Episode #84 - “I Talk To Strangers”

July 18, 2017
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At an early age we were taught never to talk to strangers. In teaching us this, the adult world was legitimately concerned for our safety. Now grown up, should we continue to heed their words?

Paul and Jordan talk to Robbie Stokes Jr., Natalia Bialobrzewska, and Alisa Choi Darcy, from the non-governmental organization, I Talk To Strangers, about the value of conversation with those we do not know. The three share how interacting with unfamiliar people has great learning potential and is at the heart of their dialogue-driven events. The episode explores important issues of boundaries, privacy, and social etiquette, when it comes to with whom and when we talk to others, while provoking the question: Should we be doing more to meet new people, face-to-face, and perhaps be happier for it?

Learn more about I Talk To Strangers at ittsfoundations.org

 

Episode #83 - Women in Weed: Jodie Emery & Melissa Rolston

July 10, 2017
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Some believe marijuana is a natural healer, others a gateway to harm.

Paul and Jordan talk to one of Canada's foremost marijuana activists and entrepreneurs, Jodie Emery, and medical marijuana advocate and co-chair of Women Grow-Toronto, Melissa Rolston, about the controversial struggle--locally and abroad--to decriminalize weed. From "reefer madness" hysteria that blames the drug for dangerous, anti-social behaviour to health benefits it has for sufferers of chronic illness, the discussion explores the legally and ethically troublesome relationship marijuana continues to have with the larger society. Will this prevent marijuana use from becoming a truly universal right?

Follow Jodie at twitter.com/JodieEmery and Women Grow at twitter.com/womengrow

Episode #82 - Documentary Filmmaker: Alan Zweig

July 5, 2017
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Historically, audiences have expected those in the business of telling the truth to be detached from their subject. This includes documentary filmmakers who, like journalists, should tell a story but not be part of it.      

Challenging this, Paul and Jordan talk to award-winning director, Alan Zweig, about his highly personal style of documentary filmmaking, as well as the ironic value of pessimism that it shapes and underlies. Alan reveals why such an unorthodox approach, where trusting the process is paramount, best captures the essence of people.

Follow Alan at twitter.com/a_zweig

Episode #81 - Addiction Expert: Stanton Peele

June 20, 2017
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There is widespread consensus today that addiction is a disease.  Beyond a moral failing, it is symptomatic of a neurological illness that permanently compromises the individual's ability to make free and responsible decisions.

Paul and Jordan talk to psychologist, attorney, and therapist, Stanton Peele, about his controversial stance that addiction is not a disease at all.  Rather, it is a dysfunctional way of coping with various life problems, such as grief or separation, but remediable by empathetic treatment--ultimately empowering the individual to reclaim control of their life.  Hence, as Stanton reveals, he has long been an outspoken critic of the still popular twelve-step program, pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, and similar morally-driven recovery models that frame individuals as "powerless" to their addiction, while unable to even manage it in the absence of a "higher power".

Learn more about Stanton at peele.net

Episode #80 - Recovering Drug User: Vito La Monica

June 6, 2017
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Can someone change for the better when most of their past is characterized by wrongdoing?

Paul and Jordan talk to recovering drug user and ex-offender, Vito La Monica, about his difficult journey from traumatic childhood to helping those suffering in silence, through his creative (and literally multicoloured) writing--ranging from the spiritual to comedic. Turning over a new leaf, Vito is today on a mission to encourage "outsiders", especially those with autism like himself, to view their stigmatized difference as a gift, allowing them to perceive and take part in the world in both exceptional and positive ways.

Stay tuned for Vito's "Life In Colours" multimedia project, showcasing his actual notebook writings, accompanied by his own personal messages of hope.

Episode #79 - Chippy Nonstop

May 23, 2017
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Being forced into exile can certainly be demoralizing. After all, it undermines the comfortable certainty and attachment we have with the world around us.

Paul talks to genre defying rapper, DJ, and writer, Chippy Nonstop, about how she has sustained the courage to be herself, despite being deported to Canada and prohibited from entering her home in the United States. Throughout her bizarre performances in colourful hip-hop videos and openly revisiting sexual encounters in diary-style articles, her refusal to conform to the ordinary is readily apparent. It is at the same time a refreshing change to the conventional and, arguably, oppressive forms of "being a woman", which Chippy’s work seems at once to both mock and reject.   

Follow Chippy @chippy_nostop

Episode #78 - Mother’s Day Special 2017

May 15, 2017
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Many maintain that being a mother is, as Oprah Winfrey has remarked, the world's "toughest job".  But what does it actually take to be a mother and how is that experienced?

Exploring the question on The Dark Room’s first Mother’s Day Special, Paul and Jordan talk to a diverse and insightful group of mothers: Isabel Michaels, Lucia Catania, Olga Ruiz, Gianna Patriarca, Teresa Gramano, Sebastiana Aprile, and Handzia Feloniuk. The group candidly discusses the strength and courage of being a mother, the sacrifices of child rearing, and different--perhaps even conflicting--cultural styles of mothering.  

This episode is in memory of Maria Salvatori, Paul's mother, and the inspiration for the Mother's Day Special. 

Episode #77 - Fentanyl Addict: Dr. Darryl Gebien

May 8, 2017
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The idea of a doctor unable to help himself is a frightening one, after all, we are accustomed to viewing them as responsible healers, curing or helping those in need. On the eve of his two year incarceration for drug crimes, Paul and Jordan talk to unlikely former physician and recovering fentanyl user, Darryl Gebien, about how--despite a seemingly happy life as a well-regarded doctor of his community and beloved husband and father--he became powerless to the opioid. As Darryl reveals, fentanyl not only cost him his health but his most cherished relationships. Darryl describes how, after having fallen into the hell of addiction, he has been able to stay clean while going public about how such illness destroyed his life, in order that others avoid the same (unnecessary) fate.

Follow Darryl on Twitter @DGebien.

Episode #76 - Rachel Dolezal

April 24, 2017
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Does skin colour ultimately determine race?  Can our "true" race be different from the one we are biologically born as?

Paul and Jordan talk to arguably one of the most controversial persons in recent news media, Rachel Dolezal, about why--despite being born white--she identifies as black.  Having provoked much public ire and losing her job as a professor and position at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for having hid this, Rachel reveals how being "transracial" is not an option for her.  

 

On the heels of the publication of her memoir, In Full Color, this episode explores what events in Rachel's life directly contributed to viewing herself as black and, rather contentiously, how she feels she does not fit into whiteness as a “social construct” .

Episode #75 - Narcissist: Sam Vaknin

April 10, 2017
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Is loving yourself unhealthy or necessary to personal survival?  What happens when those who love themselves too much come into contact with those who do not?     

Paul and Jordan talk to writer and expert in narcissism, Sam Vaknin, about when self-love turns “malignant” and why those who experience it may manipulate others for their own gratification–without guilt or shame. Sam weighs in on whether we, as many believe, live in an age of narcissism where many have become preoccupied with their own “uniqueness” and the selfie a ubiquitous form of individual aggrandizement.

Learn more about Sam at samvak.tripod.com

Episode #74 - Criminal Defence Attorney: John Henry Browne

March 27, 2017
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Criminal defense attorneys often get a bad rap, thought to stone-heartedly defend criminals for fame and fortune, all the while ignoring the suffering of victims.

Challenging these perceptions, Paul and Jordan talk to John Henry Browne about the personal toll of being a criminal defense attorney. Revisiting his experience as former lawyer to one of America's most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy, John shares how advocating for "evil" is not only psychologically testing but dangerous. Despite this risk, he has taken on over 200 cases, numerous of which have been of unspeakable crimes. John, while emphasizing the importance of criminal defense attorneys in a just society, reveals why.

   

Learn more about John at jhblawyer.com

Episode #73 - Documentary Filmmaker: Mary Mazzio

March 13, 2017
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How responsible are online classified boards for the content that appears on them?  Should the companies that run them be penalized for third-party advertisements that harm others?

Paul and Jordan talk to acclaimed filmmaker, Mary Mazzio, about her new documentary "I Am Jane Doe", which takes an unflinching look at how major online classified board, Backpage, has been responsible for the sexual trafficking of minors and largely with impunity.  Drawing from her many firsthand exchanges with trafficking survivors and their families, Mary reveals how seemingly safe parts of the internet are in fact hunting grounds to exploit young women, as key stakeholders in the American justice system fight to change laws, guarding their predators.

Learn more about Maria and "I Am Jane Doe" at iamjanedoefilm.com

Episode #72 - Alexyss K. Tylor

February 27, 2017
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Little did Alexyss K. Tylor know, while appearing on community television in the 90s, that explaining "penis power" would eventually make her an internet sensation. Moving beyond the viral video of that appearance, Paul and Jordan talk to Alexyss about the largely unrecognized spiritual philosophy behind penis power, how she deviated from her traditional upbringing in the American South to become an advocate for female pleasure, and her recent (and impressive) musical tribute to her father--the soul legend, Jackie Wilson.

Learn more about Alexyss at alexyssktylor.net

Episode #71 - Professional Submissive: Del

February 14, 2017
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In an era of female empowerment, where being "in charge" as a woman is emphasized, Del chooses to do what seems the opposite. Paul and Jordan speak to her about what it means to be a professional "submissive". Identifying as someone who enjoys pain, Del describes how she feels playing a submissive role can be empowering, discusses the strangest fetish requests she’s received in the dungeon, and criticizes the Fifty Shades saga on its ignorant and abusive portrayal of sub-dom relationships. In this Valentine's Day week episode and debut of its second season, The Dark Room delves into the stranger sides of sex.

The Dark Room: A Year in Review

January 3, 2017
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As the first season of the podcast comes to an end, Paul and Jordan weigh-in and share their most memorable moments on The Dark Room, and reflect on what some of their guests are up to now. The two reveal how the 69 episodes they co-hosted over the year both challenged them to rethink their views on the strange and controversial, as well as what gaining the "truth" about people means to them.   

Stay tuned for the second exciting season of The Dark Room, early 2017. Also be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or Podbean to receive the newest episodes and where you can continue to rate and review it.

Thank you for being part of the birth of The Dark Room!

Episode #69 - Men’s Rights Advocate: Karen Straughan

December 20, 2016
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In recent years, "the end of men" has become a popular term to describe the “losing” status of men in the work world and other areas of influence, compared to their female counterparts.   

 

Paul and Jordan speak with controversial gender advocate and blogger, Karen Straughan, about whether men are actually a disadvantaged group. A leading voice in the "men's rights movement", Karen shares why she believes this to be so and caused by feminism. In her view, feminism, in villainizing men as “oppressors”, perpetuates their mistreatment in various legal, social, and political institutions.

Learn more about Karen at owningyourshit.blogspot.ca

Episode #68 - Swordsmith and Martial Artist: Matthew Wright

December 12, 2016
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In Western culture, combat is often associated with physical hostility, a zero-sum game where only one side wins through the violent or even fatal use of force.

 

Paul and Jordan talk to real life ninja and weaponsmith, Matthew Wright, about the Eastern view of combat and, perhaps surprisingly, just how much of it has less to do with fighting than restraint.  Having first met Matthew at Toronto's major Japanese animation festival, Anime North, Paul and Jordan also discuss with Matthew the search for deeper meaning among the festival's millennial attendees and how, drawing from the East, it is manifested in the impressive cosplay they take part in yearly.

 

Learn more about Matthew at ninedirections.com  

Episode #67 - Life After Manslaughter: Segun Akinsanya with Michael Webb

December 5, 2016
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Does one have the capacity to change after being convicted of manslaugher?

Paul and Jordan talk to Segun Akinsanya about how he transformed his life for the better, following his incarceration for manslaughter while still a teen. Today an educator and social entrepreneur, Akinsanya is now a role model for troubled youth, helping them avoid the same destructive path, causing harm to others and themselves, he once chose. Segun reveals how a positive outlook and taking responsibility for his past led him onto this redemptive path.  

Learn more about Segun at segunsays.com  

Episode #66 - Ex-Scientologist: Jefferson Hawkins

November 28, 2016
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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

Episode #65 - Kleptomaniac?: Alisa

November 21, 2016
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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