RAHWAY, NJ — Not everyone believes in the paranormal world. Some of those who do may fear it. But for Brian J. Cano, his experience with what may scare others the most is where he finds the most comfort.
Cano is a featured analyst for Travel Channel’s “Paranormal Caught on Camera,” a recent guest on History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” and “The UnXplained,” which is hosted by William Shatner, and is best known as the tech specialist for SyFy’s “Haunted Collector” team. On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19 and 20, Cano will host the interactive “My History of the Paranormal Mobile Exhibit” and lead two paranormal investigations that Saturday evening at the historic Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum in Rahway. For tickets to this event, visit here.
Passionate about paranormal activity and ghosts, Cano will welcome guests into his world.
“I’m really excited about this,” Cano said on Aug. 21. “I’m actually working on some stuff for it right this moment, but it’s called ‘My History of the Paranormal Mobile Exhibit,’ and I’ve been involved in the paranormal for nearly 20 years now. I’ve found that in the field and in the work, a lot of people are getting most of their information from the television shows. While television is entertaining, it’s not always the most informative. So, I figured if people get introduced to the paranormal through the shows, they’re going to want to know more.”
This is where the mobile exhibit comes into play.
“The names, the societies, the places, the experiments, all of this is going to be shown at the Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum in September and I’m really excited to roll this out,” Cano said. “It’s going to be a little bit hands-on with a little bit of display. I want people to feel like this is not just another exhibit where it’s ‘look but don’t touch.’ No, I want people to immerse themselves into it. There’s going to be stations here and there showing different experiments, different metaphysical as well as scientific tools used in paranormal investigating.”
Growing up, Cano was drawn to the paranormal.
“I’d say that I’ve always been interested in the paranormal, if not always involved,” Cano said. “When I was a child, I was fascinated by Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, Stonehenge and I used to watch shows like ‘In Search Of…’ with Leonard Nimoy and at the end of every episode, as the credits rolled, they would show pictures from all these different places around the world. I would watch and think, ‘When I get older, I’m going to go to those places, and I’m going to solve those mysteries.’ Now that I’m an adult, I’ve barely scratched the surface, but it’s an interest that’s definitely captured my attention for a good part of my life.”
When Travel Channel approached Cano about its new show, the idea sparked his interest — so much so, that Cano couldn’t say no.
“‘Paranormal Caught on Camera’ came at a time when the Travel Channel was looking to rebrand and shift most of its focus into paranormal programming,” Cano said. “Now, for three seasons on the SyFy network, I was on a show called ‘Haunted Collector’ with John Zaffis, and, because of that, I’ve established myself as a television personality, as well as a reliable source for information.
“So, when they approached me, and said ‘We’re doing a clip show and you’re going to watch clips, tell us what you think and give us the theories and the information behind those topics,’ I said, ‘Sure, it sounds like fun,’” Cano told Union County LocalSource.
Considered a veteran in the field, Cano uses scientific method when investigating possible hauntings.
“In the paranormal realm, I tend to operate in the more scientific areas, specifically parapsychology,” Cano explained. “My approach to investigating ghosts and spirits is one where I focus on the observer first and I try to get to the bottom of what it is they think they’re seeing or what could actually be happening at a location.
“It’s like the old saying goes: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to witness it, does it make a sound? It’s the same thing with spirit activity,” he continued. “If there isn’t someone around to witness it, it’s hard to pin down, so it needs both sides of the equation. It needs the living people to communicate with and those on the other side who are looking to make contact. My experience has been, like I’ve said, nearly 20 years of investigating — going on cases, reading, researching.
“Currently, I have several mentees that I train in an apprenticeship, and this mobile exhibit that I’m setting up is another part of that education initiative where I want people to know more. I feel like, if this was around when I was growing up, I would’ve had a better handle sooner and made less of the rookie mistakes,” he added.
According to Cano, what started as a hobby with friends eventually blossomed into his career.
“The very first official paranormal thing I did, here in my hometown of Staten Island, my friends and I had a cable-access show called ‘Scared on Staten Island,’ and we would go into these old abandoned places like the Augustinian Academy, Seaview Hospital, the Farm Colony, all of these crumbling, abandoned places,” Cano said. “People would watch our show and say, ‘You guys are crazy. I would never go in there,’ and the more they watched it, the more they enjoyed it. We just kept doing it and it really spun out into all of this.”
Having witnessed it all, Cano described the one time he was afraid during a paranormal session.
“I’ve been scared a lot, don’t get me wrong,” Cano said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and by no means am I immune to getting scared, but I think when you do, it’s a choice. You can fight or you can flee. You can choose to run, or you can choose to investigate it.
“For me, the one time that I remember really being terrified — it was in a place called the Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pa.,” he continued. “This was the one and only case that I’ve ever worked on where I felt, legitimately, there was something demonic involved. Nearly 20 years, the fact that I’ve only been on one of these cases, that’s one too many. I hope to never do one like that again.”
Cano has high expectations for his upcoming paranormal event.
“That weekend is going to be a mix of some fun, some learning, some immersive involvements,” Cano said. “There’s going to be hourly trivia questions where people can win prizes, and at night, after the museum exhibit closes, there’s going to be a paranormal investigation with special guest Beth Ezzo, also from ‘Haunted Collectors.’ Also, during the day, we have Thor the Impala. It’s a supernatural car, the car from ‘Supernatural’ on the CW, and people are going to be able to take pictures with it outside and in the cemetery. There’s going to be a lot of different things to see and things to do.”
Regarding the unknown, Cano would like people to keep one thing in mind.
“Interactions with the spirit world don’t always have to be scary,” Cano said. “Everything is not demonic, despite what television does, for ratings points. The reality of it is, it runs the gamut. There are good spirits and there are bad spirits, just like there are good and bad people. That continues. That persists after death, and one doesn’t have to be afraid to look into those dark places to try and find truth.
“It’s not all evil,” he continued. “But at the same time, you have to keep your guard up. So, that’s what I’m trying to do with my exhibit. A little bit of education about the history of it and our future, where we’re going.”