Paranormal Yakker with your host Stan Mallow

Click on Christian Cagigal photo below to view video Interview



Season 2 Episode 7

Christian Cagical. Owner-operator of the award-winning tour company San Francisco Ghost Hunt.
Christian Cagigal is a highly respected professional magician who has performed successfully across the globe. He is also a successful actor and writer, produced a number of well received theatrical shows, and is the owner operator of San Francisco Ghost Hunt, San Francisco’s award-winning ghost tour company. In his interview with Stan Mallow, the Paranormal Yakker, Christian explains the circumstances that led him becoming involved in organizing ghost tours in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. He organizes both in-person walking ghost tours and Virtual Fireside Zoom events. In the interview, Christian explains what’s covered in those events, and mentions a number of haunted areas in San Francisco that his tour covers. This includes haunted hotels. Christian details paranormal experiences at the hotels as well as other areas in the Pacific Heights district, including spirit happenings at formidable Victorian mansions from the 1800’s, which were not destroyed during the great San Francisco Earthquake. Numerous chilling paranormal experiences are spoken of; both those experienced by people on Christian’s tours as well as by Christian himself. Christian also gives sound advice on the best way to photograph ghosts.

Transcript of video Interview

Paranormal Yakker
(Eerie music) Alien footsteps
Stan Mallow
Hi everyone. I'm Stan Mallow. Welcome to ParanormalYakker. My guest on today's show is Christian Cagigal, owner and operator of the San Francisco Ghost Hunt, San Francisco's award-winning ghost tour company. Christian Cagigal, welcome to Paranormal Yakker.
Christian Cagigal
Thank you for having me.
Stan Mallow
Christian, you're a highly respected professional magician who has performed successfully across the globe. You're also a successful actor and writer and have produced a number of well-received theatrical events. With your talent you could branch out into any area. You chose to get involved in organizing ghost tours of San Francisco. How did that come about?
Christian Cagigal
So, it's a weird story. So 20 this, the ghost to the SF Ghost Hunt started back in 1998 is created by my friend, Jim Fassbinder. We knew each other from magic. We both love to perform magic. He wanted to create kind of this place where he can get where he could kind of express himself and perform, and especially express his love of San Francisco and of ghost stories. And I was getting my degree in theater at the time, and I was already becoming known for telling magic with stories. So he wanted me to come on board. So I did as a kind of a co-director and creative consultant, did a research forum. I gave the tour a bunch of times for Jim as well back then. He continued running the tour for 17 years, sometimes seven nights a week. And then after a while, like five, six years ago, he was like, Hey Christian, I'm gonna be retiring soon. I'm gonna be turning 70. I'm gonna move to Kauai. And I had been going through a life of being in the arts, especially in theater and doing fringe festivals. And, you know, you go broke and you get exhausted being broken and having debt. I thought to myself, you know, he really created this really successful thing. As far as we knew, it's the first ghost tour in San Francisco. He ran it really beautifully. He was got repeat business, always gotten the paper all the time. I mean, to this day, I'm getting his repeat business. So, which is not typical for any kind of walking tour where people want to come back on it because it was, the memories were so special for them. And I thought to myself, you know, it would be smart for me to take over this business. I was a little scared 'cause of what it would do to the rest of my career. But yeah, I purchased it from him like six years ago and I've been running it for the past, I'm losing track of time, five, six years. I ran at nine months out of the year. There's 12 weeks out of the year where there's downtime for tourism here for me at least. So that's when I run away to New York and I live part-time in New York now. I get to be a magician in New York, partially funded in the beginning, funded by the ghost tour, now I have New York work as well. But yeah, so I get to run a nine months out of the year, typically February to Halloween with a few times for the holidays, five nights a week, six or seven nights a week throughout October. And yeah it's, I've been very lucky where I get to make my job a light commute into the city. 'Cause I'm just outside of San Francisco. A light commute into the city where I get to like tell haunted history and ghost stories and history of my favorite city in the world to nice people from all over the world and make decent money and get to live at my dreams.
Stan Mallow
That's cool. Now this interview Christian is taking place while the world is pretty much in a lockdown due to COVID-19. However, we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Since my interview with you will remain on my YouTube channel long after the pandemic is over, I want to touch base with you on both your in-person walking tours and your a virtual fireside Zoom events. So here goes, what areas do you cover on your in-person walking tours? Why did you choose them and what is there about them that they are considered to be haunted?
Christian Cagigal
So, Jim actually chose the original neighborhood and he had gone through many haunted San Francisco books until he really felt he had the location that he wanted. And so that's the lower Pacific Heights Japan town neighborhood, because people don't realize is that that's the side of the city that did not burn down in the 1906 earthquake. People think the whole place burned down, which is not true. Just the Western, I'm sorry, the Eastern half burned down, the Western half was saved. And so all that architecture is original to the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, it's all beautiful old mansions and you know, rich people in the Victorian era in San Francisco were very eccentric and they have eccentric tales, which become ghost stories . And yeah, so it's a busy neighborhood still, but it's a quieter neighborhood than Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf. So, and they're all in a cluster right there. So we don't have to take you halfway across town on a three hour tour, right? And then dump you off. We can kind of make a loop. So it's a nice thing for the tourists. It's nice thing for the locals. People, both locals and tourists get to see a side of the city that never really see typically. They get to walk through Pacific Heights in the evening. August is actually typically one of our foggiest months of the year. We call it foggiest. So, you know, it's cold, it's foggy. The fog is coming in low. The streetlights are going through there. These beautiful old mansions. We're standing in front of haunted locations, telling you stories about crazy things that have happened in the city. So, it just kinda works out nicely that way. So that's where everything's at and how that all that works and people experience.
Stan Mallow
Have any participants in your walking tours, experienced paranormal activity while on a tour? And if they did, how did that paranormal activity manifest itself?
Christian Cagigal
I mean, I could tell you a quick handful that there's one location where there are these six eucalyptus trees where the ghost of those trees. And I don't wanna, I don't wanna give everything away, but that goes to those trees still likes to make their presence known. She planted those trees back in the 1850s. And so people seem to get pelted with acorns, with gum nuts essentially what they're called in Australia, with gum nuts 'cause I have them right here. And then not on their head, it's like from behind on their back. So I've had people like sidle up next to me as we walk to the next location and say, "I thought my friends were playing a prank on me "'cause they kept on getting hit. "And I looked behind me and there was no one there," like stuff like that. There was another location where this had like this small group of women, professionals, early thirties who just, it was just kind of a fun gals night out in October for them, right? Well, in front of this one location, this big double mansion spot. And I heard this before, but I could never find a source for it. Where in the two adequate windows, there's a flash of light that happens. And it does not seem to be somebody inside with a camera. And it does not seem to be a consistent flashing of say like a bus headlight or something like that, right? And this one woman saw the flash, but I was too busy talking to notice and she saw the flash and she was just kinda like, like this is literally the face she made. And I thought she was just joking. 'Cause it was just, it was so clownish. And then we realized she's not joking. She was like, "Did anybody see that? "You saw it. Nobody saw that?" And then tears began to well up in her eyes and she's just like shaking and her friends go, "No, you don't understand. "She never does anything like this. "She's not that person in the group." You know, I suddenly, you're going from trying to give an entertaining and educational walking tour, to having to play counselor and just kind of like, you know, calm her down and calm everybody else down before I try and move on and say, for our next story, right? What else had happened? I could tell you a longer story. I worked briefly for Jim back in college and we were, we started in a certain haunted hotel that is no longer associated with the tour. So I won't mention their name. But it used to be a school for girls. And the headmistress has said to still take care of the place. So it was late August back when back to school was after labor day and lots of families. So I had like 40, 50 people in the tour and lots of kids. And I had a friend there who had just started going to the Berkeley Psychic Institute and we thought it'd be fun for her to come on the tour. So we get to walk into a room for 10, which was her office and residence of the woman whose spirit constant place. And I opened the door for people to walk in. And people walking in single file and the lights started flickering like crazy off and on off and on. And I've been in this hotel many times. Did it, the rewiring and along since happened, this is not what it does. People think it's me behind the door messing with the light switch, right? But the lights were just on the other side of the door. I can't reach it. But so I think it's a kid messing with the light switch, but nobody even sees it. It's behind them as they walk into the room. So when we all realized that I was going to, could've touched the lights switch, we all start freaking out. And when I start freaking out, everybody starts freaking out, right? 'Cause I'm the tour guide. Again, everybody has to get their nervous titters out and the giggling and the little bit of fear and panic. I have to come everybody down again. I now have to play therapist and kind of emotional guide to then swing them back into walking tour mode and be the entertaining walking tour guide. At the end of all that I say, "Hey Kate, bathroom break. And I'll meet you outside in five minutes." They all leave. And I asked my friend, Bill, it's me and him alone. I say, Bill, "Okay, what was that? "I got no clue." He said, he said something that he, that other psychics had said before him. And again, he did not know where were we gonna be going on this tour, right? So is there no way you could do research. There was no Google map yet for him to be going through. He says, "I don't think it's Mary. "I think she takes care of the place, "but I think it's the former students of the school. "I'm sorry, I think Mary visits, but I think it's the former "students of the school that really take care of the place "and that 11 year old girl in the orange jacket, "they recognize her and they were saying hi." Okay, good a story as any, right?
Stan Mallow
Yes.
Christian Cagigal
We step out of the room. It's kind of like the walkway. Then there's a railing just in front of the door with the stairs that go, right? The last heads are going down the stairs in front of us right? There's a little boy at the top of the stairs, right over here, staring straight up mouth agape. he says to me and Bill, "This one just did the same thing too," without missing a beat Bill and I step forward, grab onto the railing leaned down, and the last person to walk by that light was the same 11 year old girl in the orange jacket. That's and while there have been other things that have happened on the tour, I never really experienced them, I was too busy talking. People have to tell me what's going on. That's I'm not somebody who has experiences. I never, I don't see things, I don't feel things. That was the one time that I really had anything that made me go, if it's a coincidence, it's a darn good one. I have no answer.
Stan Mallow
That is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing that. Did any ghost tour participants capture orbs, spirits or other paranormal phenomena with their cameras or other recording devices? And if they did, could you tell me what they captured?
Christian Cagigal
Yeah typically it would happen in the hotel. We're no longer part of that hotel where luckily there's another nearby hotel that also turned out to also have haunting that I did not know about originally. And thankfully we associate with them now. And so, but in both locations, it's harder outside 'cause you kind of can't quite tell if something's an orb or a lens flare in the night. But first of all, the orbs are popping up more with digital photography. Like when everything was just like a little point shoot from Walgreens, you know, a little Kodak, self-developed nothing was really happening, but then all the digital cameras started like popping up more. And yet very typically it's, I tell people to take three shots in a row. Now they can do it off their phone, right? Takes don't move, frame it, and then take three shots in a row. If there's a spot of light in all three, I make the joke it's probably the lamppost, but if there's a spot of light in just one and you did not move, that might be something. Not uncommon that they don't move and there's a spotlight, there's a spot of light in orb in one of those photographs and not the other three. And you can tell they did not move. Sometimes they did not move and the orb moved, right? It goes like animation right? So, yeah. So that's happened, usually happens a handful of times every year.
Stan Mallow
Now, do you have any theories as to why some people when passing it, the spirit, will ascend to the other side where ever that other side may be, and others such as the ones encountered on your tours choose to remain earth bound.
Christian Cagigal
To be upfront and full disclosure for your audience. I'm, I joke and I say that I'm the tooth fairy agnostic, or I say, I am really an atheist, but I say I'm an agnostic for the true sake of atheism. My other joke is I believe in atheism, but I don't believe in atheists. I think atheists are too busy fighting something else, some other demon in their mind with how angry they can get, but I'm open to the idea, right? I'm or I say, I can't prove it either way, which means I can't say scientifically another side or spirits aren't real or not. So whether for me, what I've always seemed to notice is that ghosts seem to be always unfinished business, right? On my tour it's the runaway bride who was being forced to arranged marriage. It's the feminist writer that got forgotten. It's a civil rights fighter that got demonized and forgotten. And those seem to be the ones that stick around, right? So I say whether ghosts are real or whether they are invented, they're always unfinished business that we have with them. And if we maybe dealt with that unfinished business, especially culturally, maybe they could finally move on.
Stan Mallow
That makes a lot of sense. You're safe and socially distant fireside Zoom edition of the San Francisco Ghost Hunt is in my opinion, brilliant.
Christian Cagigal
Thank you.
Stan Mallow
I compliment you on coming up with it. It's very much needed and definitely serves a purpose. Could you elaborate on what it encompasses?
Christian Cagigal
The location is here. I'm doing both of these virtual fireside chats and my magic shows here, of course, it's darker. And I got little virtual flame over here, little led flame, but it's essentially me doing storytelling from home. But now I get to tell you stories from all over San Francisco, not just the ones from the neighborhood, right? Which has been exciting for me to be on the do. Here's an example of what it looks like. And then from here, that's Jim. That's me because in the beginning I have to explain to people, no, really this is actually what I do for a living. And then I am essentially doing a slideshow, haunted history of San Francisco. This is from Army of the Presidio, the Ohlone people, Mexican American war, all leading up to the building of what became the old Letterman, abandoned Letterman Army Hospital called the Presidio, which is now the home of Lucasfilm. And he let them in Digital Arts Center, which apparently does have stories. And I was excited to discover that. So, that's how I do it. And then when all that is said and done, it's about a little, it's about an hour, and then go back to this and then I do a little bit of like spooky haunted magic with my closeup camera. I haven't gone like that. So now it's just this. And I have the thing I do with like old photographs and personal items and whatnot. But yeah, that's how that works. It's an entertaining hour and 10 minutes, around 15 depending, and everybody gets something like, you know, I wanna make sure for me it's very important that everybody has a good time. 'Cause you know, every tour ghost operator understands the pain of like of there's always somebody, like half the audience was dragged on a ghost tour, right? Right? There's always somebody who wanted to come and everybody else who had to come. And so I wanna make sure whether it's virtual or IRL, that there's something for everybody. That's a little bit of entertainment. You know, even if you don't believe in ghosts, here's a good ghost story for you. You're gonna learn something about this city you never even thought about before. So even the locals and natives can come away from the experience with something so.
Stan Mallow
Should viewers of Paranormal Yakker want to learn more about your in-person San Francisco ghost walks and your fireside Zoom edition. How do they go about doing that?
Christian Cagigal
They can go to SFGhostHunt.com, not SF ghosts 'cause that's a different company. SFGhostHunt.com you'll see that logo you decide you'll scroll down you'll see my face you know you found the right ghost tour. There's even a little short video that kind of like gives you a sense of what it's like. If you need to try and like sell your friends on joining you and yeah and it's right now, I'm running it tomorrow. I don't know when that's gonna go up, but tomorrow is already sold out, but I'm running it on Wednesdays throughout December at 7:00 PM Pacific time. And yeah, until this pandemic is over, we'll probably be doing like a month on a month off. 'Cause I will not be jumping to giving in-person tours anytime soon . I want a vaccine first in my body. Stan Mallow- Okay that's wonderful. And again, a lot of people who are in their houses now also when they do plan their trips later on, when we have the vaccine and everything is good. I mean, absolutely your in-person tour has to be a top on their list I highly recommend it.
Christian Cagigal
Yeah.
Stan Mallow
I know a lot about it. And you do a wonderful job with it. Christian Cagigal, I thank you for being my guest on Paranormal Yakker.
Christian Cagigal
Thank you.
Stan Mallow
I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. You are the ultimate showman in every sense of the word. Thank you.
Christian Cagigal
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
Stan Mallow
Hi everyone. I'm Stan Mallow the ParanormalYakker. I hope you enjoyed the interview you just watched. It is my goal, my pledge to always bring viewers of the show, a great cross-section of guests from the vast body, mind, spirit, metaphysical and paranormal worlds, to be sure you don't miss any interviews on my free YouTube channel, all you have to do is press the subscribe button on your screen.