Interview: Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, and Shari Debenedetti — The ‘Ghost Hunters’ Are Back

The Ghost Hunters first premiered seventeen years ago on SyFy (formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel) and was a very simple ten-episode series led by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, Roto-Rooter Plumbers by day and ghost hunters by night. While the team—and the channel it aired on—have changed over the years, one thing has remained: they are the best ghost hunting team on television bar none. 

They are also some of the coolest. I had the opportunity to meet Jason Hawes a few years ago at a convention, but this year I got to sit down and chat with Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, and Shari DeBenedetti about ghost hunting, ahead of the premiere of the new season on their new home Discovery+. 

As a lifelong fan of Ghost Hunters—I distinctly remember setting the VCR to record the premiere in 2004—it was such a privilege to get to pick their brains about ghost hunting both on and off the record. 

Ghost Hunters
Dave Tango, Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, and Shari DeBenedetti stand in front of Brick and Ash.

Maggie Lovitt: You've been doing this for almost 17 years, how have things evolved? Because there has been so much new technology, even in just the last five years.

Dave Tango: Equipment obviously. Techniques definitely. Things seem to be working better than other things that we thought would have worked better. For me, the techniques I like.

Shari DeBenedetti: For me, I mean experiences too. The more experiences that we go through, that we can always look back to say “Okay, well this one, this is what happened and this is what the result was.” and so you learn over all the years.

Steve Gonsalves: Learning for sure for me. I went a science-based route and now I investigate under the principle of if it disobeys the laws of science. then I'm misinterpreting the experience or it's in my head. Not meaning that I'm crazy, but that things can be telephonic and audio phonic sounds. That sort of thing can be in your head. Not that someone's crazy, but literally in your head. 

If it disobeys the laws of science, then I'm misinterpreting the experience. And what I mean by that is that some investigators say that they see a shadow on a wall. I think that's impossible, because, in order to create a shadow on a wall, you have to have something obstructing the light. If something's obstructing your light, there has to be enough mass there that we would see it. 

If there's a shadow on a wall, but no source for that shadow, then it's just a shadow on a wall. It's coming from somewhere. I wouldn't consider that paranormal, you know? What if it's energy? Well, even still, if it's blocking the light, then it should be solid enough that I will see it.

Dave Tango: Free-floating.

Steve Gonsalves: Right? So that tells me that the shadow phenomenon should be free-floating in the environment. That's just how I feel like I've changed over the years. 

Maggie Lovitt: Have there been any situations that have lingered with you? I've done paranormal investigations to help contact loved ones and get closure. I'd love to know if there have been any that have had an impact on you.

Dave Tango: What was the case on Ghost Nation? The gentleman who was in a trailer.

Steve Gonsalves: Corey.

Dave Tango: He had PTSD and the place was so scary inside because there would be loud bangs and things that would happen inside of his house. It was so frightening for him, that he had to stay in a trailer next to his house. Being able to help them out and explain that this isn't that, it’s this. This is what's going on. We did research that made them feel better. And now he was able to go back into his own home. That to me is the absolute goal.

Steve Gonsalves: And also the couple we investigated. She came to see us in Jersey recently with her husband.

Dave Tango:  Oh, yeah! In New York.

Steve Gonsalves: I forget her name. She was a writer. They were terrified. And they were gonna move out of their house. But then she sent us this long email saying, “Thank you so much. We're doing everything you said. Now we're living in the house. We're happy again. Our relationship is back to normal.” 

And if you remember Steve and Glinda, we actually kind of saved their marriage in a weird background way. When we were interviewing them. And this had nothing to do with our investigation, but they're just being interviewed. Because they had a lot of marital problems, he was like, “This thing's like tearing us apart.” And she's like, “Really? Because I feel like it's bringing us closer together.” And he was like, “What?” 

It can ruin stuff. But she was like, “No, now we have something in common.” They both sort of looked at each other like, “Oh.” 

Dave Tango: They needed to communicate and they did it during the interview.

Steve Gonsalves: But that was a nice byproduct of the investigation. We kind of fixed their marriage.

Shari DeBenedetti: Mine was the couple that just lost their daughter. It's terrible, but it's just something that you always think about. There was communication with her with the guys. It's an awful situation. 

Dave Tango: It helped them out.

Maggie Lovitt: Closure is important.

Steve Gonsalves: It is. They thought a ghost killed their daughter. Their daughter died in her sleep. She was fourteen, I think. She was always was writing in her journal that something was coming and visiting her

Dave Tango: She would draw it.

Maggie Lovitt: In the episodes, we see a little bit of the prep work that you do before the actual investigation but how much really goes into one singular investigation?

Steve Gonsalves: Before we get there? Like a couple of months, 3 to 4 months maybe. They spend [that time] lining everything up once it gets through our paranormal filter. We decide if we want to do the case. We have the final say on what cases we do. Then they'll make sure everything lines up. 

Then there's what's called filters. Discovery+ and Travel have their own filters, so everything has to fit through their brand filters. For instance [with the] History Channel, nothing can be from the ground facing up. Everything has to be facing down. They have all these weird rules and every network is different. 

Then to make sure you can do the episode, they have got to make sure you can film at all of the places and make sure that we can get access to the historical places to do the research. A lot goes into it. I'd say, on average, maybe four months of prep work until we get there. 

Maggie Lovitt: Is there anywhere you haven't investigated yet that you would like to investigate?

Steve Gonsalves: In the United States, we're pretty fortunate that we've been just about everywhere. I think The Villisca Axe Murders house in Iowa would be pretty awesome. It's on my list. I want to really bad. We didn't do it I'm pretty sure because there's no heat or air conditioning. The elements were crazy and we decided not to, for whatever reason.

Shari DeBenedetti: I mean that hasn't stopped us before.

Steve Gonsalves: I'd like to do that and the Colosseum would be awesome, just because so many people died there. 400,000 animals and 300,000 people in one little circle it's pretty intense. They say it still smells like iron a little bit from blood. It's crazy. It's in the stone.

Dave Tango: What is that stuff that turns green?

Steve Gonsalves: Luminol.

Dave Tango: Imagine spraying that place a little bit.

Steve Gonsalves: I mean, it must be because they say the bacteria that feasts on blood never goes away. So that bacteria would still be there.

Maggie Lovitt: My last question wasn't even a good one. But because it's a film production I always ask this question for people because I work in television and film and stuff, but how is crafty onset?

Dave Tango: I have never been asked that question!

Maggie Lovitt: It's my favorite question to ask.

Dave Tango: I’ve never been asked it!

Steve Gonsalves: You know what? I'll be honest with you. It's lacking a little bit. (laughs)

Dave Tango: If this gets back to them. (laughs) We have the best PAs. Seriously, the best PAs in the world.

Shari DeBenedetti: Oh, we really have a good overall group.

Steve Gonsalves: We're so lucky.

Dave Tango: It's interesting how they do it though. So it doesn't look like a lot, right? But here's what I've noticed. They'll have one brand bag of chips, one Doritos, one this, and it's all just a singular thing. You go and you're like, “Oh, this looks like it's whatever.” Usually, it's a pile of things. But you take [something] and you walk away for a minute and then you come back it's been replaced.

Maggie Lovitt: Oh my gosh!

Shari DeBenedetti: And then they even ask, you know, “Hey, what's your favorite candies?”

Steve Gonsalves: I've had crafted crafty with nice spreads. Remember one year, they were making candy apples for us. They make coffee a lot. Michelle hooked us up on this last case.

Dave Tango: They had muffins!

Steve Gonsalves: The last case she had doughnuts and muffins. Pumpkin stuff. They're the best PAs we've ever had. We have three of them! What is this, The Walking Dead?

Dave Tango: One time Steve was driving [and] he's always on the end of his gas. Somehow he's always on empty. We had just made it to a case. I was like, “How are we gonna make it? We gotta be careful when we leave. We have got to immediately find a gas station. 

So we come back out after the scene and he parked towards the place, but the car was now in the opposite direction. We get in and there are two waters in there now and a full tank of gas.

Steve Gonsalves: They're really, really awesome. If we had more time I'd show you a bunch of videos. I take videos of them all of the time because they are so awesome. We have secret handshakes. 

And yes, after the interview, Steve and Dave showed me the secret handshakes. You can catch new episodes of Ghost Hunters on Discovery+. 

This interview was part of a roundtable with two other interviewers. Their questions and subsequent answers have been omitted. 

Maggie Lovitt is a writer at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery.

In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.