Self-proclaimed ghost specialist L.V. Salazar is Brooklyn’s most relevant author — for exactly one day each year. The Kensington resident’s spooky and fascinating accounts of the borough’s “true” hauntings are the type of Halloween reading material that makes little kids cry and grown-ups laugh. His spine-tingling tales tell of a “house of suicides” in Brooklyn Heights, demonic wolves in Prospect Park, and a coven of sperm-stealing witches in DUMBO. Below, he briefs reporter Natalie O’Neill on ghastly subjects such as public records, the devil himself, and why even dead people love chocolate.
Natalie O’Neill: Your book, “The Ghosts of Brooklyn,” states you’re “one of the world’s leading authorities on fallen angels and demons.” How did you earn an impressive title like that?
L.V. Salazar: I studied theology and was fascinated by the fact that Christians, Muslims, and Jews all have angels in their religion. There’s a book called “A Dictionary of Angels” and I became an expert. For example, most people don’t know that one out of four angels is a fallen angel. It’s almost like someone who has read all of the Sherlock Holmes novels: I’m an expert on all the clues and details.
NO: How does a ghost sleuth like yourself tell the difference between fallen angel and a regular-old boring angel?
LVS: That’s easy. A fallen angel at some point has angered God — so God banished him. The most famous fallen angel is Lucifer and that’s why we have evil in the world.
NO: Oh, I see. How do you define the word ghost?
LVS: Imagine two rooms connected by a revolving door. One room is life and the other is afterlife. A ghost is a person who gets stuck in the revolving doors. They didn’t fulfill their purpose in this world — or maybe something terrible and tragic happened — so they go around in circles for eternity.
NO: There are lots of spooky ghost stories in the book — a cannibal haunts Park Slope, a man bursts into flames in Brooklyn Heights, and a “killer cat” stalks the Columbia Waterfront District, which is both scary and hilarious. Of all of the stories, which one gives you nightmares?
LVS: There’s one about a boy in Vinegar Hill who was captured and enslaved by witches who want his sperm. They need his sperm so they can impregnate themselves then have a son because they need to raise a strong man who will protect them from the world.
NO: That’s disturbing on several levels. What do you tell naysayers who claim, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
LVS: Maybe there’s not — but then there’s a whole bunch of coincidences.
NO: Such as?
LVS: History tells of a lost girl, Patricia, who died near the DUMBO archway — a little girl who loved chocolate. She disappeared when she was 11 years old and psychics say she’s been trying to make her way home since. Now you look at the port and it has become one of the world’s leading supplier of cocoa and Jacques Torres Chocolates is nearby. A lot of this can be backed up with newspapers and public records.
NO: So you’re saying Jacques Torres is involved! Just to play devil’s advocate — no pun intended — doesn’t every kid love chocolate? And hasn’t a child died, at some point, in basically every neighborhood?
LVS: Sure, but not every place becomes the world’s leading supplier of cocoa! Is it a coincidence? Or is it more?
NO: It’s fun to think it’s more. I like the story about Alfred T. White, the famed builder of the Cobble Hill Towers, who you claim is now a ghost with a foot fetish. Where did you get that?
LVS: I was with a clairvoyant, who said she could tell that women really enjoy being in that place. Then she said, ‘You know why, right? There was a lot of great sex in that house.’ People have been doing kinky things forever. Even Victorians wanted their toes sucked.
— Natalie O’Neill