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Weird Work

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Episodes

“I’m The New York Times crossword puzzle editor.”

1/18/2018
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Will Shortz is the crossword puzzle editor at The New York Times. But he’s also the only person in history to receive a degree in Enigmatology -- the study of puzzles. And he’s been creating and publishing his own puzzles since he was 14 years old. Today, Will talks with Sam about the origin of the paper’s famous crossword, and Will explains how the puzzle’s history is not so different from today. Oh, and there’s a puzzle. Did you really think we’d have Will on and not give you a brain...

Duration: 00:48:06


“I’m a Vodou priestess.”

1/11/2018
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Voodoo conjures up pin-pricked dolls and black magic spells. But it’s all just a product of Hollywood, not an actual religion. Everything down to the spelling of its name is bogus. Vodou, however, is a religion. And today, Sam speaks with Sallie Ann Glassman -- a Vodou priestess. She tells Sam about her journey to becoming a priestess and puts to rest all the myths made by Hollywood and beyond.

Duration: 00:32:58


“I’m a professional scent maker.”

1/4/2018
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Kevin Elkins is a scent maker. He’s crafted custom scents for luxury hotels like The W Hotels and Hotel Emma. For Kevin, the perfect scent is all about the romance. Today, Sam talks with Kevin about what it takes to be a scent maker, the science behind smell, and together, they figure out the unofficial scent of 2018.

Duration: 00:27:42


“I’m a space psychologist.”

12/28/2017
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Iya Whiteley always dreamt of becoming an astronaut. Only, there was a slight hitch. Iya grew up in the USSR where women were not allowed to become pilots. So she pursued her other passion of studying human behaviors and decision making skills under intense pressure and a space psychologist. She explains what it takes to become an astronaut and settles an argument about whether taking a one-way ticket to Mars is really worth it.

Duration: 00:30:45


“I’m the Saturday Night Live bandleader.”

12/21/2017
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It’s an iconic sound. Lenny Pickett’s saxophone solo during Saturday Night Live’s opening credits has become a hallmark of the show. Lenny talks with Sam about his responsibilities as bandleader, how he overcame his initial fears of performing on live television, and why he thinks music today is completely undervalued.

Duration: 00:27:47


“I’m an intimacy choreographer.”

12/14/2017
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For some actors, finding the line between intimacy on stage and in real life can be a bit murky. It takes strong direction and training in a safe environment. But like any good fight scene, it can’t be left up to the actors to choreograph themselves. Tonia Sina is an intimacy choreographer, and her work has helped provide protocols and safety nets that prevent the types of sexual harassment she’s witnessed first hand.

Duration: 00:28:57


“I’m an LSD microdosing coach.”

12/7/2017
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When Paul Austin looks back on the first time he dropped LSD, he remembers the shame and fear associated with it. So when he created Third Wave, a company devoted to coaching the benefits of microdosing LSD, he knew the biggest hurdle was changing an entire culture through education. You won’t die from taking LSD, nor will you later be labeled clinically insane. But some myths die hard. Paul puts these myths to rest and offers a glimpse into how psychedelics can best prepare humans for a...

Duration: 00:33:12


“I’m the head knight at Medieval Times.”

11/30/2017
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Chivalry. Strength. Romance. There’s quite a few things knights are world renowned for. Only, knights died out centuries ago, right? If you’ve ever heard of Medieval Times, then you know the knightly tradition is alive and well. Today, we head down to New Jersey to talk with Andrew Thomas, the head knight at Medieval Times. He tells us how he made his way into knighting (turns out, it has everything to do with his hair) and shows Sam a few moves with a broadsword. Hope Sam signed that...

Duration: 00:35:32


“I’m a nude model.”

11/23/2017
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For some, the nude body is taboo. But for artists, it’s been a constant source of training and inspiration. Ruby Magic has travelled around the world as a nude model. She tells Sam how she’s become more empowered in her own skin, and even gets Sam to give nude modeling one more shot.

Duration: 00:31:49


“I’m Hollywood’s resident bug wrangler.”

11/16/2017
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Let’s say you’re a director, and you need to film thousands of locusts descending upon a group of people. It’s a major production, but CGI just won’t cut it. What do you do? Well, there’s really only one person to call. Steven Kutcher built his living as Hollywood’s resident bug wrangler. He’s worked on hundreds of movie scenes, from the spider that turned Peter Parker into Spider Man, to that swarm of locusts from Exorcist II. And he even pitches Sam a live-action film that’s Antz meets...

Duration: 00:30:09


“I’m a professional mystery shopper.”

11/9/2017
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It’s likely that at some point in your life, while you were out shopping at your favorite store, you were standing next to a fake customer. An imposter. These people are called mystery shoppers, and they act as quality control for many stores by pretending to be normal customers, and then reporting what they saw. In this episode, we talk to an original mystery shopper. Susan (not her real name) tells us all about the secret life of mystery shoppers, which includes disguises, deception,...

Duration: 00:27:54


“I’m the Bachelor in Paradise bartender.”

11/2/2017
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What’s life really like behind the bar of a reality dating show? Wells Adams made the jump from radio show host to The Bachelorette contestant a few years ago. But it’s his recent gig as the bartender on ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise that cemented him in the hearts of Bachelor fans everywhere. Sam talks with Wells about the show, the scandal, and so much more. Plus, Sam and Wells even come up with their own spin off show.

Duration: 00:56:04


“I’m a professional cuddler.”

10/26/2017
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In a previous life, Kassandra Brown was a parenting coach. Then one day, about six years ago, she was cuddling with a friend of hers when she had a personal breakthrough. So when she was searching for what to do next in her career, she landed on a combination of coaching and physical touch. She signed up for a company called Cuddlist. Kassandra believes that American culture has warped the idea of physical intimacy, and she’s on a one-woman mission to change that - one cuddle session at...

Duration: 00:29:05


“I’m a mermaid.”

10/19/2017
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When you’re a kid, you can be anything. You can be a firefighter, a police officer, hell even a robot. The thing is, we rarely get to grow up and live that childhood dream. Unless you’re Maria Russo. Then you’re exactly who you always wanted to be. Maria is a professional mermaid. She has an entire company devoted to the art of mermaiding. In this episode, she tells us about what really goes on at her mermaid retreats, how being a mermaid is a mix between dressing in drag and rock...

Duration: 00:26:48


“I’ve written 18,728 songs and counting.”

10/12/2017
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Go on Spotify right now. Type your name, or the name of someone you know. Chances are a strange band has a song about that name. And chances are the man who wrote that song is actually named Matt Farley. Matt’s written more than 18,700 songs, and that’s not even counting some of the custom work he does for people. In this episode, the Weird Work team goes to visit the most productive songwriter in the world and hang out in his home studio basement.

Duration: 00:30:39


“I press human ashes into vinyl records.”

10/5/2017
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Jason Leach founded Andvinyly as a way to face his own mortality. He heard Hunter S. Thompson had his own ashes set off in fireworks, and Jason wondered how he could be best remembered. Then it hit him: Vinyl records. What Jason didn’t expect was that he’d accidentally created an entire business model by going through the process. And as much as he tried to ignore it, the people had spoken. They too wanted to live beyond the groove.

Duration: 00:26:30


“I’m a professional bridesmaid.”

9/28/2017
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If you’ve ever been to a wedding where the bride is considering grabbing an Uber and leaving, the ring bearer is missing, and the groomsmen are blackout drunk, you’ve seen what Jen Glantz calls a “normal weekend. Jen is a professional bridesmaid, which means anything from being helping the bride pee, to wrangling a gaggle of groomsmen. Thanks for listening to Weird Work! If you like what you hear, please subscribe!

Duration: 00:24:07


"I make ASMR videos."

9/28/2017
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Heather Feather was sitting in her classroom. Her teacher pulled down a world map on the wall, and struck it with a pointer stick. Now, you might jump. Maybe even shudder. But Heather felt something different: a slight tingling sensation down her spine. Years later, she realized the feeling was called ASMR. Today, there’s an entire ASMR subculture of online videos that trigger these feelings, to help people relax or even fall asleep. And Heather’s channel is one of the best. She tells us...

Duration: 00:32:45


"I host a podcast about people with weird jobs.”

9/10/2017
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Starting September 28, Weird Work fills your ear holes with stories from the creative and inspiring people who work some of the weirdest jobs out there. Hosted by Sam Balter.

Duration: 00:02:08