American Hysteria

American Hysteria Podcast

American Hysteria is a podcast exploring the fantastical thinking and irrational fears of Americans through the lens of moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories, how they shape our psychology and culture, and why we end up believing them. Poet-turned-podcaster Chelsey Weber-Smith explores the sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying stories of historical and modern American freak-outs, and the real social issues they act to cover up. An in-depth alternative history, the show also analyzes how issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class have informed our beliefs from the Puritans to the present. Subscribe now on Apple, Google, Spotify, or where ever you get your podcasts.

Happy Halloween, It's Season Four!
American Hysteria is back for season four beginning October 19th! Join us as we investigate our ‘vehicles of hysteria’, everything from True Crime to Televangelists, Tabloid Talk Shows to Fake News to see how pop culture, the media, misinformation, and disinformation have influenced and manipulated the reality we share, and sometimes, the reality we don’t. Become a Patron for more content every month Follow us on social media Instagram: @americanhysteriapodcast Twitter: @amerhysteria...

KILLER CLOWNS with 'You're Wrong About'
Just in time to kick off this Halloween season, I got to be a guest on the amazing podcast ‘You’re Wrong About’ talking what else, but killer clowns. Mike Hobbes and Sarah Marshall are super smart and hilarious journalists obsessed with the past. Every week they reconsider a person or event that's been miscast in the public imagination. They talk about everything and everyone from Tonya Harding to Koko the Gorilla, from sexting to acid rain, and of course the Satanic Panic. 'You're Wrong About' is so much ...

Introducing Uncover: Dead Wrong
Presenting the first episode of the latest season of Uncover: Dead Wrong from CBC Podcasts. It dives deep into a botched police investigation, missing evidence, and a wrongful conviction in a city plagued with more than a hundred unsolved missing and murdered cases. Dead Wrong takes you through the twisting, unbelievable story of Glen Assoun who spent more than 17 years in prison for the murder of Brenda Way, a crime he did not commit, and asks who really killed Brenda? Listen to the rest of the season now...


WE GOT MERCH
We finally have the extremely dope merch you’ve been asking for, and it's ready for preorder! The design (from Brothers Design Co (https://brothersdesignco.com/) ) reimagines our razor-blade-in-the-apple logo with brand new nods to the illuminati and the Satanic Panic. Shipping in September just in time for our season four premiere and Halloween, find the design on our social media or our website. Links below!   Get a special discount code with you follow us on social media: Instagram: @americanhysteriapo...

WE GOT MERCH
We finally have the extremely dope merch you’ve been asking for, and it's ready for preorder! The design (from Brothers Design Co (https://brothersdesignco.com/) ) reimagines our razor-blade-in-the-apple logo with brand new nods to the illuminati and the Satanic Panic. Shipping in September just in time for our season four premiere and Halloween, find the design on our social media or our website. Links below!   Get a special discount code with you follow us on social media: Instagram: @americanhysteriapo...

Rewind: #WayfairGate // Satanic Panic
Over our summer break, we will be rereleasing some of our old episodes as they become relevant in the present moment with an intro explaining their new context. This episode talks about a brand new conspiracy theory called #WayfairGate which alleges that the furniture company is trafficking children in boxes through the mail. We'll explore the theory first and then give you a chance to re-listen to the related topic of satanic ritual abuse we covered in season one in our episode called Satanic Panic Part 2....


9: Death
For our season finale, we will be exploring our ultimate human fear, our number one cognitive dissonance that arguably leads to all our American hysterias, all our archetypes, beliefs, and delusions, our moral panics. We’ll be taking at look at the historical progression of how Americans have dealt with mortality starting with a place known as the Disneyland of Death, then traveling back to learn about the Puritan idea of the Good Death, and then see how the mass casualties of the Civil War and Lincoln’s em...

Wondery presents Murder in Hollywoodland
It's February 2nd 1922, and all of Hollywood is about to wake up and learn that William Desmond Taylor, the most famous film director in town, was murdered in his home last night. The investigation will shine a light on some of Hollywood's most scandalous affairs, backroom deals, and underground drug dens. This real life Murder Mystery is one of the most iconic "whodunnit" cases of the 20th century that will leave you guessing and second guessing who killed William Desmond Taylor for weeks to come. Listen ...

8: What We Inherit: A Brief History of American Racism
The national and international protests over the death of George Floyd have generated larger and more widespread conversations about systemic racism in the United States. We hope to use our platform to help provide context and understanding around our shared moment in history, to show how our past creates our present, and to help illuminate how anti-Black racism has been passed on through our culture and politics, changing with each generation but also very much staying the same. Here are some books by Bla...


Introducing Truth vs Hollywood
Introducing the newest Audioboom original podcast, Truth vs Hollywood. Join Film lovers David Chen and Joanna Robinson as they do a deep dive into well known films and discuss how similar they are to the actual story.  Truth vs Hollywood premieres 6/12. Subscribe to Truth vs Hollywood on Apple Podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/truth-vs-hollywood/id1510582080) or wherever you listen. **Proceeds from this ad will be donated**...

A message from the team
Like many shows, we are taking a break this week. We will be back next Monday with an audio guide that we hope can provide historical context and understanding around the nation-wide protests. After that we will be back with our season finale. Please take care of yourselves and others. Here are some nonprofits and groups to support: People's Kitchen Collective (http://peopleskitchencollective.com/) Reparations (https://www.facebook.com/groups/reparations.me/) (Facebook group) Homeless Backpacks (https://hom...

#Gamergate
The internet hate campaign known as #gamergate began in February of 2013 when video game developer Zoe Quinn put out a simple, text-based game called Depression Quest that attempted to show players what it was like to live with this illness. After receiving positive reviews and write-ups, a swath of misogynistic trolls in the gaming community took to message boards to rail on the game they saw as a feminist, political correctness conspiracy to infiltrate their male dominated space, and the fire was only sto...


7: Men's Rights
In 2014, a young man named named Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree as revenge for the beautiful women who had denied him the sex he believed he was entitled to. In February of 2020, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was presented with one of the highest national honors, a man who has never shied away from his theories about the oppressive forces of “Feminazis.” There are growing subcultures of men who subscribe to the idea that is is American men, not women, who are the true victims of oppression, while at ...

The Curse of the Lottery
Have you ever heard of the Curse of the Lottery? The legend that most, if not all big winners eventually face everything from bankruptcy to untimely death? We’ll explore whether there is any truth to this alleged phenomenon through a handful of stories that both support and refute this modern urban legend, a kind of folkloric Monkey’s Paw story that tells us, be careful what you wish for.    If you like our show, please consider donating to our Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria) for extra co...

6: Get Rich Quick
The search for untold riches has always been at the heart of America, from its very beginning as a nation founded on the search for gold. For this episode, we’ll look at several manifestations of this hope to “get rich quick” and the psychology of luck and ritual, of dreams themselves, both dreams of the future, and dreams that predict it. We’ll start with the most modern get rich quick ideas in the style of The Secret, the 2006 self-help book that make Americans believe that all you need to do to become we...


Introducing An Acquired Taste
Every week Bethany and Kathleen get together to chat about their lives and what's weird in the world, and they're inviting you to join them! Pull up a chair. Pour yourself something warm or strong or bubbly. There's room at the Table for everyone! Subscribe now on Apple! (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/an-acquired-taste-podcast/id1138061190)...

Confederate Monuments and The Lost Cause
Since the tragedies of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville and the Charleston Church shooting that killed nine black members, the display of monuments and flags representing the fallen Confederacy have been hotly debated. Are they racist symbols of hate or are they symbols of an unshakable Southern pride? Arguing that the American Civil War was fought over states' rights instead of the preservation of slavery, this alternative narrative called The Lost Cause is still taught in the majority of high ...

5: Rednecks
For this episode we are dissecting the archetype of American rednecks, hillbillies, and those we call white trash, a group often accused of being the “real” racists who make up the deplorable “Trump Country." But we'll be examining who is really to blame, starting with the plantation elites of the 1700s who created categories of race to break up the poor who were revolting against the government, resulting in centuries of brutal slavery and what we now know as white privilege. We’ll look at the region of Ap...


Beards
On this episode we explore the history of one of the most hipster of trends, how facial hair has come to represent masculinity, the pastoral fantasy, and of course, white supremacy. Whether our men wear beards or go clean-shaven says more than you might expect about the culture of the time, and it certainly says some interesting things about the trend that defines the modern hipster. If you like our show, please consider donating to our Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria) for extra content ea...

4: Hipsters
Throughout my lifetime I have been both a middle class college student and a summer hitch-hiker dead set on finding the real heart of America, and on this episode I’ll cop to the facts: I’m a poser. We will explore one of the most hated archetypes of the modern age: the ironically-dressed middle and upper class young adults whose aggressive individuality is anything but. The hipsters we know today are not a new phenomenon, and neither is the phenomenon we know as ‘cool.' We’ll look at the long term history ...

School Spirit
Whether you were a cheerleader, a football player, a painted fan, or a bad kid under the bleachers, you will certainly remember this very American phenomenon called school spirit. Beginning with the creation of the modern high school after the Great Depression, we’ll take a look at the development of this aggressive pride, of cheerleading, of the pledge of allegiance, and how school spirit has acted since its beginnings as a kind of training wheels for nationalism. Head to mejuri.com/AH (https://mejuri.com/...


3: Suburbia
For this episode, we are covering the uncanny cul-de-sacs of American suburbia, how this way of life formed, and how it has served as both a wholesome and creepy national archetype since a devastating 1871 Chicago fire caused the first affluent white flight from the city. We’ll look at how architects designed the manicured, identical, segregated white suburbs that popular culture eventually turned into horror movie fodder. Along with the lawns and trees that represent a long term obsession with nature and i...

2: Suburbia
For this episode, we are covering the uncanny cul-de-sacs of American suburbia, how this way of life formed, and how it has served as both a wholesome and creepy national archetype since a devastating 1871 Chicago fire caused the first affluent white flight from the city. We’ll look at how architects designed the manicured, identical, segregated white suburbs that popular culture eventually turned into horror movie fodder. Along with the lawns and trees that represent a long term obsession with nature and i...

Got Milk?
Growing up in the 90s, kids were targeted by a widespread campaign featuring what felt like every single cool celebrity sporting an iconic white mustache and singing the praises of milk. But, nutritionally, milk isn't all its cracked up to be. So where did this uniquely American obsession start, and how did this beverage, one that humans are not naturally designed to drink, become a symbol for our nation and even for white supremacy? Head to mejuri.com/AH (https://mejuri.com/ah) for 10% off your first order...


Presenting Uncover: Satanic Panic
We are proud to rep Uncover's newest season that focuses on our favorite subject here at American Hysteria: the Satanic Panic. If you're looking for a smart deep-dive into this insane phenomenon, subscribe now to Uncover (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/uncover/id1364665348)  wherever you get your podcasts....

2: Burgers
Welcome to our season three premiere! Whether we’re conscious of it or not, hamburgers have always been an American symbol, a metaphor for our special brand of cognitive dissonance as well as our obsession with masculinity, dominance, and conquering. We have heard a lot about the horrors of factory farming, but this episode hopes to look at our relationship to meat and animals in a different way. We’ll look at the plains of the west where colonizers killed millions buffalo to make way for the cows we know t...

1: Burgers
Welcome to our season three premiere! Whether we’re conscious of it or not, hamburgers have always been an American symbol, a metaphor for our special brand of cognitive dissonance as well as our obsession with masculinity, dominance, and conquering. We have heard a lot about the horrors of factory farming, but this episode hopes to look at our relationship to meat and animals in a different way. We’ll look at the plains of the west where colonizers killed millions buffalo to make way for the cows we know t...


Season Three Trailer
We are stoked to announce that our season three premieres this coming Monday, February 17th! On this season we're going to explore our most ingrained beliefs, delusions, and archetypes, how cognitive dissonance shapes our culture, and how our reality is created by the stories we tell, especially the stories we tell ourselves.  Listen to American Hysteria's season three premiere February 17th wherever you get your podcasts....

Team Huddle: An American Hysteria Q&A
For this episode, we gather the American Hysteria team together to answer some of the questions asked on social media. We share our experience making the show and just what goes into the production, both literally and emotionally. We also share some intel about our newest season, premiering February 17th. Hear from: Host Chelsey Weber-Smith Producer Rod Rodriguez of Clear Commo Studios (https://clearcommo.com/) Research Assistant Riley Smith With this episode hosted by Panic Monday's Miranda Zickler Make su...

Celebrity Urban Legends: 'Panic Monday' Off-Season Talk Show
This is our off season talk show, ‘Just Another Panic Monday.’ If you are new to American Hysteria, head to the main episodes of season one or two to get a feel for our show, and then catch up with us here! Season three will premiere February 17, 2020. Whether it was Marilyn Manson's rib removal, Mr. Rogers's secret tattoos, George Bush's Satanic lineage, Tommy Hilfiger's racist comments, or Katy Perry's past as Jon Benet Ramsey, it's more than likely that you've gossiped about at least one of the urban leg...


Looking for An Alien Vortex with Euphomet
Since we are on a break this week, I wanted to share with you my former work with an incredible paranormal podcast called Euphomet. Together with host and my good friend Jim Perry, we were once invited to Sedona, AZ to climb to the top of Bell Rock in search of alien vortexes with a man famous in his time-- the only attorney to actually sue the US Government for UFO information under the Freedom of Information Act. So today, balance your healthy skepticism with a little bit of magic, or at least, a more hea...

Bloody Mary: 'Panic Monday' Off-Season Talk Show
This is our off season talk show, ‘Just Another Panic Monday.’ If you are new to American Hysteria, head to the main episodes of season one or two to get a feel for our show, and then catch up with us here! Season three will premiere February 2020.  Please donate to our Patreon! (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria)   The urban legend Bloody Mary has long acted as a rite of passage for slumber partiers all over the United States and beyond. Perhaps you once heard stories from your peers of this terrify...


We need your help!
Join our Patreon now! (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria) American Hysteria has officially left our network and we are striking out on our own for the very first time. We need your help to keep the show going strong while we work on season three. If American Hysteria has been important to you, please consider donating to our Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria) and actively join us in the work that we do. You'll get extra content each month, live streams, shout-outs on the show, and eve...

Black Friday: 'Panic Monday' Off-Season Talk Show
This is our off season talk show, American Hysteria: Just Another Panic Monday. Our regular season will return in the winter. Please donate to our Patreon! (https://www.patreon.com/americanhysteria)   For the next several weeks, my co-host Miranda Zickler and I will explore a handful of our favorite American freak-outs in a more casual way, while still giving you the same stories you love. This week’s topic: Black Friday. We'll learn the history of this strange American phenomenon that sees consumers fight,...

Vaping: 'Panic Monday' Off-Season Talk Show
This is our off season talk show, American Hysteria: Just Another Panic Monday. Our regular season will return in the winter.   For the next several weeks, my co-host Miranda Zickler and I will explore a handful of our favorite American freak-outs in a more casual way, while still giving you the same stories you love. This week’s topic: Vaping, the terrifying new flavor of the month. We’ll explore the real causes of mysterious new afflictions that have left two thousand people sick and led to 39 deaths incl...


Disney Subliminal Messages: 'Panic Monday' Off-Season Talk Show
This is our off season talk show, American Hysteria: Just Another Panic Monday. Our regular season will return this winter.   For the next several weeks, my co-host Miranda Zickler and I will explore a handful of our favorite American freak-outs in a more casual way, while still giving you the same stories you love. This week’s topic: subliminal messages in Disney movies, from the dicks in the Little Mermaid to Aladdin’s apparent command for teenagers to take off their clothes, we’ll see if there’s any trut...

Introducing What Makes a Killer
Audioboom presents: What Makes a Killer. Listen to new episodes of What Makes a Killer for a look into the life and crimes of the world’s most infamous serial killers. Featuring interviews with family members, forensic experts, law enforcement, and witnesses. What Makes a Killer premieres 10/31. Subscribe to What Makes a Killer on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/what-makes-a-killer/id1483611909...

10: Mind Control
For our season finale, I am going to step into the unknown recesses of the mind, especially my own. I’ll share my upsetting brush with a self-actualization program that taught me that life is empty and meaning when I was ten-years-old. I’ll give a partial history of psychology’s changing ideas about how we think about thinking. Then we’ll look at the Cold War beginnings of this concept called brainwashing when American POWs suddenly became communist sympathizers, and how the US government tried their hand a...


10: Mind Control
For our season finale, I am going to step into the unknown recesses of the mind, especially my own. I’ll share my upsetting brush with a self-actualization program that taught me that life is empty and meaning when I was ten-years-old. I’ll give a partial history of psychology’s changing ideas about how we think about thinking. Then we’ll look at the Cold War beginnings of this concept called brainwashing when American POWs suddenly became communist sympathizers, and how the US government tried their hand a...

9: Terrorism: Part Two
*If you haven’t listened to our part one, please listen to it before this episode, it gives a very important context.* In part one of Terrorism, we looked at the history of domestic extremists on both the left and the right, from the slave revolts of the 1700s up through the formation and then rebranding of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as their violence during the era of desegregation. From there we looked at far left groups that developed in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Black Panthers and their sometimes...

9: Terrorism: Part Two
*If you haven’t listened to our part one, please listen to it before this episode, it gives a very important context.* In part one of Terrorism, we looked at the history of domestic extremists on both the left and the right, from the slave revolts of the 1700s up through the formation and then rebranding of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as their violence during the era of desegregation. From there we looked at far left groups that developed in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Black Panthers and their sometimes...


Wondery Presents 'American Elections: Wicked Game'
American Elections: Wicked Game is a new podcast from the host of Wondery’s American History Tellers (Lindsay Graham) that will explore all 58 presidential elections, leading up to the big day in November 2020. From the inevitable election of George Washington in 1789, to Donald Trump’s surprise electoral victory in 2016, we’ll attempt to discover if there ever was a “good ol’ days,” or if presidential politics have always been played dirty. Listen now at: http://wondery.fm/AmericanElectionsAH...

9: Terrorism: Part One
Since 9/11, the fear of terrorism has centered on what we call Islamic extremism, but this two-part episode will instead explore a topic that is becoming more and more prevalent in our news cycle: domestic terrorism, the kind that is directed at Americans by Americans. We will explore both the radical movements of the far left and far right since this nation’s dark beginnings, and how one movement sought to use violent intimidation to maintain the status quo of white supremacy while the other side fought up...

Wardrobe Malfunction
Eighty-four million Americans witnessed the greatest pop culture spectacle of 2004, when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Their live performance ended with what became known as a “wardrobe malfunction” when Justin ripped away a portion of Janet’s leather top, revealing her right breast complete with nipple piercing. This salacious scandal, sometimes called Nipplegate roused a moralistic America, even helping President George W. Bush to win his second term. The AFTE...


Wardrobe Malfunction
Eighty-four million Americans witnessed the greatest pop culture spectacle of 2004, when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Their live performance ended with what became known as a “wardrobe malfunction” when Justin ripped away a portion of Janet’s leather top, revealing her right breast complete with nipple piercing. This salacious scandal, sometimes called Nipplegate roused a moralistic America, even helping President George W. Bush to win his second term. The AFTE...

8: Pornography
Pornography has existed all over the world for all recorded time, and now porn websites are visited by an estimated 60 million Americans every month. With each new technological advancement, porn soon follows, and each generation subsequently fears for our vulnerable women and our uncontrollable men. For this episode, we’ll spend most of our time in the 1970s, also known as the “Golden Age of Porn,” when America was introduced to Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie, Deep Throat, Playboy, and Hustler. We’ll explore the...

8: Pornography
Pornography has existed all over the world for all recorded time, and now porn websites are visited by an estimated 60 million Americans every month. With each new technological advancement, porn soon follows, and each generation subsequently fears for our vulnerable women and our uncontrollable men. For this episode, we’ll spend most of our time in the 1970s, also known as the “Golden Age of Porn,” when America was introduced to Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie, Deep Throat, Playboy, and Hustler. We’ll explore the...


Violent Video Games
Since the 1970s, violent video games have been a popular scapegoat used by Republicans and Democrats alike to explain mass shootings. From the extremely simplistic Death Race to the more realistic Mortal Kombat, Doom, and Call of Duty, what do our most comprehensive studies tell us about the effects of gory video games? How much have they truly influenced school shooters? And what does this manufactured panic act to cover up? The AFTER SHOCK is a Skylark Media (https://www.skylarkmedia.com/) production Writ...

7: Dangerous Teens
*Note: This episode states the chance of a K-12 student being killed by a school shooter as 1 in 614 million. This is the risk faced each day, not for an entire lifetime. My apologies for not making this clear. Thanks to statistician Chandler Piché for reaching out. Despite how these last few years have felt, schools are still statistically the safest place our kids and teenagers can be. Our evolving archetype of the goth mass shooter that was born out of the Columbine massacre isn’t accurate to who those y...

7: Dangerous Teens
Despite how these last few years have felt, schools are still statistically the safest place our kids and teenagers can be. Our evolving archetype of the goth mass shooter that was born out of the Columbine massacre isn’t accurate to who those young men really were, nor what they hoped to to achieve. From the Reagan and Bush era wars on crime and drugs came another kind of juvenile threat known as Superpredators, as The Central Park Five case demonized black kids as a violent mob wrecking havoc all over the...


Introducing Imagined Life Season Two
What is it like to be famous before you’re famous? What is it like to walk in the shoes of another person? Each episode of Imagined Life takes you on an immersive journey into the life of a world-famous person. It’ll be someone you may think you know, even admire -- or maybe the opposite. You’ll get clues to your identity along the way. But only in the final moments will you find out who “you” really are. So sit back, let go, and -- imagine your life, with our hosts, Oscar nominated Virginia Madsen and cele...

Furby
Many of us were gifted a strange robotic creature in the last years of the 1990s, a furry animatronic friend that children taught to speak, or so America believed. With misconceptions around the technology of Furby came strange urban legends and conspiracy theories about its possible use as spy equipment, the possibility of it crashing planes and stopping life support machines, and its alleged demonic possession that left an entire generation of kids haunted for years to come. The AFTER SHOCK is a Skylark M...

Introducing Over My Dead Body: Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic loves his animals, his husbands and his animals. He’s a liger-breeding, gun-slinging, polygamous zoo owner from Oklahoma. And throughout his career, he’s made some major enemies. Listen to season 2 of Over My Dead Body: Joe Exotic at http://wondery.fm/joe....


6: Toy Riots
After the heavy first half of this season, I wanted us to take a little break together and have some fun. We will be covering the volatile toy riots of the 1980s and 90s, from Cabbage Patch Kids to Tickle Me Elmo to Beanie Babies to Pokemon. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to when adults created a market for these toys out of thin air, with pointless plush selling for tens of thousands of dollars, and we’ll even hear a little from my Grannie about her personal mission to find a precious Tickle Me Elmo. I...

6: Toy Riots
After the heavy first half of this season, I wanted us to take a little break together and have some fun. We will be covering the volatile toy riots of the 1980s and 90s, from Cabbage Patch Kids to Tickle Me Elmo to Beanie Babies to Pokemon. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to when adults created a market for these toys out of thin air, with pointless plush selling for tens of thousands of dollars, and we’ll even hear a little from my Grannie about her personal mission to find a precious Tickle Me Elmo. I...

LIVE VARIETY HOUR
MAKE SURE to follow us on social media to get the visual companions to this episode!! Instagram: @americanhysteriapodcast  (https://www.instagram.com/americanhysteriapodcast/) Facebook: https://facebook.com/americanhysteriapodcast Twitter: @amerhysteria (https://twitter.com/AmerHysteria) Follow Chelsey on Instagram @chelseywebersmith (https://www.instagram.com/chelseywebersmith/)   For this very special episode, we present to you a mash-up of some of our favorite parts of American Hysteria’s LIVE VARIETY HO...


Two Flexible Skeptics Contemplate the Unknowable Universe: American Hysteria in Conversation with the Something Scary Podcast
Today I plan to lose all creditability among our dedicated skeptics by sharing my ghost experiences, talking about astrology, and even getting a tarot card reading. Instead of abandoning me, I ask you to indulge yourself into the unknown for just one episode. With the amazing Sapphire Sandalo of Something Scary asking me the kinds of questions I love, I promise to keep my skepticism alive while also respecting the great mysteries that have always fueled me, and led me here, to American Hysteria.   Today’s e...

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon
In the summer of 1944, Americans saw terrifying headlines about a possible Nazi chemical weapons strike in the form of an invisible poison gas. Underneath those headlines, a small town in Illinois began experiencing apparent “anesthetic attacks” by a mysterious figure that would come to be known as the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. Could it have been an escaped Nazi hellbent on the town's destruction? An urban legend leading to a mass hysteria? Or a sadistic homosexual trying to poison his intolerant neighbors wit...

5: Monsters
*This episode contains graphic racism* Monsters come from the darkness, from the depth of lakes and swamps, from the shadows of forests and hills, and live too in the dark parts of all of us. However, this episode is less about Bigfoot and more about the idea of the monstrous, and how it has been used as a tool to demonize black folks since the first slave ships landed in America, both through folktales and famous works of fiction. We also explore how Darwin's theory of evolution affected white Americans an...


5: Monsters
*As usual, this episode contains a lot of racism because it it is US history. Just wanted to give a heads up that this one could be particularly painful* Monsters come from the darkness, from the depth of lakes and swamps, from the shadows of forests and hills, and live too in the dark parts of all of us. However, this episode is less about Bigfoot and more about the idea of the monstrous, and how it has been used as a tool to demonize black folks since the first slave ships landed in America, both through ...

Ted Bundy
This 1970s rockstar biopic of a man whom we can all agree should be deeply reviled isn’t a new or shocking concept in America, the country with the world record for serial killers in the last 100 years. Zac Efron's sculpted and lovable Ted Bundy personifies an ongoing American obsession with this allegedly handsome killer turned celebrity, a man who confessed to 30 murders and brutal sexual assaults. What does it mean that these boogeymen for which we carry pepper spray, check our backseats, and deadbolt ou...

4: Celebrity
Please take our LIVE SHOW survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8YTWCL5) , we want to come to your city! Whether we like to admit it or not, we have celebrities that we follow, and we can watch their dramatics play out on a public stage, their dramatics that remind us of our own. On this episode, we will trace the major events that shaped American fame as we know it, forming our fantastical ideas about celebrities and their personas on and off screen. We’ll explore the anthropology and psychology behind ou...


Skylark Presents: The Long Hallway
Subscribe to The Long Hallway on Apple Podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-long-hallway/id1471148772) , Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/4vqGtLebz27cEjedpyetCf) , Stitcher (https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/will-rogers/the-long-hallway) , or wherever you get your podcasts The Long Hallway is a thriller anthology series, releasing every Tuesday and Thursday. Behind each door lurks a tale designed to send a chill down your spine. These bite-sized, flash-fiction stories are written by memb...

Parrot Fever
AFTER SHOCK: On this week's show we talk about a disease known as Parrot Fever that frightened the nation in 1929, leading to parrots being abandoned in the streets and thrown overboard from ships. But just as quickly, the hysteria gave way to ridicule as America and the media made Parrot Fever into a joke, a made-up illness, a silly panic. But in reality, sickness and death struck 20% of those who contracted Parrot Fever, and though the concern was overblown, the denial of its existence was too.  The AFTER...

3: Quackery
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Lifestyle-brand ‘Goop’ and the expensive products it peddles are just the newest in a long line of medical quackery leading back to the 1800s. America has a long history with selling and buying Snake Oil, bogus cures to any ailment you can imagine, starting with the cowboy showman of the wild west, who sold to the masses through traveling vaudevillian performances. In addition to fake cures, historical American doctors and scientists also have a dark history of identifying and pathologizin...


Cooties
We all remember the very real threat of cooties, a contractable playground malady that developed out of the adult fear of germs. Cooties have long acted as a tool of kiddy quarantine as well as a tool to define who are the social others of the school hierarchy. Today we will dive into the long history of cooties, from wartime trenches to the jungle gym.  The AFTER SHOCK is a Skylark Media production Written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith Co-written and researched by Riley Smith Assistant produ...

2: Germs
In a real sense, germs are our only modern predator and they are invisible and impossible to detect; what could be scarier? America has adjusted to the threat of germs by not only working toward cures and vaccinations, but by making uncleanliness in general a cultural symbol meant to separate social others from the affluent. Anxieties about race and immigration, about gender and sexuality and class, played out in the way products were marketed, as well as in how public policy and public opinion were formed,...

Introducing Man in the Window
From the partnership that brought you Dirty John, comes Man in the Window. Pulitzer prize winning reporter Paige St. John investigates The Golden State Killer and traces his path of devastation through the eyes of his victims. Listen now at wondery.fm/hysteria....


Griefbots
American Hysteria presents the AFTER SHOCK, a follow-up minisode to the main episode before it, basically The Shit They Didn't Show or From The Cutting Room Floor. We'll cover one interesting story every other week. This episode is about 'griefbots,' a new form of AI that app developers are creating. By scouring social media posts and text messages of deceased persons, they work to design chat bots that loved ones and future generations can actually interact with. One developer is even offering a way to con...

1: Talking to the Dead
For the season two premiere, we are exploring the rich American history of Spiritualism, a massive 80-year trend of popular culture lasting from the Civil War to the Jazz age in which mediums began speaking to, and then speaking for, the spirits of the dead. A sudden craze of magical, fun, gross, and sexy parlor room séances swept the nation, materializing during the awe-inspiring age of invention and scientific inquiry. But the movement also had a political side; for the first time women were given a voice...

14: Presenting American Hysteria: Season Two
Join us next week, Monday, June 3rd, for the premiere of season two where we cover the creepy, sexy, gross, and surprisingly political American movement of Talking to the Dead. Find out what more you can expect from our coming season, from terrorism to dangerous teens, from medical quackery to the dangers of the crossword puzzle. In the meantime, if you love the show, please leave us a five star review, it really helps the show out....


14: #freebritney
After TMZ reported that Britney Spears had been checked into treatment for mental health issues in April, concerns were raised about the state of her conservatorship, the legal agreement that gives her father a great deal of power over her affairs. A conspiracy theory under the hashtag #freebritney, started by the pop culture podcast Britney’s Gram, has spurred actual protests as the news of the state of Britney Spears continues to be updated daily. 

 Season two of American Hysteria premiers on June 3rd...

freebritney

14: Murder Minute: Check out our newest sponsor
Through meticulously crafted storytelling and sound design, American Hysteria's newest sponsor, the Murder Minute podcast, delivers a unique and immersive listening experience in true crime. Murder Minute is the length of a short commute, it’s a perfect addition to your routine. Make sure to subscribe now for true crime storytelling without the distraction of too much extra conversation, they call it their "no frills, all chills" podcast.  [Click here to subscribe](https://link.chtbl.com/murderminute) He...

14: American Hysteria LIVE in Seattle
For the very first time, American Hysteria is putting on a live variety-hour vaudevillian show so that you can experience our first season of moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories in a totally different way. You've never seen a live podcast show like this. [Get your tickets here](https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-hysteria-variety-hour-seattle-tickets-61051071398) June 27th at the Columbia City Theater in Seattle...


13: Skylark Presents: Earth Break Starring Jenny Slate
Out now, Earth Break is the latest scripted series from Skylark Media. Jenny Slate stars as Lynn Gellert, the last person left on Earth. Her constant and only companion is the voice recorder she managed to salvage from her mother's house. As symptoms of a strange illness seem to set in, Lynn comes to terms with her mortality, only to realize that she's not sick, she's pregnant. Lynn is not a survivalist, or even good at camping, but somehow she has to find what it takes to confront a dangerous and uncertain...

13: Believing in the Blair Witch
This is the 20 year anniversary of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Blair Witch Project, a movie that masqueraded as real found footage of three college students who went missing in the woods while recording a documentary on the local legend. The story of the missing students and the lore of the Blair Witch were both widely believed during its monumental release, and we are covering just how the directors and marketing team were able to pull off one of the greatest hoaxes in American history, crea...

11: Skylark’s Blackwood: An Urban Legend Audio Drama
Check out another of the Skylark family's podcasts: Blackwood, the story of three teenagers investigating a local urban legend, The Bugman, that turns out to be more fact than fiction. Blackwood is an audio drama written by Will Rogers, American Hysteria's resident voice actor. If you loved The Blair Witch Project, IT, and Stranger Things, Blackwood is your next horror journey.  Head to [skylarkmedia.com/podcasts/blackwood](https://www.skylarkmedia.com/podcasts/blackwoodhttps://www.skylarkmedia.com/podca...


12: The Mandela Effect
Our culture, our society, our very sense of self, relies heavily on a faith in our memories as perfectly accurate. But what if our memories aren’t as reliable as we think? What if we can recall vividly, things that never actually happened? And what if that can extend out to an entire culture, a whole group collectively remembering something wrong? The Mandela Effect, however, says that parallel dimensions are to blame for discrepancies of mass childhood memories, such as the spelling of Berenstain Bears and...

11: Skylark Presents: Feminist Folklore
Feminist Folklore is a weekly podcast from Skylark Media, assistant produced by Chelsey Weber-Smith. Each week, Carlea Holl-Jensen and Rachel Marr share a different folk story or fairytale from around the world and dive into what it says about past and present ideas of gender, class, race, and more.  Subscribe to Feminist Folklore on Apple podcasts or where ever you're listening right now. You can also find the show at [skylarkmedia.com/podcasts/feministfolklore](http://www.skylarkmedia.com/podcasts/femi...

11: The Momo Suicide Challenge
The newest viral internet urban legend focuses on an entity named Momo, a creepy humanoid figure with giant eyes, a strange too-wide smile, and grotesque chicken legs, said to message teens and kids on messaging apps with escalating dangerous challenges ending in self-harm and suicide. On this mini episode, we'll explore this and other panics that look for something to blame for the issue of adolescent mental health. These mini episodes will cover the strangest viral phenomena of the world wide web, comi...


10: The End of the World
It has been said that the apocalypse is as American as apple pie, and for our season finale we are exploring different versions of the end of the world, the hyper-religious, the new age, and the scientific, as well as Chelsey’s personal experience with the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. The stories we tell about the end of time tend to involve not only a series of cataclysmic, devastating events, but also the saving of an elect few, and the punishing and death of the rest. While none of the end times predictions ha...

9: AH The Calm Down: The Morality of Drugs and the Opioid Crisis
This week we will be discussing the history of drug panic in the United States and its effects in the present day. My guest is Sarah Deutsch, a friend of mine from high school who received her masters in Public health from the City University of New York. Sarah went on to become the Director of Outreach and Prevention for a syringe exchange in Washington Heights, where she worked for many years. Currently, Sarah is working in Washington State to scale up programs that serve people who use drugs. For this ep...

9: Drugs
_This episode contains references to graphic racism_ When a security camera caught footage of a 31-year-old Florida resident eating the face of a homeless man, the news and social media dubbed him the Miami Zombie, and it was widely speculated that he was under the influence of a new synthetic drug called Bath Salts, a claim that was later found to be false. Hysterical drug rhetoric has long talked of zombies and monsters and aggressors with superhuman strength and an imperviousness to police bullets, an...


8: AH The Calm Down: Murdered on Lovers' Lane
For this week's episode of the Calm Down, my guests are the women of Feminist Folklore, our partner podcast at Skylark media. Each week Carela Holl-Jensen and Rachael Marr consider what fairytales, folk stories, and urban legends can tell us about culture at large, about beliefs surrounding gender and sexuality and the prescribed roles of women. Today we’ll be discussing different interpretations of the Hook man urban legend as well as the true crime stories of Lover’s Lane, while we dissect the phenomenon ...

8: Teenage Sex
In 1996, Scream taught American teenagers the first rule to surviving a horror movie. Never, ever have sex. Classic slasher movies have their roots in an urban legend we all heard growing up: a guy and a girl are parked on a deserted lover’s lane making out while a hook-handed killer is on the loose. The 2000s gave us urban legends about dangerous teen sex games, Rainbow parties and sex bracelets, as well as bans on high school dances over grinding and twerking, and with the recent outrage over teen sexting...

7: AH The Calm Down: Talking to My Christian Friends About Gay Stuff
For the Calm Down this week my guests are my two Christian friends who wish to remain anonymous, as they are sharing some anti-establishment opinions. Brianna is a poet who got her masters with me at the University of Virginia, and her husband Patrick has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies and teaches the bible at a private high school. Brianna and Patrick are dedicated to questioning and exploring their faith in big ways, and today we’ll talk about their changes of heart as young Christi...


7: The Gay Agenda
The purse-carrying, tutu-wearing purple Teletubby Tinky Winky was outed as a homosexual in 1999, capping off a decade of conspiratorial anti-gay writings and videos that influenced politics straight up to supreme court. Accused of using kids shows and public schools to influence impressionable minds and recruit new young homosexuals, the gay militants were secretly powerful agents of a massive conspiracy to bring down traditional American values and take over the country. The creation of the Gay Agenda theo...

6: Introducing Feminist Folklore
Introducing another great podcast from Skylark Media! Feminist Folklore is a weekly storytelling and discussion podcast where each week, hosts Carlea and Rachael share a fairy tale, myth, or legend from around the world, and discuss it from a feminist perspective. Does Snow White pass the Bechdel test? How different would Sleeping Beauty really be if you replaced the heroine with a sexy lamp? Whether you love Disney princesses or chilling ghost stories, Feminist Folklore has something for you. From old...

6: AH The Calm Down: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Clown
On the Calm Down this week we are talking Phantom clowns, horror movies, and the uncanny valley. My guest is John Campopiano, an independent filmmaker, writer, and film collector who works for PBS’ Frontline His debut documentary explored Stephen King's Pet Sematary, and his latest project, now in post production, is an all encompassing look at the 1990 miniseries IT starring Tim Curry. John has also co-written a new short film inspired by IT called 'Georgie,' which is due out in the spring, both of which I...


6: Phantom Clowns
For most of us living in the US, clowns have become much more associated with horror than the laughter of kids. The “killer clown” epidemic went viral in 2016, with reports across the nation of evil clowns trying to lure children into the woods, attacking adults, and threating harm to local schools, but as you might guess, they were all hoaxes or hysteria. However, it wasn’t the first time that America was invaded by Phantom Clowns. For this episode, I will trace the history of our relationship to the clown...

5: AH The Calm Down: Kids in Cauldrons and Satanic Ritual Abuse
For this week’s Calm Down we are talking about part two of Satanic Panic that focused on Satanic ritual abuse. My guest is American Hysteria’s editor and producer Rod Rodriguez of Clear Commo Studios. A US Army Reserve Intelligence Officer, Rod earned his masters in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University in 2015\. He surprised the hell out of me the other day by revealing his experience both growing up embroiled in his own hometown Satanic scare and as a grad student studying traumatized children,...

5: Satanic Panic: Part Two
_Please be aware that this episode talks about child sexual abuse. We recommend listening to part one of Satanic Panic first._ In 1980s America, when 60% of people believed that devil worship was a serious problem, two new characters, Stranger Danger’s murderous pedophile and the Satanist, blurred into a new villain and psychological archetype: The Satanic pedophile. In part one, we saw how Satanic hysteria was sown through pop culture, sensational media, and religious hucksters, causing the widespread f...


5: AH The Calm Down: He's Baaaack! Satanic Panic Themes in Riverdale and Sabrina
Welcome to The Calm Down, this week Chelsey is talking Satanic Panic with two friends and coworkers, siblings Will Rogers and Kristen Rogers Anderson. Will is the writer behind Skylark media’s audio drama Blackwood, an amazing series following three high school students who investigate a local urban legend. Kristen is American Hysteria’s social media manager, as well as a cohost with Will on the hilarious horror podcast Guide to the Unknown. The three of them discuss Satan’s reign of the 1980s, as well as h...

4: Satanic Panic: Part One
This episode is part one of our two-part series on perhaps the most mystifying moral panic in US history, the 1980s and early 90s 'Satanic Panic.' For this episode, Chelsey covers the rise of organized Satanism beginning in the late 60s, as well as the adversarial countercultures of the hippies and the metalheads, and their apparent Satanic crimes that would be hailed as proof of their evil, as well as proof that teens, as well as children, were in serious moral peril. Satan was allegedly hypnotizing the yo...

3: AH The Calm Down: Hidden Anti-Semitism in Conspiracy Thought and Getting to Know Satan
The Calm Down is a mini episode of American Hysteria coming every other week. Today we’re following up on last week’s show about the illuminati, please listen to that episode first. My guest is Mark Gunnery, a queer Jewish journalist who produces the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU, Washington DC's NPR station. He is currently working on a podcast series about Sabbatai Tzvi, a 17th century false messiah who changed the course of Jewish history. We’ll talk about the Jewish Illuminati conspiracy theories and where t...


3: The Illuminati
For this episode, we'll explore the mother-of-all conspiracy theories, the Illuminati, an alleged secret society and their evil world domination plan known as the New World Order. Chelsey takes a stroll down memory lane with friend Austin Smith, to a time when they believed in the Illuminati and found what seemed like proof. We’ll explore the history of the theory itself, why some people are more prone to believing than others, and how at the heart of the theory lies a dark ideology that has affected our cu...

2: AH The Calm Down: Needles & Strangers & the Illuminati, Oh My!
Every other week host Chelsey Weber-Smith will sit down with a guest to breakdown the previous episode, reveal all the stuff that was left out, as well as chat about the next week’s topic. This week, Chelsey and long time friend Jake Weholt, who you will remember from the Stranger Danger episode and their own hometown panic, discuss Stranger Danger, Poisoned Halloween Candy, the Illuminati, and the importance of critical thinking. TCD’s guest this week is Jake Weholt Hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith ...

2: Poisoned Halloween Candy
This episode takes a look at our history with candy, the desire and the panic, and explains why sweets have always been a source of fear for parents. Starting with the strange 1800s religious beliefs of Dr. Harvey Kellogg, about candy leading to sexual deviancy, we'll move through the goofy urban legends of the 1970s, to the 80s and 90s when people allegedly began finding dangerous objects in their foods, like syringes in Pepsi cans and poison in Halloween candy. Check out _Candy: A Century of Panic and ...


1: Stranger Danger
This episode explores the evolution of American's bogeyman, the Stranger, and reveals how rare these types of kidnappings really are. Through looking at the sensational child snatching crimes that have shaped our culture from the 1800s to the 1980s, and how we have responded to them in the media, in books, with PSAs and made-for-TV movies, host Chelsey Weber-Smith explains the problem with Stranger Danger and what this moral panic might be covering up. American Hysteria is sponsored by Hunt A Killer. For...

1: Introducing American Hysteria
Skylark Media presents American Hysteria, a brand new podcast exploring our moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories, how they shape our psychology and culture, and why we end up believing them. Host Chelsey Weber-Smith will attempt to understand why we fear the wrong things, explore how these fears shape our past, present, and future in sometimes hilarious and sometimes devastating ways, and also what these bizarre panics might be covering up. Topics range from Stranger Danger to Poisoned Hallo...