November 28, 2016
Scientology has for long been a controversial organization, regarded by many as a dangerous cult while others view it as a progressive religion in the service of humanity.
Paul and Jordan talk to former high-ranking Scientology member, Jeff Hawkins, about his troubling experience in the organization. Despite the legitimacy it has gained through its endorsement by celebrity spokespersons, notably Tom Cruise, Jeff's experience led him speak out against Scientology as a violent and manipulative organization, headed by an intolerant psychopath. After being a loyal members for over 30 years, Jeff finally left Scientology, and now helps others part from it as well.
Learn more about Jeff, including his books on the dark side of Scientology, at counterfeitdreams.com
November 21, 2016
Shoplifters are often regarded with a certain degree of contempt by society, thought to steal merchandise--from candy to designer clothes--to quickly posses what they would otherwise have to work to afford.
For thief Alisa, however, shoplifting is mainly about making a personal, arguably political, statement: “I will not play by the rules of capitalism that require us to buy.” Paul and Jordan talk to her about why she has, for years, enjoyed shoplifting for this reason, whether her regular urge to steal amounts to kleptomania, and her unusual shrine of stolen items, co-created with her boyfriend.
Learn more about the psychology of shoplifting, including compassionate ways of overcoming it at kleptomaniacsanonymous.com
November 14, 2016
Imagine a world where you are force someone to hand over money and in return they receive nothing. What is more, they enjoy it.
Impossible? Not so for financial dominatrix, Mona Wales, who demands her slaves pay her while she, online and in real life, humiliates them. While some may see this as a complete waste of one’s earnings, to her slaves, satisfying Mona’s material wants is sexually arousing.
Paul and Jordan talk to Mona about how she became a financial dominatrix, what her clients ultimately seek through her, and the extent to which she will be their “findom” before they go bankrupt.
Learn more about Mona (NSFW) at monawales.com
November 7, 2016
For some, pain is not only pleasure, it’s sexually gratifying. Though still somewhat taboo, this aspect of human sexuality has become relatively familiar and, perhaps, less shocking in popular culture, especially with rise of blockbuster erotica such as Fifty Shades of Grey.
But what is it like to actually administer pain to those turned on by it? And why are they willing to pay dear for something most of us wish to avoid? Attempting to answer these questions, Paul and Jordan speak with seasoned dominatrix, Mizz Barbie Bitch, about inflicting both physical and mental anguish on her clients and how her professional work complements her naturally sadistic side. In Barbie’s world, cruelty is bliss.
Learn more about Mizz Barbie at mizzbarbiebitch.com
October 31, 2016
Trick-or-treat? How far would you go for a scare?
All of us have a "fight-or-flight" response to readily perceive danger, prompting us to exit a situation before we are harmed. For those visiting Russ McKamey's San Diego-based haunted manor, testing how much harm they can endure is what draws them there in the first place.
Paul and Jordan talk to Russ about the alleged torture that occurs at the backyard manor, rumours about people dying as a result of experiencing it, and why some guests keep coming back. Despite the negative publicity and lawsuits surrounding the manor itself, Russ remains earnest to his attraction, where many visit worldwide to scare themselves near to death. Learn more about Russ at www.mckameymanor.com.
October 24, 2016
As the old rhyme about "sticks and stones” implies, words are too weak to harm. Yet, a controversy at the University of Toronto has recently erupted over the injurious use of gender pronouns.
Paul and Jordan speak with Dr. Jordan Peterson, psychology professor and centre of the controversy, about why he believes having to use the preferred gender pronoun of others is a violation of freedom of speech. Dr. Peterson has been cautioned by the university itself, warning him to discontinue teaching ideas that espouse not honouring someone’s preferred gender pronoun, but despite the strong opposition, Dr. Peterson reveals he is not changing for anyone.
Learn more about Dr. Peterson at jordanbpeterson.com
October 17, 2016
While typical sexual education recognizes the singular penis as the primary male sex organ, some men--approximately 1 in 5.5 million--have two. The rare condition, known as "diphallia", may, in addition to medical complications, cause the dually endowed to fear stigmatization. However, for Clark, an anonymous man in the United States known online as "Double Dick Dude", having two penises is a natural gift he has embraced.
Paul and Jordan talk to Clark about what life was like growing up with two penises, the unconventional sexual lifestyle he lives, and what his, seemingly endless, erotic encounters have taught him about the fluidity of gender.
Follow Clark on Twitter @DiphallicDude or learn more about his memoirs here.
October 10, 2016
Mapping the field of human sexuality seems a never ending endeavour, as we constantly learn unknown and, perhaps, "forbidden" details of erotic life. As we’re continuously discovering on The Dark Room, what some find scary is for others arousing.
Paul and Jordan talk to Travis (the only name he goes by) about how the dark bondage--from sensory deprivation to hook suspension-- serves as his sexual playground, despite the fearful public depiction of it. Travis also sheds light on the intriguing science behind the devices and instruments he builds for this world and how they reflect his deeply held "Addams Family" values.
Learn more about Travis here, and check out his website here.
October 3, 2016
In the third and final instalment of the Lilla Bertalan mini-series, Lilla shares how she feels Paul and Jordan have previously betrayed her trust, and describes her ideal farewell plans. Paul and Jordan are also joined by counsellor Lisa Roberts to reflect on their morally challenging conversations with Lilla, along with the possible psychology behind Lilla's desire to commit suicide, and to what extent experts and non-experts alike should intervene in someone's plan to cause serious harm to themselves.
Learn more about global efforts in suicide prevention, involving major organizations such as the United Nations, here.
September 26, 2016
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.”
Learn more about Dr. Kouri's professional background at kristyankouri.com. You may also read her engaging article on the Arias trial--the focus of this cast--here.
September 20, 2016
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.
Learn more about Jess at jesssalomon.com and follow Jess on twitter at @jess_salomon
September 18, 2016
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
September 16, 2016
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
September 15, 2016
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
September 14, 2016
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
September 13, 2016
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
September 12, 2016
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.
September 11, 2016
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.
Learn more about Kirk at nurmilaw.com and his recent book on the Arias trial, Trapped with Ms. Arias, here.
September 9, 2016
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.
August 30, 2016
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