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Death, Sex, and Money


A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Email the show at

A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Email the show at
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New York, NY




A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Email the show at








How Are You "Surfing The Urge" To Drink?

In our episode featuring your stories about drinking, our listener Rachel told us about realizing she'd slipped into a nightly drinking habit—and trying to curb some of her desire to drink. "You have to kind of surf the urge," she explained. "Recognize that it's there, breathe into it, surf it out, try to distract yourself." We asked you all to tell us how you "surf the urge"—what gets you through those times when you're arguing with yourself about whether to drink or not? From french fries...


Michael Arceneaux On Love, Liquid Courage And Letting Go

When writer Michael Arceneaux was in his early 20s, he went to a gay club for the first time—after years of being closeted and denying his sexuality. "I enter a space and I just look at everything and I just get so caught up in my head," he told me. "But once you get the liquor you're like, oh, stop thinking, just go twerk." Michael said that night was "the first time I actually felt joy with that part of myself." But despite finding alcohol to be a helpful way to let go of his inhibitions,...


Bottled Up: Your Stories About Drinking

It can sometimes feel like alcohol—whether you're drinking it or not—is an intrinsic element of navigating adulthood. After all, over 70 percent of American adults drink. We take drinking so much for granted that we often fail to really engage with the role it's playing in our lives. "It’s been a piece of everything since we’ve turned 21, or 18," a listener named Cari told us. "We've always had a drink or been drinking when we’ve been at parties. And it’s so funny that I’m 34, and that is a...


Rashema Melson's Weakest Yet Bravest Moments

In early May, we got an email from Rashema Melson. I'd first met her in 2015, in her dorm's common room at Georgetown University, where she was adjusting to life on campus after living in a Washington, D.C. homeless shelter in high school. Soon after we met, she got married and dropped out. I talked with her again two years later, in 2017, when she'd decided to end her marriage and go back to college. Now, Rashema was reaching out to tell us that she was graduating from Georgetown—and that...


A Brother, A Sister, And Their Eating Disorders

Siblings Charlie* and Oscar* were always close growing up. But as they got older, there was one thing that they didn't talk together about: the way they eat. Both Charlie and Oscar struggle with different types of eating disorders—Charlie has struggled with bulimia, and Oscar has anorexia. Despite their closeness and years-long suspicions about each other's eating habits, it's taken a long time to open up about their difficulties with food to each other. When they finally had their first...


When Work Changes, So Do We

Right after returning from six months of maternity leave, I sat down in the studio with Uma Kondabolu. Uma's been on the show before with her comedian son Hari, but this time I wanted to talk with her one-on-one about big transitions in our work lives. Uma recently retired from the hospital lab where she worked for almost three decades, and as I was re-entering my job, I wanted to hear from her about leaving hers.


Tayari Jones & Carrie Mae Weems: What's It Like Up There?

Carrie Mae Weems always knew she was going to be an artist, but she didn't know she wanted to be a photographer until she got her first camera in her late teens. It was a gift from a boyfriend who turned out to be "manipulative," but it launched her into a career that's made her a MacArthur Fellow and the first black woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. As she tells this week's guest host, author Tayari Jones, her professional drive has always been the barometer against...


Sarah Smarsh & Nick Smarsh: Are You Different Than Me?

As a journalist and author, Sarah Smarsh has built her career around examining socioeconomic class. In 2018, her book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth became a New York Times bestseller and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. Sarah grew up outside of Wichita, Kansas, and spent much of her childhood on her family's farm. The Farm Crisis during the 1980s led to her family leaving farming behind, and her dad, Nick, had to find...


Mahershala Ali & Rafael Casal: Envy Is A Hell Of A Drug

Today, Mahershala Ali is an Oscar-winning actor who lands leading roles in TV shows like True Detective and Hollywood blockbusters like Green Book. But he got his start as a poet-turned-rapper in the Bay Area, where he grew up. Rafael Casal is another Bay Area poet and musician who recently made his big screen debut in the movie Blindspotting, which he co-wrote and co-starred in with his creative partner, Daveed Diggs. "We put a movie out and everyone back home thinks I'm on," Rafael says....


Alia Shawkat & Esther Perel: Life In Our 30s, And 60s

Actor Alia Shawkat just turned 30, and she's got some questions about what's coming around the corner in this decade. So this week, she talks with Belgian-born psychotherapist Esther Perel about what that period of time was like in her life—when she had just moved to the U.S., gotten married, and was figuring out the "pleasure and the pride" of making it on her own financially. Plus, they talk about adult friendships, and why it's important to stay in touch with people from all the different...


Tressie McMillan Cottom & Trevor Noah: Optimistic and Depressed

When Trevor Noah started hosting The Daily Show in 2016, he says he told his head writer early on that he might sometimes be late to work. "I'm suffering from depression and sometimes I do not see the purpose of getting out of my bed or living life," he says he told him. "And he was like, 'Wait, what?'" Trevor and guest host Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom talk about why radical honesty around mental health can be liberating. Plus, they talk about Trevor's feelings of being an outsider growing...


Al Letson & Nikole Hannah-Jones: Sensitive, Not Scared

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones spends time in some pretty elite spaces—she's a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, and a force to be reckoned with on Twitter. But, as she tells Al Letson (host of Reveal), she's careful not to forget her roots in Waterloo, Iowa, and the people there who raised her. "The benefit of being a working class black girl who has spent a lot of time around more affluent white people is you do quickly learn they're...


Jason Isbell & Will Welch: Somebody Needs Me

Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell and GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch met in 2004, at what Jason says was "the lowest point of my life." Since then, the two long-distance friends have seen each other through divorce, new marriages, career climbs, a cancer diagnosis and rehab. Jason quit drinking in 2012, and Will followed suit two years later—starting by calling Jason at a breaking point. "You getting sober was a big deal for me," Jason says during their conversation. "It was the first time in my...


Damon Young & Kiese Laymon: The "Good Dude" Closet

Writers Damon Young and Kiese Laymon both are on book tour, promoting their acclaimed memoirs. And while they've been friends via social media for years, they'd never met face to face before recording a conversation for Death, Sex & Money. The two sat down together to talk about basketball and body image, money anxieties, and why being a "good dude" might be more about fear than anything else. Damon Young is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Very Smart Brothas, and the author of "What...


John Cameron Mitchell & Marilyn Maye: I Will Survive

When singer Marilyn Maye turned 90, she celebrated on stage in New York City in a performance residency she called "90 At Last." Now 91, the Kansas-based jazz and cabaret legend talks with actor and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell about continuing to work well past retirement age, loving and leaving alcoholic partners, and about what they both envision for the end of their lives. Special thanks to 54 Below for their help with this episode. John Cameron Mitchell...


Lisa Ling & Awkwafina: Shut Up, Let Me Shine

Awkwafina grew up Nora Lum in Queens, and was raised by her father and grandmother after her mother died when she was four years old. Guest host Lisa Ling talks with Awkwafina about how she coped with that loss by developing a sense of humor early on, and about why—despite feeling a lot of money anxiety—she isn't afraid to turn down high-paying gigs. Guest host Lisa Ling appeared on Death, Sex & Money in 2017. Listen back to her episode, "What Lisa Ling Regrets," here.


The 2019 Maternity Leave Lineup

Having a Death, Sex & Money-style conversation isn't easy. It's long. It's intense. And it can get very awkward. In those moments when you might gloss over a sensitive topic, break the tension, and move on to the next instead have to dig a little deeper. Get a little more personal. But our lineup of guest hosts—former show guests and some new folks, too—are up for the challenge. And while host Anna Sale finishes up her maternity leave, you'll get to listen in as they have...


A Father and Daughter Talk About Layoffs

We asked for your stories about layoffs, and we heard from a lot of you—including a listener named Stephanie. She wrote in about her dad, Steve, who lost his job two years ago and has been looking for work ever since. She told us that they talk about work a lot together, so we asked if they'd continue that conversation and let us listen in.


Daniel K. Isaac Is Opting For The Gray Area

Actor Daniel K. Isaac grew up as the only child of a single immigrant mother. She's a devout Christian—so the first time Daniel came out to her, it was to ask for her help to stop being gay. But in his late teens, after years spent voluntarily in conversion therapy, Daniel decided that he was done trying to fight his sexuality. And in the years since, accepting that part of himself has meant finding new ways to relate to his mom.


José Andrés Googled ‘How To Be A Father’

When Chef José Andrés moved from Spain to the U.S. in 1991, tapas weren't yet a thing on this side of the Atlantic. José is credited with changing that. He opened his first restaurant in Washington, D.C. when he was just 23 years old, and today he has a thriving business empire with more than two dozen restaurants across the country. He's also become known in recent years for his disaster relief work, both in the U.S. and abroad. But figuring out life outside of the kitchen has been more of...