This week we welcome Caitlin Doughty — mortician, funeral home owner, the creator of the web series “Ask a Mortician”, founder of The Order of the Good Death, and author of the bestselling books Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory and From Here to Eternity. Doughty talks about growing up Goth in Hawaii, her road to getting published, owning a funeral home, and spearheading the death positive movement.
Worden was the director of the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. She turned the little-known medical museum, which exhibits medical deformities, pathologies and medical anomalies, like the horned woman, the man with the giant colon, deformed fetuses and a plaster cast of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, into a museum with a worldwide reputation. She put together a book of photographs from the museum’s collection of human oddities and outdated medical models and made several appearances on Late Night With David Letterman shocking him with such things as Victorian surgical tools and human hairballs. There was a serious message behind Worden’s sometimes madcap affect: that the human body is not to be feared or loathed, even when horrifically damaged or monstrously distorted. “While these bodies may be ugly,” she wrote in her book of the museum’s mute inhabitants, “there is a terrifying beauty in the spirits of those forced to endure these afflictions.”
This week we welcome legendary indie film producer Christine Vachon of Killer Films. Vachon has produced such works as Far From Heaven (nominated for four academy awards), Boys Don’t Cry (Academy Award winner), Hedwig and the Angry Inch, One Hour Photo, Velvet Goldmine, I Shot Andy Warhol, infamous, Mildred Pierce, Still Alice, Carol (Academy Award nominee for best picture), and most recently Wonderstruck. She talks about her long career, the state of indie film, her grassroots approach, battling breast cancer and so much more.Listen Now
Gordon is said to be “known for her bold explorations of themes related to sexuality, violence and power.” Her film Variety, which Christine Vachon worked on in the edit room, explores the relationship between women, pornography and voyeurism. The title character of the film “turns the tables on men” by renegotiating the historically exploitative relationship between men and women with respect to pornographic films.
Gordon is now a part of the film department of Columbia University School of the Arts. Some of her films are part of the permanent collections in several different museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo are punk pioneers – they opened the first ever punk rock shop called Manic Panic on St Marks Place, NYC in 1977. Ramones, The New York Dolls, Blondie, Dead Boys, Patti Smith, Sid and Nancy were all fixtures at the store and on the scene. It was Manic Panic by day and CBGBs by night. Manic Panic sold clothes, whatever the sisters could find or make, and later makeup, accessories and finally hair dye for which they’re known worldwide. The sisters started out as backup singers for Blondie in 1975 and continue to sing backup (most recently for Patti Smith), as well as perform with their punk band the Sic F*cks. Theirs is the story of punk rock history and one not to be missed.Listen Now
Tish and Snooky had many throwbacks, which you’ll hear in the episode – everyone from The Shangri-Las and The Exciters to their old friend, actress Cleo Rose. But Debbie Harry, most famous for leading Blondie, probably taught them most about what they’ve built their grassroots empire on — makeup and hair. The sisters sang back up for Blondie in 1975 and they never looked back. Debbie Harry is one of the most influential singers of all time, with her musical know-how and mesmerizing aesthetics, she became a pop icon, influencing many female singers to come.
Pam Grossman is the author of WHAT IS A WITCH, the WITCHEMOJI, an independent curator, writer, and teacher of magical practice and history. She is the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog that specializes in art with an esoteric or fantastical bent and is working on the definitive book on witchcraft. Pam is also the Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images.
Tune in as she talks about WITCHCRAFT in the age of Trump and in the digital era, her pubescent experimentation in black magic, why witches are the quintessential feminist icons, the female gaze, Hermione and more!Listen Now
Carrington was an English-born Mexican artist, surrealist painter, and novelist. She lived most of her adult life in Mexico City, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. She was also a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s. Carrington stated that: “I painted for myself…I never believed anyone would exhibit or buy my work.”
Divya is an award-winning taxidermist, animal lover and co-author of the book STUFFED ANIMALS. She is one of the female taxidermist spearheading the alt-taxidermy movement in Brooklyn, NY. She talks about starting out in taxidermy when it was populated with hunters and camo, her fascination with dead things when she was growing up in Miami, her passion for road kill recipes – she shares one for Woodchuck tacos on our Facebook page – and her Indian upbringing.
She has won awards in both traditional and alternative taxidermy competitions, including Second Place in the professional division at the World Taxidermy Championship 2017, Best in Show and Best in Category at the 2015 Garden State Taxidermists Show and Competition, and 2016 blue ribbons at the New England Association of Taxidermists. Divya teaches taxidermy classes nationally and internationally. She is a board member of the New England Association of Taxidermists and an NYC Audubon Volunteer.Listen Now
Martha Maxwell was an American naturalist, artist and taxidermist. She helped found modern taxidermy. Maxwell’s pioneering diorama displays are said to have influenced major figures in taxidermy history who entered the field later, such as William Temple Hornaday and Carl Akeley (the father of modern taxidermy). Maxwell was born in Pennsylvania in 1831. She was the first woman to exhibit at the World’s Fair – her exhibit was titled Woman’s Work.
Star of the Science Channel’s show ODDITIES, Michelson is a collector, curator and co-owner of Obscura Antiques in NYC. In this episode she talks about being a reluctant TV star and a fixture at Comic Cons, her solitary childhood, why she surrounds herself with wax women, being a woman who came to popularity on TV in her mid-forties, her battles with breast cancer and more.Listen Now
Styrene was the founder and lead singer of the punk band X-Ray Spex, Styrene is known as an archetype for modern-day feminist punk (Billboard Magazine), largely because she was bi-racial, wore dental braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, and sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe. She was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female.” X-Ray Spex launched their debut single in 1977.
Evan met Styrene in London when she was a young woman handing out copies of her Goth fanzine. Styrene, by then, was a devout Hare Krishna and told Evan to go home and clean herself, get off the streets.
This week’s episode features a candid interview with singer-songwriter Alison Moyet. Alison talks about growing up and feeling awkward, the punk scene where she found refuge, her meteoric rise to fame with Yazoo, the ups and downs of her solo career, her years of personal struggle and fight for creative control in the music business that led her off the grid for nearly 15 years, as well as her latest album OTHER. Basildon, body image and much more in this intimate conversation with a music icon.Listen Now
Founder and lead singer of the punk band X-Ray Spex, Styrene is known as an archetype for modern-day feminist punk (Billboard Magazine), largely because she was bi-racial, wore dental braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, and sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe. She was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female.” X-Ray Spex launched their debut single in 1977.
Styrene’s overt feminism and mixed-race heritage marked her out among her punk contemporaries and won her legions of fans for generations to come. Beth Ditto, singer with Gossip, said: “Poly Styrene [was] so ahead of her time. She recreated punk,” and in this episode Moyet explains how seeing Styrene perform gave her the confidence she needed to become a performer herself.
In this week’s episode Shannon Taggart talks Spiritualism and the strangest things she’s witnessed, Feminism, the Fox Sisters and Michael Jackson.
Taggart started photographing the mediums of Lily Dale in 2001, and for 16 years after has documented the séances and practices of modern Spiritualism. Taggart has curated museum exhibits on spiritualism and has photographed basement Voodoo temples for CNN and Time and her work has appeared in Newsweek. She is the author of the upcoming book Séance: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm.Listen Now
Victoria Woodhull was an American leader of the woman’s suffrage movement. In 1872, Woodhull ran for President of the United States. The only place women had a platform to speak in public was in the Spiritualist community. Leaders such as Victoria Woodhull and Susan B. Anthony were able to run for office and appeal to the public on such controversial matters as equal rights was because of Spiritualist communities namely, Lily Dale, NY. Woodhull made her first fortune as a magnetic healer and went on to make her second fortune with her sister as the first women to start a Wall Street firm.
The premiere episode features the “Sweetheart of the Sideshow” Ilise S. Carter aka The Lady Aye. Carter talks frankly about why she invented a persona to get over stage fright, how swallowing swords helped her overcome bulimia, the difference between woman in the field and making a name for herself as a sword swallower, block head and fire-eater.
As an award-winning writer, Ilise S. Carter’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The AV Club, Bust, O Magazine and other outlets. As the Lady Aye, she is one of fewer than three dozen living female sword swallowers, who’s worked with everyone from Cirque de Soleil to Rob Zombie and has been called one of “the masters of modern sideshow,” by Sideshow World.Listen Now
Clifford learned the art at the age of 13 and could swallow 24 swords simultaneously, razor blades, bayonets, and saws. When she was a veteran, Harry Houdini witnessed her act and was so impressed that he wrote about it in 1920 in his book “Miracle Mongers and their Methods”: “The sensation of her act was when the point of a bayonet 23 1/2 inches long and fastened to the breech of a cannon was placed in her mouth and the cannon discharged with the recoil driving the bayonet down her throat.”