Light Hustler: Looking for Light in All the Dark Places

Psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman answers the question: what the hell is a co-occurring disorder?

Direct download: Recover_Girl_Co-occurring_disorder_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Brandon Novak shouldn’t be alive.

The professional skateboarder, New York Times bestseller author and member of the Jackass crew has hit all the pit stops on the way to the bottom: homelessness, multiple trips to rehab, incarceration and the like. But somehow, some way, the 38-year-old from Baltimore had a moment of clarity on May 25, 2015 and nothing’s been the same since. The guy who once passed a UA in jail by using his cellmate’s urine has transitioned into a recovery evangelist, flying all over the country to help those struggling with addiction and get them into treatment. Just how serious is he about it? Well, he gives out his personal cell phone number (610-635-9092) and encourages anyone who thinks they need help to call it.

When I interviewed Novak, the Baltimore native was visiting LA where he was making a series of appearances advocating for recovery. And how’s this for irony? The hotel room where we did the interview ended up a little bit thrashed but I was the one who thrashed it. To understand how that happened, you’ve got to listen to the whole episode.

Direct download: Novak_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

In this episode of Recover Girl, Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Sirah, joins me for a brutally honest conversation about her disturbing, crazy, wonderful life of dysfunction, addiction, crime, and music.

Direct download: sirah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

Ian Harvie is the groundbreaking transgender stand-up comedian whom you may have seen in the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning TV series TRANSPARENT. In this episode of Recover Girl, Ian Harvie joined me on my couch to talk about his childhood in rural Maine, his journey to discovering his true gender identity, his recovery from alcoholism, and his new life in sobriety as a trans comic.

Direct download: Transitioning_From_Addicted_Woman_to_Sober_Man_with_Ian_Harvie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

Actress and artist Jemima Kirke came on the podcast. Yes, those are thrilling words to write. This is not only exciting because she’s luminous, talented and plays Jessa on freaking Girls but also because she has a history with substances that you don’t hear many people share about. After a wild youth, which included multi-day benders and bouts of depression, Kirke showed up at her mom’s in early 20s, saying she was ready for rehab. She went from one treatment center to the next, finding enough fault with the program there for her to be kicked out (but not before meeting the man she eventually married, who happens to now own a sober living). After years of staying sober and doing the 12-step thing, Kirke began to question whether the one-size-fits-all philosophy about addiction applied to her. And so she had a drink. Contrary to what she’d been told, nothing bad happened. That was a few years ago and in that time, she’s watched her career rise to superstardom and embraced motherhood (in addition to the two kids she has with her husband, she is also the step-mother to his kids from a previous marriage). In this episode, we talk about self-hatred, rehabs just out to take your money and if meeting your future spouse in treatment is “trauma bonding,” among other topics.

Direct download: Jemma_Pod_new_version.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Writer and comedian Mara Shapshay has had a life of inarguable highs and lows: Growing up outside Boston as the daughter of a sex therapist, Shapshay felt alienated as the only Jewish girl at her school (not to mention the only girl whose mother talked extensively about oral sex). After a traumatic incident in Israel, Shapshay turned to opiates and alcohol; they helped her through film school at NYU, after which she landed in LA and promptly married a gay man. Stints at rehab followed but they didn't take and Shapshay ended up homeless and living in her car. Then she randomly met Carrie Fisher and asked her for help. Next thing she knew, Shapshay was living with Fisher and helping the late actress through shock treatments. Now over a decade sober, Shapshay is a practicing Orthodox Jew married to a sober (not gay) Orthodox Jew. And she's determined to carry on Fisher's mission to spread awareness about mental health. In this episode, we discuss why mental illness carries more of a stigma than addiction, the lure of celebrity and the difference between trust and faith, among many other topics.

Direct download: Mara_AP_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Author Heather King puts the rest of us to shame. She's written so many books she literally has no idea how many. She went through law school pretty much in a black out and managed to ace the bar. And she manages to embody the sort of joy that many seek and cannot find. At least part of this surely has to do with the fact that she very much walks the walk. Now sober over 30 years, King converted to Catholicism after having a crisis of faith and now writes a weekly column on arts, culture, faith and life for Angelus. It's been a long journey from the bar stools of Boston to the churches of LA and luckily King is a charming narrator. In this episode, we discuss knocking on a neighbor's door to buy beers off of him during brutal hangovers, being too cheap to become a gambling addict and weaning oneself off of romantic obsessions, among many other topics.

Direct download: Heather_King_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Interventionist, sober companion, Fix co-founder and former proprietor of Brooklyn's Loft 107 Sober Living, Joe Schrank is a somewhat controversial figure in recovery circles. While he's never been afraid to speak his mind, Schrank has just launched his most chatter-worthy business of all: High Sobriety, an LA-based "cannabis included" treatment center that offers, in its own words, "harm reduction through an innovative medication assisted program." The first of its kind in the United States, High Sobriety is aimed at those people who Schrank feels would be dead if they had to abstain from all chemicals—that is, those who try sobriety and end up with a needle in their arm. In this episode, Schrank discusses his own sobriety, how the US is conservative in its approach to recovery and why the issue of harm reduction isn't as simple as it first seems, among many other topics.

Direct download: Joe_Schrank_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Marketing guru Joe Polish can't simply be described as a marketing guru. The founder of ILoveMarketing and the Genius Network, Polish is one of the world's leading business coaches (this can happen when Richard Branson is one of your clients) and runs several exclusive mastermind groups. But now Polish has found his true passion: enlightening the world about recovery—in particular the way making art can help addicts. Hence his project, Artists for Addicts. In this episode, we discuss getting down to 105 pounds when freebasing cocaine, the insidious nature of sex addiction and how Artists for Addicts is helping to change the global conversation about how people view addicts, among other topics.

Direct download: joe_polish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Former TV news journalist Rob Koebel's future looked bright: he'd won an Emmy and worked his way up to being a reporter at a Wisconsin TV station. Then, in 2012, his ex-wife, a news anchor named Christi Paul who had worked for CNN and HLN, released a book called Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt about her marriage to an abusive drunk—Koebel (though in the book his name is changed to Justin). This set Koebel off on the bender to end all benders—an event which culminated in him getting busted for peeing outside an Apple store. He was well enough known in Wisconsin for this incident to make the papers and as a result he lost his job. But Koebel didn't want that to be the end of his story so he got sober and then packed up his bags and made his way to LA, where he's landed acting roles in everything from Eastbound and Down to Under The Dome. In this episode, we talk about what it's like to sell your Emmy and finding new dreams after your original ones were shattered, among other topics.

Direct download: Rob_Koebel_AP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST


Ryan Hampton was all set up for a career in politics: he made his first political donation at the age of 12, met Bill Clinton at the age of 13 and worked for Al Gore and Janet Reno while in college. All sounds rosy, yes? Well, the reality is that his childhood had been anything but (Hampton's dad not only went to prison but kept his kids in the dark about it for years). After a hiking injury at the age of 23, Hampton became hooked on hydrocodone and, after being labeled a "drug seeker," he—like many others—turned to heroin.

While he was lucky enough to find sobriety, other people he knew weren't so lucky and he in fact lost three close friends to addiction in his first year clean. That's when he decided to turn back to his first love. After being elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in July, 2016, Hampton drove out to Philadelphia, interviewing people whose lives were affected by addiction along the way. It was during that trip (which he documented for HuffPo) that Hampton was invited to meet with the President's domestic policy advisors to discuss his mission and since then, he's continued to call attention to the prevalence of addiction. In this episode, we talk about how to handle finding out that your dad has a secret life and why pill addicts turn to heroin, among many other topics.

Direct download: Ryan_AP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Regular listeners will notice something unusual here: an entirely new show! I am launching a new project, Writing Issues, where I'll be interviewing authors about their struggles and successes and in order to get it in people's hands (er, ears), I am inserting one of the interviews here as a special episode. The guest, Patrick O'Neil, is not talking about his issues but about his writing career. It's a short episode where he discusses how Ryan Gosling was going to play him in a movie; I hope you enjoy it and if you don't, I promise that the next episode will bring us back to our regularly scheduled programming. Patrick's bio, in brief:

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon and an excerpted in part French translation titled: Hold-Up (13e Note Editions). His writing has appeared in numerous publications including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Weeklings, Fourteen Hills, The Nervous Breakdown, and Razorcake.

Patrick is a contributing editor for the NYC-to-California-transplant-post-beat-pre-apocalyptic art, writing, and music anthology: Sensitive Skin Magazine. He is a regular contributor to the recovery website: AfterPartyMagazine, a two-time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and Mentor. Starting in 2017, Patrick will be the Coordinator for Why There Are Words, a Los Angeles reading series.

Direct download: Memoir_Optioned_Patrick_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:27pm PST

Regular listeners will notice something unusual here: an entirely new show! I am launching a new project, Writing Issues, where I'll be interviewing authors about their struggles and successes and in order to get it in people's hands (er, ears), I am inserting one of the interviews here as a special episode. The guest, Kristen McGuiness, has been a guest on AfterPartyPod, but here she's not talking about addiction but about her writing career. I hope you enjoy it and if you don't, I promise that the next episode will bring us back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Kristen's bio, in short: Kristen McGuiness is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestselling memoir, 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life, which was optioned by CBS Cable with Alison Brie attached to star and Original Films attached to produce. In addition, Kristen has co-written numerous books in the genres of self-help, business, psychology, travel, memoir, and dating. She has also written for Marie Claire, AOL, Huffington Post, and The Fix, and has appeared on The Today Show, KTLA, and in USA Today. Kristen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and dog Peter.

Direct download: Kristen_Started_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm PST

Newport Academy owner Jamison Monroe may look like a successful, dashing Southern gentleman and—well, he is. Not only do we rate Newport as one of the top 10 rehabs in the world but Monroe is a sought-after speaker (yep, that was him at the Aspen Ideas Festival) and frequent subject of articles. There's a reason for this: for all that Monroe was born into privilege, his inner world wasn't always so privileged and so, when he discovered in high school that all the so-called cool kids drank, he dove in head first. School expulsion, cutting, jail, suicidal ideation and many treatment centers followed but after finally getting clean and sober for good, Monroe found his life mission: he opened Orange County-based Newport in 2009 when he was 28 and a second facility in Connecticut in 2013. In this episode, we discuss what it means to be cool, how addiction is a family disease and how kids who hate rehab show up smiling at alumni events, among other topics.

Direct download: EPJaminson_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Dr. Adi Jaffe is someone who's well-known in addiction and recovery circles—primarily for his unorthodox approach to recovery. A former meth addict who went to prison for dealing drugs, Jaffe cleaned up his act in rehab and spent three years in 12-step abstaining from drugs and alcohol. And then one day he thought about drinking; he talked it over with the people in his life and gave it a try. It's now 11 years later and his addiction hasn't resurfaced, despite the fact that he's sampled both pot and ecstasy during this past decade and change. During this time, he went to grad school, became a counselor and opened Alternatives Addiction Treatment, a rehab that teaches people to moderate drinking (it also shows those seeking abstinence how to achieve that). A sought-after public speaker (check out his Ted X talk here), Jaffe is the first to admit that he may be wrong about his approach to addiction but is determined to try to spark conversations that show people there are alternatives to 12-step. In this episode, we discuss why you shouldn't ride a motorcycle to make your drug deals, what it's like to stay sober in jail and how he may have just had his first spiritual experience, among many other topics.

Direct download: EPDrJaff_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST


Voice actor Maurice LaMarche is someone you've heard more times than you've possibly heard your own parents. He wasn't only the voice of the Brain on Pinky and the Brain but won an Emmy for one of the numerous characters he played on Futurama. Then there were the parts he played on a little show called The Simpsons. Have we mentioned Zootopia, The Powerpuff Girls, Rick and Morty and Team America? Though he started out as a stand-up who did impressions (in this episode alone, you can be privy not only to Orson Welles but also Peter Falk and many others), that all changed when his life took a tragic turn in his late 20s. In short, his father was murdered and Maurice's life was derailed by alcoholism. A few years later, after an intervention arranged by his wife, the younger LaMarche found sobriety. In this episode, we discuss dreaming in color, pretending you're starring in your own TV show as a kid and whether or not it's important to have A-listers at your intervention, among other topics.

Direct download: EPMaurice_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Comedian Joleen Lunzer may hail from Minnesotta but she's carved her way into the LA comedy scene quite nicely. She was one of three finalists in "Loni's Laugh Off" and produced the LA comedy show "Dissecting the Set." The journey to where she is now—happily married and the doyenne of the website PaleGurl—hasn't, however, been without its tribulations. After following a "slutty" boyfriend to Arizona, Lunzer ended up briefly institutionalized in a place where, on her first night, her teenage roommate threatened to kill her (a worker at the institution slept in between them as protection). Managing OCD has made some things challenging—after checking to make sure a door is locked, she has to touch the handle in a certain way to confirm that all is okay—but she's now got the condition under control and and is sitting atop four years of sobriety. In this episode, we discuss how pale skin fares during heat waves, punching a guy over a cab and just what a bad idea it is to drink while taking antidepressants, among many other topics.

Direct download: EPJoleenLunzer_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Entrepreneur Khalil Rafati is arguably the least likely entrepreneur out there. Many years ago, the former heroin and crack addict left Toledo, Ohio after getting into some serious scrapes with the law. He ended up living in a shed in Malibu where he and a roommate shot drugs by the light generated by Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which they played over and over again on a VCR that was powered by electricity they were siphoning from next door). Finally washing ashore at Pasadena Recovery Center, Rafati got sober but still found himself unfulfilled and awash with anxiety and the feeling that his life wasn't happening the way he'd hoped. After filling up on Tony Robbins and getting inspired by Oprah, he set about changing that, opening first a Malibu Sober Living and then SunLife Organics, a juice shop that had lines out the door from day one and has now spread to numerous other locations. Now Rafati is sharing his unlikely success story in his just released memoir, I Forgot to Die (available on Amazon as well as at SunLife). In this episode, we discuss what happens when a combination of ecstasy and pills changes your life, what it feels like to be able to buy your mom a house and how to let go of the sad story you tell yourself, among many other topics.

Direct download: EPKahlil_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Author Sam Polk has had an interesting journey to authorship. The former hedge fund manager had traveled what many would consider the picture perfect upward trajectory journey, escaping the confines of a "Willy Loman-like dad" and landing at Columbia University. But an addiction to drugs and alcohol, among other vices, helped him get kicked out. No matter! He landed on Wall Street, where he quickly rose to the top. But then he realized, as some do, that the top was empty and that his lifelong belief that enough money would cure all that ailed him wasn't true. And so he left Wall Street, began working on a book about it and sent off a blind query to the New York Times about how sick his money obsession had made him. This piece, For the Love of Money, immediately went insanely viral and his book (also called For the Love of Money) snatched up by Scribner. It's no wonder; the book is impossible to put down and takes the reader to when his final Wall Street bonus was $3.6 million and he was, as he wrote in the Times, "angry because it wasn’t big enough." He was 30.

Times have changed for the happily married, LA-dwelling father of two, who's been sober for 14 years and is now the cofounder and CEO of Everytable, a social enterprise that sells fresh, yummy food at reasonable prices and the founder and Executive Director of Groceryships, a nonprofit that helps low-income families struggling with food-related illnesses. In this episode, we talk about our societal obsession with money, how many Wall Street-ers want out but are trapped in gilded cages and the break up that led him to bottom out, among many other topics.

Direct download: EPSamPolk_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Addiction and wellness specialist Erica Spiegelman isn't only the author of the best-selling addiction book Rewired:A Bold New Approach to Addiction & Recovery but also a motivational speaker and counselor. Her focus is on authenticity, in particular how to rewire the brain after substance abuse to become more authentic, and she shares that message not only to her personal clients and in her book but also through newsletters, blogs and her radio show, Rewired Radio, which plays on RadioMD.

But Spiegelman doesn't come at this work from solely a clinical perspective. Yes, she is a certified CADAC but she also struggled with alcoholism for many years herself, as she went from Northern California to Arizona to New York to LA. Eventually, she bottomed out and ended up at Betty Ford, where she actually learned about alcoholism—and what to do about it. That's when she realized that all the approaches to recovery she saw were quite specific—those that, say, followed solely AA or only Buddhism—and so she set out to establish a method to help people who don't relate to one specific path. In this episode, we discuss growing up in the Bay Area, whether or not shoplifting is a rite of passage and what ever ends up happening to those friends who our parents thought were the bad influences (hint: they don't seem to be the ones who end up in rehab), among many other topics.

Direct download: EP_Erica_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Lifestylist Luke Storey is an interesting fellow. A former stylist (he's dressed everyone you can name and plenty you can't), he founded the School of Style, a fashion school for stylists (which teaches everything from the fundamentals of the business and art of styling to experiential, hands-on training) in 2008 but slowly realized that his heart was more in this business called life than it was in styling. Using himself as a "human research lab," Storey has done some, well, out-and-out crazy things in the name of health—from daily ice baths to injecting himself with poisonous frog venom to only drinking spring water. Now he teaches those lessons to the masses, through one-on-one coaching, public speaking and his hit new podcast, The Life Stylist. Storey is also sober nearly 20 years, after a youth that included crack smoking, drug dealing and all the issues that go along with those pastimes. In this episode, we discuss the two sides of humility, how we're really just walking around in meat suits and the mysteriousness of people who are naturally balanced in their relationships, among other issues.

Direct download: EP_Luke_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Comedian Jim Norton may, with apologies to Stern, be a rival for the King of All Media (let's just call him the Prince). The co-host of the immensely popular Opie with Jim Norton radio show (he replaced Anthony), Norton's not only been a regular on Leno but also appeared on Letterman and Kimmel. The host of multiple HBO specials and an eponymously titled VICE show, Norton performs stand-up all over the country, is the author of two New York Times bestselling books and has appeared on numerous TV shows, including regular spots on Inside Amy Schumer. Sober since the age of 18 (he's coming up on his 30th sober-versary), Norton's first drink was a Whiskey Sour at a family wedding and his last a year or so after rehab (where he snuck out and drank). Despite his thriving career and decades of recovery, Norton struggles—very openly—with a sex addiction that causes his life to be unmanageable in all the requisite ways. Though he's had periods of dealing with it, at this point Norton is open about the fact that he experimented regularly with other boys as a kid, does the porn-Tinder merry-go-round and has a predilection for transsexual hookers. In this episode, we explored the many facets of his addictive tendencies while also touching on feeling like a fraud, extreme thinking and self-destructive tendencies that bring an inordinate amount of pleasure, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_Jim_Norton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Comedian Debra DiGiovanni has had an enviable career: she's been awarded the Canadian Comedy Award for best female comic for the third time in five years, has been called the “Best Comedian to see after a Messy Break Up” and for three years running was named her hometown Toronto’s favorite comedian. Then there's the fact that she was a finalist on the fifth season of Last Comic Standing, performs all over the world and has been featured repeatedly on Comedy Central. But it's not all laughs—oh, no. The lovely lady has a long history with booze, pot, acid and the like (estimated number of times she'd done acid: hundreds). Though she quit drinking years ago, she's a recent full on convert to sobriety, having given up pot this past January. Next on her radar of addictions to deal with: food. In this episode, we talked about the sort of dreams you have when you quit pot, whether or not small towns make people drink more and not being able to watch TV, among many other topics.

Direct download: EPDEBRA_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Podcaster and musician Shane Ramer has a day job but his passion is recovery—sharing about his journey out of addiction in the hope that he can help others share about theirs. And so one day, he got an idea: why not start a recovery podcast? A month later, That Sober Guy was born; on it, he's interviewed everyone from Paul Gilmartin to Rich Roll to Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach (to yours truly). The father of two kids, Ramer lives in Northern California where he works in customer service at a company where he also hosts an in-company podcast (who knew there was such a thing?) After a rough childhood ("When I watched the show Cops, I always thought my family was going to be on it," he says), Ramer first found drugs and then recovery. In this episode, we talk about being "one of the 'almost' guys, playing the victim and whether getting or staying sober is more challenging, among other topics.

Direct download: Shane_Ramer_AP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Herb K is something of a legend in the recovery community, having discovered a specific way of working the 12 steps in 1988 (when he was four years sober) and then sharing that way with the world. The author of Twelve-Step Guide to Using the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening; Enlightenment for Everyone, Herb didn't know, when he retired from the four-decade career that he'd spent working in human resources, he'd be launched on a path of guiding people through the spiritual path he found. But now the man who spent seven years in seminary and has a graduate education in psychology conducts workshops and teaches courses on 12-step spirituality all over. In this episode, we discussed the misunderstanding of the word meditation, how guiding adolescents means toning down the spiritual language and the way he first came into recovery (spoiler alert: he thought his wife had the problem), among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Herb_K.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am PST


Writer, blogger, Instagram star, adopted mom of the cat that looks like Adam Driver—there are very few media fame boxes Emily McCombs hasn't checked. The 32-year-old is also the gal who pretty much single-handedly put xo jane on the map back when it launched in 2011, with the sort of mind-blowing traffic attracted by brilliantly written stories on such topics as talking to your former rapist on Facebook. McCombs has been equally open about her issues with addiction, whether she's writing from the perspective of seven years of sobriety to people who may have drinking problems or sharing about her struggle with sex addiction—in particular the need to give up meeting strange men on Craigslist for random sex. Happily for me, I met Emily when she was 10 days sober and at her first party that offered alcohol (and I was also someone she called for career advice when she was offered the xojane gig—a fact that I manage to drop into conversations every time one of her stories causes a sensation). Now sober seven years, McCombs can sound off about almost anything. In this episode, we discuss if you have to be a tormented kid to be a cool adult, how it seems like all dreams can come true in early sobriety and why being a mom means you can never again toy with the idea of suicide, among other topics.

 

Direct download: Emily_McCombs_AP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Writer, actor and stand-up comedian Fielding Edlow may claim she didn't get anywhere in her 20s but she's more than made up for it since: after her solo show Coke-Free J.A.P. killed at the NYC Fringe Festival, it was developed as a half-hour pilot for Showtime. Her plays have been finalists with the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Actors Theatre of Louisville and City Theatre. She voices the recurring character ‘Roxie’ on BoJack Horseman and just created and starred in her web series Bitter Homes and Gardens. And there's more! She has a monthly stand-up show—Eat, Pray, Fuck—the third Friday of every month (alas, at the same time and date as the AfterParty storytelling show, which means she can never perform in ours).

Now over 18 years sober and a happily married mother, the former New Yorker seems to be something not many people can claim: content. In this episode, we discuss how recovery is like peeling an artichoke and not an onion, the idyllic early years of sobriety and whether or not it's cheesy and awful to talk to your inner child, among many other topics.

 

Direct download: APP_FIELDING.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Filmmaker Christina Beck's looks may be deceiving: a picture perfect blonde, Beck grew up in the San Fernando Valley and quit high school to became a punk rocker scenester after a crazy night out in Hollywood seeing the band The Cramps. An all-girl rap band called Toe Jam followed, as did acting roles in numerous Penelope Spheeris movies, including Suburbia and The Boys Next Door. Now she's acting in something even more personal: Perfection, a movie she also wrote and directed. Perfection deals not only with substance abuse (the mother character imbibes plenty) but also narcissism (the mother character's got that covered) and self-harm (Kristabelle, the character Beck plays, uses self-harm as a way to cope with those other two factors). Now sober, Beck talks about her month of doing heroin in London, blowing off the high school sorority for the punk rock scene, her own experiences with self-harm and the 10-year journey to get Perfection to the screen, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_CHRISTINA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Comedian and writer Bill Dixon (who's, by the by, performed in our storytelling show) had a childhood destined to melt the heart of the hardest souls. His parents met in rehab, his dad took off and his mother—after a long struggle with hardcore alcoholism as well as bipolar disorder—killed herself when he was 12. Miraculously, Dixon managed to come out of those formative years and become an incredible Hollywood success story, writing on and producing Hollywood Game Night with Jane Lynch, being featured on HuffPo, The Today  Show and Fox News, among other well-known places, and running a popular LA comedy show. He's also over a decade sober, after alcoholism so severe that he actually came out of a blackout and realized he was dating someone he didn't know (as he jokes, when your parents meet in rehab, you're destined to become a comedian as well as an alcoholic). In this episode, we discuss planning your shares in AA meetings, whether or not peanut butter is a condiment or a food and what happens when the Dad you haven't spoken to since you were little suddenly starts re-posting your Facebook photos, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_DIXON_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Author, counselor and Buddhist teacher Noah Levine is a legend in the Buddhist community—not to mention the recovery one (not to mention the world). The 45-year-old author of Dharma Punx and Refuge Recovery, among other works, got sober at the ripe old age of 17, after multiple incarcerations and a youth filled with suicidal ideation. While in juvie, his dad—famed Buddhist teacher Stephen Levine—suggested that Noah try meditation. Thus began the younger Levine's journey, which saw him training with Jack Kornfield, establishing the Against the Stream meditation society and crafting a program that combines Buddhist principles with recovery. (Along the way he got a Masters in counseling.) His program, Refuge Recovery, is now a treatment center but all sorts of rehabs and groups use the principles he writes about in their programs. Levine currently travels the globe, speaking, holding retreats and leading groups. In this episode, we talk about how not to attach to outcomes, thinking about death at the age of five and not working too hard, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_NOAH_LEVINE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24am PST

Writers Nick Reiner and Matt Elisofon, the cowriters of the new addiction and recovery drama Being Charlie, did more than their fair share of research in order to create a compelling, convincing story: the two met when they were roommates at Promises rehab and, after bonding over the usual rehab stuff (that is, making fun of other residents), they started channeling their newfound time and energy into a script. Originally something they wrote for TV (though they confess they truly never thought it go anywhere), Being Charlie eventually got into the hands of Nick’s director dad Rob (When Harry Met Sally and The Princess Bride, among many others). Originally, Rob was just giving the boys notes; eventually, he signed on to helm the project. The story, which focuses on the troubled son of a movie star-turned-politician (played by The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes), was strongly influenced by young Reiner’s own experience (he’s been to 18 rehabs, starting when he was 14 and has had bouts of homelessness you wouldn’t associate with a denizen of Hollywood). In this episode, we discuss the most epic fights the cowriters have had, the ways 12-step has and hasn’t helped them and how the movie isn’t actually The Nick Reiner story, among many other topics.

Direct download: Nick_Reiner__Matt_Elisofon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm PST

Author and musician Joe C. is more than a bit of a legend in recovery circles. Sure, he's been sober for over four decades but that's not why he's known. He's known because he manages to question 12-step without ever attacking it—and he does it in a way that speaks to many. The author of the daily reflection book, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life, Joe also runs Rebellion Dogs, a site which includes his radio show, blog posts and information about his various conferences across the globe where he shares his wisdom. In this episode, we discuss coming to AA at the age of 14, New York vs. LA vs. San Francisco recovery and how the word "yellow" (not to mention the word "agnostic") means different things to different people, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_JOE_C_031016_100.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am PST

Author and musician Rob Roberge has been prolific for quite a while (five books, guitarist and singer in the band The Urinals, teaching at various universities) but it's his newest work that's got people seriously buzzing. Liar: A Memoir chronicles his journey not just through addiction but also through rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Written in the second person in a non-linear fashion, Roberge says he wrote the book this way because it's how he could best show how his mind works. In this episode, we discuss opiate addiction, manic writing jags and whether or not some books are meant to be written but not released, among many other topics.

 

Direct download: Rob_Roberge_Podcast_1_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm PST

Actor Danny Nucci may have played characters who were killed off in three major movies of the 90s (Eraser, The Rock, Titanic) but in real life he's surviving and thriving. Now starring on the ABC Family drama The Fosters (playing Mike Foster, a character who happens to be in recovery), the Italian-Austrian is also 26 years sober. Over the years, he's acted in a bunch of TV movies, a slew of movies and most every TV show on the planet (Growing Pains, Family Ties, Snoops and Just Shoot Me, to name a few). In this episode, we talk about the way recovery is like The Karate Kid, avoiding road rage and how to deal with customer service people without having to later make amends, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_Danny_Nucci.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am PST

Screenwriter Jeff Roda is not someone who's going to be bragging about his accomplishments. You will, in fact, have to attempt to drag them out of him—and you still won't be successful at learning much. Everything about what he's done career wise must be gleaned through Google. And here it is: he's written screenplays for DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures and New Regency Films, and television pilots for the WB, CBS and Media Rights Capital. He was a producer on Love Liza starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates, has written three Black List scripts and he is currently developing his pilot When I'm Sixty-Four for HBO. He's also either 12 or 13 years sober, according to him (it was determined that it was 13) and has a lot to say about developing emotional maturity, becoming invisible as you age and isolating (the conversation is a lot more hilarious and uplifting than it sounds, swear). In this episode, we talked about reminding your hairdresser of her uncle, Eve Plumb (that's Jan Brady to you and me), long-term sobriety and whether or not his friend Andrew is a figment of his imagination, among other topics.

 

Direct download: APP_Jeff_Roda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm PST

Musician, writer and political activist Jack Grisham is a man of many names and even more lives. Perhaps you know him as Alex Morgan or James DeLauge? Maybe you're familiar with him because he's the lead singer for the punk band T.S.O.L. or perhaps it's through his book A Principle of Recovery: An Unconventional Journey Through the Twelve Steps? Or could it be that you know his name from when he ran for governor in 2003? Okay so we've established it: he's an interesting guy. He's also over 27 years sober after a, well, disturbing youth well documented in his book American Demon. In this episode, we discuss why his favorite review called his book "mean-spirited," how only unpeaceful people talk about peace and whether or not he was hypnotizing me during the interview, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Jack_Grisham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am PST

Sobriety coach and interventionist Bob Marier has suddenly became the face of sober coachery (a word we just made up). See, coming to represent a fake word is what can happen when you're hired to work with Toronto mayor Rob Ford, especially when you're accused of kicking a Ford heckler. But Marier had been working behind the scenes long before he ended up on the cover of every Canadian paper and his journey to top sober dog was hard-earned: after destroying three noses and grinding his teeth down from snorting more coke than can possibly be imagined, he had a fairly dramatic OD, smashing into a glass table and spending weeks in a coma. It was only after seeing a video from his hospital bed of his mom begging him to get help that the then 39 year-old sought help; now he's over 12 years sober and the subject of a Vice doc. In this episode, we discuss people who talk in platitudes in meetings, boiling Fentanyl patches into pills and how Ford is one of the best people Marier's ever met, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Bob_Maier.mp3
Category:Health -- posted at: 2:40pm PST

Writer, actress and performer Cindy Caponera launched her career at Chicago's Second City and wrote for Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 1998, which is to say that she came up with just about everyone, from Stephen Colbert to Will Ferrell to many more in between. She's also written for Shameless and Nurse Jackie and by the way appeared in the pilot for a funny little show you may have heard of called Curb Your Enthusiasm.

On the personal front, she's been sober over 20 years and has made her way from Chi Town to NYC to LA, where she's happily married and has a small pool where she likes to do stationary swimming. If you clicked on that link, you know that she's also written a best-selling Kindle Single, I Triggered Her Bully, which very humorously touches on such topics as food, alcohol, meditation, medication, dating guys who live in halfway houses and moving back in with your parents as an adult. In this episode, we discussed how alcoholism is different for women, coming to sobriety through Alanon and how sober people on SNL helped her find her way, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_CINDY.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:27pm PST

Author Vicki Abelson has worn many hats: she's been an actress, a director, a teacher, a comic, a manager, a (yes I'm still going), fundraiser, a producer, a workshop leader, a private coach and possibly two or three (hundred) other things. The spitball of energy is perhaps best known for being the grand doyenne of Women Who Write, a renowned literary salon that has featured Jackie Collins, Garry Marshall and Marianne Williamson (not to mention previous podcast guests Marc Maron, Michael Des Barres and Mackenzie Phillips), among so many others. But her legacy may change now that she's released her first book, Don't Jump: Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll...and My Fucking Mother, a coming-of-age novel about a gal in a celeb-laden world that's got more than a dash of roman a clef to it. As you may be able to glean from the title, there's also some drug use in there and Abelson's now been sober nearly a decade-and-a-half after a lengthy love affair with pot. In this episode, we discuss going to bars on dates, being "ghosted" in Hollywood and her 14-year book writing odyssey, among many other topics.[did we determine that editors need to upload all photos for their writers now, even the writers who log into the system? I think we decided that was the case for reviews but since we’re not re doing review photos yet, it’s not relevant and the only writer I can think of who does not review inputting is Tracy and I can just put her on the email.

Direct download: Vicki_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:11pm PST

Actor Tony Denison is best known for his role as Detective Andrew Flynn in The Closer (now called Major Crimes) but was originally launched into the cultural stratosphere back in the 80s when Michael Mann cast him as a mob boss on Crime Story. Over the years, the former insurance agent has popped up everywhere, from Melrose Place to Walker, Texas Ranger to NYPD Blue, CSI and ER, to name just a few (he estimates that about 80% of the time, his characters are either cops or gangsters). He's also sober over 22 years after struggling with cocaine and alcohol. In this episode, we talk about going from obscurity to the mainstream, learning to be happy with who and not what you are, and following drivers to make amends after a road rage attack, among many other topics.

 

Direct download: APP_-_Tony_V2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:58pm PST

Director Mark Pellington started off directing videos for Pearl Jam, U2, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen, among many other musical icons (his video for Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" is one of the most popular videos of all time and earned him no end of awards). He moved on to films, directing, among others, Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies and I Melt With You, the latter a nihilistic drama about four friends who do more drugs than one might imagine possible and end up...well, you need to see the movie but let's just say the ending is darker than dark. Over the years, Pellington dealt with grief and addiction through the bottle (and the chemicals) but is now three-and-a-half years sober. In this episode, we talk about lying to your therapist about your sobriety, the way great art can help people feel less alone and how a Mayo clinic's comment can change your life, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Mark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm PST

Korn and Filter guitarist Rob Patterson isn't only an incredibly talented musician but also, it turns out, a tech wizard who managed to fix the very recorder used for this interview. His journey to rock stardom started with the metal band Otep but his big break came when he played with Korn from 2005 to 2008. After that, he played with the post industrial band Filter. If we were going to be cheesy we could say that the whole time he was also playing with fire—namely heroin—and he veered in and out of sobriety before quitting for good four years ago. This Massachusetts-reared son of a cellist has also been tabloid fodder for some time, not only because he was engaged to Carmen Electra but also because he's palled around with Charlie Sheen. In this episode, he talks about being a teenage hacker, not doing drugs till your late 20s and how the amount of time someone's sober doesn't mean anything, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Rob_Patterson.mp3
Category:Addiction -- posted at: 12:41pm PST

Author Kristen McGuiness may claim not to be a writer anymore but the facts don't lie: the author of the LA Times bestselling book 5150: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life has also been published in The Fix, among other publications, and these days writes grant proposals for non-profits. She's also nearly a decade sober after a bout with alcoholism which took her from LA to Dallas to New York back to LA. Though she looks like the very picture of innocence, McGuiness hardly grew up in white picket fence land: her father was one of the biggest drug smugglers around (he's in Blow, the book the Johnny Depp movie was based on) and so the family was constantly up and moving whenever the law got too close. McGuiness writes openly about this not only in her memoir but also in a piece for The Fix. In this episode, she discusses the time in her life when she wore pantyhose while working for Mary Kay, how the TV show based on her book didn't sell after they took away her character's alcoholism and speaking at her dad's hearing after a bender that involved trying to hang out with some Texan drug dealers, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Kristen_new_intro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42am PST

Author Sarah Hepola isn't just a writer but the author of the biggest book about addiction since A Million Little Pieces. Hepola's memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, has been written about in seemingly ever publication known to man (including ours), clearly striking a chord among the recovery community and beyond. The Texas-based Salon essay editor has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Glamour, The Guardian, Nerve and Slate, among others, and is as modest about her book's success as possibly only a Texan can be. In this episode, she and Anna David talk about the relative coolness of sobriety, crying every day, whether or not Tinder dating profiles should mention sobriety and if a best-selling book can actually make you happy, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_Sarah_Hepola.new.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56pm PST

Writer and musician John Albert did not have a standard trajectory to literary success—in fact he says he became a writer by accident when he submitted information about his amateur baseball team, which was made up of a slew of misfit former addicts and rebel rousers, to LA Weekly. That information became a story, that story became a cover story and that cover story became Albert's widely praised book Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates. This wasn't Albert's first foray into the public eye: he co-founded the cross-dressing band Christian Death and was the drummer in Bad Religion. Now sober over three decades, the husband and father works for a record company when he's not handling the movie offers Wrecking Crew regularly receives (it's been optioned more than four times by various people, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman). In this episode, he and Anna David discuss having sex with borderline schizophrenics in rehab, the essay on Sober House he wrote for David's reality TV anthology and being on methadone at the college where your dad teaches, among other topics.

Direct download: _John_Albert_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:15pm PST

TV host, writer and producer Steve Goldbloom has done a lot in his 31 years on the planet: the Canadian (dual citizenship, yo) created the PBS Digital Studio comedy series Everything But the News, where he documented his misadventures exploring the tech scene, and which USA Today named Best Web Series. This was after his stint as a correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He currently produces a weekly segment on PBS called Brief but Spectacular which is, he says, an interview without the interviewer.

Now he's launching Intimacy with Strangers, where he speaks with various people about intimacy, for Discovery and for this episode, we did something entirely unprecedented: while I interviewed him for the podcast, he simultaneously interviewed me for Intimacy With Strangers. Did this meta double project work? We'll find out when you listen to this podcast while watching the Intimacy with Strangers episode (that's overly ambitious, I get it; also I have no idea when IWS will air). Since he is neither an addict nor a person with serious issues (my diagnosis), we focused the conversation on developing and maintaining healthy relationships. In this episode, we discuss relationships that cause you to stare at the ceiling wondering what's happened to your life, whether or not just a few sessions with a therapist can do the trick and if, when we saw Boyhood and he elbowed me every few minutes, we were on a date or not (TBD).

Direct download: APP_-_Steve_Goldbloom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21pm PST

All sober addicts have their stories, some more severe than others. Well, it's safe to say that author and former attorney Joseph Naus checks all the boxes on the "most severe" scale. Born to a heroin addict mother, Naus managed to rise from poverty to become a successful attorney. As this was happening, however, his sex addiction and alcoholism were increasingly controlling his life—causing him to cheat on girlfriends, visit massage parlors and eventually get a DUI. Then came the cataclysmic event that brought him to sobriety: the night when, in a black out, he tried to break into a massage parlor but instead broke into a guy's apartment, stripped naked (thinking he was in the massage parlor) and beat the guy up. He went to rehab and got sober but ended serving time (for attempted murder), was disbarred and has to register every year as a sex offender. Now over a decade sober, Naus chronicled this journey in his memoir, Straight Pepper Diet, and is at work on a second book. In this episode, we talk about the ways people respond when you write about them, how nicotine addiction is as intense as any other and why not to call your ex the minute you get sober to ask if if they want to edit your memoir, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_-_Joseph.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am PST

Author Jason Smith is not a writer who languished in obscurity for years as he tried to make sense of his journey through addiction to recovery. The Northern California based former teacher only started writing a mere year ago because he was on an ankle bracelet due to some legal trouble (more about that in a sec) and was trapped at home. He loaded some of his stories onto Medium (a fabulous site but one where most posts get lost and ignored) and the rest is history. People started reading them. Lots of people. A book deal followed and that book, The Bitter Taste of Dying, is now being hailed as one that leaves the reader "gasping for breath." While Smith's writing is undeniably gripping, he also had a lot of rich history to pull from: he went from trying pills in high school to losing his virginity to the hottest girl in his class that very day. And you could say he spent the next chunk of his life chasing that high, from continent to continent, job to job, high to high. In this episode (where we're joined by Danielle Stewart!), we discuss attractive sponsors, sex inventories and doing fentanyl in space, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_Jason_Smith.ad.mp3
Category:Addiction -- posted at: 9:07am PST

Best-selling author and therapist Dr. Allen Berger is a wonder to behold. Not only is he nearly 45 years sober (though he looks no older than 45) and one of the more articulate dudes out there but he's written many of the classic books about recovery, including 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery, 12 Smart Things to Do When Booze and Drugs Are Gone and 12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends. He also has made a series of audio recordings that analyze Bill Wilson's 1956 letter on emotional sobriety and videos while maintaining a very full private practice. But a million times more impressive than any of this is the guy's manner and way of articulating the nuances of addiction and recovery while opening up about the 60+ truances he had in school, shooting barbituates while in the navy and how losing his dad at an early age still causes him to choke up today. In this episode, we discuss the way he practices therapy (in particular his use of the shuttle technique), why procrastination is always about perfectionism and the ways he still doesn't support himself during his fourth decade of sobriety, among many other topics.

Direct download: _APP_Allen_Berger.mp3
Category:Addiction -- posted at: 9:18am PST

Mortified creator Dave Nadelberg is the guy behind—yes—Mortified, a "cultural phenomenon" (per Newsweek) that consists of a live show in cities around the world (from Austin, LA and New York to Amsterdam, London and Guadalajara), two books, a TV show, a documentary and now a podcast. The Mortified concept, in short, is this: people take diary entries, letters and any other ephemera from their childhoods and read them on a stage (the books featured collections of some of them, the TV show had Nadelberg going through personal artifacts with celebrities, the documentary documented the entire project and the podcast consists of recordings of live shows accompanied by interviews with the performers). As the guy who created a project that gives adults a chance to connect with their old selves while taking the shame out of previous, potentially ludicrous, thoughts and feelings, Nadelberg is a thoughtful soul. Though he's not an addict, he's worked through his own share of issues over the years, all of which we get into here. In this episode, we discuss male sluttiness, why therapy doesn't need to take place in an office with a shrink and how sex is psychological, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_Nadelberg.ad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am PST

Vice writer and editor Mitchell Sunderland is what they mean when they talk about wunderkinds and also what they mean when they talk about human miracles. Okay, so the wunderkind fact: he's 23 and already the Managing Editor of Broadly, Vice's forthcoming women's interest channel. Now for the second part: he grew up in Florida which, according to him, is traumatic in itself. He comes from a family where his mother would fall asleep at the wheel while on Ambien. She also breastfed him until he was five. Then, last year, he discovered that the man he'd always thought was his father was not. So there's been some stuff to work through.

It wasn't all disastrous though; Sunderland's brilliance, humor and charm saw him through and he became the party throwing king of his high school, charging the jocks who'd once been mean to him $10 a head as an entrance fee. But things came to a head after he spent his junior year of college in England and Sunderland, inspired by previous podcast guest Alexis Neiers, ended up getting sober the day he was hired at Vice. In this episode, we talk about the ridiculousness of trying to get sober in England, why New York parties aren't as decadent as Florida ones and thinking people intervening on you are calling because they want to have a threesome, among other topics.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to it on Soundcloud or Stitcher. Find Mitchell Sunderland on TwitterTumblrInstagram and Vice. Mitchell Sunderland photo by Matthew Leifheight.

Direct download: APP_Mitchell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am PST

Reel Recovery Film Festival creator Leonard Buschel has become an advocate for recovery in ways that no one else has—by creating Reel Recovery, which screens movies relating to addiction in Los Angeles, Manhattan, San Francisco and Ft. Lauderdale, among other cities. Every festival features live Q&A's with either well-known recovery advocates or people involved with the films; previous participants include Ben Stiller (for the screening of Permanent Midnight), Ed Begley, Jr. and Duran Duran's John Taylor. In his 20+ years of sobriety, Buschel has also created Writers in Treatment, which helps anyone who works with the written word into rehab, and hosts the annual Experience, Strength and Hope Awards. In this episode, we talke about forgoing the Rockettes in order to smoke pot, so-called casual crack smoking and how finding a treatment center with an 800 number can help launch you into recovery, among other topics.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to it on Soundcloud or Stitcher. Find Leonard Buschel on Facebook and Twitter.

Direct download: APP_Leonard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am PST

Writer Amanda Fletcher is more than just a sober warrior. A breast cancer survivor who also manages to remain cheerful about having broken her neck and worn a cervical halo for four months, Fletcher is a brilliant and hilarious writer who has also been a crucial part of the AfterParty editorial team. In addition to being a 2012 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, Fletcher is a breathwork practitioner who teaches writing in the recovery community, was a flash fiction finalist for the Orlando Prize and has performed for Tongue and Groove, the Dirty Laundry Lit and Roar Shack reading series. Sorry, not done here. Her writing has appeared in The Writer’s Tribe Review and The Orange County Register as well as on this very site. And hey—as part of a new format we’re trying out for the podcast, our last guest, fellow AfterParty writer Tracy Chabala, joined us for a three-way conversation. In this episode, we discuss being hung over from nights of over sharing, getting hooked on meth and whether or not we all get what we deserve, among many other topics.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to it on Soundcloud or Stitcher. Find Amanda Fletcher on Facebook and Twitter

Direct download: APP_Amanda_060215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:45pm PST

AfterParty contributor Tracy Chabala not only writes a good, um, 85% of the stories that are now appearing on the site but her work has also appeared in The LA Times, The LA Weekly and Salon. She holds a Masters in Professional Writing from USC and is working on a memoir about her journey through the sausage fest of fine dining kitchens (based on her history as a pastry chef). Among the topics she's covered on the site are escaping from a scary rehab, life in a mental ward and being 13th-stepped. If anyone is a testament to surviving most anything and then thriving, it is this girl. And—surprise!—this episode featured a special guest: Danielle Stewart, who appeared on the podcast so long ago that the sound was terrible and who has written even more for the site than Tracy (she's also an AfterParty editor and all-around problem solver around here). In this episode, we discuss getting 13th stepped and then being the 13th stepper, drinking Kombucha in sobriety and speaking openly about being in AA, among other topics.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to it on Soundcloud or Stitcher. Find Tracy Chabala on Twitter and her own site.

Direct download: APP_Tracy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am PST

Journalist, author and editor Richard Rushfield is a man of many hats and even more opinions—most of them about relationships. A contributor to Vanity Fair, author of three books and former editor at The LA Times, Gawker, Buzzfeed, Yahoo and more, Rushfield is now the Editor-in-Chief of HitFix.

As AfterPartyPod veers into a direction of focusing not just on recovery from addiction but also on developing healthier relationships, Rushfield came in to school me (and you) on how to both find and then maintain romance. He claims that he comes by this knowledge by having worked on the TV show Blind Date as well as by his friendship with author Robert Greene (author of The Art of Seduction, among many other bestselling books). But the spin he gives is all Rushfield-ian (he is, it's worth mentioning, married to the brilliant and lovely journalist Nicole LaPorte and they have two kids). In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss ways to seem desirable (ask to borrow someone's phone and then leave them sitting there while you go use it), whether or not we know if we're interested in someone immediately (according to him, yes) and why women need to talk less, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_Rushfield.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27am PST

Radio host, actor, TV personality, author and artist Shadoe Stevens possesses one of the most recognizable voices in the world, having hosted American Top 40 from 1988-1995. He was also the announcer on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and has been the voice of numerous award shows, including the Emmy's and the Grammy's. Oh and hey, he also created three top radio stations, including KROQ. Other hits along the way: being a regular on Hollywood Squares and guest starring on Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch and The Larry Sanders Show, among many others. There's also a spate of children's books and a career as an artist, not to mention a happy marriage and three kids. Though some of the success came early on, Stevens attributes the majority of it to his 30 years of sobriety—an anniversary that was documented last year on Oprah's network. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about the people in the bushes that talk to you when you're on coke, the large amygdala all addicts seem to have and believing that every job is the last one before the universe comes in at the last moment and saves the day, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_ShadoeStevens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am PST

Model, actress and Celebrity Rehab star Amber Smith is far more than just a pretty face (and words can't describe how) spectacular body. Rather than perpetuating the image that seemingly ever model alive does by pretending that her life is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, Smith took the courageous step of appearing on Celebrity Rehab and showing the entire world that she was a full-blown opiate addict. This, after she'd appeared in the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issue and on the covers of VogueElleCosmo and Marie Claire as well as in such seminal films as L.A. Confidential and American Beauty.

But there she was on Celebrity Rehab, sharing about and recovering from her 16-year struggle with painkiller abuse, after which she appeared on Sober House and Sex Rehab. Now that she's sober, Smith has dedicated her life to helping others (check out the speakers bureau she's established with previous AfterPartyPod guest Jason Wahler) and developing healthier relationships. In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David talk about friendships with controlling women, high school trauma and being taken advantage of as a model, among many other topics.

 

Direct download: AfterPartyPod_Amber_Smith.mp3
Category:Addiction -- posted at: 10:16am PST

This one was a long-time coming. Dr, Drew Pinsky, the board certified internist/addiction medicine specialist and one of the kindest men in the world, graces the podcast this week. The co-host of Loveline since its 1984 inception, Pinsky currently hosts Dr. Drew On Call on HLN; previous gigs include hosting Lifechangers on the CW and, of course, producing and hosting Celebrity Rehab and its off-shoot shows. He’s appeared on roughly a million other shows, including Dawson’s Creek and Big Brother, written bestselling books and even had asteroids named after him (yep; Google it). But far more important than his massive array of accomplishments is what he’s done for the recovery movement—a role that has earned him more than his share of controversy. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about how a bullshit meter is crucial when working with addicts, the anxiety he used to suffer from and the queen of GHB (nope, it wasn’t me), among many other topics.

 

Direct download: APP_DrDrew_v3.mp3
Category:Addiction -- posted at: 11:54am PST

TV host, podcaster, mini mogul and wunderkind Kevin Pereira isn’t only potentially the sweetest man alive but also one of the more accomplished. He started working in tech at the age of eight (!) (not a typo) (not a child labor situation—listen to the episode and you’ll get it). He joined the G4 network as a PA and eventually rose to host of Attack of the Show. He and AfterParty’s Anna David met when she joined the cast as the relationship expert in 2006 and worked together for the next three years. Since then, he has hosted the syndicated quiz show Let’s Ask America and launched his ever-popular Pointless podcast in 2012. That pod is one element of his Supercreative production company, which has a number of other podcasts as well as some highly entertaining web shows (exhibit A: The Real Housewives of Horror). He’s currently hosting TruTv’s Hack My Life and doing about a million other things—including being a guest on this podcast. Faithful listeners will note that Pereira is a unique guest as he’s not an addict discussing his recovery but a guy (excuse us, a wunderkind) who has experimented with drinking and drugs and is open to talking about his feelings around that. In this episode, he and David discuss a bender that caused him to barely make it to New York to host a show sans any clothing, buying cocaine for all your party guests, how to prepare for a night of Ecstasy and their good old Attack days, among many other topics.

Direct download: Kevin_P_podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:54pm PST

Author and musician Mishka Shubaly isn't only the author of seven bestselling Kindle Singles. (If you don't know what these are, Google Kindle Singles, where you'll also learn that almost all the publications who have written about them, from The New York Times to The Atlantic, focus on Shubaly. This is because he's been the most successful Kindle Single author of all time). His writing is fierce, honest and funny—not an easy trifecta to pull of—and much of it focuses on alcoholism and sobriety. While Shubaly's path to recovery is controversial, he's never shy about saying it works for him but doesn't suggest others follow in his wake. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about how the world is trying to make him into a hippie, why taking mushrooms doesn't interfere with his sobriety and how his non 12-step-ness never stops him from recommending it to others, among many other topics.

Direct download: APP_Mishka021815_new.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53pm PST

Relationship expert and licensed Marriage, Family and Child counselor Dr. Pat Allen has been a legend in the psychology field for over three decades. She's the author of the longtime bestseller Getting to I Do (now in its 32nd printing and about which, she jokes, sells so well because women are so initially horrified by its "50s mentality" that they throw it away and later have to buy it again). She's written numerous other books, appeared repeatedly on Oprah, Geraldo, Blind Date and many more and is also a certified addictions specialist. In her twice-weekly Los Angeles seminars, she walks women and men through her communication techniques that result in romantic unions. She's also been sober from drugs and alcohol for several decades and abstinent from sugar for 11 years. In this episode, she and AfterParty’s Anna David talk about how she started drinking at the age of five (!), ways women can be "men" in the workplace and "women" in their personal lives and marrying a man who used her own courting techniques on her, among other topics.

Direct download: AfterParty.Pat_Allen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm PST

Actress, comedian, solo show performer, writer and healer (yep, you read that right) Katie Rubin is no ordinary hyphenate. Not only has she toured the country with her one-woman shows and performed repeatedly on the stage but she also coaches performers in stand up and solo show making and has done numerous commercials and voice-over jobs. And then there's the healing work, where she offers clearing sessions, access consciousness and more. So how did she get to the point where she could offer this, you ask? Well, at seven years of sobriety, she hit a wall. None of the tools she'd learned that were supposed to help her worked anymore. Then, through a Byzantine set of circumstances, she ended up studying Sufism at a school in Northern California for three years. In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss what it means to move from your head to your heart, how she knows who's calling her before she looks at her phone and why she should be the female Jon Stewart, among other topics.

Direct download: AfterParty.KatieRubin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47am PST

Comedian Ritch Shydner isn't exactly just a comedian. Yes, he's appeared on The Tonight Show, Letterman and Leno a bunch of times. Sure, he's had HBO specials. Yep, he played Al Bundy's coworker on Married With Children. And of course he's been a working comic for decades. But there's a bunch of other stuff: writing gigs on Roseanne, Titus and The Jeff Foxworthy Show. A book on comedy. And the you-need-to-go-watch-right now documentary I Am Comic where he's the star and folks like Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, Jeff Foxworthy, Roseanne and Margaret Cho have cameos.

And now for the substance abuse stuff: Shydner boozed it up for years, dabbling in drugs too, and only stopped when he saw that all the drinking and drugging was sabotaging his comedy career. He got that career back but then, years into sobriety, decided to give up the stage so he wouldn't have to always be on the road away from his family. I Am Comic focuses on his decision to get back on the comedy circuit—a decision that allowed him to get off the meds he'd been on for a decade-and-a-half. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss how cops used to drive you to concerts instead of arresting you for drunk driving, the best way to perform for a Rasta audience (hint: smoke out and then just laugh on stage) and getting heckled by Sean Penn, among other topics.

Direct download: AfterParty.Ritch_Shydner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31am PST

Writer Ethlie Ann Vare is a woman of many hats: a prolific TV and film writer, she's also the author of Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs, as well as 10 other books. Her popular blog AttentionDeficitDisorder expands on much of what's in Love Addict—namely, her own experiences with sex and love addiction, her recovery from it and information for potential SLA's out there. Have we mentioned that she's also been a rock critic for Billboard, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as well as an E! TV talking head, not to mention the fact that she's a serious historian? Oh and guess what? You can get answers to your sex and love addiction related questions on that aforementioned blog of hers. (Teaser: she's also going to be answering some questions soon enough on AfterPartyChat.) In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss bottoming out on love addiction, the time she spent in jail for drug dealing, the husband that got her into that and much, much more.

Direct download: APP_Ethlie_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm PST

Musician Aaron Akins has opened for Bob Hope, contributed to various projects for Russell Simmons Television and performed everywhere from a festival in Jakarta, Indonesia to the House of Blues on the Sunset strip. He's also performed at the Vatican and at the annual Music Cares benefit. But if there's anything Akins likes talking about more than his singing (and acting) career, it's his passion for recovery. This is a guy who firmly believes that healthy thinking is the direct result of a connection with a Higher Power—and isn't shy about telling people as much. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss what it's like to be constantly surprised by alcoholic thinking, suddenly becoming convinced your sponsor hates you and how a police chase can convince you to give sobriety another try, among other topics.

Direct download: APP_AaronFinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm PST

Author Patrick O'Neil is not only one of AfterPartyChat's most talented authors; he's also a former roadie, author of the forthcoming memoir Gun Needle Spoon and alumni of what he calls "several bad bands." And boy did this guy love heroin: he shot it for 10 years, only taking a respite to shoot speed because he thought it would cut down on his heroin cravings (and it did!) That love for heroin took him to some extreme places—most notably bank robbing, a topic he's written about here, and which eventually got him busted and sent to jail. Though jail was a reunion of sorts with his former junkie pals, he managed to get strung out there as well. After a behavior modification program left him sober but without any support system, O'Neil eventually turned up at the Salvation Army rehab in San Francisco and, despite these low-bottom circumstances, has stayed sober nearly 14 years. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about his struggles with bulimia, getting kicked off of Lollapalooza and just how badly executed his last bank robbery was, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of AfterPartyChat

 

Direct download: Episode_65.Patrick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

Recovery coach and one of the stars of the A&E show Relapse, Patty Powers has led what in any context or circles would be called an interesting life. Growing up in Canada, she experimented first with acid but when she moved to New York City at the age of 17, graduated right to heroin. And rest assured she was doing the whole underground New York deal: living at the Chelsea Hotel, hanging out at CBGB's and even working with Andy Warhol. Of course, the fabulous life had to unravel at some point and unravel it did—to the point when Powers was living in an abandoned building, getting robbed by her homeless friends and planning to kill one of her abandoned building "housemates." Now sober 26 years, Powers has managed to build up a massive business as a recovery coach, traveling the world with musicians and other clients and helping them to stay sober while also working on more creative pursuits (including writing for AfterPartyChat). In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss how hard she had to try to get someone to shoot her up for the first time, changing limiting beliefs we have about what our lives can be and combining creative work with business pursuits, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of AfterPartyChat

 

Direct download: Episode_64._Patty_Powers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm PST

Actor and director Ronnie Marmo may be a soap star but the truth is he's so very much more. Sure, he played Ronnie Domestico for three years on General Hospital (yeah, the character was written for him) but his main passion is directing theater. The Artistic Director and Cofounder of Theatre68 (which has an outpost in New York as well as LA), Marmo has produced over 30 plays, including the critically acclaimed Bill W. and Dr. Bob (in which he's also played Bill). He's also been in numerous feature films and guest starred on Jag and The Young and the Restless, among others. But more significantly, he's been sober over two decades after years of crack addiction and drug dealing led to him coming to at a San Diego 12-step picnic (you gotta listen to get the whole story). In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about hating the taste of beer, why the whole world could benefit from 12-step and always imagining dying young, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of Cinesnatch

Direct download: Ronnie_Marmo.AfterPartyPod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:09pm PST

Us Weekly TV critic John Griffiths is on the public awareness task force for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and is the founder and president of the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association. Yet the 51-year-old Angeleno wasn't always such a do-gooder. After having his first drink at five (!), little Davy Griffiths (as he was known then) eventually ended up at USC, dreaming of being a TV programming executive a la Brandon Tartikoff but spending more time being the guy who talked about wanting to be a network executive while actually being the life of the party. Despite the chemical chaos racing through his system (alcohol! pot! ecstasy! meth!), Griffiths was able to build a successful writing career, first at People magazine (where he and I first met) and then as a contributor to such magazines as Cosmo, Redbook, The Advocate and In Style, among others. In this episode, he and AfterParty s Anna David talk about how fussy kids can turn into alcoholic adults, discovering hookers and crystal meth in one night and being able to recite our character defects, among many other topics.
 
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn
 
Direct download: JohnGriffithFinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30am PST

Actress Mo Gaffney was on the seminal show Absolutely Fabulous and rest assured she is absolutely fabulous. After launching to stardom with the off-Broadway show The Kathy and Mo Show (which she created with friend Kathy Najimy), Gaffney went on to: a) Win Obie awards for it; b) Make it into an HBO show; c) Work non-stop, on everything from That '70s Show to Friends to Mad About You to Mike & Molly to pretty much every other show you can name. It may be inappropriate to say this when you're writing about a recovery podcast but it's clear Gaffney was what's known as a fun drunk. Still, after becoming a mom and noticing, increasingly, how drinking was negatively impacting her life, she sobered up—joining five other siblings and her mom in recovery. In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss martinis, pretending to take ecstasy, missing smoking and craving a companion to read with, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of AfterPartyChat

Direct download: MoGaffneyFinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Tommy Rosen

Yoga and recovery expert Tommy Rosen is, despite his serenity, not a man who sits still very long. The Hatha and Kundalini yoga teacher (who's been sober for 23 years) has been one of the pioneers of the yoga-recovery model (in short, practicing certain types of yoga can help your recovery—a lot). He's also created a new movement called Recovery 2.0, which launched as an online conference series that featured such luminaries as Dr. Gabor Mate and Richard Branson (as well as AfterParty's Anna David). Now he's published the remarkable Recovery 2.0 book and is touring the world sharing the principles from it. He does all this, by the way, when not hosting retreats with his wife Kia Miller (also a yoga teacher). In this episode, he and David talk about getting addicted to sugar before drugs, discovering (and being saved by) the Grateful Dead and acting out in sobriety (girls! gambling!), among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of HuffPo

 

Direct download: APP11314.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Lisa Sunstedt

Comic Lisa Sundstedt has not only written on and produced such TV shows as Girls Behaving Badly, The Chelsea Handler Show and Chelsea Lately but she’s also the creator of the longest-lasting all female comedy show in the country. Yep, that’s right; Pretty, Funny Women has featured everyone from Chelsea Handler and Margaret Cho to Natasha Leggero, Maria Bamford, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor and AfterParty’s own Danielle Stewart. But it’s not all pretty, funny performances for Sundstedt: she’s also a bipolar alcoholic who speaks openly about these issues (including the fact that she lost her Chelsea Lately job because of one of her bipolar episodes). In this episode, she and I talk about the way your scores can change when you take quizzes to see if you’re alcoholic, how depression and pot smoking is prevalent in the comedy community and being a non drug taking alcoholic, among other topics.

Photo courtesy of AfterPartyChat

 

Direct download: LisaFinal_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Sarge Pickman

Comedian Sarge Pickman is less a comedian who talks about his recovery and more a recovering addict who incorporates his comedic gifts into the work that he does. While he started off working the comedy circuit in LA and still does plenty of comedy gigs, Pickman's main career path these days is leading groups at treatment centers, doing what's known in the recovery world as in-the-trenches work. The Sarge story, in short, is this: Florida-born and dwelling, Pickman was adopted by Jewish parents and raised on Long Island where, as a mixed race youth, he suffered from plenty of identity confusion. Drugs and alcohol helped him to handle these feelings and all that led where addiction can lead—to homelessness, hanging out under the Manhattan Bridge and feeling hopeless. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about smoking angel dust, realizing that chasing stardom is an empty goal and realizing an ultimate purpose, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of DPreview

Direct download: SargePinkmanFinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Claude Shires

Comedian and entrepreneur Claude Shires is no ordinary comedian or entrepreneur (um, to start with, you don't see that hybrid too often, amIright?) The Florida-reared husband and father was sent to a year-long treatment program at the age of 17, after which he enrolled in the military—where he stayed for five years. Moves to Boulder, Colorado and San Diego followed before he relocated to LA to pursue stand-up comedy. (While he didn't end up staying sober consistently that entire time, he's now been sober 17 years.) While becoming a working comic, he started an editing company, UnReel Media (which he still runs), and is also now the co-creator of TubeStart, a Kickstarter for TV and film. Have I mentioned that his dad is one of the doctors who invented Gatorade? In this episode, he and I discuss unemotional fathers, whether or not drinking non-alcoholic beer is a slippery slope and why women love men who are in therapy, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of UnreelLA

 

Direct download: ClaudeShiresFinal_APP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:33pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Alice Carbone

Writer Alice Carbone has not been afraid to explore the dark side—in her blog, her podcast and her essays for AfterPartyChat. But as her more recent pieces have shown, she explores the lighter side just as poignantly. Carbone's story in brief: after moving to California from her native Italy in 2010, she lost everything and found sobriety—and eventually happiness. The author of The Sex Girl (due out this May, 2015 from Rare Bird Books), Carbone is currently working on her second novel and developing her podcast and blog as a TV show. In this episode, she and AfterParty’s Anna David discuss what Carbone’s bottom looked like, the mentors who have helped her along the way (Leonard Cohen!) and how to tell the difference between serenity and external circumstances going well, among many other topics.

Photo courtesy of AliceCarbone

 

Direct download: AliceCarboneFinal_APP1016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Moby

For reals, what is there to say about Moby that hasn't already been said? (Well, there's one thing that's at least never been in print: How f-ing psyched are you that he agreed to do AfterPartyPod?)

The legendary musician, who burst onto the scene with his fifth studio album, Play, is also a DJ, photographer and soon-to-be memoirist (we all know he's a descendant of Herman Melville, right?) And it's not just his own music he's had a hand in; the active animal rights supporter has remixed, co-written and produced music for many of the other greats.

But we can find all that out everywhere so let's talk about his sobriety. After a bout with sobriety when he was a Christian, Moby developed this reputation as something of a puritan. But he was actually boozing it up, as well as taking plenty of recreational illegal substances, while he brought the party back to his place. It wasn't until he got to his 40s and the hangovers started to get debilitating that he started to look at the possibility of sobriety. Now he's years into the sober game and growing all the time. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about deciding to get sober, relapsing, how unappealing the thought of having just a drink or two is and the fact that people still come up to him on the street to thank him for the epic parties he used to have, among many other topics.

Direct download: Moby_podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am PST

AfterPartyPod: Jeff Ullrich

Earwolf co-founder Jeff Ullrich is something of a podcast legend—ever since he and Scott Aukerman created the podcast network Earwolf in 2010. Now arguably the biggest network in the game, Earwolf hosts everything from Comedy Bang Bang (since turned into an IFC show), Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, Sklarboro Country, Who Charted? and How Did This Get Made? among many others. But Ullrich has actually recently left the company he launched (in his own words, he fired himself). Sober for two years and change, this is a guy who took a somewhat lengthy route to alcoholism: though he drank as a kid, he spent the next decade a teetotaler who lectured other people about partying before joining the heavy drinking brigade in his mid-20s. After a good run, though, it all got unmanageable by his late 30s and now he's navigating the next sober chapter of his life as a father and husband (cute fact: he grew up across the street from his wife). In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about supporting yourself by playing pool, drinking yourself into a state where you forget which 7-11 you're calling your wife from, getting hypnotized to quit smoking and trying to be better at surrendering, among other topics.

Direct download: Jeff_Ullrich_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Mike Gaffney

Comedian Mike Gaffney is a bit of an anomaly—a guy who got his start doing recovery-oriented comedy and has been able to build a solid career from there. Sober since 1983, Gaffney was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing (not to mention the guy who made judge Wanda Sykes cackle—no easy feat—and was featured in all the promos for the show). Though he'd been cracking people up since he was a kid, he didn't decide he wanted to pursue comedy until 2002; since then has appeared on The Artie Lange Show, Gotham Comedy Live and 30 Rock. He also performs all over the country and (like all of us) has his own podcast. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talked about his mom coming and yelling at his former drug dealers, why speakers in meetings always tend to look at him when they talk and how he might have won Last Comic if he'd managed to stay in the moment, among many other topics.

Direct download: Mike_Gaffney_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Mick Betancourt

Comic, TV writer and podcaster Mick Betancourt is, to put it mildly, a survivor. The host of a popular podcast, Betancourt endured a childhood that might give Oliver Twist a run for his money. The offspring of teenagers, Betancourt went to live with his mom after his father died, where he withstood spirit-breaking abuse, started drinking seriously before he turned 10 and soon found himself taking on the role of designated driver when his mom took him to bars (no matter how wasted he was himself). When his beloved grandfather died and he was shuffled around a bit, he had to resort to panhandling and stealing in order to eat. He nevertheless launched a career as a comic and then managed to get sober a little over 12 years ago. A happily married father of two and TV staff writer (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago Fire, et. al), Betancourt is also one of the cheeriest people alive—and not in one of those I-swear-I'm-cheery ways. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about finding a spiritual connection after believing there couldn't be any God, toning down anger and why people who chew gum loudly are the worst people on earth, among many other topics.

Direct download: Mick_Betancourt_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am PST

AfterPartyPod: Caleb Bacon

TV writer and podcaster Caleb Bacon is not only on the writing staff of Vince Vaughn's TBS show Sullivan & Son and the host of the popular Man School podcast. He's also a journalist, sound expert, former weightlifter, San Fernando Valley resident—and many other things you'll discover when you listen to this episode. Oh! He's also sober seven years, after a drinking career that started when he made his first alcoholic concoction from his parents' liquor cabinet in junior high to his last night out there, which involved Special K, bus stop punching, nudity—and a 12-step call from his boss, NYPD Blue and Deadwood creator David Milch. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss being low-achieving drunks, boozing in England, bottoming out in LA and why Disneyland sucks, among many other topics.

Direct download: Caleb_real_final_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Alonzo Bodden

Comedian Alonzo Bodden is far more than just the winner of the third season of Last Comic Standing. The former aircraft mechanic had no idea he even wanted to pursue comedy until he got sober over two decades ago and met people in recovery who actually loved what they did for a living who all worked in the entertainment industry. (Also, he'd realized through sharing in the program—and also through teaching aircraft mechanics, arguably the least amusing topic in the world—that he was funny.) And so began a career that first started at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, has included appearances on Conan and Leno, acting roles in Scary Movie 4 and Bringing Down The House and hosting duties on 101 Cars You Must Drive and America's Worst Driver. In this episode, he and After Party's Anna David talk about hot women being one of AA's best initial attractions, discovering your dreams in recovery and how he donated his remarkably clean kidney to his brother, among many other topics.

Direct download: Alonzo_pod_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Morgan Walsh

Actress Morgan Walsh may look like the very picture of innocence but it took quite a journey for her to earn her sobriety. Now married to Veep star and UCB founder Matt Walsh and the mother of three, Morgan did the full alcoholic dance--drinking, passing out, smoking pot, doing coke, spending time in a psych ward---before eventually quitting drinking and continuing to smoke pot and then, when she got pregnant with her first baby, quitting it all. Despite all those babies, Morgan has appeared in a succession of shows and movies--including Burning Love, Children's Hospital, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Happy Endings. In this episode, she and AfterParty's Anna David talk about bottoming out, quitting drinking but continuing to smoke pot and going from a single lady in Venice to a married mother of three, among many other topics.

Direct download: Morgan_Walsh_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32am PST

AfterPartyPod: John Heffron

Comedian John Heffron may have been introduced to the world at large when he won the second season of Last Comic Standing but he's been in the comedy game since college. Since then, there have been Comedy Central specials, The Tonight Show, Chelsea Lately and numerous VH1 talking head shows, among many other appearances. He's also been Danny Bonaduce's wingman on Detroit's number one radio show, appeared on Courtney Cox's Dirt and done stand up at numerous Fortune 500 companies. But he can also claim a gig that few comics can: an NA convention—an interesting irony because though he's been sober many years, he doesn't continue to go to meetings and disagrees with some 12-step tenets. Though Heffron doesn't recommend the path he's taken to other addicts, he's able to find freedom through a series of brain exercises and philosophies. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss why meetings make him want to drink, temporarily believing a shirt is going to fix things and the assistant we plan to share, among many other things.

Direct download: John_Heffron_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Amos Pizzey

Musician and entrepreneur Amos Pizzey is a one-man powerhouse: the son of women's refuge movement founder Erin Pizzey, Amos ended up joining Culture Club at the age of 14 (!) before then landing his own Virgin Records deal. Over the years, he's worked in various capacities with Madonna, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and George Michael, among many others—in the process becoming perhaps the most fabulous bon vivant in the world. But underneath that drinking, cocaine-using and MDMA-taking persona lurked a man who was desperately seeking the sort of spiritual connection he'd first experienced as a youth. The founder and creative director of Talenthouse—a company which creates content with brand partners such as Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and more—Pizzey is passionate about bringing success as well as enlightenment to the masses. In this episode, he and I discuss quitting drugs while continuing to drink, what part the neocortex and limbic brain play in alcohol and drug use and how to get the entire world to embrace the principles behind the 12 steps, among many other topics.

Direct download: Amos_Pizzy_pod.Nick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Bennett Yellin

The co-writer of Dumb and Dumber, Bennett Yellin is far more than a guy who can make the masses giggle until they burst. The writer of a slew of other comedies, Yellin may have gotten on the map when Dumb and Dumber became a sensation but he was actually bottoming out on crystal meth while his comedic talents were entertaining the masses. It wasn't until he got sober, cleaned up his past and started living life on a pink cloud that he got that career back on track. The long-awaited Dumb and Dumber sequel is coming out this fall, while Yellin enjoys his 12th year of sobriety and anticipates "marching forth" (his sober anniversary is March 4th) next year. In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss why it's not a good idea to date your drug dealer, what it's like to be a lazy meth head and being an Orthodox Jewish addict, among many other topics.

Direct download: Bennett_pod_smaller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Mike Carano

Podcaster, photographer and best observational living comedian who's not a comedian Mike Carano has shared his unique personality with the public in myriad ways: through his photographs of comedians, his five-minute YouTube videos, his Loveline After Disaster show and his podcast, Miscellaneous Adventures From The World of Mike Carano—where listeners can hear him talk to them as he runs errands and drives around. Carano has opened up about his battles with booze and anxiety before but in this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David get into the minutia of recovery: how they feel about medication, relapse, swearing, going to Disneyland (as Carano had just gone there with Dr. Drew) and much more.

Direct download: Mike_Carano_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:59pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Stefani Wilder-Taylor

Writer, comedian, podcaster, TV host and all-around delight Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is one of the greatest lessons out of there for those who like to booze to the point of unmanageability and don't see any problem with it. The author of Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay andNaptime Is The New Happy Hour was the role model for partying moms everywhere—until she realized drinking was more than a fun pastime for her. Now sober, the author of several more books, the star of Parental Discretion With Stefanie Wilder-Taylor on Nickelodeon and the co-host of the popular For Crying Out Loud podcast, Wilder-Taylor uses her oh so charming powers of persuasion to show moms (and others) that sobriety is just as cool, if not more so, than being the hip, partying mom. Here, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss writing books, being outed as an alcoholic by The New York Times, how many times we've each been fired and so much more.

Direct download: Episode_43_Stefani_Wilder_Taylor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Mark Ebner

Author and journalist Mark Ebner puts the F in fearless reporter. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, the guy who took on Scientology has gone on to publish seven books—including the New York Times bestselling Hollywood Interrupted, which he co-wrote with the late Andrew Breitbart. What I didn't know until he told me (during this interview!) is that, after 23 years sober, he made the choice to start smoking pot. This wasn't some sudden brainstorm of course but a decision he came to after a scooter accident left him hooked on painkillers and he used medical marijuana to detox. Though this isn't a common path for anyone who had multiple decades of sobriety (or recommended!), Ebner explains in this interview how he's able to smoke pot non addictively—and I have no reason to doubt him. Not only do he and AfterParty's Anna David unpack that fascinating turn of events here but they also get into Narconon (the Scientology "addiction recovery" program), the ways his sober friends have reacted to his pot smoking, how they only see each other as dueling talking heads on shows like E's Secret Societies of Hollywood (she's in this even though she's not in this teaser) and the hell of writing books for a living.

Direct download: Ebner_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:16pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Craig Gass

Comedian Craig Gass is known for his ridiculously spot-on celebrity impressions (seriously, his Gene Simmons is so accurate that Gass actually accused Gene Simmons of being the fake on Howard Stern). In addition to numerous Stern appearances, Gass has been on Sex and the City, King of Queens and numerous celebrity roasts. Growing up in all deaf family, Gass honed his skills because he learned to speak from watching TV. Later he became a big time party guy with a penchant for cocaine. Here, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about those nights Gass turned down ladies at clubs so he could party in back rooms, how good it feels to be sober and paid for your craft and what people who are struggling with addiction can do, among many other topics. Plus: celebrity impressions galore!

Direct download: Episode_43_Craig_Gass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am PST

AfterPartyPod: Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Writer Natasha Vargas-Cooper has accomplished more in 30 years than some do in a lifetime. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a double major in history and public policy, she started being published in such places as The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and GQ, among many others. Her book, Mad Men Unbuttoned, was praised as "a well-versed primer" by The New Yorker and "likely to become a trivia-lover's bible" by The New York Times. Oh and in her spare time, she created the popular LA storytelling show Public School. But over the years she was doing all this impressive stuff, her drinking was also increasing and a DUI helped her find recovery. Now sober a couple years, she and AfterParty's Anna David discussed where alcoholism ends and dysfunctional relationships begin, medications to help with depression and other mental disorders and how to end toxic friendships, among many other topics.

Direct download: Ep_42_Natasha_Vargas-Cooper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm PST

AfterPartyPod: ANT

The comedian ANT may have legally changed his name from Anthony but that is hardly the most unique fact about him. The veteran of Last Comic Standing (six of the show's seven seasons) is also a TV show host who puts those milquetoast hosts to shame by delivering genuine, laugh-out-loud moments—during his years hosting Celebrity Fit Club, on all of his many TV appearances (on shows as varied as Tyra Banks, Best Week Ever and The Tonight Show) and on Howard Stern (where he's a frequent guest).

But his outspoken extroversion kept many from realizing that he had a horrific drug addiction which led to homelessness as well as to members of the Hell's Angels urging him to cut down on his meth use (you'll have to listen to the episode to get that whole story). Here, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss the time he thought he was being intervened on so he fessed up about his addiction, the methods he uses for staying in the moment in sobriety and how his Greek Orthodox upbringing influences his spirituality today, among many other topics.

Direct download: Episode_41Ant.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:58pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Laura House

Comedian and TV writer Laura House has starred in MTV's iconic Austin Stories, written on Blue Collar TV, The George Lopez Show, Samantha Who? and Mom and been called one of the funniest female comedians out there by none other than Louis CK. And she's been sober for over six years while also becoming a certified meditation teacher and raw food expert. Yep, her repertoire is vast: this is a girl who knows how to bring the funny to meditation. Other Laura House accomplishments include wowing the crowds at storytelling shows (including Anna David's True Tales of Lust and Love, which she performed in more than any other writer or comedian), publishing essays in several anthologies (including the aforementioned True Tales of Lust and Love book) and being featured on Comedy Central. Here, she and David discuss sending a video of a drunken, slurry set to a big manager, various ways the alcoholic brain doesn't seem to work right and how to work through disappointment in sobriety, among many other topics.

Direct download: Laura_House_podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am PST

AfterPartyPod: Amber Tozer

Comedian Amber Tozer is so much more than a comedian. Sure, she's performed stand-up all over the world, been featured on Last Comic Standing and stars in the hit web series nitTWITS but she's also written on the Emmy-award winning show Mad and taken time off from comedy to work with autistic children. Want more? She had an advice columns on Laughspin, has written for HuffPo, has appeared on The Mental Illness Happy Hour and much more. Here, she and AfterParty's Anna David talk about how her moment of clarity involved driving on the Bay Bridge drunk and waking up the next morning fully accepting that she was an alcoholic and needed to do something about it. We also delve into what it was like to grow up with alcoholism (her father and grandgather on her mom's side), drinking before Last Comic Standing and what she's learned in her roughly six years of sobriety, among other topics. 

Direct download: AMBER_TOZER_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Brent Bolthouse

Nightlife impressario Brent Bolthouse has ruled the LA social landscape for the past few decades, helping to put such classic clubs as the Roxbury, the Opium Den, the Viper Room and Joseph's on the map (the way it works is this: wherever Bolthouse backs, the coolest kids in town follow and lines out the door ensue). In 1999, he opened The Coffee House on Sunset Blvd., immediately attracting a celeb clientele (it was reportedly the first place Robert Downey, Jr. went post jail) but more importantly, creating a 24-hour-a-day gathering place for sober people when he started having open AA meetings in the back room. While The Coffee House closed in 2003, Bolthouse has gone on not only to open a slew of other successful clubs but also to play himself on The Hills, Entourage and a number of other hit shows. And he's been clean since the age of 16, racking up an impressive 27 years of sobriety. His spirituality matters much more to him than all the celebs in his proximity (even the fact that Jay Z immortalized Bolthouse's strict door policy in his hit song "I Just Wanna Love You," when Bolthouse's partner Jenifer Rosario wouldn't let Jigga and his group past the velvet rope until he dropped some of the entourage). In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss his first jobs (gas station attendant, hairdresser), last days using (meth was his drug of choice), being an "anti-social social person" and how he maintains a spiritual connection in the hubbub of Hollywood.

Direct download: Final_Brent_Bolthouse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am PST

AfterPartyPod: Ben Mandelker

Blogger and screenwriter Ben Mandelker is one of the most quick-witted people out there. He created and then sold the website TVgasm years ago (he still blogs, mostly about TV and food, on his own well-trafficked blog, BSideBlog). But here's the really interesting part about him—and the part that earned him an episode of his own: for 30 years, he was 100% in the closet. As in: we were friends and I had no idea he was gay until he came out to me a few years ago.

In this episode, he and AfterParty's Anna David talk about what it was like to live with a secret like that for your entire life—the compartmentalization needed, the shame (and online porn) required to maintain the ruse you're somewhat convinced people suspect isn't true anyway. They get into all that as well as how the recovery movement in a way mimics the gay movement in terms of societal awareness and the attempts many people make toward removing the shame about something you can't control and isn't your fault. They also reminisce a bit about the days when they got paid decent money to sit on a TV set and discuss The Bachelor for 20 minutes (mentioned also in the Jimmy Pardo episode!) And listen to his two podcasts, Watch What Crappens and The Banter Blender (Anna David has been a guest on both).

Direct download: Final_Ben_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Georgia Hardstark

TV personality Georgia Hardstark is one half of the dynamic duo known as Alie and Goergia but she's a fascinating woman all on her own. People came to find out about her after she and Alie Ward made a video of themselves concocting  ajoke cocktail called a McNuggetini and the video went viral; next they were being profiled in The New York Times and starring in the Food Newtwork's Drinks with Alie and Georgia. The Cooking Channel's Classy Ladies with Alie & Georgia and their highly addicitve podcast Slumber Party with Alie and Georgia followed.

But it hasn't been all pretty dresses and TV appearances for Hardwick; a troubled teen, she got into meth, was sent to rehab and wised up quickly. She's also struggled with eating disorders, esteem issues and all the other issues that come along, all too often, with just being a woman—er, person—in society today. Here, she and AfterParty's Anna David talk about wild youths, finding stability and what happens when best friends fight, among other topics. [Note: in this episode, they discuss the fact that Hardwick was doing hard drugs and able to stop without getting sober; this isn't to say that AfterParty recommends this path for people who are using hard drugs; addiction is self-diagnosed and many who use harder drugs aren't doing so recreationally.]

Direct download: VERY_FINAL_GEORGIA_POD.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Jesse Joyce

Comedian Jesse Joyce is a New York-based comedian who's appeared on Comedy Underground with Dave Attell, @Midnight, Last Comic Standing and Red Eye (among many others), has written on numerous Comedy Central roasts and award shows and performed in over 15 countries. He's also sober after booze almost destroyed his health (and got him a DUI). The guy's big on giving back to the sober community, too, performing regularly in Alcohol Awareness programs. While he and AfterParty's Anna David veer off into the nitty gritty of comedy (and whether living in LA or NY is better—Joyce is Manhattan all the way), they also trace Joyce's first drink at 20 to his last one at 26, his family's history of alcoholism and how he manages to be a happy alcoholic, among other topics.

Direct download: Jesse_Joyce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Dr. Stephen Dansiger

WTF regular and clinical psychologist Dr. Stephen Dansiger has lived many lives while the rest of us were inhabiting only one: once a CBGB regular who played drums for the bands King Missile and Pianosaurus, he ended up getting sober, having a breakdown and finding peace again through a year-long residence at a Zen monastery. The practing Zen Buddhist for the past two decades then got a doctorate and masters in psychology to start running groups at treatment facilities. Now he and Dharma Punx/Against The Stream's Noah Levine have opened an outpatient addiction treatment center BLVD. Here he and AfterParty's Anna David discuss sobriety, rocker rebellion, breakdowns, meditation and much more.

Direct download: Dr_Steve_pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:28pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Susanna Brisk

Author, comedian and actress Susanna Brisk is an outrageous Aussie with a penchant for the shocking. Her AfterParty stories have documented her feelings about sex and mental health and her memoir, I'll Be The Death of Meand blog Malibu Mom provide even more details. Here, she and AfterParty's Anna David discuss if being a dry drunk counts as sobriety, parenting, mental illness and whether or not Brisk can leave the podcast office with a phone number (spoiler alert: she does).

Direct download: real_susana.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:59pm PST

AfterPartyPod: Janie Haddad Tompkins

Actress Janie Haddad Tompkins has appeared in more TV shows than could fit in this space—Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Monk, Happy Endings and Modern Family, to name just a few—and just as many comedy sketches and storytelling shows (she's married to the comedic genius Paul F. Tompkins). She's charming as can be and seems to live a charmed life but in fact spent years involved with and engaged to a sociopath who was leading a double life. Here, she and AfterParty's Anna David talk about what makes people suspectible to toxic relationships and what can be learned from them, among other topics.

Direct download: Final_Janie_Haddad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am PST