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Death, Sex & Money

Podcast Death, Sex & Money
Podcast Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money

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  • Inside John Waters' Home (But Not Inside His Colon)
    John Waters is the writer and director of such cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, and his biggest mainstream success, Hairspray. He’s been making movies since the 1960s and this year he released his debut novel, Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance. The novel is an incredibly dirty romp filled with the kind of taboo storytelling that John Waters revels in. In his work, he shines a light on the worst of us but rarely to ridicule, more as a reminder of how gloriously sinful we can be, as we discussed when I spoke with him in his Manhattan home. His interest in the carnal, though, has its limits. “When I got a colonoscopy, they said, do you wanna watch? No!” he told us. “Why do I wanna go on a fantastic voyage up my a–hole?”  We also talked about money management, aging, and his secret to maintaining his many long friendships. “I do stay in touch and if anything bad happens to you, I call. If you get a bad review, I call. If you go to jail, I definitely am your first visit,” he laughed. “I never don't come visit you if you're in jail.” 
    9/21/2022
    32:06
  • How Clothes Help Us Find Our People and Ourselves
    For many of us, the last few years of the pandemic has given us time to reflect on different aspects of our identities and how we show up in the world. That's meant more room to explore what silhouettes, colors, and textures feel good, what haircuts work or don't, and what you love—and what you hate—about getting dressed up in the first place. And for a couple of listeners, ruminating on their personal style has also meant thinking about community, and how clothes fit us into social spaces. A listener named Stephen told me he can remember what he wore in most social interactions. "The clothing in all of these memories is like the set of extras that don't have any lines." For another listener, Bill, fashion allows him to recognize himself as a trans man, and who he wants to attract… or avoid. "I think about what I wear a lot," he told me. "It takes up space in my brain that doesn't always feel good." This week, your personal style transformations: the good, the bad, and everything in between.
    9/14/2022
    31:16
  • Lucinda Williams Says Whatever the Hell She Wants
    *This episode originally ran in 2016.  When Lucinda Williams was in elementary school, all the other kids brought rock collections and other standard fare to show-and-tell. But she brought a folder. "I put this notebook together of seven poems and a short story by Cindy Williams," she remembers. Decades later, she's still documenting her impressions of the world, now in raw, often mournful songs that explore death, heartbreak, abandonment, and love. Many of her them are based in the American south, where Lucinda grew up—including those on the album The Ghosts of Highway 20. "I know these roads like the back of my hand," she sings on the title track.      Lucinda was close to her father, poet Miller Willams, throughout her life. He encouraged her interest in words and writing, even taking her to visit Flannery O'Connor when she was a little girl. So it was especially hard for her to see him go through Alzheimer's disease. He died a year before our conversation, less than six months after the summer day when he told Lucinda he couldn't write poetry anymore. "I just sat there and just cried," she remembers. "That was when I lost him."  In her sixties, Lucinda says she's more successful than ever, selling out shows on the road and happily in love with her manager Tom Overby, whom she married on stage during an encore in 2009. But, she told me, getting older can still feel like a drag. "I don't like the aging process. I don't like getting older because of all the loss. It just gets harder and harder."    See the video on Lucinda's Facebook page of her performance of "Compassion" at her father's home before he died. Miller Williams reads his poem, and Lucinda follows by singing her musical interpretation.
    9/7/2022
    30:19
  • Big Freedia Bounces Back
    Even before becoming Big Freedia, Freddie Ross was known around New Orleans. Her "signature call"—an operatic bellow that she lets out when I ask to hear it—was legendary in the city. "They'd be like, 'Oh that's Freddie in the club'.... The signature call comes very loud. And proud." Freedia came out to her mom as gay when she was 13, and soon came out to her classmates as well. She tells me she "had to do what every other gay kid had to do: fight for their life, and let people know that you are not no joke." She eventually started performing as part of New Orleans' queer bounce music scene, and became a local celebrity.  Then, in 2005, Freedia got shot. "What the motive was, I don’t know to this day still," she says. After finally mustering the courage to start performing again, Freedia also moved into a new place, to get a fresh start. Hurricane Katrina hit about a week later. She and her family were together at her duplex during the storm, where the water rose to the second floor. They cut a hole in the roof to signal for help. Days after being evacuated, Freedia made her way to Houston, where she lived for two years.  In Houston, Freedia met her boyfriend, Devon. After years of dating men who weren't openly gay, Freedia says Devon's openness about their relationship has made a difference. "When your love grows for somebody and y’all get closer you wanna...feel more appreciated, and you wanna feel loved," she says. Freedia eventually returned to New Orleans, where her career continues to expand. “A lot was happening after Katrina. I mean money was slinging everywhere,” Freedia tells me. “You know everybody had FEMA checks, girl!” I talk with Freedia about what's happened in her life in the years since she returned to her hometown: publishing a memoir, starring in a reality TV series, and losing her beloved mother to cancer.  * This interview is from 2015 and part of a series about New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Big Freedia in New Orleans, holding her high school graduation photo. (Rush Jagoe) The lot where Big Freedia's house stood, before Hurricane Katrina. (Emily Botein) Sitting on the porch swing with Big Freedia. (Katie Bishop) Big Freedia performs her song "Excuse" before she and over 300 dancers set the Guinness World Record for most people twerking simultaneously:  Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce Season 4 Trailer:
    8/31/2022
    26:21
  • Finding Meaning After My Husband's Public Death
    When talking about the death of his husband, Terry Kaelber doesn't use the word suicide, "I tend to say he took his own life out of deep distress about the environment through self-immolation." Terry says it's out of respect for David that he chooses his words carefully — "It was a rational decision on his part."  In 2018, David Buckel doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Minutes before, he sent a note to prominent media outlets. He wrote, “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result—my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.” David was 60, an environmentalist, and a former LGBTQ rights lawyer. In this episode I talk to Terry about how he thinks about David's death now, and how grief still connects them. "I would never want the grief to go away," he says, "It's always a reminder of how important we were to each other." We also talk about moving on and finding new adventure and joy — "If somebody had said to me within the first year of David's death, that this would happen, I would've said you're crazy." David Buckel ran one of the country's largest compost sites operating without heavy machinery (Terry Kaelber )   A memorial for David in Prospect Park (Terry Kaelber )   For more Terry, listen to him on Vox’s Today, Explained, along with Tim DeChristopher who was imprisoned for his climate activism. And if you are experiencing climate grief, we encourage you to go back and listen to our episode with researcher Britt Wray about our emotional reactions to the reality of climate change where we also link to resources.   
    8/24/2022
    35:10

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