some problems there. That War of the Worlds radio show came out and everyone thought it was real ’cause they were saying it was real. And then it wasn’t. I think with the paranormal the bad part happens when somebody says something’s real and they’re falsifying it, just for entertainment purposes. It’s the fact that, to a lot of people, this is very tied into their religion. You don’t want to mock somebody’s religion even if you don’t believe in it.
I don’t have an issue with shows wanting to do entertainment purposes or anything like that because there’s movies about those. There’s books that are fictionalized books and all. When Blair Witch came out, everyone thought it was real. They set it up so everyone thought it was real, but then it was like, okay no, it’s obviously a work of fiction and everybody was like, where are they? I think that maybe it moves in that direction to kind of clear that up, that if it’s going to be falsified to maybe put that disclaimer on it.
When I was working on another show, Paranormal Lockdown, we got this on camera, this figure. It’s in a ball and then it goes into a humanoid figure and then it slithers away. It’s the weirdest piece of footage I’ve ever seen in my life. And I remember I saw a clip on YouTube of that. And somebody in the comments was like, “They took a rag, that’s how they did this.” I’m like, a rag? No. Even I’m confused on how that would work. But I think it comes down to, I guess what you were saying, that there are fictional ones. So it’s hard to trust a lot of times. Even if it wasn’t on TV, you tell somebody a story you had, you tell somebody a personal experience and they probably still don’t believe you.
In the paranormal, it comes down to… I think people need to have their personal experiences. And that’s what shifts their view. Because we’re taught as little kids that this isn’t real. So you grow up with that mentality. It’s not real. And a lot of religions in our country teach you, it’s not real. It doesn’t happen. Don’t believe in it. It’s evil if you believe in it. So we grow up with those thoughts and those beliefs, so it’s very hard to abandon that and open our minds to the possibility that maybe there is something that happens in this world that I don’t understand yet.
Linda: I believe that and I try to stay open to it. Before I let you go, is there anything other projects you’d like to talk about?
Katrina: I do a blog right now, it’s called Haunted Kitchens. It’s a monthly blog. And one of my passions is cooking. My Mom used to be a baker and I learned how to bake by the time I was like four or five. And I go around to haunted restaurants, bars, and b&b’s, and we explore the history of the paranormal and we share a recipe for people who make that home. That’s on my website right now, katrinaweidman.com. Probably in the near future, it’ll move to a new website. But we’re also on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll have announcements about new music soon, probably in the next year. Not too immediate. Some other things coming up, but nothing I can say now.
Linda: That’s awesome! I look forward to seeing more of you and congratulations on Portals to Hell.