Bluff The Listener
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KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Bim Adewunmi, Peter Grosz and Faith Salie. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Right now it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air. Hi. You are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SUZANNE REMINGTON-FOX: Hi. This is Suzanne from Cheshire, Conn.
SAGAL: Cheshire, Conn. I know where that is.
SAGAL: It's about sort of central Connecticut - around there?
REMINGTON-FOX: It's halfway between Hartford and New Haven.
SAGAL: I drove by you many, many times as a child. I think I might have waved. What do you do in that waypoint?
REMINGTON-FOX: I am a behavior analyst.
SAGAL: What does that mean, exactly?
REMINGTON-FOX: I analyze bad behavior and try to fix it.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: I know this isn't probably ethical, but I want to ask you about somebody I know about.
SAGAL: He's kind of impulsive, loud...
SAGAL: ...Can't really focus on anything. No, seriously, I mean, I know you're not allowed to do it, but when you look at the president, do you see anything that you might be able to help with?
REMINGTON-FOX: (Laughter) No.
BIM ADEWUNMI: That's a good answer.
SAGAL: Suzanne, it's great to talk to you. You're going to play our game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Suzanne's topic?
KURTIS: Where are they now?
SAGAL: The stars of children's TV - well, they face changes just like everybody else. Oscar the Grouch, for instance, was forced out because his home was converted into the lofts at Garbage Can Place.
SAGAL: Well, this week, we heard a story about another former kid's TV star doing something a little different. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth - you'll win our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
REMINGTON-FOX: Yes, I am.
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Peter Grosz.
PETER GROSZ: Warning - the following story contains details that may destroy your childhood. Many people think of Barney as a sweet, innocuous TV character, a lovable dinosaur and a horrible monster whose voice tormented you while you were trying to raise your children.
GROSZ: But these days, David Joyner, the man who spent 10 years inside the giant, purple costume thinks of himself as a tantric massage therapist. Joyner, who refers to his female-only clients as, quote, "goddesses," actually sees parallels between his current and former lines of work. The energy I brought up while I was in the costume is based on the foundation of tantra, which is love, Joyner told vice.com. Who knew the show was operating on so many levels? In addition to being annoyed by Barney, you can now be creeped out by him, as well.
GROSZ: Fortunately, a tantric session with Joyner isn't just him singing, I love you, you love me for three hours. But unfortunately, it does involve massage with the intent of, quote, "achieving a higher and more blissful state of awareness to your sexuality," which frequently means - and here's where your childhood gets ruined - Joyner and his clients will do what mommy and daddy like to do when they really want to say, I love you, you love me.
SAGAL: The guy who was inside the Barney suit for 10 years is now a tantric masseuse, the details of which we shall not discuss. Next up with a story of a childhood icon gone, well, different, let's hear from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: For 19 years, Alan Rothstein (ph) played "Sesame Street's" Snuffleupagus, the beloved tusk-less woolly mammoth with lush eyelashes. But you never saw Alan or even heard him because Alan played Snuffleupagus' butt.
SALIE: Yes, it takes two to make Snuffy go. The front end controls his legs and facial expressions and gives him a voice. The back end, played by Alan, controls his hiney. After years of enduring occupational indignities which included extreme heat and flatulent co-stars...
SALIE: ...Alan finally quit. He published a memoir called "Back-End Life," in which he details his gutting realization that he'd devoted himself to being the invisible part of an imaginary character...
SALIE: ...And had chosen a profession in which he literally had no voice.
SALIE: It dawned on Alan that it's time for what he calls a front-end life. Now he travels the country, giving motivational speeches about being visible, finding one's own voice and refusing to be anyone's chokus (ph).
SAGAL: The guy who was once the hind end of the Snuffleupagus on "Sesame Street" is now out front as a motivational speaker. Your last story about the second life of a kids' TV star comes from Bim Adewunmi.
ADEWUNMI: The Tank seems like an intimidating nickname for an Olympic speedskater. And while it may seem that Tony Catterall's (ph) skintight speed suit hides absolutely nothing, he does have one secret. He got his intimidating nickname because he used to be the voice of the very unintimidating Thomas the Tank Engine.
ADEWUNMI: When the Winter Games begin in Pyeongchang next month, Catterall will be our very best chance at a medal in the 1500m speedskating event. He says it was Thomas who inspired his second career. Quote, "I admired the way Thomas always seemed so determined to chug around the track."
ADEWUNMI: "So I figured, why not try it myself?"
ADEWUNMI: There are a few things that give away his past as a child's cuddly plaything - his habit of gentle disparagement, for example. Competitors have been rattled as they're pushing down the final straight when they hear The Tank coming up behind them, quietly saying, (imitating train chugging).
SAGAL: So one of these former children's television icons is now doing something very different. Was it from Peter Grosz, the guy who was Barney inside the dinosaur suit is now a tantric masseuse? From Faith Salie, a man who was the rear end of the Snuffleupagus on "Sesame Street" is now a motivational speaker, has gotten over that background? Or from Bim Adewunmi, is it that the guy who voiced Thomas the Tank Engine is now an Olympic speedskater?
REMINGTON-FOX: Hmm. It seems like I would've heard about the Olympic speed skater. And I can't do the Barney thing 'cause that was my daughter's favorite. So I got to go with Snuffy.
SAGAL: OK. So your choice is Faith's story about the rear end of Snuffleupagus. To find out the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the true story.
REBEKAH SAGER: David Joyner, the guy who played Barney...
SAGER: ...Told me that he is now a tantra sex practitioner.
SAGAL: Yup. That was Rebekah Sager...
SAGAL: ...She's a freelance journalist - talking about the second life of Barney and ruining your daughter's childhood.
SAGAL: I think, Suzanne, although you didn't win, it speaks well of you that you refused to take that choice. You did earn a point, though, for Faith for her excellent story. So thank you so much for playing.
SALIE: Thanks, Suzanne.
REMINGTON-FOX: Thank you.
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