Black people engaging in anything related to horror or sci-fi usually doesn’t belong in the same sentence. Let’s face it, Blacks are rarely cast in scary movies or television shows, and if, so they are the first to die. Well, all that’s about to change with the help of three courageous Black men who have formed the first African American paranormal investigation team. Fashion designers Dalen Spratt and Juwan Mass have teamed up with celebrity barber Marcus Harvey to lead Destination America’s “Ghost Brothers.” The six-part series will follow the three best friends as they put their religious upbringings on pause and let their curiosity uncover supernatural mysteries in some of America’s most haunted houses.
“GHOST BROTHERS” is set to premiere on Friday, April 15 at 10 EST, only on Destination America.
Check out a recap from their interview below:
How did the three of you come together to form a paranormal investigation team?
Dalen: It’s funny because Juwan and I actually met back in 2005. We met at Clark Atlanta University and we both were pledging the same fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. We met while we were on line and built that relationship. We then became roommates, business partners, and best friends throughout the whole ten years. Marcus and I were introduced through a mutual friend and Marcus started cutting my hair. I realized that I would not find another barber as good as Marcus. You make those relationships with your barber. Marcus became a really great friend and then him and Juwan started bumping together.
Marcus: We have all just been rocking together since 2009, but it feels like 1968 and that how far it goes back. We did some old school stuff. Dalen and I met just like you hear people who do great things around the city start linking up with these people.
What was Destination Americas reaction when you pitched this show?
Dalen: I think it’s always been a level of excitement from the network. They were interested in doing something similar. They found us and we found them. It just worked out. We were all on the same page. They just allowed us to be us. Being friends in front of the camera just gives you a different level of chemistry.
How did you guys find out you all share a common interest in the supernatural world?
Juwan: It touches back to when Dalen and I became friends. We started sharing stories of just paranormal interest in general. He is from the South and my grandma is from the South. We shared stories of going to haunted places and doing Truth or Dare games as kids. Dalen introduced me to Marcus through barbering. If you know anything about a barbershop in the Black community people go and they talk about all types of subject matters. We started sharing our interests and Marcus was saying some of those same types of things. We all had religious upbringings and we all had a spiritual background so that is kind of where the connection lies. We just stuck it out and kept doing it by experimenting, investigating some of our own little locations and now we’re here today.
The three of you were raised in the church by your families. How did they respond when you told them you were a part of a paranormal investigation team?
Dalen: The crazy part is that my mother is the pastor of a church. She is the head pastor of her own church. She has been a pastor for twenty years. When I told her the first thing she said was, “Oh Baby! Now you know the bible says….” and that is the first thing she went into.
Marcus: Like Dalen said, his mom’s a pastor but my wife is a gospel singer. When I came back from our first visit and told her what I did she started speaking in tongues. I didn’t tell her because she would have never let me go. It’s one of those things where you just got to have courage and try new things. I think that is one of those things we bring to this industry. We are bringing a whole new take on the paranormal investigation world. I think it is something that is going to be refreshing to the whole genre.
What were your first experiences like as a child or adult with paranormal activity?
Dalen: The one that really sparked my interest was when I was maybe ten or eleven in McCammey,TX where my grandmother lived. The town was pretty much segregated. It had a White pool and a Black pool, a White side of town and a Black side of town. On the Black side of town was this old, decrepit church. The story was the old man would walk down to the church every night to ask for forgiveness for all the wrong that he did when he was living. This was the story we always heard as children. It was flat land so you see the church from blocks and blocks away. As kids, we decided to walk down to the church and it had to be around midnight. A buddy of mine picked up a little stone-like a pebble you would find in your shoe and threw it at the church. The double doors of the church began to open as if someone was pulling them from the inside. All seven of us saw this at the same time. I think I might have peed on myself a little bit. We ran and until this day I have not gone back to this church. Whatever was in there was not happy about it.
Juwan: I was young, about twelve playing Truth or Dare on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. It was pitch black outside. Honestly, you couldn’t be out past the streetlights when you’re that young. We dared each other to run through the graveyard by ourselves. You get up to the graveyard and you really start hyping yourself but in your mind your really scared. I get to the graveyard and I start running, but I feel something behind me. I stopped and turned around, but I didn’t see anything and the energy went away. I started running again and I felt the same energy or presence behind me. It was like a brushel. It was like someone trying to run with me, keep up with me or better yet come after me. You can’t outrun a ghost. I was like there is something out here and that’s when I knew.
Marcus: My story is not as disrespectful as the other two. Mine was actually in the church. I used to be my pastor’s assistant and right-hand man. There would be times where people would be falling out and not necessarily catching the Holy Ghost but their actual body picking themselves back up in weird ways and just weird possessions. I have always had an interest in the paranormal and this was the perfect opportunity to do that.
You guys use a lot of comic relief by cracking jokes and poking fun at each other during your visits. Does the ongoing humor help distract you from being afraid?
Juwan: Humor is medicine for the soul let me just tell you that right now. You have to laugh to keep from crying.
Dalen: I think a lot of times we express ourselves through that nervous laughter. A lot of times it has to with being with your best friends. I can’t let my boys know I’m afraid right now even though I’m genuinely scared. If spirits are essentially people who have passed away then they had a sense of humor when they were living, so why wouldn’t they have a sense of humor in the afterlife. I know when I pass I want to still be laughing and cracking jokes.
Marcus: In the show, neither Juwan nor Dalen were ever afraid to share they were scared and they were scared often. You’ve got to keep jokes going because it’s a scary situation and your running into stuff that you can’t really defend yourself from. You’re asking questions that cause spiritual encounters and it’s really weird. A lot of the other investigators come off real serious. It’s not that we don’t take the investigation serious, I think it’s just that we are just taking a different approach and communicate a little differently to the ghosts.
I noticed in the screener for the first episode you guys had smartphones on-hand to help open communication with the ghosts. What kinds of apps or software do you use during your visits?
Dalen: We want it to be viewable for everyone. You could use all this equipment, but people at home don’t know what all this equipment is. When we first started we didn’t know what a lot of the equipment was, but everyone knows that own your phone you have a voice recorder. It is as simple as using your voice recorder because you can hear back things in real time. You don’t have to go back to your base camp and listen from plugging up to a computer. I can literally pull out my phone, ask a question and just listen. I can potentially hear something back in real time. It’s been times we have had a conversation with something that you cannot see. It makes it way more intense and interesting. We use things to understand that it doesn’t take to much knowledge to understand how these things work. We do things like put baby powder on the floor to see if maybe footsteps appear. We made our own version of spin the bottle where we put notecards with letters on them to see what letters spell out what word. We ask specific questions. We just try to be very visual. Even if you don’t know how things work you can see that something isn’t right.
What is the ultimate goal when contacting these spirits?
Dalen: For me, personally I just want to inspire questioning things. For so long we’ve been taught in our culture and religious background. We have been told certain things but we never really ask questions to those answers. I just want to inspire people to step outside the box and ask questions. Find out the answers for yourself. We don’t know what happens in the afterlife. I think it’s kind of cool to bridge that gap if possible. You just never know what’s out there.
Juwan: The purpose would be a little bit larger than letting the world know you can investigate to find paranormal activity. It is more so about being in touch with that natural curiosity. Don’t allow no to be an answer and don’t take things for face value. Dig a little deeper and if you’re doing it then have fun with it and that is what we do as “GHOST BROTHERS”. Your going to see us being who we are from a real, authentic perspective exploring the unknown. That is what life is all about and I want folks to take that message away.