[At a paranormal lecture]

The out there is in here

George Knapp, working the fringe


Her sign reads, “LV UFO—8:30 p.m. Meet here.”

“I’m looking for work,” jokes the sign’s holder, J.R. Scully, aka Jacqueline Nelson, the media representative for the Las Vegas UFO Hunters. “We’re the largest group in Nevada, 87 members. We recently protested a private prison in Rachel, Nevada, near Area 51. Otherwise, we go out near Area 51 and watch the skies.”

Nelson and 30 members of her group are here to listen to—and then dish about—KLAS Channel 8 newsman George Knapp’s latest lecture on the paranormal and unknown, everything from Area 51 to haunted ranches to little green men. I ask Nelson what she thinks of Knapp’s work on the subject, and she calls it “a trick question.”

No, I say. “He tries to separate himself from the movement,” she observes, “but it’s what he’s most well-known for.”

Sure enough, shortly after beginning his two-hour talk, Knapp says, “Were it not for this UFO stuff, I would be perilously close to being a respectable reporter.” But the more than 300 devotees assembled at the Clark County Library’s Main Theater aren’t there to hear about Knapp’s brushes with the mob or his exposes on corruption. They want to hear about cattle mutilations, flying saucers, strange lights.

Whether aliens exist, and whether there’s a conspiracy to cover them up, may never be known, but one thing is sure: Knapp can talk. He shoots out facts and figures at a blistering pace, and it seems his audience has nary a second to drink it in. His discussion of Area 51 draws very little response, because he leaves no time for it.

The mood shifts dramatically when Knapp talks about his work with Skinwalker Ranch, an alleged site of paranormal activity in Utah. If you haven’t read his book, Hunt for the Skinwalker, and you have the slightest interest in this stuff, pick it up. You’ll either laugh or be scared shitless.

The Q&A period is uncharitably short due to the length of Knapp’s speech. One guy at the top of the auditorium yells out, “I e-mailed a video to you. What’s going on with the skies in Las Vegas?” After Knapp posits, “I don’t know … military?” the man shoots back, “I have some video of Area 51. Can I send it to you?”

Knapp, perhaps in that brief moment realizing the pigeonholes fame can place us in, smoothly responds, “I’ll give you my card. I’m not that hard to find.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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