Dana Workman: Haunted Highway's pretty paranormal bait
Luring spirits in a secluded forest during the middle of the night is just another day at the office for Haunted Highway's Dana Workman. Here Dana visits with us about hellhounds, skin walkers, her relationship status and why she’s pissed she’s never been personally haunted…
Kat: In Syfy’s Haunted Highway, you investigate paranormal activity. Can you tell us what exactly is a hellhound and a skin walker?
Dana: The show is more creature-based — not like ghosts and haunted hospitals. A skin walker is kind of like a shape shifter. They can take the form of any animal or humans. These are stories that have been around for years and years and years and whether or not the legends are true we don’t know, but they are all based somewhere.
Kat: And a hellhound? What is that?
Dana: Those are like spirit dogs, and back in mining days once the mine was closed, the dogs that guarded the mines were left to starve or were beaten. So when there are sightings people report glowing red eyes, stuff like that.
Kat: The investigations take place in places like Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota. The episode I watched had a real Blair Witch Project feel to it — you have a hard time figuring out if it’s real or fake. But what you guys are doing is the real deal, right? This isn’t scripted, there aren’t any special effects?
Dana: We are the camera people on the show. We film everything. So we are out there by ourselves.
Kat: Jack Osbourne, who is your investigation partner, somehow seems like an unlikely participant in this kind of project.
Dana: It’s funny because he is so intelligent — he knows everything about everything. And super-knowledgeable about any kind of conspiracy theory, and he’s really into this stuff. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, normal people that you could meet.
Kat: In the episode I watched, you are in a canyon in California, and a local told you to sit in the dark, at the base of an oak tree and wait for shadowmen to appear. Uh, creepy.
Dana: Uh, yeah. I don’t really like to be bait, and I hopped up quite a few times.
Kat: Is your heart just racing a million miles an hour while you’re doing that?
Dana: All the time. Seriously, I just got used to being terrified. It just became natural and normal.
Kat: On a day-to-day basis do you think you’re someone who is hard to rattle, or are you more of a scaredy-cat?
Dana: I have two very opposite sides. I’m an open-minded skeptic. I’m very skeptical about things but I’m also afraid of my own shadow.
Kat: Have you ever experienced any paranormal activity in your personal life?
Dana: You know what? I haven’t, and I’m almost offended that I haven’t. I’m so interested in this stuff, and I've become more obsessed with it as I get older and everyone I talk to has had some kind of experience with it, and I’m like, is it me?
Kat: Why does everyone get to see a ghost except you!
Dana: I know! I haven’t. But my dad saw a UFO and told me stories about it and I’ve always been into X Files and stuff like that. But personally, no.
Kat: Damn it anyway! Do you have any unnatural fears or phobias we should know about?
Dana: I have a fear and obsession with natural disasters. I love information about tsunamis and volcanoes and I love movies based around natural disasters. The things I’m most fascinated about, I’m also afraid of, like the ocean.
Kat: You’ve also hosted FOX’s Poker2Nite. Did you pick up any insider poker-playing tips that will help the rest of us win big in Vegas?
Dana: It’s funny, I’ve been in the gaming industry for a few years now, and I still don’t play poker ever. I mean I know how to play, but I’m scared of not playing well or the etiquette of it. Like, winning in a way that would piss someone off because I did it the wrong way through an amateur move. I think I’m more of a blackjack kind of girl.
Kat: Hosting that show meant traveling to a lot of exotic locations. Do you have a favorite?
Dana: I love London. I wasn’t so much a fan of Dublin, but I didn’t get to travel around too much while I was there. And I could definitely do without Macau.
Kat: Why is that?
Dana: I live four hours from Vegas, and Macau is Asia’s Vegas, except it is 15 hours away. I was hoping to see more culture, but it’s just like Vegas.
Kat: I couldn’t find anything about where you grew up, your childhood, stuff like that. Is there a reason for that?
Dana: I grew up in L.A., I’m a down-to-earth Cali girl.
Kat: What did your folks do when you were growing up?
Dana: My mom was a teacher and my dad is a CFO.
Kat: Did you have any interesting childhood hobbies?
Dana: I think I was a boy until about 16. I played every sport imaginable. I played soccer for 10 years, gymnastics, softball, I was a cheerleader and I played basketball. I was a tiny spitfire.
Kat: You are ridiculously, dare I say annoyingly, hot. So I’m sure any male readers would want me to ask — are you dating, engaged, married?
Dana: I’m single. I’m a tough cookie to crack. I’m always one of the boys, or like someone’s little sister or a friend. I’m not a serial dater, but I’m definitely single.
Kat: I think I just heard the door swing wide open.
Dana: Yeah, I think I heard a knock at my door just now. Hang on.
Kat: What sort of things are you typically looking for?
Dana: Well, someone with a sense of humor and someone who is attentive to the little things is always good.
Kat: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dana: When I was really little, I wanted to work with monkeys.
Kat: With monkeys? Wow. That’s pretty specific. Why monkeys?
Dana: I don’t know. I wanted to be a vet or work with animals. I feel like I’ve always had a knack for this industry.
Kat: Your career sort of evolved with you in front of the camera, but in Haunted Highway you spend time behind the camera too.
Dana: I have a creative eye, and when on location for Poker2Nite, I was just sent with a camera guy, so I produced a lot of my own segments. I’m actually trying to pitch my own show now with a paranormal theme.
Kat: So kind of a spin-off of Haunted Highway?
Dana: Just in the sci-fi genre I would say.
Kat: When will we know more about that?
Dana: Well, it’s just in the very beginning stages, but I think it’s a genius idea (laughs).
Kat: Best of luck with that. Will you come back and visit with us that when that’s a go?
Dana: Yes, of course.
Image courtesy of Jalisco Wayne Photography