When it comes to podcasts, the worlds of sex and true crime reach out in all directions: Free online porn leading to the breakdown of a church in a rural area. Adult film stars getting caught up in social-media scandal. Celebrity sex tapes changing the pop culture landscape. Stories of #MeToo bringing women together. From the multi-million dollar pornography business to racketeering and murder, these podcasts are provocative, shocking and revealing.
Author Jon Ronson takes a compelling look at the changes in the porn industry. His podcast, Butterfly Effect opens by explaining how tech businesses made pornography free in exchange for algorithms and data. Easily accessible platforms like Red Tube and You Porn use the information in ways that lead to all kinds of consequences. Ronson shows how porn, addiction and technology seeps their way into everyday life. The ripple effects are fascinating.
Also from Ronson is this story of Adult Film star August Ames, who died by suicide under mysterious circumstances in 2017. We learn there’s much more in her backstory that to make you question what exactly led to her untimely demise. Her husband, porn producer Kevin Moore, blames her death on cyberbullying. But Amber’s friends and coworkers have different theories. You get an intense look into the darker side of what life is really like for those in the porn industry.
Traci Lords is arguably the most mainstream and successful porn star. At 15 she started taking nude photos, eventually becoming the star of hard-core triple-X films. Her family life was troubled and she suffered abuse. She claims she was lured into this world, but coworkers and friends share a different view. Once Upon A Time looks at how she was the subject of a massive FBI operation that almost took down the entire industry. Journalist Lili Anolik and porn historian Ashley West present all sides, letting you make your own conclusions.
Dorothy Stratten was the “it girl” for Playboy, becoming a rising star after getting discovered while working at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver. Sleazy hustler Paul Snider honed in on her knockout looks, grooming her towards a modeling career. Snider’s perseverance led Stratten to the pages of Playboy, movies and TV. In a fit of jealousy and rage, a murder-suicide ensues prompted by her fast track to stardom. It’s gruesome and dark, but the scenes from the Playboy mansion in the ’70s are a fun, naughty throwback.
Paul Snider, the man behind Dorothy Stratten’s career (and ultimately her murder), had the idea for a male-exotic-dancer night at a club. Before his suicide, he presented the concept to entrepreneur Steve Banerjee. He ran with it and partnered with show producer Nick de Noia. They turned Chippendales into a worldwide success. In the ’80s the bowties, greasy bodies and tight pants were featured on everything from Saturday Night Live to Phil Donahue. Host Natalia Petrzela interviews former dancers and maps out the business relationship that led to a shocking murder. This is easily one of the most fun and interesting podcasts of the year.
In the ’90s, Atlanta’s Gold Club was the splashiest, most exclusive strip club in America—home to celebrities, big-name athletes and corporate executives. Champagne, sex and debauchery was offered nightly until it was raided by the FBI for racketeering. Racket takes you behind the scenes of what really happened, and the Mafia ties, dancers, corruption and management that enabled all of it. You’ll hear all the salacious stories that led to trials that kept the Gold Club in the headlines for years.
How did an explicit sex tape change sex in pop culture? Host Lux Alptraum examines how Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson’s vacation love-making launched decades of celebrity sex tapes. Theirs was the first of its kind, and it changed the game completely. You’ll learn about how the tape of America’s hottest couple got out, what they did about it, and how it paved the way for others like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Tabloid is a relevant cultural analysis with all the juicy details to back it up.
One of the first true-crime podcasts to become a TV miniseries is based on a love story that went psycho—and that’s not even the half of it. Divorcee, interior designer Debra Newell was attractive, wealthy and single when she met John Meehan on a dating app. He seemed nice at the beginning, even if he is a little shady. The relationship moved fast, even while Newell’s family grew increasingly suspicious. Christopher Goffard’s LA Times investigation takes you on a wild ride of sex, obsessive love, crime and secrets that lead to a dramatic ending you won’t see coming.
A rape case in the Washington, D.C., area leads to an unlikely connection. When hairstylist Lauren Clark was sexually assaulted, the judge presiding gave the offender a light penalty. In Alabama, baker Carole Griffn learned about the case. She had personal experience with this judge—she claims she was sexually assaulted by him when she was a child. The unlikely connection brought the women together as they faced our complicated legal system, especially when it comes to rape and sexual assault. Investigative journalist Amy Britton reports on this powerful project from The Washington Post, years in the making.
It’s hard to not have a visceral reaction with the recent prison release of Bill Cosby. Nicki Weisensee Egan presents a detailed timeline on the rise and fall of “America’s Dad.” It starts with Andrea Constand, who exposed how he would coerce women, make them feel special, and then drug and rape them. You’ll hear the stories from victims as they detail the predatory behavior that ruined their lives. There is some vindication though as statute of limitation laws are changed due to activism from the victims. This shines a light on the #MeToo movement even though Cosby’s recent freedom feels deflating.