By Jake Hawkins
Patti Starr doesn’t have a normal life. In fact, some might say that it is paranormal.
And that’s a description she would embrace.
Starr, who began hunting ghosts in the ‘70s, has a hectic schedule filled with writing books on Kentucky hauntings, leading classes on ghost hunting, and, not so unlike the rest of us, responding to emails. In her case, more than 200 a day.
Patti Starr, who is the owner and co-creator of ScareFest, began hunting ghost in the '70s. (Photos by Jake Hawkins)
Starr, who is also an author and lecturer on the paranormal, lives in Lexington where she operates five businesses, including Ghost Chasers International and The Ghost Hunter Shop.
The shop, located at Porter Place in Lexington, houses everything from crystals, to amulets, books, video recorders and utility vests. All things that, Starr says, she uses to prove the existence of ghosts.
And that’s her mission.
“Every time I do a ghost hunt I start by saying ‘Sweet spirit: I’m here tonight to prove that you exist. Anything that you can do, or show me, will help me show this and I thank you in advance,’” Star said.
Starr’s not alone, either. In fact, the belief in ghosts is so large that Lexington will soon host, for the fifth year, “ScareFest,” an international convention on horror and the paranormal.
The convention, taking place Sept. 28-30 at the Lexington Convention Center, will bring stars from both film and television, horror and the paranormal.
Fans of scary movies might recognize names such as Malcom McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”), Ashley Lawrence (“Hellraiser”), the man behind the Michael Myer’s mask, Tyler Mane and Chris Sarandon who voiced the character Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Famous faces in the paranormal world include Chip Coffey, who hosted AE’s series “Psychic Kids” and appeared on the show “Paranormal State” on the same network and Joshua Gates, the host of SyFy’s “Destination Truth.”
Starr, who is the owner and co-creator of ScareFest, brings her own notoriety to the event as well. Her resume includes authoring several books, including “Ghosthunting Kentucky,” and appearances on several television shows across networks.
ScareFest is just one of many recent examples of a new wide interest in the paranormal.
“It is hot now,” says Starr, “but in the ‘70s when I decided to do this it was not cool. I could not tell people I was a ghost hunter because they thought you were dealing with the Devil.”
Starr seems to be right. In the past decade, reality television shows chronicling the life of those investigating things like ghosts, demons, psychics and the UFOs have become something of a commonplace on networks like SyFy, A&E and even the History Channel.
Starr traces the interest in the paranormal to “The X-Files,” a science fiction drama that ran from 1993-2002 on Fox. She says that the show’s examination of paranormal topics — including ghosts — allowed people to feel more comfortable discussing the paranormal.
And comfortable they seem. This year’s ScareFest attendance is expected to top 15,000, growing from 12,000 last year and 5,000 when the convention began five years ago.