Paranormal Research Society visits Fleisher

A Bella Vista arts center brought together supernatural buffs and television personalities.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted May. 3, 2012

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Melissa Pandola enjoyed the chance to learn about a loved show from Sergey Poberezhny, its tech specialist and key member of its founders’ mission to understand the paranormal.

Photo by Nancy Davis-Myers

Mysterious matters have enthralled Melissa Pandola since childhood. A fanatic of that which seems to defy the rational realm, she continued her search for solutions Saturday at Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine St.

Sergey Poberezhny and Eilfie Music, members of the Paranormal Research Society, an 11-year-old group devoted to addressing alleged oddities, capped a two-day Philadelphia tour by lecturing at the Bella Vista location, revealing to 30 attendees numerous aspects of their trade.

“I am constantly looking for explanations,” Pandola, of Broad and Porter streets, said within the site’s Sanctuary, a component of the former Church of the Evangelists, which through a 1922 purchase by Samuel S. Fleisher became a part of his eponymous arts center.

The lightly lit spot created a fitting ambiance for the 90-minute presentation, which dovetailed with Friday night’s investigation of the Eastern State Penitentiary to offer a dual look at the city’s supernatural identity. The balance of darkness with luminosity served as a metaphor for what Poberezhny and his colleagues began as Penn State University students.

“Philadelphia has an interesting vibe,” Poberezhny said. “It has such amazingly old, preserved architecture that accompanies an impressive look to the future.”

He acknowledged naysayers’ gripes about his craft yet emphasized his clan’s studies delve into hot-button issues such as the afterlife, spirits and the suspension of disbelief.

“We touch on so many philosophical topics,” he said. “So many people want spiritual quests to yield answers.”

The A&E Network felt the same in 2007, as the entity tabbed the alliance to star in “Paranormal State,” a docudrama that paired the pupils’ scrutinizing skills with cases involving supposedly unexplainable phenomena. A ratings darling, the show debuted Dec. 10, ’07, and lasted five seasons, amassing legions of supporters, who, like Pandola, wonder what true terror and ultimate consolation any investigation can yield. Eager to give area hopefuls some guidance, tech specialist Poberezhny and occult authority Music chose Eastern State, a famed Fairmount facility that operated between 1829 and 1971 and became a National Historic Landmark in ’66. Scoping photographs of its architecture helped them to pick Fleisher for a look at their labors.

Pandola grabbed a front-row seat to hear her heroes. Donning a shirt bearing the society’s Sept. 16, 2001 formation date, the Lower Moyamensing resident beamed as Poberezhny began by analyzing how the show’s production schedule often had the gang tackling emotionally taxing themes such as demonic instances and less fear-inducing circumstances simultaneously.

“Moving from case to case, we just had to adjust our mindset and realize we were looking to help no matter what,” Music, the second most-tenured society participant behind founder Ryan Buell, said.

“We are always looking to empower our clients,” Poberezhny added.

In their first portion, the visitors addressed possession and a boy’s ghost, noting how the episodes’ attention to disturbed families upped their outreach’s heartrending elements. The talk segued into a look at those who contact the society with only publicity on their mind. Termed “hysterics” and “liars,” they brought on audience laughter, as Poberezhny and Music described their antics through clips and technological trickery.

“There is no quick fix to understanding the paranormal,” Poberezhny said in the candid setting, with three episodes highlighting imaginations rife with deceit. “It is not selective about where it wants to strike.”


Pennsylvania and New Jersey gave the show 20 cases, with the former responsible for 15, including ’09’s “Ghosts of Gettysburg,” which addressed a bed and breakfast whose renovations had its owners believing Civil War figures had returned to cause disturbances. The latter state yielded ’10’s “Devil in Jersey,” which used a thermal camera to try to track down the Jersey Devil.

A ’10 trek to Weymouth, Mass., spawned “They Only Come Out At Night,” a spooky installment on a family battling a pukwudgie, a Native American folklore figure with a reputation for kidnapping children and luring people to their deaths. The crowd grew especially enthused during the discussion of the mini menaces, who, according to legend, also can appear and disappear at will, create fire and transform into walking porcupines.

“Paranormal State” promised no confirmation of any entity or disturbance, seeking to alleviate fears yet calling on religious personnel when a situation called for divine intervention. The cast often battled personal anxieties, with Poberezhny and Music focusing on theirs in the historical locations segment.

“Ghosts of the Forgotten,” another ’10 episode, found Buell and Music investigating Painesville Township, Ohio’s Lake County History Center, formerly the Lake County Poor House, which housed societal outcasts and addressed Music’s handling of darkness. “Southern Discomfort at Sweetwater Mansion,” an ’11 analysis, sent the crew to Florence, Ala., where it scoured a plantation house teeming with stories, including a tale of a caretaker’s witnessing a casket laid out in a downstairs room with the corpse of a Confederate soldier inside. The abode tested Poberezhny’s threshold for darkness, too, and receptivity to contact with spirits.

Knowing the growing interest in his field, Poberzhny revealed he and his partners may try to create a paranormal hot line, as their show bowed one year ago yesterday. He and Music concluded their talk and opened the floor for questions, with discussions on editing, revisiting cases and dealing with skepticism.

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. melissa pandola said... on May 3, 2012 at 02:14PM

“Im ear to ear i love it. I wasnt sure what u would focus on but i flowed . Tell your editor i said thanks for shotting the paranormal a spot. I wont forget that nite nor your words”

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2. Kimberly said... on May 3, 2012 at 09:21PM

“It really was a great night @ Fleisher Art Memorial. And I agree, you guys couldn't have picked a better location for the lecture. The Sanctuary was Beautiful! Makes me smile to see Melissa in this pic. I was sitting behind her during the lecture and she was very excited to be there! Her outfit was very cool & creative too I must say! The lecture was very informative, & I learned a lot I never knew. Eilfie and Sergey did a great job with the whole presentation, and from the ghost hunt to the lecture I really enjoyed myself. Ryan you were missed, hope to see you at the next one! Overall, great time, can't wait to see everyone again! Thanks guys! <3


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3. Anonymous said... on May 9, 2012 at 01:02PM

“i wanted to ask a question,my husband was in a motorcycle when he was young, his cousin who was on the bike with him,ever since,he has been followed by something,it shakes the bed sometimes.
my question is,i have pictures,in which looks like orbs,how do i know if they are spirits or just dust?”

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4. Anonymous said... on May 9, 2012 at 01:10PM

“my forgot the say that my husband cousin died in the motorcycle wreck”

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5. Anonymous said... on May 10, 2012 at 12:43AM

“Dear Anonymous, I know shaking of the bed is usually nothing good sadly. That's usually something more malice so be careful. As far as the orbs go, you can usually tell the difference between possible dust or actual orbs by their color. Not always, but most of the time, and at least with what has been proven to be so in my photos, an actual orb has color around it. Usually blue or a bright yellowish glow. Or it will be a very non transparent bright white orb. Also check for anything in the picture where a light may have reflected off of to cause the orb. Mirrors, flash from camera, etc.Could cause orbs which you can easily debunk then. If an orb shows up in pitch black room or area it is 99% sure that it is prob a true spirit. Hope I helped. Good luck & stay open,but always careful with the spirit world ;-)”

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6. Christy said... on May 16, 2012 at 03:42PM

“As an ignorant teen I used to "play" with spirit boards. At 18 in my first apartment was the first time I “saw” a spirit walk from my hallway through the wall into my bedroom. Before little things would happen that I would, at the time, explain away. Since that evening I have felt followed, touched, I've had Mediums tell me I should listen to my Angels. I choose to turn completely away from it all. Ignoring the things that happen to me all together. Well last March my mother died very young and very sudden. After she passed I felt like she was battling to keep me safe. On nights I get the feeling and see shadows where it’s impossible to be anything but, I cannot sleep. Sometimes for a few days. Like today, 2 nights no sleep. I know from the show not to show fear, I’m afraid that the act of not sleeping feeds it. I was saved in 1997, I love and fear Christ. How can I get the bad to go away? I don't want to harm my mom in the process if she’s still with me. Any tips on how to help?”


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