“They cover the full spectrum. Nice ghosts, mean ghosts. If ghosts exist at all,” he told TV Tonight.
“The idea of ghosts exists. But it’s not so much if they exist but what are they? Plenty of people will tell you they saw a ghost, but what did they really see? Was it something created by their mind? A dead relative? That’s what I’m always trying to answer, but 20 years later I still can’t give a definitive answer.”
In three seasons of Ghost Hunters International, and now in Haunting Australia, Demarest doesn’t set out to prove the existence of ghosts, so much as to investigate a logical explanation for reported apparitions first. He does this via a heavy arsenal of technical equipment and gadgets.
But his work has come at a price.
“I’ve had people say to me I am an agent of the devil, or Satan’s minion,” he suggests.
“I tell them ‘I appreciate your opinion, and I can see where you are coming from. Thank you for bringing me your ideas to me and I will continue doing what I do.’”
He’s also not a ghost-buster, so much as ghost-identifier. When he visits locations rumoured to have experience paranormal activity, it’s not with the intent of exorcising or ridding them of spirits.
His interest in all things paranormal extends as far back as his teens.
“At 16 I did my first ‘official’ investigation which means I had a tape recorder in my hand when I went to a haunted place. But long before that I was about 8 or 9 when my mum would take me to an empty buildings, many of which were rumoured to be haunted and we would just wander around,” he recalls.
“I didn’t know that people actually made a career out of it. So at 16 I thought ‘Ok, how do they do it?’”
Yet while he has appeared on a successful franchise, it isn’t his day job. Demarest carries a Masters Degree in Business and works as a Business advisor in Dubai.
“I don’t like money or people who are motivated by money. I think money makes people unhappy. The only thing I enjoy about money is spending it,” he says.
But the extra-curricular work has led him to Australia for Haunting Australia in which he is joined by 5 other investigators visiting sites across the country.
“Haunting Australia is the culmination of the best show that I’ve been a part of,” Demarest declares.
“We wanted to take people from all different disciplines and see what would happen. So we have people from 4 different countries who use different techniques. We have an exorcist, a medium, a clairvoyant, someone like me who is completely technical and see what happens.
“Gaurav Tiwari brought ghost-hunting to India. Before that it was all very metaphysical and you would move your sage around to get rid of the ghosts. But he said ‘Let’s use equipment,’ so he’s a good mix of more traditional Indian values and technical equipment.
“Alan Tiller looks like a man mountain, he’s huge. And he’s still rocking the mullet. He loves the 70s apparently! He’s very technical and always coming up with new ideas.
“We have 2 gentleman from the UK: Ian Lawman who is known as a psychic badboy, a 27-1 bare-knuckle boxer as well as a ballet dancer. One of the odder mixes!
“Ray Jorden is another gentleman from England who thinks all the new stuff is nonsense. You don’t need the phones and voice recorders. It’s all about the old-school technique like baby powder, putting marbles down.
“And then we have Rayleen Kable, another Aussie, who is the clairvoyant. She combined the ghost-hunting as far as she could sense things with the equipment. We would have her saying ‘I’m getting a voice saying Yes.’ And when you play the tape back it says ‘Yes.’”
Amongst the locations visited by the team are Aradale Lunatic Asylum, Gledswood Homestead, delaide Arcade, Australian Pioneer Village, and Cockatoo Island.
“Unlike some shows we don’t fake anything. Whatever you see on this show is what happened. We didn’t rig anything or put a voice on tape, and that’s tough to do because TV networks say to you ‘Wait a second, what if nothing happens?’
“Thankfully Syfy and the production company believed in our ability to make an entertaining show because they know we were going to some of the top, reportedly-haunted locations in the entire country.”
So the big question: what did they find?
“On multiple episodes you will see photographs of apparitions. I don’t know how many other ghost shows can legitimately say that. We didn’t rig it or fake it,” he insists.
“You will hear voices when there was no-one there.
“Each one is a self-encapsulated story of the location. We tell the story, the history, the people.”
The most extreme incident involved one of the team being knocked out by a spirit, yet the show doesn’t draw any conclusions about what took place.
“He got attacked. He got laid out, unconscious at a location. I’ve watched it over and over and asked ‘What happened that created that situation?’ Did he eat something wrong? But when you watch it, it’s really compelling television,” he explains.
“You’ll see the debate in the show. The viewer will determine their own opinion.”
Despite his still unexplained position on the existence of ghosts, Demarest says any spirits he has encountered are here for one of two reasons: either they have “unfinished business” or they don’t wish to move on.
“They (may be) here because they are scared of what judgment is waiting for them, in my opinion. They did such horrific things that they don’t want to move on,” he suggests.
“But whatever is going to happen next is inevitable. You need to move on. If like me, you believe in a forgiving God, He will understand that you may have done things wrong, there is penance to pay and you will be ok.”.
Demarest is also ready to move on, he hopes to a more humbler existence.
“I want a candle shop right next to a small, meandering creek, and I’d be happy,” he says.
“I’ve put over 20 years into looking for ghosts and I think that’s enough.
“If Haunting Australia comes back for another season I’ll do it. Other than that… it’s getting to that time.”
Haunting Australia airs 8:30pm Mondays on Syfy
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