By day Cris August helps LGBTQ teens. By night he’s a paranormal detective.
The theme that flows through Cris August’s life, whether in the darkness of a haunted house or a well-lit office, is about education.
In daylight, he’s trying to educate potential employers on the virtues of hiring developmentally disabled adults, or he’s mentoring LGBTQ teens. At night, he uses a variety of special equip-ment and good old-fashioned logic to educate people about paranormal activity.
August is the founder and director of OC Ghosts and Legends Tours & Events, an organization that hosts tours of sites long-deemed haunted, like the Los Rios District in San Juan Capistrano or Black Star Canyon. They also consult and investigate homes and other buildings on occasion.
“It’s eliminating the stigma,” says August, “of any of it.”
For 13 years, August has been advocating for special needs adults. At the Adult Family Home Agency, when he’s not working with companies that might employ them, he’s helping find families that can provide independent, stable and self-esteem building environments.
“These are individuals who never thought they’d be able to work. This gives them a much greater sense of purpose,” he says. Finding them a home away from their parents is equally as important. “Think of it as fostering adults. It allows them to basically live like anybody else.”
At LGBTQ youth camps, he’s just a reminder that life doesn’t have to be scary.
“The kids at camp might have been ostracized at school and fear their family’s going to cut them off and they’re 15 or 16,” says August, a transgender man. “I don’t have to give them a big long speech. I’m there and showing them I’m fine. With some we don’t even need to have a conversation. They’ll come back a couple of years later and say, ‘You changed my life.’”
Speaking of scary, he reminds people at his investigations, it’s not what they’ve seen in films or on TV.
“Not everything is demons or possession,” he laughs. “I’ve never come across anything dangerous.
“There are things that I have personally encountered that are beyond belief. Most of the time there are logical answers, but there are some that leave you scratching your head. Those are the moments that keep me coming back.”
A typical six-to-eight hour investigation takes place at night for purely practical reasons: It’s a lot easier to hear things.
“The real work comes in afterward, listening to audio, looking at video and seeing if anything pops up. We’ll find all kinds of chatter we didn’t hear before. It’s really a grab-bag.”
August isn’t in the business of banishing anything, but he says, “We educate them they’re safe. A lot of cases involve the psychology of the client. It goes a long way having somebody who listens with an open mind. Maybe it was a cell phone in the couch or the refrigerator. If they see an apparition, we can’t tell them that didn’t happen, they own that. But we equip them with knowledge.”
By Shawn Price
Photo courtesy of OC Ghosts and Legends