The amount of attention the Jodi Arias trial received was due in no small part to the audience's curiosity in the dark details of the relationship between Arias and her boyfriend. Paul and Jordan talk to professor and therapist, Dr. Kristyan Kouri, about how the attention relates to enduring female gender roles. In Dr. Kouri's view, Arias was the protagonist of a "tragic opera,” in which her fate of publicly despised murderess, was sealed by society’s pressure for women to “find a man.”
Sometimes comedy is founded in the darkest places. For stand-up comedian Jess Salomon, those places include the UN, where she used to work as a war crimes lawyer. Paul and Jordan talk to Jess about the unlikely humour she found at her former job and how that would help inspire her to become the entertainer she is today. At times controversial for her views on gender and religion, Jess opens up about difficult aspects of her life that have both informed these views and are at the heart of much of her comedic material.
Epitomized by movies like Taxi Driver and The Warriors, New York City of the 1970s was a much different place than the glamorous one it is today. Ridden with crime, the city felt to many an anarchic nightmare, where confidence in police appeared to be at an all-time low. In the final cast of The Dark Room "Crime Week" series, Paul and Jordan talk to founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, about what led him to form the civilian-based group to "clean-up" New York and the fine line between activism and vigilantism.
Learn more about Curtis at guardianangels.org
We are accustomed to hearing about sex trafficking as an international issue, involving young women forced into prostitution overseas. Paul and Jordan talk to Carly Kalish, Casandra Diamond, and Carly X, about sex trafficking at the lesser-known, local level--in this case, Toronto. Drawing from their lived experience within sex trafficking itself and helping survivors of it, the three women share powerful first-hand accounts on what such "modern day slavery" looks like in the city and how we can better remedy the problem as a compassionate society.
Learn more about Carly Kalish, Chair of the Toronto Human Trafficking Intervention Strategy (H.I.P.S.), at carlykalish.com and Casandra Diamond, survivor of sex trafficking and director of anti-sex trafficking outreach group, BridgeNorth, at bridgenorth.org
Following a harrowing sexual assault and the subsequent bullying and harassment she received because of it, 17 year-old Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide. Paul and Jordan talk to Rehtaeh's father, Glen Canning, about the tragic event, the legal system's questionable response to it, and how the unspeakable cruelty she was forced to endure reveals the "rape culture" that persists today. In the wake of Rehtaeh's death, Glen has become an advocate against such culture, encouraging men themselves to play a direct role in ending it.
Learn more about Glen at glencanning.com
Prisoners are not only expected to follow rules of behaviour, determined by the institutions they occupy, but In order to "survive,” they are also expected to obey an informal code of conduct--observed and created by inmates themselves. Paul and Jordan talk to prison consultant, Lee Steven Chapelle, about this code and how, having long experience as a former inmate himself, he prepares clients to properly follow it, thereby avoiding violent or other negative repercussions behind bars.
Also, as an advocate of prison reform, Lee shares his views on how governments can develop institutional environments more amenable to the successful rehabilitation of inmates, while doing away with archaic practices, such as solitary confinement, that produce more harm than good.
Learn more about Lee at canadianprisonconsulting.com
True crime stories have long fascinated the public imagination, allowing audiences a relative degree of familiarity with violent and horrific acts from a distance. These stories become all the more curious to audiences when offenders escape detection by the authorities and eventually become part of "cold cases." Paul and Jordan talk to criminologist, Michael Arntfield, about his own unorthodox method to solving such cases and why it is, important for law enforcement to employ a multidisciplinary approach to effectively investigate violent, unsolved crimes.
Learn more about Michael at michaelarntfield.com
Convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2009, Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 26 years in Italian prison, along with his former girlfriend and co-accused, Amanda Knox, for the same crime. The case received widespread media coverage, in large part because of the supposedly sexual and bizarre nature of the murder--a “satanic orgy,” gone wrong. Acquitted in 2011 for the murder, Rafaelle speaks with Paul and Jordan about the new DNA evidence that ultimately led to his release and the toll prison will have on the rest of his life.
Learn about Raffaele's memoir, Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox, here.
Could you defend an accused murderer?
As the former lawyer of Jodi Arias, the high profile defendant who would be convicted of first degree murder of her boyfriend Travis Alexander, Kirk Nurmi is no stranger to big publicity.
Looking at the bigger picture, Paul and Jordan talk to Kirk about what it takes to be a defense attorney, not only to protect the legal rights of vilified clients like Arias, but others accused of serious crimes.
Often thought of as criminal investigators, coroners play a much more fundamental role when it comes to an unexpected or suspicious death. Unlike law enforcement, coroners are primarily concerned with the physical causes behind someone's death, rather than a motive.
Paul and Jordan talk to seasoned Canadian coroner, Dr. Susan Aitken, about the challenges and demands of her profession, as well as her appreciation for the dignity of the deceased, for whom Dr. Susan attempts to "speak"--to uncover the mystery of their death and provide closure to bereaved loved ones. What is more, coroners, as advocates, also use their findings to make recommendations on how to improve the safety of society.
Read Dr. Susan's personal essay on her profession, here.
Paul and Jordan talk to Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, practitioner and advocate of "reparative therapy,” which he believes is an effective method of "fixing" a gay person. Nicolosi is of the view that those like Jallen actually struggle with same-sex desires on account of poor parenting or family dynamics. Unlike the majority of contemporary psychiatrists, Nicolosi remains committed to the view that being gay is a medical illness, leading one down the path of self-destruction and harmful behaviours.
Learn more about Dr. Nicolosi at josephnicolosi.com
In this episode, Paul and Jordan talk to founder of "Beyond Ex-Gay", Jallen Rix, about how he came to embrace being gay, after his experience at a camp that sought to teach him his sexual orientation is morally wrong. Using religion to justify its position, the camp attempted to instill that being gay is a sin, against God's laws of nature according to which men can only be attracted to women. Today, as an "ex-gay" survivor, Jallen is raising awareness of the damage of such miseducation while helping those "cured" of being gay become comfortable with their same-sex attraction.
Learn more about Jallen at beyondexgay.com/who.html
Often dismissed as deviant or perverse, BDSM remains shrouded in misconceptions. It is no surprise, then, that one of its subsets, namely "Daddy Dom/Little Girl" (DDLG), is regarded by many with moral disgust, thought to be a disguised version of virtual incest or pedophilia.
Paul and Jordan talk to adult couple, Daddy Vinnie and Lolita Hayes, about why their relationship centres on a DDLG dynamic, whereby Vinnie plays the role of romantic "caregiver" to Lolita. Contrary to the idea of a child, however, Lolita feels empowered in choosing to be looked after this way.
They are arguably the most stigmatized group in our midst: pedophiles. The mere mention of them often evokes apprehension and even disgust, thought at once to be violators of the young and destroyers of innocence.
Paul and Jordan talk to pedophile, Todd Nickerson, about what life has been like since publicly admitting his troubling proclivity for children and why, as someone committed to never acting on his sexual desires, he rejects being called a "monster." Despite intense societal opposition, Todd, through writing and advocacy, is intent on dispelling the myth that all pedophiles are criminals.
Find out more about Todd on his personal blog, https://notamonsterblog.wordpress.com/
It is a violation of the full person, defying the power of words to express the trauma it inflicts: sexual assault. The memory of it remains long after its occurrence, forcing victims to grapple with its tragic effects over time.
Paul and Jordan talk to survivor, James Simpson, who courageously shares his harrowing story of childhood sexual assault. James' strength to keep moving forward and refusal to give up on what he describes as a challenge to form meaningful, human relationships, is an inspiration to all.
To learn more about male adult survivors of sexual abuse, including helpful resources, visit the Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Sexual abuse at cc4ms.ca
Further uncovering his grievance with the "6 God" of their city, Drake, Paul and Jordan talk to Mr. Vegas about making a video statement critical of the rapper for not showing reggae the respect it deserves, as well Mr. Vegas' longstanding outspokenness against the appropriation of reggae music by popular culture, as when it is turned into what has come to be known as "tropical pop."
Learn more about Mr. Vegas at mrvegasmusic.com
It is Caribana weekend in Toronto! To celebrate The Dark Room presents a pair of exclusive interviews with two of Jamaica's most well-known artists: Marion Hall (formerly known as Lady Saw) and Mr. Vegas.
Paul and Jordan talk to Marion about her recent decision to leave the "slackness" or lewd world of dancehall music behind and become a devoted Christian minister. Speaking on her beginnings in the genre, Marion reveals the intimate details of her life--from the tragic to heroic--that gave birth to the sexually daring Lady Saw and the extent to which that persona was more performance than reality.
Learn more about Marion at facebook.com/LadySawDancehall
Even the most liberal of societies prohibit certain sexual or "obscene" behaviours. Among them is zoophilia, or the sexual fixation on non-human animals. It is a taboo that remains against the law throughout many democratic countries.
Paul and Jordan talk with two zoophiles, from the German organization ZETA (Zoophiles Engagement für Toleranz und Aufklärung), about their strongly-held reasons for maintaining erotic relationships with fauna and why they are attempting to decriminalize such relationships throughout the world.
Provoking serious questions about the possibility (or impossibility) of consensual sex between humans and other animals, the episode challenges listeners to think about the extent to which the two groups can communicate with one another and when lawmakers should speak on behalf of animals.
Since antiquity, unicorns have been regarded with fascination and wonder, often depicted as gentle, horse-like creatures in art and fantasy. Uncommon, however, is their manifestation as human.
Paul and Jordan speak with member of this rare category, Shaft, head of a polyamorous, unicorn family, about his mission to promote peace and love, through a rave party lifestyle.
Similar to the 60s movement of "free love,” the family represents an alternative to the daily grind and competition of modern day capitalism, partaking in a life of constant fun and spiritual union.
Learn more about Shaft and his family, "The Fabulus of Unicorns," at facebook.com/FabulusOfUnicornsUnicon
Uncertain about her well-being, Paul and Jordan call former podcast guest, Lilla Bertalan. The three explore at greater length her fascination with self-harm, including her preferred or "favourite execution", and why she is inspired by some of the most violent (and deplored) criminals in recent memory.