SHHH: The Poopcast (aka S**t and Shame with Shawn)

Join Shawn Shafner (The Puru), performer, activist, and educator for serious but entertaining talk about poop, fecal matters, LGBT shame and other unnameable taboos that clog our bodies, minds, and communities. Shawn and his esteemed guests talk (and might even sing) about taking responsibility for our literal shit and our metaphorical shit, to transform them from waste to resource. It’s time to get our shit together, before it hits the fan.
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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 27, 2016

In 2005, Professor Olga Gershenson sent out a call for academic papers on public toilets--"the holy of holy for nerds." Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender, the book that resulted, virtually created the toilet studies field. But along with the nerds, geeks and dweebs who answered the call came bigots who slandered the premise and Gershenson personally via internet, mail and fax machine (remember 2005?). In this hour, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) chats with Gershenson about this experience and her work documenting Restroom Revolution, a student group on the UMass Amherst Campus fighting for transgender-friendly unisex bathrooms in 2001. We'll break down how this incident was a bellwether of things to come, why unisex restrooms would make all our lives better, and what you can do to help usher in a new era of life, liberty, and single stalls for all.

Also mentioned: Cultural Studies, discourse analyst, alt-right, kulturkampf, academic policing, homophobia, glory hole, university politics, Bridgewater State University, University of Massachusetts UMass Amherst, Restroom Revolution, Transparent, Jill Soloway, Jeffrey Tambor, bathroom, Harvey Molotch, Laura Noren, campus, unisex, gender neutral, gender non-conforming, buddhist mantra, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Erving Goffman, backstage, urinal, potty parity, civil rights, disability, bladder, plumbing code, glass ceiling, Simone de Beauvoir, Manneken Pis, Standing Up, Alexander Kira, Reginald Reynolds, Donald Trump

Nov 19, 2016

What do you call a woman who’s not at home, and needs a private place to pee? A “public woman,” or “prostitute.” At least that’s what London’s men thought at the turn of the 20th Century. How far have we come? This World Toilet Day (Nov 19), Shawn “The Puru” Shafner talks with Barbara Penner, pedigreed architectural history expert*, feminist, and prolific toilet academic. Wanna know more about that space we call Bathroom? She literally wrote the book, along with many others. From Victorian women who peed covertly in church pews, to the tinkle sprinkle left on the toilet seat, join us for a wide-reaching conversation that unpacks the politics of who gets to pee, and where. Then stop chipping away at the glass ceiling, and turn your hammer to the urinal.

*“Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London”

Also mentioned: UCL, Le Corbusier, built environment, Social justice, Accessibility, Women's rights, Gender rights, Olga Gershenson, Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender, bladder, Christina Irene, adult diapers, Canada, UK, Niagara Falls, Athens, cistern, Beatriz Colomina, Sexuality and Space, Camden Town, George Bernard Shaw, public baths, New York City, NYC, transgender access, class, Louis Bourdaloue, muff, menstruation, MHM, work, George Waring, privacy, Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, potty training, taboo, Alexander Kira, infrastructure systems, Cornell University, Center for Housing and Environmental Studies, American Standard, NYU, Laura Noren, Harvey Molotch, unisex

Nov 3, 2016

Faster than a speeding bowel! More powerful than a laxative! Able to leap small-minded men in a single bound! In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with real-life Superwoman Christina Irene: writer, trainer, stand-up comedian, and a powerful advocate for women's empowerment and those with invisible disabilities. Did I mention that she also has IBS, suffered laxative dependence while on tour, helped grandma shop for colostomy bag accessories, AND sits on the board of her local Sewer Authority? Yeah. That, too. Join in for a truly super-sized conversation covering everything from identity politics to Brazilian bidets, and why the secret to happiness just might be coming out of whatever closets we're in. 

Also mentioned: American standard, industrial musicals, my bathroom, strawberry blonde, happiness advocate, speaker, Benjamin Jaeger Thomas, skateboard, entrepreneur, APCA, Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities, bad marriage, chauvinism, Lisa Lewis, Schooled, squatty potty, selling out, product placement, sexuality, showcase, taboo, Sikh, Navpreet Sachdev, immigration, slam poetry, national coming out day, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, self-censor, compassion, stigma, menstruation, world toilet day, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's, vilification, disgust, bloating, gas, constipation, bulimia, anal douching, enemas, colonic, Janet Jackson, stoma, urostomy, Girls with Guts, paruresis, shy bladder, Rand McNally road atlas, nursing home smell, Walmart, Backyardigans, Susquehanna river, Clean Water Act, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, exchange credits, planning commission, MS4, stormwater authority, flushable wipes

Sep 30, 2016

This past August, Shawn Shafner traveled to Brattleboro, VT to join Urine Diversion Summit 2016—a conference brimming with pee-ple making waves over how we “make water.” While The Puru didn’t want to disrupt the flow, he was able to divert a few participants away from micturation and into the microphone for some short interviews. Thus: The Lil’ Tinklers.

In Part 2, wee-wee will learn about how shaking the dew off your lily can affect the frogs on their pads, and how wastewater treatment plants are struggling to keep up with the stream. First we’ll meet Rachel Mullen, a graduate student in environmental analytical chemistry. She partners with the Rich Earth Institute to study what percentage of the pharmaceuticals that leave your body in pee (HINT: a lot) are taken up by peas, lettuce, and other vegetables (HINT: not very much). Then we’ll chat with Dan Marks, mild-mannered wastewater engineer by day, subversive urine-separating enthusiast by night. He’ll explain how 1972’s Clean Water Act brought centralized sewage into the modern age, why we’re now falling dangerously behind, and what even greater threats may lie just beyond the horizon. But don’t get pissed off! Instead pop a Xanax, put on the popdcast, and void your body of all anxiety.

Also mentioned: Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, University of Buffalo, molecular, crops, wee wee, morphine, caffeine, iopamide, toxicology, parts per billion, FDA, sex toys, tampons, acetominophen, dosage, metabolism, effluent, menstruation, hormone replacement therapy, research funding, discomfort, Louis C. K., Buddhism, suffering, Freakonomics radio, cardiology, good Jew, flannel, aging infrastructure, “end of its useful life,” pipes, upgrade, regulation, regulatory burden, EPA, DEP, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, primary, secondary, tertiary, organic matter, bacteria, digestion, fixed, fluid, media, discharge, suspended solids, capital costs, operations, “contaminants of emerging concern,” personal care products, Blinky the fish, The Simpsons, Daniel Gerling, Flush documentary, autonomy, technology, science

Sep 29, 2016

This past August, Shawn Shafner traveled to Brattleboro, VT to join Urine Diversion Summit 2016—a conference brimming with pee-ple making waves over how we “make water.” While The Puru didn’t want to disrupt the flow, he was able to divert a few participants away from micturation and into the microphone for some short interviews. Thus: The Lil’ Tinklers.

In Part 1, wee-wee will learn about how eco-toilet systems succeed, and why they sometimes don’t. First, we’ll meet Daniella Saetta and Hannah Ray, two women diving unabashedly into the urinal to understand how the minerals in your pee clog up the pipes. With their help, we can put these nutrients to use and keep waterless pissoirs on the walls. Then we’ll be joined by Cat Bryars, a regional planner recently returned from a year in Oaxaca, Mexico. While there on a Fulbright, she studied how entire cities were hooked up to urine-diverting compost toilets, why they were eventually abandoned, and how these lessons can help us roll out sustainable toilets in sustainable ways. So grab a glass, sit back, and shower your ears with gold!

Also mentioned: Rich Earth Institute, Kim Nace, Abe Noe-Hays, Lab, bathroom, volume, fertilizer, Dr. Treavor Boyer, Arizona State University, University of Florida, Potable water, Urea, Urease, Calcium, Magnesium, Urethra, Hydrolize, kidney stones, Ammonia, nutrient recovery, nitrogen, phosphorous, triple bond, struvite crystals, Colombia, male privelege, penis, vagina, pStyle, funnel, StandUps, Cesar Añorve, UD, pit latrine, fecal pathogens, Falmouth, Cape Cod Eco Toilet Center, regional planner, decentralized sanitation, scale up, perceived legitimacy, residuals, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Aug 16, 2016

What do you get when you mix 5,000 gallons of urine and 5 acres of hay? It might just be the future of our food. In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) talks to Kim Nace, co-founder of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, where hundreds of local citizens collect their pee for science. But this is no kids stuff--the Rich Earth Institute is blazing a new trail and quickly gaining the attention of big-name foundations, National Geographic, and even the US Government. Tune in to understand why our pee is polluting the planet, how we can turn that waste into a resource, and what your tax dollars are doing to help. Soon morning tinkle will be music to your ears...

Also mentioned in this podcast: Abraham Noe-Hays, poop, pee, World Toilet Day, United Nations, Uzbekistan, Vermont, Rose George, The Big Necessity, waterless sanitation systems, nutrient reclamation, Sanitary revolution, Coney Island, wastewater treatment plant, Brooklyn Historical Society, Clean Water Act 1972, factory farming, depletion of Phosphorous, peak phosphorous, urine nutrient reclamation project, community-scale, pasteurization, wastewater treatment plant discharge, urinals, pissoir, sterility, pathogen-free, urine diverting toilets, vacuum flush toilets, composting dry toilet, ergonomic design, Carol McCreary, PHLUSH, Portland, Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, primary, secondary, tertiary, toilet to tap, Class A sludge or biosolids, agricultural runoff, algae, algal blooms, stormwater runoff, swale, alienation, manure, ammonia uptake, tile drains, soil, agribusiness, waterlog, human waste, design, infrastructure, pharmaceutical, caffeine, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, volume reduction, Sasha Kramer, SOIL Haiti, Sanergy, bioregion, An Inconvenient Poop, prozac on shrimp, estrogen, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, Kenya, nutrient flow, topsoil, golden shower, greywater, biodigester, stakeholders, Water Environment Research Foundation, EPA, USDA, National Geographic, liquid gold, Carol Steinfeld, World Health Organization

Jun 23, 2016

When is a five gallon bucket of poop more than just a five gallon bucket of poop? In this episode, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) s(h)its down with Sasha Kramer, co-founder and Executive Director of SOIL, and engineer/academic Kory Russel of re.source. Their Container Based Sanitation model is creating health and wealth in Haiti--one five gallon composting toilet at a time. We’ll discuss the energetic content of a lump of poop, delve into the roots of waste-making culture, and find out how SOIL harnesses the power of ecosystems to address basic human needs during a steamy discussion about “liberation ecology.” Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhhh.

Also mentioned in this podcast: University of Oregon Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies Program, Sebastien Tilmans, Codiga Resource Recovery Center at Stanford University, Sarah Brownell, resource recovery center, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge, Container Based Sanitation (CBS), Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, international sanitation crisis, urban dictionary, human rights observer, poverty, arbor loo, ecological sanitation, ecosan, compost, water-based sanitation, chicken manure, dairy farm, biogas, resource to waste, liberation ecology, liberation theology, industrial revolution, trash archaeology, creative waste, conspicuous consumption, The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, solution to pollution is dilution, engineers, bird watchers, Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, excreta, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Carbon, sewers, Rich Earth Institute, urine recycling, public health, urine-diverting toilet, social business development, bottom of the pyramid investing, generating value, Ashoka fellow, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, urban slums, SUSANA, sustainable sanitation alliance, Rwanda, poverty tourism, EkoMobil, EkoLakay, portapotty, Hamish Skermer, Natural Event, ghostbusters, thermophilic composting, cholera, typhoid, pathogens, Amsterdam, shelf toilet, trichinosis, World Toilet Summit, American Standard, INAX, Jenna Davis, open defecation, shame, pride, modernity, Port au Prince, Malawi

May 17, 2016

There’s so much happening in our underwear zone: poop, pee, period blood. And Miki Agrawal is tackling them all, with a side of vegan, gluten-free, farm-to-table pizza. This week, Shawn Shafner (The Puru) sits down with the serial entrepreneur and creator of Wild pizzerias, Thinx period underwear, Icon incontinence underwear, Tushy attachable bidets and an empowering guide to living your dream called Do Cool Sh*t. Amidst bites of kale, Miki and Shawn ask the big questions: how can science, humor, sex, sustainability and design help us change taboo narratives and sell products? Why does it take the average woman 7 years to admit to her doctor that she’s suffering from urinary incontinence? How much exactly is two tampons’ worth of blood? Does one measure that in milliliters? Tune in and quench your thirst for knowledge.

Also mentioned in this podcast: nourishment, Park Slope, Williamsburg, stomach aches, comfort food, menstruation, tampon, pad, soccer, feminine hygiene, grapefruit, Pamela Anderson, advertising, marketing, NYC, MTA, subway, ovulation, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, Depends, Poise, banana leaf, reusable applicators, Be Creative, Fox News, Sex for Smart People, Stephanie Johnstone, Bustle, male penetration, gentle loving, Waldorf, toilet paper, Scott, 1890 Joseph Gayetty, Toto washlet, Re-Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, Paul Spinrad, nose-picking, boogers, hemorrhoids, SquattyPotty, squat toilets, anal sex, poo-pourri, Shambhala Center, Shastri Ethan Nichtern, instagram, incontinent pride, gender, anxiety, branding, aesthetic, design, communication, empowering vs uncomfortable, AfriPads, Uganda, New York Magazine

Apr 26, 2016

Sex and poop. Both are natural parts of having a body. Both can be intensely pleasurable. And both are rich boiling pots of shame and cultural baggage. Which is why The Puru has teamed up with S. Ryan Johnstone and Dave McGee of Sex for Smart People* (*that means you) to bring you this very special episode tackling the mother of all modern taboos. Join us for a thoughtful, compassionate, super-honest and often hilarious hour addressing anal sex, safe scat play, and how looking at your toilet paper might just make you a better lover. Did I mention there’s a whale choir? Oh yeah. There’s a whale choir. Plus even more Sex for Smart People* at

Also mentioned in this episode: Victorian taboos, empowerment, grotesque body, civilizing process, normalizing culture, gender, sexuality, advice, gay, heteronormative culture, queer, frottage, Roman pederasty, cunnilingus, labels, sexual scripts, analingus, rimming, douching, health, risk assessment, stigma, therapy, fisting, Purity and Danger by Mary Douglas, sociology, dirt, status, “different kind of delicious,” polyurethane sheets, prude vs slut, dungeon, Chashama, Anatomy of Disgust by William Ian Miller , Marquis de Sade, matter out of place, Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, vulnerability, body odor, Josephus, Essenes, sanitary revolution, Thinx, menstruation, Tushy bidet, Dreck Apotheke by Christian Paullini, Buddha, fecal transplants, microbiome, North Carolina, transgender bathroom, social barriers, LaGuardia airport, House of Representatives, feminism, potty parity, giardia, diaper play, Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack Morin, shadow, iTunes, humpback whales, the bends, composer, Shawn Shafner

Mar 22, 2016

Might the way to enlightenment just be through your anus? In this episode, The Puru cozies butt-up with Amanda Miller--writer, actor, massage therapist, yogi, and compulsively creative person--in order to investigate the inner alchemy of transforming our shit to gold. Hear how Amanda's trauma became the driving force behind her memoir and solo show One Breath, Then Another, why hemorrhoid cream should be renamed "embarrassment balm," and learn the best position for kegeling your way to nirvana. Try it at home, and let us know how it goes on our social media pages!

Also mentioned in this podcast: compulsion, obsession, artist, eating disorders, BBYO, catharsis, Toilet Hackers, World Toilet Day, self-hatred, Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, sex dungeons, kegels, ashwini mudra, ashram, India, Croft Vaughn, pelvic floor, Anal Pleasure and Health, Jack Morin, Anal-Ese, mind body relationship, stool sample, parasites, microbiome, contagion, compassion, NYC subway, homeless population, Anatomy of Disgust, William Ian Miller, objectification, meat vs. flesh, What’s Your Poo Telling You?, Anish Sheth, Josh Richman, anally expressive, Sigmund Freud, Loo Lady Rachel Erickson, Allen Ginsberg, sphincter, Ganges, People’s Improv Theater, Nuyorican, Elmer Rice, Real Body Library

Feb 16, 2016

Constipated? Take relief: it's probably not because your sphincter is too tight. In this month's episode of SHHH, The Puru sits down with Dr. Daniel Gerling, Assistant Professor at Augustana University and perhaps the foremost expert on poop history in the United States (who else could write the dissertation, "American Wasteland: A Social and Cultural History of Excrement, 1860-1920"?). Hear Danny explain why American occupiers collected over 120,000 jars of Filipino feces, how the demodex (eyelash mite) may be the only creature that doesn't poop, and why sphincter expanders were recommended as a cure for constipation in the early 1900s. Put down that fork--this is one fascinating hour you might not want to eat through.


Also mentioned in this conversation: Thomas Jefferson, Dominique LaPorte, History of Shit, Tlazolteotl, Austin TX, John G. Bourke, Scatologic Rites of All Nations, Sigmund Freud, colonialism, Henry Moule, earth closet, flush toilet, Cuban occupation, Filipino occupation, Inner Hygiene, James C. Whorton, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, The Bathroom, Alexander Kira, taboo, auto-intoxication, Dillo Dirt, Harvey Kellogg, Sylvester Graham, Road to Wellville, Horace Fletcher, Gulp , Mary Roach, Alexis St. Martin, Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi, Rose George, The Big Necessity, LooWatt, SOIL Haiti, Patricia Arquette, miasma, persimmons, hoshigaki, Nicolas Guillen

Jan 12, 2016

Wanna know how your floating ball cock measures up? In this episode, Shawn “The Puru” Shafner sits down with Rachel “The Loo Lady” Erickson. Rachel spent the past few years leading critically-acclaimed Loo Tours in London. Now back in the States, The Loo Lady explains how her unwillingness to pay-per-pee led to a full time job in the john, and trades toilet stories with The Puru, from ancient Rome through Medieval Europe and the modern day. Oh, and if you want to check out someone’s floating ball cock, just look inside their toilet tank! Thomas Crapper may not have invented the modern toilet, but he is often credited with inventing that unfortunately-named flushing mechanism.

Also mentioned in podcast: toilet, church, Shakespeare, toilet-themed restaurant, Sir John Harington, Metamorphosis of Ajax, communal Roman toilets, history of sanitation, Old Testament, Deuteronomy, bidet, sqat vs. sit, Queen Elizabeth, fart, Martin Luther, constipation, public health, social behavior, Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, theater, theatre, triggers for change, Groom of the King’s Close Stool, Bloomberg, Maimonides, Dave Praeger, branding, press, toilet dating, Flushed With Pride, Lava Mae San Francisco