Bumps in the Night: Rapper Prozak & Crew Investigate the Hauntings of Hamilton Street for Worldwide Documentary Film
By Robert E. Martin
Fans of international sensation Prozak (aka Steve Shippy) are well aware of the artist’s propensity to peer beneath the surface of everyday reality – after all; he did not earn his moniker as ‘The Hitchcock of Hip-Hop’ by gliding aimlessly in the safety zone.
Following the success of his release Tales From the Sick, which managed to breakout on the Billboard charts at #52 its first week of release, outselling such mainstay icons as Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige, in addition to reappearing on the charts seven times since, this past June the Saginaw Rapper had a bit of ‘down-time’ following three extensive back-to-back tour schedules.
Consequently, rather than incubate into a mode of complete relaxation, Prozak decided to don a different type of artistic hat and focus hit attentions upon filmmaking – specifically, staging a carefully controlled and independent investigation into paranormal events that have become the lore of legend in Old Town Saginaw.
Enlisting the aid of two fellow ghost-hunters (Tim Rooney and Adam Eugenio) and dubbing themselves ‘The Seekers’ the trio have set about the past 12-weeks with infrared cameras and sophisticated audio recording devices, spending entire evenings in various locations throughout Old Town Saginaw attempting to determine if there is any legitimacy to tales of haunting apparitions appearing in the area.
The results of their investigation will be released in 2010 as a documentary film entitled: The Seekers (Volume 1): A Haunting on Hamilton Street.
“Paranormal investigation is something that has interested me for a long time, wince the age of 18 when I read about people placing tape recorders on gravestones, and would watch ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ on television,” explains Prozak. “I became fascinated by it and as the years went on and shows like ‘Ghosthunters’ sprang up, I saw how accepting society had become of this thing, which made me want to investigate it even more.”
“I had a core group of people interested in this project, so started working off and on with it,” he continues. “Even while on tour when I would visit certain cities, I’d make it a point to check on the Winchester Mansion, or Lizzie Borden’s house, and read books about the subject. After all the extensive touring that I had completed, I started turning back to this project asking where to go from here on it, finally realizing that there existed this amazing place in our backyard called Hamilton Street.”
While Prozak admits that he cannot say whether every building on Hamilton Street is haunted, three locations definitively stood out, three of the locations The Seekers chose to investigate and put on film – The Stables, The Schuch Hotel and The Comedy Club (Moose Lodge) revealed more than unsettling results.
“The Stables turned out to be one of the best places we investigated,” relates Prozak. “Employees as well as the owner of The Stable, Denny Whalen, told us stories about hearing people walking back and forth upstairs when nobody was up there and all employees were accounted for downstairs. One employee we interviewed was grabbed physically up there one day when he was alone and turned around to see nobody there.”
“My belief is that you get best results of activity in the dark, for whatever reason that may be, so we set up infrared cameras throughout The Stable,” continues Prozak. “Infrared is like having night vision, which enables you to see what goes on in the dark.”
So what exactly did the team discover?
“We caught things swinging and moving on their own, objects being knocked down, and one occurrence that in many ways will be the highlight of the film,” notes Prozak. “In one scene you see that shadowy figure that almost looks transparent, yet solid, coming right out of the wall and walking in front of a window, blocking out light in the process. It looks right into the camera and disappears. Was this an apparition? I don’t really know. It looks to be a human form and it comes right out of the wall at you.”
“We never would have caught it, but had a camera on a tripod facing in that direction. We heard sounds like something was being thrown around upstairs, so hooked up the infrared and left it alone. The scene was on one of the last tapes we reviewed and I was watching it on my flat screen, about to fall asleep, when I initially saw the footage and couldn’t believe my eyes. We rewound it and watched it over and over.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when Prozak showed it to me,” confirms Tim. “You’ve got to be as objective as possible and ask if it could be one of the employees pulling a prank, but where the camera is, somebody would have had to crawl on their hands and knees for about 20 yards and act like they were walking out of a wall; and even then, you wouldn’t have the visual transparency of the figure.”
“We talked to the owner about it,” adds Prozak, “and he didn’t give us many theories, but did say that when he first opened the building and the shop a huge wooden door swung open by itself. He examined the door and the weight of it and there was no air flow, so it was kind of strange.”
Tales from the Schuch Hotel
One of Hamilton Street’s only and oldest hotels is the legendary Schuch Hotel, which was built in the 1800s and a favorite haunt of artists such as Theodore Roethke.
The Seekers spent five nights investigating this legendary venue.
“One thing we heard around 4:00 AM every night we were filming was a lot of activity and consistent patterns of activity that included sounds of footsteps running around on the third floor,” states Prozak. “The owner, Mike Perry, said this would continuously happen around that time and was not uncommon.”
“That type of occurrence is referred to as a ‘residual haunting’ in the paranormal world,” he continues. “This is activity that’s tuck in a cycle. With an ‘intelligent haunting’ you have a spirit within a property that knows its dead and tries to do things to interact with people. Residual hauntings don’t care that people are present, or even know that people are present. Usually these are associated with a place where a horrific event took place – like hearing the screams of the murdered; and sometimes its not so horrible and can be something like your grandfather’s house when at 6 AM every morning he would have his tea, so you hear the stairway creaking consistently. Some experts think a person or event can leave an imprint behind, even though they are not interacting with people, and that’s what we experienced at The Schuch.”
“One thing did touch me at The Schuch,” interjects Tim. “I could have been in the path of a residual haunting, but at one point, was standing around and all of a sudden something came up and it felt like I was being touched on my shoulder. I turned around and nothing was there – the same thing that happened with that employee at The Stables.”
Creepiness at The Comedy Club
“The old Comedy Club on Hamilton Street was an extremely interesting place,” notes Prozak. “It’s a really large building and we invited almost 40 paranormal investigators from all over the state to show up there and research it.”
“On the first night we brought in the first group and the center of their focus was within a 20 by 20 foot area in a building that is easily 10,000 square feet or more. The next day an entirely new group came in – The Southeastern Michigan Ghosthunters Society – and within 40 minutes they gathered around the same exact area. To me this was odd within itself, because it’s not an area you’d be immediately attracted to, yet everybody seemed to gravitate there.”
“At one point, I felt somebody tugging on my shirt while I was running camera and ignored it at first. But finally, I asked the investigators to check it out and see if my shirt was moving; and sure enough, you could see it being tugged while I was standing there.”
“We also caught an EDP at The Comedy Club,” explains Prozak, “which stands for ‘Electronic Voice Phenmomenon’. You can hear on tape this disembodied voice and all it was saying is ‘Why?’
We have this on video – nobody is up there, and all of a sudden you hear a woman say ‘Why?’ as plain as day, like she’s right there. We caught this on a digital handheld recorder, but the camera audio picked it up as well.”
“We also got an EDP of a small child in the basement saying ‘Go Away’. We had the most EDP results from The Comedy Club, which is pretty fascinating to us.”
Does Prozak harbor any theories about these phenomenons?
“Well, if a place is supposed to be haunted, you use every tactic and technique to capture it. Why did things happen at these places is a question that can be answered only in the eye of the beholder. With the Comedy Club I do know there was an incident there involving the suicide of one of the owners – a woman that jumped off the Court St. Bridge.”
“We’ll have a lot of features in the film and are almost done with shooting,” concludes Prozak. “One thing we would like to add before wrapping the project would be talk and interview people – young or old – that have experiences or first hand stories they would like to relate about Hamilton Street. We’d like to get first hand accounts from people that are employed or work in the area, so if anybody has anything they’d like to come forward with, please contact us.”
“It’s interesting,” concludes Tim, “because the lumber era was way more violent than the Old West, which got romanticized. Old Town had a lot of lumberjacks in the area that would see people with money and knock them out and throw them in the river. In paranormal worlds a big consensus is that a lot of activity happens around water, which magnifies the activity, and possibly attracts entities like a volume knob.”
“Plus Hamilton Street is just old,” adds Tim. “You have original buildings from the 1800s and a lot of went down went unrecorded. Police didn’t have videos or radios and no forensic science – they would find a murdered body and say, ‘that’s a body’ with little investigation into how they died. People died from the common cold back then.”
When their project is complete, The Seekers intend to stage a world premier at one of Saginaw’s local theatres and will also release the film on DVD for national distribution at Best Buy and other retail outlets.