Interview with John Magnus Champlin

Me: What drew you to the Paranormal?
Magnus: My brother and myself have always been into the paranormal, we grew up reading every book we could on all sorts of random topics, from ghosts, to cryptids, even aliens. It was just so interesting to find a subject that really didn’t have any true discernible answer to some of the simplest questions. And that was the spark of the unknown that has kept the candle burning this long. I can remember it to this day the very first moment where this whole thing started. Elementary school library, maybe 4th-5th grade, when you had “library studies” class, where they hope to instill the love of learning and books at an early age. The librarian was showing a film strip to the students, you know the ones where someone would have to turn it every time the cassette tape would beep? Yeah, that’s how old it was. It was about the rainforest, and early explorers and their journals. It wasn’t anything overly exciting, but I remember there was one part where the people mention opening up their tent and discovering a giant bat, like 6 feet tall, just staring at them, which promptly flew off. I was a quiet kid back then, but remember suddenly asking the teacher/librarian about it, and what it was. When the teacher replied “No one really knows,” it suddenly struck me that there was still things out there that were mysteries in the world. And from that point on I read every book I could get my hands on of unusual stories, weird creatures, and tales of the unknown.Me: Since you study cryptozoology what is your favorite legendary animal?

Magnus: Hmmm, that’s a tough question to answer, as It’s rather hard to narrow it down. Because, to me, there are two distinctive groups of cryptids in my mind. The first group being ones that seem biologically sound in my face of science, i.e., animals that show a possible lineage to another existing species either currently, or somewhere in the timeline of the planet. Or creatures that had existed and somehow seemed to have forgotten they were actually extinct.

The second group are the ones that are almost too fanciful to have ever existed, and are most likely something out of a creative mind, or simply an exaggeration of something natural that has been retold over centuries. e.g. Manticore, Hydra, etc.I would place Sasquatch and other large primates of that nature on the top of my list of cryptos, and the reason is that a creature like that has existed previous in nature. There were quite a few great apes walking the earth long before humans were around. So, to me, there isn’t any “missing link” mysticism, but rather the cold facts that there more than likely was a large bipedal great ape at one point, and the question is could there still be one. It’s the ones that have a bit of science behind them that really make me excited.

Me: Can you give us some insight on the Jersey Devil? for people on the group that have never heard of it

Magnus: I’m assuming you are referring to a cast member from “The Jersey Shore”… The Jersey devil was one of my favorite stories back in the day, it was soo unusual, but there were the oddest pieces of evidence discovered. Sadly, the creature that once was called the jersey devil (which had the head of a donkey, wings of a bat, walked on 2 hooved legs, and had a devilish tail), is being replaced with the stories of The Chupacabra. Which is how most things happen in the world of Myths/legends/Creatures. But, the Jersey Devil, also known as the Leeds Devil is a creature known to haunt the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. Rumor was it was attribute originally to a witch in the area, her 13th child, which somehow invoked Satan, and it transformed her little bundle of joy into a creepy creature. It’s one of those stories you hear all over the place. But, with this creature, there were a lot of witnesses, and even a few that were relatively in high standings either militarily speaking or social status in the towns. I think Napoleon’s brother even saw it. I remember reading a story about it when I was younger, that the towns people found a pair of hooven tracks that went straight threw the middle of town, and would go up on houses, over the roof and continue on the other side. I think the mental image of a whole town wondering through a snow covered village following a pair of tracks is what helped solidify this story in my head. But, there were even reports of bodies matching the creature found, and at one point there was big news that it was captured in someone’s barn, though, it somehow escaped before it could be rightfully brought to the viewing public. What I like about this story, isn’t just about what happened in the past, but about other cryptids that have been reported over the years around that region (and up into NY). These unknown critters were giant flying creatures resembling Pteranodons, those big flying dinosaurs, seen flying in NJ, and all the way to the thru-way of NY. Not sure in the past, but up until the 90s and even 2001 or 2. So, you suddenly see giant bipedal leathery winged creatures with a long head and weird tale again, but now, thanks to science and schooling, people have something else to compare it to. I believe it’s why I like it so much, that the creature could be something legitimate, something from the past that somehow is still around. Not sure, but whatever it is, there is still a rather high reward out for anyone that can capture the animal.

Me: Do you think Big Foot is real and if so will we ever find it?

Magnus: There is nothing in the biological sense that says that a Big Foot like creature shouldn’t exist. A large primate walking on two legs that is covered with hair. I have seen that at the local wal-mart! But, in all seriousness, there were great apes of similar stature and build as late as a few hundred thousand years ago. So, in that sense, could a big-foot like creature exist in the deep woods or mountain tops of the world, I can say yes, and still not worry about getting the “crack-pot” title. If there is one around, will we ever find it? I sincerely hope we do. But, I always like to point this out, that the Panda’s everyone loves to look at in the zoo were a proud member of the Crytozoological field as of less than a 100 years ago. So, think of it this way, that up until 1927, the chinese people were unable to actually find a giant bear that is bright white and black, and not possibly as intelligent as a primate. I mean, as camouflage goes, Panda’s aren’t that stealthy. So, now place a large animal, that could have the intelligence of a great ape (maybe more maybe less) in deep woods, with shaggy fur that blends well, and more than likely have them have the fear of humans being bred into it. Ask anyone that works with primates, that you’d be surprised how well a chimp or even a gorilla female will vanish into the woods when hiding them and their young. Add a bit more intelligence and you might never had found them.

Me: What is the most frightening thing you have seen ghost hunting?

Magnus: Shaun Burris, naked. Sadly, I’ve never really *seen* anything that had me suddenly have a “OMG RUN!!!” scenario when ghost hunting, maybe that’s a good thing. But, what I do know is that I have experienced a vast many things that have just given me sever creeps. From shadows moving, to swarms of flies descending upon me, to voices, to things breaking. One of the more startling things that ever happened to me was when I was about 17, and some friends and I were ghost hunting in a school that had an unfortunately lost a janitor in a fire. It was late at night, the place was completely dark, and rather eerie. We all were walking in a group, yet still had our walkie-talkies in our ears talking with home base. Jokingly we came up to a janitors closet, and were commenting that if a Janitor had perished, perhaps he would just hang around in the closet. At that point one of the crew flashed his light into the door window, and my headphone quite literally exploded with such feedback that it knocked me off my feet. Combined with a creepy night, ominous shadows, and impeccable timing, this sudden explosion of sound scared me backwards into the lockers, and the people beside me recoiled from the sharpness of the blast. I hit the ground, holding my ear, asking what the heck happened, when I felt the crew I’m with grab me under my arms as they lifted me and were already dashing back to the safety of HQ. Not one of the proudest moments, but it they didn’t now what happened. A flash of light, an electronic screech, and me collapsing, just was enough to put the group into the “OMG RUN” mode. It actually ruined my right ear, and to this day my right ear actually is worse than my left. We tried to recreate the sound using magnets, electrical tests, etc, but we couldn’t get the headphone to do anything other than a dull whine. Never tried ghost hunting there ever again.

Me: How did you meet Nathan and Shaun and get involved with the show?

Magnus: I’ve known the dynamic duo for eons, long before they had their show. I had met Shaun actually when I was in Detroit staying with The Ghostly Talk crew. I was their NY reporter. When they heard of anything odd, they would send me to investigate. Well, I think it might have been their 4th anniversary show, when I found myself doing some serious drinks with one of the coolest cats I ever met. (This being Shaun.) It wasn’t long till we had hijacked the radio equipment and were talking about EVPs and all sorts of things as the GT guys were away. We pretty much instantly hit it off, I believe there is a photo or two of us sitting on a couch wearing Shaun’s boxers as hats. (booze was involved).

It was probably a year or so later that Nathan happened to write me. We had mutual friends and he and I had the same sense of humor. So we hit it off quickly. From that point on every time whenever there was some paranormal conference, I would keep my eye out to see if I could bump into Nathan. For some reason he thought I was funny, and didn’t spray me with mace, so that was a good thing. He had mentioned at that point his interest in doing a radio show, and even alluded to the fact that he wouldn’t mind having me part of it, I unfortunately was going through a lot at that point and couldn’t be part of the show, but promised that I would at least add something to it when I could. Which turned into the Mind of Magnus segment, that I could record at my leisure, and simply send it on to them to use when they needed it. Very fun, and worked out well for all parties involved. Now I tend to do more live work with them when they need it. Which is fun, as these two guys really are seriously some of the nicest people you would ever want to have as friends.

Me: What is your favorite horror movie

Magnus: Oh my, there are so many to really choose from. My favorite film of “horror” would actually be Shaun of the Dead, just because of the genius which is Simon Pegg, the movie is so well rounded that it offers you romantic comedy, tears, screams, and beer. But, I bet you are talking about True “I-think-i-wet-myself” horror, not classic horror humor like Army of Darkness… Then I would have to say that It’s between Alien (suspense horror), Silence of the Lambs (that due was CREEEPY), and The Ring… because… WOW, that was freaky.

Me: What is your favorite local haunted place?

Magnus: hmmm, some of my favorite haunted places are actually residences that I’ve been in over the years. Homes that you have seen, felt, heard, smelled things in. For obvious reasons I really can’t name any names here, but if you need a public place that was at least a favorite of mine back in the day, there was a TB ward that was in a state of disrepair hidden in the woods at the top of a lovely hill back near my home town. We would go in there and check it out as teens. It was pretty darn amazing, and there was a certain air about it. Very creepy.

Me: What are you thoughts on UFO’s

Magnus: In the vague sense of the term of “Unidentified Flying Objects” I believe there are a lot of things up in the air. Be it governmental test machines, satellites, or unknown creatures. If you mean the little green man varieties, then that is something of a different nature all together. Do I believe that there is life on other planets, Yes. I will say that without a doubt in my mind, that there is the spark of life elsewhere in the universe. Is there intelligent life on some of these planets. Well, not a 100% sure, as I am always a skeptic at heart, but I believe that where life is and life grows, some semblance of intelligence will happen. Maybe not the severity of it found on this planet. I mean, of all the species to be found on Earth, few rival humans. So, it seems like life doesn’t need to have this level of intelligence to survive and thrive. But, if it happened here, it shows that there is the capability of it happening elsewhere should the conditions be right. All that science disclaimers aside, deep down I believe that there are intelligent creatures in this universe, have they traveled to earth, while I’m not completely sure, I believe that there are some serious anecdotal evidence out there that would have me believe that yes it has happened in the past. Are the skies today full of UFOs full of little grey men, I’m not sure. I don’t believe everyone that says they have been abducted, just because of that many people, there would be a parking lot of space ships in the sky with a giant deli counter telling them when it’s their turn. But, in a universe that seems full of xenoplanets, the chance of one having a race of intelligent space faring creatures that visit us does sound far fetched, but not out of the realm of belief.

Me: What scares you?

Magnus: EVP’s give me goosebumps… The thought of a voice, an intelligence, that is from an unknown source makes the hair stand on end. It is for this reason that I investigate and try to document the experiences. For all we know, all these have a basis in science. Ghosts are stray plasma, sounds heard are some weird electrical mishap in the air. To instantly jump on the “It’s a Ghost” mindset is much like the dark ages blaming the bad rain on Witchcraft or the Devil. I hope to take science and try to figure out the great mysteries, to finally get answers to something that has never been answered. For that 4th grader watching the slide show, the chance to study the great unknown, and answer what is possibly unanswerable.


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