Death, Sex & Money

by WNYC Studios

28m

average length

246

episodes

24

followers

Death, Sex & Money is a podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Host Anna Sale talks to celebrities you've heard of—and to regular people you haven't—about the Big Stuff: relationships, money, family, work and making it all count while we're here. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, On the Media, Nancy, Death-Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin and many others. © WNYC Studios

Best Death, Sex & Money episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on August 08, 2020, 4:00 pm

#1

Married, Paralyzed and Moving On

November 20, 2018 • 23m

Two years ago, Hiroki Takeuchi was paralyzed from the waist down in a cycling accident. It was just weeks after he and his wife, Rachel Swidenbank, got married. When we first spoke in early 2017, Hiroki was still figuring out the basics of day-to-day life in a wheelchair: how to drive an adapted car, how to get up and down stairs, how to use the bathroom on his own. Rachel stopped working to care for Hiroki in those early days. There were a lot of unknowns about the future, and what Hiroki's body would and wouldn't be capable of.  When we spoke recently, they told me that Hiroki is now fully independent when it comes to his daily routines, and that they're both back to work. "It's been progress, progress, progress, progress," Rachel said. "And then like maybe the last three, four months it's kind of flattened out in terms of what you would classify as progress." One thing that they haven't yet fully figured out: sex. "We definitely have a lot of intimacy and you know, a lot of closeness," Hiroki told me. "But...I think that there's so much baggage around it." Rachel and Hiroki did recently find out that having a child together is possible via IVF. While they're not ready to start that process quite yet, it was exciting news for them—and it's made Hiroki think about what being a father might look like for him. "One of the things that really worried me was that I wouldn't be able to be a proper dad to our children," he said. "I think there's a level of like you know redefining what fatherhood means through a different lens. It doesn't mean it's worse, it's just different."    Traveling for the holiday this week? Take our Podcasts We're Thankful For playlist — with episode suggestions from podcast hosts like PJ Vogt, Tracy Clayton, Phoebe Judge and Kelly McEvers — along with you!

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#4

The NFL Made Me Rich. I Won't Watch It Now.

September 24, 2014 • 33m

It’s difficult, Domonique Foxworth says, to watch guys get knocked unconscious, carted off, then brought back out to play. And he knows something about injuries—a first-team All-ACC cornerback at the University of Maryland, Foxworth’s seven-year NFL career sputtered to a halt after a knee injury during practice. Football itself is hurting right now. Concussion-related lawsuits filed by former players against the NFL are still in court. Sexual assault and domestic violence scandals continue to plague both college and professional teams, including Foxworth's former team, the Baltimore Ravens. Questions about the very state of amateurism in college sports, a multibillion-dollar industry, linger on the sports talk circuit. As a former president of the NFL Players Association, Foxworth has an intimate understanding of these hot-button topics. But his own stories, going back to high school, offer a fuller picture of what it’s like to be a football player, and what it takes to be a man. He spoke candidly with me about the praise he thrived on as a young player, the sexual dynamics of being a star black athlete at a predominantly white college, and how his priorities have shifted as he’s gone from the NFL to Harvard Business School. INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS What dating was like as a celebrated black athlete at a primarily white university: I think it probably had a racial component, going to a predominantly white school. Like, these women who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in you as a long term relationship type person, they’re like, this big Mandingo strong black man, let’s experiment with that and see what this is all about....I kind of used it to justify some of the things that I would do. So I wasn’t the best boyfriend at the time....Like, they’re just after me because they want to be close to the football guy, or they think I’m in great shape and they think I’m this stereotypical, oversexed black male. They want to give that a try, but they don’t want to actually take me seriously. Pro football's not a team sport; it's a business: We get paid well because the talents that we have are so rare, but you’re still the labor....The really big difference is guys who are able to maintain the love for the game, and I don’t think I maintained that. I’ve joked with some of my friends, saying that you’re either really strong mentally or really weak mentally to be able to maintain that, because you either don’t see what’s going on around you, or have the strength to put that out of your mind. When I was a high school student, obviously, to do anything I could for my team and the guys—that’s the last time I felt like I was really on a team. How he's perceived still matters: The best thing about the money is having flexibility, and more than that is, for me at least, it kind of gives you that kind of prestige and relevance that I’m looking for. People knowing that you have that money. Or people knowing that you have had success in the NFL is good. And I think, part of the reason why I want to make more money is because I think that, I don’t like that people think—or I assume that people make assumptions about me—about what i’m able to afford or what I’m able to do is only based on me being an athlete. Why he stopped watching football:  I have a hard time watching injuries. It’s difficult for me to watch guys get knocked unconscious. The strategy and the mental part of football, I still love. It’s a lot more like chess...But the play-by-play guys don’t know what they’re talking about, which is shocking considering there’s so many ex-athletes, and maybe they just simplify it for the sake of the common fan, but I can’t listen to them....I want to see the entire field, so I can really analyze the chess match....I can’t—the angles that they have, what I enjoy about football, I can’t see. Read a full transcript of our interview, and see Foxworth talking about the social capital of the savvy athlete at the Harvard Innovation Lab:  

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#9

Songs in the Key of Strife

February 11, 2015 • 24m

Teddy Thompson was six years old when his parents, English folk rockers Richard and Linda Thompson, split up. The breakup coincided with the release of the duo's most successful album. They were on tour together as their marriage dissolved.  That same year, Teddy's sister Kami was born. "Kami was a symbol of divorce to me," Teddy told me during our conversation. "I just remember having a vague notion that there was a big change and Kami was a part of the big change. Something was lost and something was gained."  The siblings didn't spend a lot of time together as kids, due to their age difference. But they both grew up to be musicians. Teddy and Kami recently reunited with their parents to record an album aptly titled Family. It includes deeply personal songs about the inner workings of the Thompson clan -- even though both Teddy and Kami say talking directly about their relationships with each other hasn't exactly been a family tradition. This became evident during our conversation: Teddy told me he started the project because he was craving more closeness with his family. For Kami, it was more straightforward. “A gig’s a gig,” she said.  Richard Thompson, along with Teddy and Kami as children. (Courtesy of the Thompson family)   Hear the siblings perform two songs live in our studio, along with their nephew Zak Hobbs. Thank you to Irene Trudel, who engineered this session.  The Thompsons - I Long For Lonely   The Thompsons - Family   Read a full transcript of this interview here. 

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#10

Let's Talk About Porn

December 07, 2016 • 32m

Porn. It’s something that people use in their most intimate, private moments. It’s a way to acknowledge desire—without any of the attachments of intimacy. For some of you, that's incredibly freeing. For others, it's caused some real problems. This spring, we heard from a listener named James* who described himself as a recovering porn addict. He was struggling to stay away from porn while his wife was out of town. His story made us wonder about your own relationship with porn, so we asked you about it. More than 100 responses later, you told us how you first learned about porn, what drew you to it, and why some of you have had to turn away from it completely. Rose* was in her 30s when she first stumbled across a porn video on Tumblr. She tried to put it away, but kept coming back to it. "I was going through heartbreak at that time, and really craving affection and love and desire," she tells me. "Seeing that acted out…I found it intriguing." Another listener, Antonio*, says porn helps him stay faithful to his boyfriend by letting him live out his fantasies on his smartphone. And Michael* says his porn collection is a stress reliever that he carefully tends to "like a rose garden." We also heard from listeners like Daniel*, who've had to cut porn out of their lives entirely. Daniel went cold turkey three years ago when he realized porn had become a coping mechanism for his mental illness and was hurting his relationship with his girlfriend. "It's hard because it gives me a really intense pleasurable feeling," he says. "But it’s also usually followed by a lot of shame, too." But for Jennifer*, experimenting with porn and talking about it openly can be helpful—even though it often makes the people she's dating uncomfortable. "I think it's important to just get it out of the way," she says. "You can have a better sex life when all the cards are out on the table." *Names changed for privacy reasons.

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#13

My Husband Killed Someone. Now He Might Get Out.

July 19, 2017 • 22m

Ronnine Bartley dated her now-husband Lawrence when they were in middle school. "Even when we were like together at 13 and 14 years old when we had no business being together, we always talked about being married," Ronnine told me. But when Lawrence was 17, he was arrested and convicted of murder. They weren't dating at the time, but they stayed in touch and eventually got back together while he was in prison. And in 2006, they got married.  But married life hasn't exactly been how Ronnine once imagined it would be. She and Lawrence have never spent more than 72 hours together as a couple. Their two boys were conceived during conjugal visits inside prison walls. And she's had to be the breadwinner and the decision-maker in their family. "Do I consult with [Lawrence]? Absolutely," she told me. "You know, that makes the relationship work. That makes him feel involved, but I'm the boss. Like in my head, I'm the boss!"  Life for their family will look very different if Lawrence gets paroled. After 27 years in prison, he's going before the parole board for the first time next month. "I try not to talk about it too much," Ronnine says. "I'm not really prepared for if he doesn't get released." But, Ronnine says, even if Lawrence gets out, there are still plenty of challenges that they'll face as Lawrence adjusts to life on the outside and they adjust to life together as a couple. "I guess we're gonna have to go to counseling," she told me. "You know, that's a lot. It's deep." 

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#14

Samantha Irby Is Prepared To Gracefully Bow Out

May 06, 2020 • 32m

Writer Samantha Irby currently lives what she calls "a pioneer woman kind of life." Most of that is due to her wife, Kirsten, who is into things like canning tomatoes and pickling vegetables. "I'm not going to eat that shit," Sam told me, "but it is very cool to, to see someone who knows how to do all of that stuff."  Sam's 40 now, and along with her wife, lives with her two stepsons in Michigan. In addition to writing bestselling books like her latest, Wow, No Thank You, she also writes for TV shows like Shrill and Work in Progress. But for a long time before reaching this level of success, Sam worked a variety of hourly jobs in the Chicago area while getting her writing career off the ground. And Sam told me that she'd be fine going back to those jobs if writing stops paying the bills. "The minute this feels like it's over, I'm going to be bagging groceries or like working at the gas station or working in another animal hospital," she said. "I refuse to do that desperate thing where you can tell somebody’s career is kind of over but they're like scraping and scrabbling to try to stay relevant and try to keep selling things."  I recently called Sam to talk about some of those hourly jobs she held, and how they helped her cope with her grief after her parents' deaths. And, we talk about why she doesn't regret dropping out of college, and about how similar her routine in isolation is to her usual one. 

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#18

My Father's Secret Life

October 08, 2014 • 26m

Whitney Joiner was 13 when her father Joe told her he was HIV-positive. He said he hoped to see her graduate from high school. Five months later, he was dead. It was rural Kentucky in 1992, and Whitney and her family thought it was best to keep quiet.   Whitney never learned how her father contracted the disease. After his funeral, her mother heard from a mutual friend that he’d secretly gone to gay clubs. As a teenager, Whitney had wondered if he were gay. She'd even asked him, but he denied it. His denial was a relief at the time. Now, she wishes she had more answers. That’s part of what led her to co-found The Recollectors, a site to collect stories from children about their parents who died of AIDS. In this episode, Whitney talked to me about the shame and anger that kept her family from talking about her father for years, meeting other people who had a parent die of AIDS, and reconciling her memories of her father with details she’s only learning now. INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS Remembering the Early, Mysterious Signs The only thing I knew was wrong with him was we would go to the hospital in Lexington and see this doctor. And he would get his blood drawn...It was kind of like, oh we’re going to the mall. And the movies. And just stopping off at the doctor. And he explained that he had a blood problem, and I said at one point, like, oh, Leukemia? And he was like yeah, something like that. Whitney keeps this photo of her late father on her refrigerator. (Whitney Joiner) Finally Meeting Someone Else Whose Father Died of AIDS It felt like, so shocking there was someone else out there with the same story. And we just started talking about—it was so weird that we don’t know more people, there have to be more people. Not everyone who died of AIDS is a gay man with no children! The Conversation She Wishes She Could Have Again I said, I asked mom once if you were gay...And he said, I’m not gay. In this kind of like scoffing way, like what, I’m not gay, obviously. And I said, Oh. Oh, okay. He was like no, I got it from a woman. You can get it from women too, you know. Oh, okay. Part of me at the time was relieved, honestly. Because I was still so young, I didn’t want to have to deal with the gay dad. At 13, in rural Kentucky….It felt like a relief, but just in that, ugh, we don’t have to have that conversation. But really, we should have that conversation. Because that’s the important one. And we both know that’s really what’s happening here. Whitney now, with her mom and brother. (Whitney Joiner) When Her Family Was Afraid to Accept His Sexuality My family was very angry at him for lying about his sexuality. To me it felt like our family was almost glad that he was gone. Like I would bring him up, I just felt like any time I brought him up, there was this eye-rolling on the part of my family. So I felt like I just shouldn’t talk about him. And I would feel ashamed of loving him, you know, even though he’s my father. And why would anybody have to feel ashamed of loving your father? You can read a full transcript of the interview, and read Whitney's essay about her father on Slate.

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#20

What Lisa Ling Regrets

November 08, 2017 • 30m

In her late 20s, Lisa Ling was co-hosting The View and enjoying single life in New York. "When I think back on it I see myself, you know, dancing on tables sometimes," she laughs. But her decision to leave her previous life in Los Angeles behind had long-lasting consequences. "As soon as I got to New York, this whole world opened up to me and I was invited to every party. And given where I grew up in this kind of middle, lower-middle class home and community, it was it was exciting for me," she recalled. But, Lisa says, her long-distance relationship with a serious boyfriend back home suffered, and ultimately ended, as a result. "In retrospect now, it was really sad because he really, really loved me," she says. "I kind of—you know, I in many ways sort of abandoned the relationship."  At the same time, she was having difficulty with talking about her personal life at her very public job. Even though Lisa had been working as a reporter for teen shows like Scratch and Channel One since she was 16, The View required something different of her. "The expectation of me was to be totally open about every aspect of my life," she says. "And I really struggled with that in the beginning because I was so out of my element." But it was a skill she was later grateful for—in her marriage. Lisa got married in 2007, and she says communication between her and her husband, Paul, hasn't always been easy. But she says they've found a language that works. "Our mutual therapist once said to us, if you were in a business, you would do everything in your power to make sure that that partnership worked," she told me. "And you need to apply that same work ethic to your marriage. And that really kind of resonated with us." You can watch Lisa's new web series for CNN, called This Is Sex, here. 

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