July 14, 2017

To Be Real

Most of the time, we show the world a pretty superficial version of ourselves. "How about that weather?" But this week—people who try to go deeper, to get to something real, in some unexpected places: war, magic and porn.

KCNA Handout

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.


Producer Chana Joffe-Walt tells Ira about a man who decided to do a drag act at his child's elementary school talent show. (7 1/2 minutes)
Act One

How I Learned To Start Worrying and Fear the Bomb

Earlier this month, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile… one powerful enough, news reports said, to reach Alaska. People were shocked. But maybe that was because we were not being real with ourselves about what was going on in North Korea. How did we get to this point? Producer David Kestenbaum has been listening to a podcast called Arms Control Wonk that explains it. (17 1/2 minutes)

Act Two

The Lie Becomes the Truth

Ira with two magicians who take the premise of magic – that it’s all about deception – and try to stand that on its head to get to something utterly real, unfaked and emotional. (16 minutes)

David Blaine is on tour for the summer. Derek Delgaudio’s show In and Of Itself is running in New York through December.

Here's the video we play in this act of David Blaine performing for Ricky Gervais.


“Gimme Something Real” by Ashford & Simpson
Act Three

Fly Girl

Jon Ronson has been working on a podcast for over a year that traces how one man changed the porn business, when he applied modern internet technology — keywords, search-term optimization — to porn. One big obvious consequence of this is that so much pornography is given away for free, people who make porn videos have a much harder time making a living. One way lots of them now supplement their income is by creating custom videos. (10 minutes)

Jon Ronson’s new Audible Original Series The Butterfly Effect will premiere at the end of July. You can pre-order it now.