Shriexing. You may have heard the terms at a post-investigation gathering of fellow ghost hunters, or stumbled across cryptic references to it while browsing paranormal message boards online. If you’re like us, you’ve been confused as to exactly what this dangerous new style of ghost hunting actually entails. Is it as hazardous as the rumors suggest? Most concerning, does its existence posit an entirely new level of dark paranormal phenomena that have hitherto been ignored by mainstream experts?
To answer these questions, we were lucky to be granted a short email interview with Adriana Priest, Shriexer extraordinaire. Once heir to the large Priest Pharma fortune, she left behind a cushy life of privilege in favor of deadly supernatural encounters so deadly, apparently for the sheer excitement of it. We’re not sure we believe everything she told us during our interview – but we can’t say we aren’t intrigued to learn more!
So first, let me thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview with Haunted Style Magazine. Let’s start with the basic question: what is Shriexing?
I think maybe the easiest way to describe it is to say it’s extreme legend tripping. Very extreme. Like, you’re putting your life very much on the line type of extreme.
Why don’t you quickly explain legend tripping for those of our readers who might not know what that is.
Sure. It’s a bit of an archaic term these days, but it’s that practice of visiting a site of local folklore, typically of the darker variety. Generally you go to pay homage to spooky local legend, to touch history or the supernatural, rather than gathering evidence or advancing knowledge. It is a thrill seeking ritual, not an investigation. Much like going to a haunted attraction at Halloween, except with the threat that maybe, just maybe, the danger is real.
But this isn’t the same thing as paranormal investigation.
There’s always a blurry line between these things, isn’t there? If you take an EMF meter with you along with your flashlight and a six pack of beer to the Old Alton Bridge, you might still be legend tripping. If you bring crates of equipment and cameras and a psychic, maybe you’re conducting a paranormal investigation.
And remind us of the paranormal significance of the Old Alton Bridge?
It’s one of several bridges, this one in Texas, said to be haunted by the Goatman, an axe-wielding monster who loves to murder horny teenagers trying to have sex (obviously), or those who are foolish enough to trespass in his territory. A classic urban legend and subject of many midnight legend trips.
How is Shriexing different, fundamentally, from legend tripping?
To grossly simplify the matter, the difference is a matter of degree. Shriexing is all about exploring what has recently been termed as Level X phenomena. Level X – and I’m not sure I’m sold on that name yet – is the really bad stuff, the darkest of the dark supernatural phenomena.
Like the Amityville Horror or the Haunting in Connecticut cases? That dark?
Oh, Lord. No. Not even close. Most Shriexers would describe those as ‘vanilla’ hauntings. With all due respect to Ed and Lorraine, I don’t think any of their cases ever reached Level X status.
Ed and Lorraine being Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famous demonologists and ghost hunters.
You’re serious. The kinds of hauntings and paranormal phenomena you are involved in are worse than any case ever investigated by the Warrens?
Oh, by far. But that’s the whole point of Shriexing, to push the needle way, way into the red. Level X actually means level ten, as in the highest level on the Supernatural Rating Survey (SRS). The Amityville Horror case would rate maybe a five or six at most on the scale.
Again, this is not meant to cast shade at the Warrens or any other ghost hunters out there. What they do versus what I do is entirely different. Paranormal investigation is attempting to capture evidence of survival after death. Demonology is attempting to save souls from Satanic predation. Shriexing is an extreme form of entertainment. It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush. You royally screw with the most deadly paranormal forces on the planet, escape by the skin of your teeth, and get higher from the fear than you ever could from any drug.
I don’t want to minimize Shriexing as some kind of freak show, but I also need to be honest about what’s at its core, you know?
If thrill seeking is the core, what are some of the other elements of Shriexing that are important to the practice?
Shriexing has been around for decades now, and over that time it has evolved, as most subcultures do. I’d say modern Shriexing is a mix of many like subcultures. You have legend tripping and ghost hunting, of course. But urban exploring also provides DNA. Monster hunting is a close relative. For a hot minute every Shriexer was heavy into parkour. There are a lot of layers, and every Shriexer has their own reasons for getting into it.
Because a big part of Shriexing is being chased over difficult terrain. There’s actually a role on all Shriexer teams called the Baiter, whose job it is to distract the Malform – that would be a Level X supernatural entity – and get it to chase you, to protect the rest of your team or allow them to move forward or get into position.
Then there’s the whole ‘Hacker versus Sporty’ divide within the subculture. There are the Ninja Elites. There are the sponsors. I could go on and on.
I have to bite. What’s the Hacker versus Sporty debate, what are Ninja Elites, and who are the sponsors?
Let me see if I can do this without sending you paragraphs of text.
Hacking provides two main things in Shriexing: research and planning; and a philosophical point of view. Hacker Shriexers specialize in figuring out how to get their teams in and out of a Haunt safely. Haunts are what we call our targets. Instead of breaking into a computer system, you’re breaking into a paranormal site. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basic concept.
The philosophical piece is an attitude of wanting to go to forbidden places, just because, whether they be computers, abandoned buildings, or extremely dangerous haunted houses. Some Shriexers talk about ‘hacking a Haunt.’ This aspect of Shriexing comes from the 1980s.
Sporties are those who regard Shriexing as an extreme sport. These are the thrill seekers and pathological adrenaline junkies. They talk of ‘making a run’ on a Haunt. The Sporties started to come on the scene in the late 1990s.
Ninja Elites are the best of the best. They routinely beat the most deadly Haunts. To be a Ninja Elite, you have to be both a Hacker and a Sporty. The term comes from the trend of performing concentration-focusing exercises, like listening to someone behind you dropping pins, or starting into a candle flame, which were supposedly originated by ninja clans in Japan to hone their senses. To Shriex at the highest tiers you need awareness and reflexes on that level.
Sponsors are those who can’t or won’t Shriex themselves, but are interested in information about the supernatural that can be uniquely gathered from Level X encounters. So they will pay Shriexers to write up reports of the things they encounter. All Ninja Elites have at least one sponsor, and you can make enough money to Shriex full time. Most sponsors are VERY serious about this. They want to know everything that it is possible to know about the paranormal, about the afterlife, about the possibility of heaven or hell.
Do you also take photographs, record video, or capture audio? Do you have copies of any that you can share?
You can’t capture images or sound with Level X phenomena, unfortunately. Nothing records but noise. Most people can’t even register this kind of supernatural activity with their own senses without practice. Or a traumatic event, which is what happened with me. You can take photos using a spirit camera, but those are rare.
What level do you operate at? Do you have a specific role on your team?
I’m Ninja Elite, yes. I’m typically a Baiter on runs, and yes, I have a few sponsors.
And a Sporty, apparently.
You said ‘on runs.’ That’s a Sporty phrase, you said.
Oh, right. My team is always ragging on me about that.
Who is on your team? How many of you are there?
I’m not sure they’d want to be named publicly – Shriexing adopted a lot of secrecy from its hacker influences. Our team is called Team Mwerte. There are five permanent members, and then we usually have at least one or two stringers per season.
There are seasons to Shriexing?
Yes, there are two seasons per year: Spring, which is April and May, and then Fall, which is September and October. Ninja Elite teams tend to go longer. Team Mwerte, for instance, usually starts the Fall season in August.
So let’s take this discussion back to the beginning. That is to say, the beginning of Shriexing. How did it start? And how did the term, ‘Shriexing,’ first come about?
The story, which may be apocryphal, is that a group of teenagers in New York or New Jersey – no one seems to agree on which state it was – stumbled on a haunted house so absolutely terrifying that, when they made it out, they would drop to their knees or curl up on the fetal position, screaming and wailing at the top of their lungs. So naturally, these being teenagers, their friends wanted to try it. In short order dozens of kids were making a game of it. Then they discovered other Level X sites (that term wasn’t used back then of course), started to organize, put up flyers and held meetings, and told their friends in other states about what they were doing. And it spread from there. This was in the mid or late 80s. In the 90s, with the start of the Internet, it really took off.
The name comes from that screaming reaction those Shriexers had in that first haunted house. They were shrieking, it was said.
So the current spelling weird, with an X instead of a K.
Right, it used to be spelled normally, Shrieking, but the X spelling came about in the 2000s. X is kind of a universal symbol for the unknown or the paranormal, so it seemed to fit. It also looked better on website logos.
Is there anything else you feel our readers should know about Shriexing, whichever way it’s spelled?
Don’t try it unless you are very committed to exploring the extreme outer edges of the dark side. Shriexing is not for the faint of heart, and people do die.
Are you afraid when you Shriex?
All the time! That’s the point!
OK, now we know! Thanks for your time, Adriana!
Of course, take care!
Interview originally published in Haunted Style Magazine, all rights reserved. Used with permission of the publication.