By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Friday, April 15, 2016
They’re not brothers. They’re not ghosts. But a trio of black buddies with an interest in paranormal and Atlanta ties are now on Destination America’s new series entitled “Ghost Brothers.” The first of six episodes debut Friday at 9 p.m.
The network pulled out all the stops in its effort to promote it in Atlanta, screening the first episode while feeding dozens of journalists in East Atlanta last week at the appropriately named Graveyard Tavern. (Yes, journalists will come for free food!) And the entire cast showed up.
The opening episode starts with an ultra-dramatic narrator intoning: “Here’s a new team of paranormal investigators here to answer two questions about ghost hunting: are ghosts for real and…”
“Why is everybody white?”
That last question was asked by leader of the crew Clark Atlanta University grad Dalen Spratt. He came up with the idea of black ghost hunters because he didn’t know of any.
“I’ve always been a fan of the horror genre,” Dalen said in an interview while the screening was going on. “Always watching ghost hunting shows. It was always white dudes. I called up Juwan and said, ‘Let’s do this!’ ”
Juwan Mass, a frat brother at Clark Atlanta with Dalen a decade ago, was game. While Dalen moved to Hollywood, Juwan remains in Atlanta. (The pair also runs a menswear company called Loren Spratt.)
Juwan: “Our approach is different” than white ghost hunters.
Dalen: “Black people handle things with a level of humor.”
Juwan: “Humor is like the medicine for the soul.”
Dalen: “We have to laugh to keep from crying. It protects our ego.”
Juwan: “We know when to be serious and when to be funny. We handle each situation with a level of respect.”
They soon added a third person for their team: fellow Atlantan Marcus Harvey, who calls himself the “barber to the stars,” having cut the hair of the likes of Nas, Chris Webber, Shaq and LeBron James. He met Juwan and Dalen a few years ago.
“We have our own style,” Marcus said. “We dress for the show. We’re adding a new section to our culture: hip hop paranormal!”
On the show, Marcus brings up the obvious problem – at least in fiction: “You know what happens in every horror movie when a brotha is by himself!”
Dalen said after they decided to ghost hunt, they grabbed some cameras and began investigating, placing their findings on YouTube. A TV development company reached out to them and Destination America – now focused almost exclusively on paranormal shows such as “Paranormal Survivor” and “Ghost Asylum” – loved them.
“They’re smart guys. They don’t automatically assume it’s a ghost. They try to explain that it might be a cow or an air conditioner,” said Marietta native and Lassiter High School graduate Jodi Tovay, senior manager of development and production of network television and documentary film for DA. “They’re also good looking guys. They could be movie stars!”
All three shared paranormal experiences as kids. “Now that we’re grown,” Dalen said in the opening minutes of the first episode, “we’re not afraid to look for answers.”
The first episode features the three dudes seeking ghostly connections at the Magnolia Plantation in Derry, La., which used to house 100 slaves, mostly for cotton picking in the early 1800s. Tovay said they purposely picked spots in the South, since that’s where the brothers are connected.
And blacks approach such a historically charged location differently than whites, she noted. It helps this place is where others have seen full-bodied apparitions, shadows and sounds.
Dalen placed himself in the home of a black woman who lived there in the late 1800s named Aunt Agnes, a former slave who was into voodoo until she died in the 1920s. At first, they don’t sense her at all and joke that maybe it was too late at night for her. “She might be in her muumuu with a cigarette,” cracked Marcus.
When Dalen tried to conjure her up by himself at 3 a.m., he started freaking out. “If someone is here, please let me be,” he said to his own camera. “I will literally pass away… I’m not here to hurt you or harm you.”
Juwan said they picked up something interesting at every location they visited but “I got scared at every occasion. I’m quick to run at the drop of a hat!”
Marcus said the freakiest moment for him was when he felt a ghost brush against him at a hotel in Washington, GA.
“It was non-sexual,” Dalen assured.
“It was a slight caress on my leg,” Marcus said. “I’m sure it was female!”
“Ghost Brothers,” 10 p.m. April 15, Destination America