Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Ghost Sex, Celebrity Hauntings, and a Convenient Demon

This week, I’m going to labor the point that today’s celebrities just can’t seem to come up with anything original – even in the supernatural realm.

  • In 2011, Lady Gaga reportedly believed she was being followed around by the ghost of a dude named Ryan. A few months later, she told Harper’s Bazaar that the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen wrote her song “Born This Way” from beyond the grave (he had committed suicide the previous year). She might be the first celeb to have a ghost stalker, but she’s certainly not the first person to channel music from the dead. In the ’70s, an English senior by the name of Rosemary Brown released “new” works by major composers, including Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Weirdly, all of them spoke English.

 

  • Demi Lovato claims she has been followed around by the spirit of a little girl named Emily for most of her life. She told Ellen Degeneres she grew up in a “ridiculously haunted” house in Texas. Emily and her co-haunters like to screw around with electronics a little bit and make balloons float in the wrong direction. (Lovato also believes there might be mermaid aliens in the Indian Ocean, based mostly on an “extremely convincing documentary” she saw.)
    Even Ellen was unimpressed by the balloon story. And I’m unimpressed with the whole shebang, because it pales in comparison to the mother of all celebrity hauntings: Elke Sommer’s spooky-ass Beverly Hills house. In the mid- ’60s, Sommer and her husband, Joe Hyams, were hounded by poltergeist noises, ghostly dinner parties, and the spectre of a slovenly middle-aged man.
    While Lovato could produce nothing more than the unimpressive ghost photo you see below, Hyams became a less annoying version of the guy in Paranormal Activity, setting up microphones and even hiring a P.I. to monitor his house while he was away.

lovatoghost

 

  • Lee Ryan, a former member of some band I’ve never heard of,  says he grew up in Kent. But I think he grew up in the wilderness or something, because he didn’t recognize the ghost that visited him (via a psychic medium) when he was in his twenties. The spirit told him to work on his lower range and avoid drugs.
    Turns out it was Janis Joplin. Ryan took her advice about singing and abusing drugs, but may have forgotten to avoid abusing people.
    Michael Jackson did not grow up in the wilderness – though that might have been better for him – and immediately recognized Liberace when the ghost of the fabulous pianist began appearing to him with helpful career pointers. Jackson lined a secret room with mirrors so he could have a special place to commune with “Lee”. Then things got weird.
  • Ke$ha told Jimmy Kimmel that her hypnotherapist found a “ghost in her vagina” by waving a “ghost meter” over her body. She didn’t seem terribly concerned about this, and the whole thing may have been a publicity stunt. It’s not as disturbing as the fact that her mom dresses as a giant penis for her concerts.
    But then there’s B-movie actress Natasha Blasick. “I felt something entered the room. I couldn’t see anybody. Suddenly I could feel that somebody touching me,” she told the British TV show This Morning earlier this year. “Their hands were pushing me against my will and then I could feel the weight of their body on top of me but I couldn’t see anybody.” This sounded like a classic Old Hag encounter, until Blasick went on to say that when the experience occurred a second time she “decided to relax and it was really pleasurable, I really enjoyed it…You don’t see anybody but it’s very pleasant and it made me feel warm and fuzzy…It gave me comfort and support and love, and it did answer questions for me that there is something else out there.”
    Though the media had a field day with these crazy kids and their ghost sex, it’s all been done before. In the late 19th century, the much-persecuted sexual reformer Ida Craddock penned a series of works about her marriage to an angel/spirit she called Soph. For having the audacity to write about women and sex, Craddock was hounded to her death by Anthony Comstock.
    A few decades later, Englishwoman Dorothy Eady began receiving visitations from the spirit of Pharaoh Seti I, with whom she had been lovers in a previous lifetime. The two became lovers again, but Eady committed herself to a chaste life after becoming the unofficial guardian of the temple of Seti I in the ’50s. She took the name Omm Sety, meaning “mother of Seti”.
  • Now we move on to the dark side. Bob Cranmer is a former county commissioner in Pennsylvania. In 2003, he was charged with assaulting his 18-year-old son, punching him in the nose with such force that he was barely conscious by the time Cranmer’s 14-year-old son summoned the police. According to Cranmer’s younger son and wife, father and son had gotten into a quarrel over the bathroom. The charges were ultimately dropped.
    A decade later, Cranmer has a perfectly legitimate excuse for punching his son in the face: A haunted house. In his soon-to-be-released book The Demon of Brownsville Road, he explains that his Victorian home was possessed by a malevolent force that destroyed religious items, made a “blood-like” substance ooze from the walls, and wreaked emotional havoc on the entire family. He claims that his sons had to undergo psychological treatment to recover from the events of 2003-2006, and he has hinted that the demon infestation played a role in the family violence that erupted. What’s particularly odd about this demon is that the Cranmers had already been living in the house for 15 years when it became an “evil, evil entity” (to quote Cranmer).
    Sadly, this spirit-blaming business isn’t a new thing, either. When tomato farmer Maurice Theriault was charged with molesting his stepdaughter, professional ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren tried to pin the blame on an incubus (even after Theriault admitted to his crime). Perhaps keep that in mind if you watch the latest blockbuster inspired by the Warrens’ legacy.

 

5 Unconvincing Paranormal Cases

Several months ago, a guy named Ian Tindell posted 5 Convincing ‘Real’ Paranormal Cases that “will give the average skeptic…food for thought” at Ranker.com.

He’s right. There is food for thought, and “real” does belong in quotation marks. Let’s review:

1. The “exorcism” of Annelise Michel. This was the case that inspired the mediocre horror flick The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but its actual ending was far grimmer than anything Hollywood could conjure. In the autumn of 1973, German college student Anneliese Michel began exhibiting strange behaviour at the University of Wurzberg (she was, like “Emily Rose”, 19); lashing out, refusing to eat, throwing tantrums. She was epileptic, but Anneliese’s parents consulted a priest instead of a doctor, and the priest recommended exorcism. The bishop reluctantly approved this decision, and two priests were assigned to perform the rite of exorcism on Annaliese – making this (as the trailer for Emily Rose blared) an official Catholic exorcism. Unfortunately, the priest who first recommended exorcism, Adolf Rodewyk, was not part of the process, and the advice he gave in his 1963 book Possessed by Satan went unheeded: Clerics should look for medical explanations for “possession” before assuming the worst. Rodewyk’s POV is commonly held by today’s clerics, but proponents of possession and Hollywood producers insist on turning stories like Anneliese’s into simplistic science-vs.-faith fairytales in which cold, ruthless rationalists undermine the beliefs of Everyman at the expense of both.

The exorcism of Anneliese dragged on for several months. It was 1976 and Anneliese was 23 before the process ended – with her death. She had refused to take (or had been denied) water and nourishment for so long that she wasted away to 70 pounds, and died without having seen a doctor.

The priests and Anneliese’s parents were charged with negligent homicide. In the film, the priest (played by Tom Wilkinson) is a pious man whose view of exorcism is vindicated by a sympathetic jury. The prosecutors are the villains of the story, refusing to accept what’s in front of their eyes.
In reality, the priests were found guilty in 1978. Astonishingly, they were sentenced only to six month suspended prison sentences for allowing someone in their care to starve to death. To its credit, the German Bishops’ Conference ruled that an exorcism could henceforth be performed only if a physician was present.

In the film, the evidence of demonic possession is overwhelming, invisible only to the thickest and most obstinate people. In reality, the symptoms of epilepsy and hysteria are nearly identical to the “symptoms” of supposed demonic possession. Audiotapes were made of Anneliese’s exorcism. In addition to the usual sounds of possession (growling, clicking, hissing), she spoke in the voices of the various spirits who inhabited her body: Hitler, Judas Iscariot, a murderous Jewish doctor, etc. The tapes are revealing. The accent used for Hitler differed dramatically from his real one, and none of the spirits revealed any knowledge that couldn’t be gleaned from textbooks and the Bible. (“Cries of a Woman Possessed: German Court Hears Tapes in Exorcism Death Trial” by Michael Getler, Washington Post, April 21/78).

Anneliese’s death was an agonizing one, and entirely preventable. A 23-year-old woman did not have to die of thirst and starvation. The case bears far more resemblance to the death of Lisa McPherson than to the average exorcism, though I must point out that numerous exorcisms have led to fatalities.

2. Swarnlata Mishra and the reincarnation of Biya Pathak. This is a strange selection for a best evidence list, as it is virtually identical to other reincarnation stories.

3. John Titor. OMFG, tell me you’re kidding. This was just a goofety-assed ‘net hoax. As I wrote in “Time Travel Hoaxes Part I“, John Titor was sent back in time to fetch some archaic computer technology for the bigwigs of the future, who are apparently too busy watching Rocky XXII to run their own damn time-travel errands.
Titor surfaced online in 2000, claiming to be a visitor from the year 2036 with nothing better to do than lurk on 36-year-old message boards devoted to Art Bell and ancient astronauts. He offered up a dazzling array of “predictions”, including:

  • 2004: Civil war would erupt in the U.S., pitting militias and other armed citizen against something he called the American Federal Empire.
  • 2014: Civil War II ends when Russia attacks the U.S. WWIII begins. The U.S. loses, and is reduced to ruins along with China and the EU.
  • 2036: America is rebuilt and back on its feet, though considerably diminished. Then Mad Cow becomes pandemic, affecting virtually every beef-eater on the planet. Despite all these setbacks, the U.S. is in possession of time travel technology. In fact, time travel would become a reality in 2001, right after CERN’s larger facility began operating.

Titor said he was a U.S. soldier working on a time-travel project based in Florida. His mission: Go to 1975 and retrieve an IBM1500 computer, which could be used to debug legacy computer programs (the UNIX 2038 timeout error). Titor’s granddad had been involved in its development. Like another time travel insider, Dan Burisch, Titor believed in some kind of parallel timeline or universe. Hence, the past he was in wasn’t actually his own past – just a very similar one.
Titor decided to make an unscheduled stop in the year 2000 to save some family photos that he knew would be destroyed in Civil War II (making one wonder why he would want photos of people who weren’t really his ancestors, just similar to his ancestors). While there, he decided to blow the minds of a few basement dwellers by posting photos of his time machine on the Coast to Coast AM (C2C) online forum and at anomalies.net. (It was housed in a ’67 Chevy Corvette, but Titor later moved it to a truck so he could have four-wheel drive.)
Titor never coughed up a single piece of evidence, not even anything as lame as dental floss from the future. In fact, he never showed his face at all.
He returned to 2036 in the spring of 2001. A website devoted to his wisdom is still up, though, and for a time his attorney and spokesman, Larry Haber, remained a frequent guest on C2C, sharing Titor’s information about all the terrible things that were supposed to happen to us but actually didn’t.

4. The Abduction of Travis Walton. This one at least has some evidence in its favour. The UFO witnesses passed polygraph exams, and everyone involved has given a consistent account for the past 35 years.

5. Belfaazar Ashanitson.This is just stupid, because it’s only remotely linked to the paranormal (or rather, myths and legends about the paranormal). Mr. Ashanitson is a dude who consumes human blood from willing donors because his energy flags unless he does so. Probably just anemia, but it’s a lot sexier to say, “I’m a real vampire” than to just take an iron supplement, isn’t it?