SoCal Para-Con: Ghosts and Demons at the Biltmore

SoCal ParaCon Loyd Auerbach

Illusionist, chocolatier and parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach at SoCal Paracon 2011

We all know the Biltmore Hotel (now the Biltmore Millennium Hotel) in Downtown Los Angeles is one of the locations where the beloved “Ghostbusters” was shot back in the ‘80s, and of course, it’s a gorgeous old-fashioned architectural delight. But apparently only a select few knew it was also the site of the second annual SoCal ParaCon, a convention for ghost-chasers and investigators of the paranormal. It’s a shame, really, because this is an event with heart and it brought some good people to the Biltmore, but maybe future years will bring a little more luck to the ghoulish gathering.

The select group of vendors had some very nice wares on offer, and the whole place was decorated in a very fun, unpretentious way, with a festive spooky carnival theme that made it feel like Halloween had arrived weeks early. The ParaCon crew were informal and fun, and you couldn’t help but feel welcome.

I arrived late in the afternoon, and was surprised to find that due to a scheduling snafu, the ParaCon speakers were rearranged. As a result, I was treated to a discussion of practical demon-hunting by Thomas Durant and David Harvey, a discussion of the pros and cons of paranormal TV shows by Loyd Auerbach, and a preview of the October 15 season premiere of the syndicated show “My Ghost Story”.

The demon-hunting lecture turned out to quite interesting, and Durant and Harvey clearly take their pursuits seriously and care about the welfare of the people they set out to help. If I could boil down the theme of their advice to one statement, it would probably be, “Don’t push your luck.”

Illusionist, chocolatier and parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach dissected the current trend in paranormal TV shows with even-handed wit. He set out the pros and cons of the recent boom in reality TV shows dealing with claims of the supernatural, and brought a healthy air of scientific thought to the entire proceeding. As he mentioned in his lecture, those “ghost hunter” TV shows work in the dark… ‘cause it’s spooky-looking on their nightvision cameras, not because it’s remotely necessary!

Speakers at SoCal ParaCon 2011

A relaxed presentation style at SoCal ParaCon

“My Ghost Story” looked intriguing, given that the show is supposed to be comprised of reenactments of real-life hauntings and visits to the actual sites. The show’s representative seemed sincere enough, and for all the sensationalism they do for the ratings (there go those nightvision cameras again!), it could be worth a look.

I checked out of ParaCon during the seemingly preempted Sideshow Cocktail Hour, but I saw some of the costumed guests arrive for the Carnivale of the Dead Costume Ball and they looked to be ready for a good time. Hopefully it was a howling success for the ParaCon folks, and maybe their next event will be even bigger.