The SHAMEBOOTH podcast explores the science, psychology, and just general fucked-upness behind one of the most intense and isolating emotions a person can feel, anchoring each episode with the voices of real people who stepped into the haint blue safe space itself.
From comedians to therapists, sociologists to actors, we delve into this dynamic and universal condition with the hope to inspire listeners to free themselves of the shackles of shame and be free.
Episode 27: Shameless with Nadia Bolz-Weber
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a bad ass: A Lutheran pastor and the founder of House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver, the author of three (!) New York Times Bestsellers, she has a podcast, a huge following and she just doesn’t look like your typical pastor. One of her books, Shameless, got us running to her because we know how deep the connection between shame and religion can be and we want to get that shame right out of the way! We spoke with Nadia from her home. We spoke about her early days in the church, the paths she took that led her in other directions, and how she found her way back.
Episode 26: Apology with Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler is most well known for The Vagina Monologues, a play she created that has been performed around the world countless times. She’s also a feminist, activist and author. We spoke about her groundbreaking, heart wrenching book, The Apology. Written by her, channeling her father, it is an apology, one she never received from him but that wrote in his voice, for the years of sexual and physical abuse he inflicted upon her. Unflinching, healing, excruciating, revelatory, bold, brutal, and written with, as Anita Hill states, with unflinching candor and immeasurable grace. I had the honor of speaking with Eve Ensler. It was right before Covid hit and she was at home in the woods. We spoke about feminism, genocide and the power of calling men in instead of calling them out.
Episode 25: Courage with Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman’s resume is impressive, to say the least: Designer, artist, brand consultant for some of the most recognizable companies, author of six books, host of the first-ever and longest-running design podcast, Design Matters. It’s easy to think someone this accomplished had it all handed to them. But with Debbie, you’d be wrong. She struggled through and survived a deeply challenging childhood, which she first revealed, candidly and unexpectedly, on the Tim Ferris podcast. Her healing process has been a long one, and perhaps her most impressive quality is her courage in the face of it all. Time and time again, she has proven that’s she’s not afraid to reinvent herself, to evolve. Exhibit A: After being married to a man for a number of years, Debbie came out of the closet in her fifties and is now engaged to woman… but not just any woman: author Roxane Gay.
Episode 24: Boys & Sex with Peggy Orenstein
New York Times bestselling author and journalist Peggy Orenstein has spent a good part of her career focusing on girls and young women in groundbreaking books like Cinderella ate my Daughter and the infamous, Girls & Sex. As the #metoo movement was ramping up and boys and men were being taken to task, Orenstein wanted to hear from them, to better understand what boys were feeling and thinking and how was this movement, and our social climate, shaping the way in which they were understanding their sexuality and expressing it. She interviewed dozens of boys, from young adolescence to young adulthood, and realized that they were ready to talk and what they had to say may surprise readers and listeners. Boys & Sex was just published and Orenstein shares the insights she gleaned from the research and one big take away: Talk to your kids about sex. They’re ready. So should you be.
Episode 23: Best of 2019
This year has been an amazing one in the world of SHAMEBOOTH. We are approaching our 24th podcast episode, we produced a portable booth that Paula has been lugging around with her around the country (and soon to the border), we have presented at national events, had a two week residency in San Francisco and now we even have a shop where you can get SHAMEBOOTH merch (get your FUCK SHAME buttons before they’re all gone). Let’s just say we are kicking shame in the booty. This episode is our End of Year episode. Sounds a bit strange to call it a best of but it’s a listening experience not to be missed that brings together excerpts from the podcast, clips form the booth and other goodies. Dive in and get shame free in the new decade.
Episode 22: That’s Mental with Amanda Rosenberg
The holiday season can be a lot of things: joyful, connective, fun. It can also be downright isolating and lonely, especially for those who struggle with mental illness. Our most recent guest, British-Chinese comedy writer Amanda Rosenberg, knows this struggle all too well. In this episode, Amanda discusses her book, That’s Mental: Painfully Funny Things That Drive Me Crazy, and uses her dark humor and cutting wit to delve into her personal experience with depression, suicide attempts, Bipolar 2, and the decision to go off her medication while simultaneously pregnant with her child AND writing this very book. Throughout, Amanda shows us how to have the tough conversations about mental health that we as a society so badly need to have. Basically, she’s Wonder Woman. Can’t you tell?
Episode 21: Surviving Domestic Violence with Leslie Morgan Steiner
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — that’s more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year. In this episode, we speak with Leslie Morgan Steiner, a feminist, author, TED speaker, activist, and domestic violence survivor. Her book, Crazy Love was a New York Times Bestselling Memoir, charts her marriage to her then abusive husband, Conor, in vivid detail, sharing the path from initially falling madly in love to coming close to dying at his abusive hands. Leslie did ultimately break free from him but her story is one of the millions around the world, where behind closed doors and a cloak of shame, women and men endure violence, verbal and physical, and at times have little to no resources to get their life back and survive. Leslie did and her story is illuminating, powerful and deeply inspiring.
Episode 20: Back to School with Nicole Hockley
This was one of our toughest episodes we have ever done: Speaking with Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise about the tragedy that came into her life when there was a shooting at her son’s school, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. On that fateful day, December 14th, 2012, 28 people died, 20 of them were children between the ages of 6 and 7. Nicole Hockley’s son was amongst them. Since then, Nicole co-founded Sandy Hook Promise, a foundation committed to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children from gun violence.” In these times, where multiple shootings occur every day, Sandy Hook Promise is vital and we spoke with Nicole about her experiences that inspired it and what has happened since.
Episode 19: Scratching The Surface of Race
As we know, shame finds itself everywhere, as does its sister, Pride. In this episode, we are touching on two key places where shame & pride seems to rear its head: Education and race. Our guest on the show is a graduate of Harvard University, a black woman, Ghanaian parents. When she went back for her 10-year reunion, she explored what success means for a graduate of such a prestigious school. We also wanted to know what it means to be a Black woman in a school like Harvard and whether our guest should be responsible for schooling others on Black culture (spoiler alert: No).
Episode 18: Get Proud with Matthew Clark Davison
It’s PRIDE. Millions of people, literally, are descending on to New York for the 50th Anniversary of Pride, and people around the world are taking to the streets to shed their shame and get proud about who they are and who they desire. It’s powerful. It was powerful 50 years ago and, to be honest, it’s just as potent today, if not more so! We are all about pride, here at SHAMEBOOTH, and in celebration, we brought on our dear friend, author and advocate Matthew Clark Davison to share his story of coming out to his family, moving to California as a teen looking for a refuge and creating a safe space for others to be themselves and take a load of shame off. Get proud, people, not just this month but for a lifetime.
Episode 17: Near Death with BJ Miller
Death. It’s the one thing that is absolutely inevitable in our lives. And yet, it’s the thing we try and escape the most. Until we get ill, or tragedy strikes, and it becomes all too real. That’s what happened with BJ Miller. A stunning, athletic young man at Princeton, he was climbing the top of a train and 11,000 volts of electricity pulsated through his body. He lost both legs and half of his arm. Rather than be shrouded in shame, he turned this tragedy into a strength. Now he is a palliative-care doctor working to help patients ease into one of the most powerful moments of their lives: their death. We spoke about his accident, death, and the way to prepare for it with love.
Episode 16: How To Be Loved with Eva Hagberg
Eva Hagberg is a journalist, professor, and author. She has a Ph.D. in Visual and Narrative Culture from UC Berkeley and has written for the leading publications: NY Times, Tin House and countless others. So yeah, she’s a badass. And for a long time, she carried a lot of shame, buried it in alcohol and drugs, and it wasn’t until she got sober and, later, became sick that she found a path to loving others and, in so doing, loving herself. She wrote a memoir about it, How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship and the book is getting rave reviews. She came to SHAMEBOOTH during her national book tour.
Episode 15: Shame ain’t all bad with Joseph Burgo
When we see the word shame, it pricks up our ears. We want to know more and we want to understand what people are saying, and doing, about it. Because guess what? We want to eradicate shame. Let’s do it! Wait, wait, what’s that you say? There are some good things about shame too? We never thought of it that way, not until we had author and psychotherapist Joseph Burgo on the show. He had some exceptional insights about shame, a topic he has been exploring for over a decade now, culminating in his book, Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy and Build True Self-Esteem. We met in Palm Springs and spoke about shame, Trump, Louis CK, and how shame can be a path to pride. We had fun, enjoy.
Episode 14: Nipping Shame In The Bud with Jennifer Berger
Do you remember the first time you thought there was something different about your body? Maybe it happened before you were even verbal. You noticed you were taller, or your fingers were longer, your hair was curlier. And, as a toddler, you were fascinated by this difference, certainly not having any judgement about it. And then, as a youth, even before you turned 10 years old, someone made a comment—a classmate, a parent, a friend— about your body, something that didn’t feel so great, and a pang of discomfort came, that soon to be familiar sense of shame about who you are and how you look. It was EARLY in life and it would set the foundation for many of those feelings to continue. But what if you were given the tools to nip that in the bud, to question, to understand, to feel proud. That’s what About-Face, a San Francisco based organization is doing and we spoke with the Executive Director, Jen Berger, about empowering kids to feel proud about themselves and their bodies, for the rest of their lives.
Episode 13: Sizing up Shame with Kiese Laymon
Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir has been hailed as “a tapestry of heart and heartache” (Boston Globe), “raw, cathartic” (O Magazine), “staggering” (Elle.com), “stunningly honest” (The Atlantic) and “a refined, warm, generously poetic library work.” (Entertainment Weekly). Written as an elegy to his mother, with whom Kiese had a complicated and deep relationship, Kiese speaks about body shame, gambling, violence, blackness and so much more. It’s honest and real and deeply powerful. In this episode, we speak with author and professor Kiese Laymon when he was in San Francisco on his whirlwind book tour. When reading Heavy, you discover not only the power of words, memories and love, but also the consequences of generational trauma, leading to addiction and needing to hide-to disappear. Through this book and the exceptional work Kiese has done unpacking his trauma, he finds freedom, and, as readers, so do we. We love you, Kiese. Thank you.
Episode 12: Finn Deerhart – Ain’t no shame in gay
You are born in the south, raised moving from small town to small town because your father is a minister in the church, you’re gay and you know it but you can’t come out, and all you hear from your family is how homosexuality is a sin, an abomination. You’re stuck, at least it feels that way. So you get married, your wife knows that you have sexual inclinations towards the same sex and she loves you so she’s open to it. But ultimately that’s not enough, love can’t overcome your intrinsic character. So you escape your life in the south, your family, your upbringing and you come to California, adopt a new name, create your true identity and help others do the same. That’s the story, in a nutshell, of Finn Deerhart who moved out to California to find out who he is. Today, Finn helps men face the shame they carry inside around their sexuality and dispel it so that they can accept themselves and have healthy, sexy, long-lasting relationships. He’s in this to get people to feel proud of who they are and what they want. Guess what, so are we.
Episode 11: Seeing Trauma with Katie Albright
We all know that child abuse is shitty, and we all know that it exists. If awareness is part of the answer, then why does it continue to be a local and national epidemic? How do we care for the abused, and YES, the ABUSER so that the cycle can be broken? As one interviewee observes, it must be spoken about. In this episode of SHAMEBOOTH Podcast, Founder Paula Williams speaks with Katie Albright, JD and CEO of Safe and Sound, formerly known as San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, and gets real about her personal experiences with childhood abuse, how slippery the slope can be, and how bringing the shame around it into the light can affect change.
Episode 10: Dawn Nickel and She Recovers
Let’s face it- we’re all recovering from something. Do you hide away in the kitchen feeding that chocolate addiction, do you need to get high to make love, is there something that you are compelled to do that keeps you away from being free? There are all sorts of addictions and every day we are recovering from one kind or another.
In this episode of SHAMEBOOTH, we speak with kindred spirit Dawn Nickel, co-founder of She Recovers exploring addiction, recovery and the power of sharing and healing because when we heal, our families and communities heal as well. Boom.
We also hear from other women the advice they would give themselves early in their recovery. It’s some powerful shit.
Episode 9: MILCK
In this episode of SHAMEBOOTH Podcast we follow one artist’s journey out of shame and silence into unrepentant, uncompromising, balls-to-the-wall self-honesty.
Her generational anthem “Quiet” went viral at the Women’s March January 27, 2017 receiving 14 million views in 48 hours. A survivor of abuse, anorexia, and depression, Quiet is her thesis on her journey as a woman, an Asian American, a Feminist and as a Human Being. Quiet is about helping people who have been silenced reclaim their power. #icantkeepquiet and neither will we.
Episode 8: Homelessness with Doniece Sandoval
If there is one place where we see a whole lot of shame, it’s in the condition of not having a home, of being homeless, houseless, unhoused. Those that are without a home feel ashamed, we as bystanders feel ashamed for not doing anything about it and cities that have homeless populations feel shame too! So we brought Doniece Sandoval, founder of Lava Mae, on the show. Her organization instills a deep sense of pride in a population that struggles with shame. Lava Mae has turned busses into showers for the homeless. Just as people walk into the SHAMEBOOTH to shed their shame and feel proud, people flock to Lava Mae to wash themselves and come out clean, and proud.