Mystery Guest

Apr 14, 2017
Originally published on October 6, 2017 10:55 am

This week's Mystery Guest is Anna Dhody, who has an unusual job connected to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Can you figure out what she does before Ophira and Jonathan?

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

While Courtney and Josh get ready for the final round, it's time for me and Jonathan to play a game called Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come on stage. We have no idea who this person is or what makes them special; only puzzle Art Chung does.

ART CHUNG: That's right. Ophira, you and Jonathan will have to work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes-or-no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.

ANNA DHODY: Hi, my name is Anna Dhody, and I have an unusual job.

CHUNG: That's right.

EISENBERG: Whoa.

CHUNG: That's all you get.

EISENBERG: OK.

JONATHAN COULTON: It's pretty broad.

DHODY: That's all you're going to get.

EISENBERG: All right. Anna, do you work with people?

DHODY: Yes.

EISENBERG: The way you said that is creepy.

DHODY: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: OK. When I said creepy, you got excited. Do you work with dead people?

DHODY: Yes.

EISENBERG: What?

COULTON: What?

CHUNG: Wow, two clues to dead people. Let's figure this one out.

COULTON: Wait a minute. Do you work in a morgue?

DHODY: No.

COULTON: Oh, dead people but no morgue.

DHODY: Well...

CHUNG: No.

DHODY: Not for my - not for my full-time job.

EISENBERG: Just your hobby, the morgue.

DHODY: Side business, sideline (laughter).

EISENBERG: OK.

DHODY: Sorry, that might've thrown you.

EISENBERG: No, no. I'm back in this. I just had to take a moment.

DHODY: I feel like I'm taking a polygraph. I mean, I have to be truthful.

EISENBERG: It's great. No, it's great. OK. Do you work in, like, a science lab with cadavers?

DHODY: No.

EISENBERG: OK.

COULTON: Do you have a weird crawl space in your home where you keep the people that you've murdered?

(LAUGHTER)

DHODY: Well, I don't feel - I think I need to plead the fifth on that one.

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah, OK.

EISENBERG: Are you enbalming, by any chance? Are you...

DHODY: I'm not, no.

EISENBERG: OK.

DHODY: No.

EISENBERG: But someone you know is (laughter) OK.

COULTON: Somebody is, presumably.

EISENBERG: Somebody is.

DHODY: Yeah.

CHUNG: Is there embalming done on the premises?

DHODY: No. We wouldn't call it embalming as such.

EISENBERG: OK. Is the premises - the premises - what's the premises? Is the premise a public space?

DHODY: Part of it is.

EISENBERG: Part of it is a public space.

COULTON: Do you work in a museum?

DHODY: Yes.

EISENBERG: Oh, wait a second. Do you - OK - right - Philadelphia, right? We're in Philadelphia. It's that museum of oddities. It's The Mutter Museum.

DHODY: Yes.

CHUNG: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Are you kidding me?

CHUNG: Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

CHUNG: Anna is the curator of The Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

EISENBERG: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

CHUNG: The museum is considered America's finest museum of medical history, and it contains preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments. Some of the collection's highlights include the tallest skeleton on display in North America, Grover Cleveland's jaw tumor and slices of Einstein's brain.

DHODY: Yep.

EISENBERG: OK. So the natural question is, how did you get into this line of work? Were you first a curator or were you first something else that led you specifically to be the perfect person for The Mutter Museum?

DHODY: Well, basic - I'm a forensic anthropologist by training.

EISENBERG: That's what I always wanted to be.

DHODY: Really?

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DHODY: You can come intern for me some time.

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

DHODY: It'll be fun.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DHODY: I'm from Philadelphia, born and raised.

(CHEERING)

DHODY: Shameless pandering to the crowd. But really, I live seven minutes from here. And so this - it's one of the reasons I said I would do this because...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Convenience.

DHODY: I don't have to go very far.

EISENBERG: Convenience.

DHODY: You know, so - yeah, I was a forensic anthropologist. I still am. That's why I do occasionally work for the medical examiner's office when they get a FGDT. I come in, and I do my thing, so...

CHUNG: What is an FGDT?

DHODY: Far gone dead thing.

(LAUGHTER)

DHODY: And that is not an official...

CHUNG: A technical term.

DHODY: ...Law enforcement acronym. I just made that up.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's good. Are the oddities that are on display at The Mutter Museum changing often? Or is it a set collection?

DHODY: I still am actively collecting. I mean, I will accept new donations. They have to fit within our collection parameter, of course, but...

EISENBERG: And what do you say is your collection parameter? If I say...

DHODY: I like it.

EISENBERG: OK, right.

(LAUGHTER)

DHODY: I mean, technically, we have, you know, limits, but if I like it, it's probably going in.

EISENBERG: And what...

DHODY: But I've got a degree. I mean, I'm not Hannibal Lecter collecting.

EISENBERG: No, no.

DHODY: I'm just, like - I have a - I'm a professional. I'm allowed to do this.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DHODY: I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to do this.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK, so what grosses you out?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Because you have a different - like, you are fascinated by all of this stuff. You live and breathe it. It's something that you find, you know, it's what you do every day. So, you know, what is it to you that you see and you go that is just too much for me?

DHODY: Well, nothing grosses me out, but there is one recent addition to our collection that creeps me out.

EISENBERG: OK. Yeah, sure. Creeps is a better word.

DHODY: OK. So we have our - one of our newest exhibitions is all on human skin. And so we recently...

EISENBERG: I'm already grossed out.

DHODY: I haven't gotten to that part yet (laughter).

EISENBERG: OK, OK.

DHODY: So, yeah - but we got a collection from a well-known university in this area. They said there are some tattooed skin in jars. So, you know, immediately I'm like, yes, please, because that's what you do. But then, you know, got them in, and I started to take a look at what some of them were. And, you know, some of them were nice and actually quite pretty. And then there was the clown.

(LAUGHTER)

DHODY: And this clown, I put it on exhibit. And you walk by - it follows you. He kind of creeps me out.

EISENBERG: OK. Have you named this clown?

DHODY: No, I don't want to give it a name. That's power.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: But is there one thing that I should not miss?

DHODY: I have not one but two jars of picked human skin, but they're not in the same area. And it's actually from a living donor, and she has an actual condition. It's called dermatillomania, although I think they changed the official name of it. What it does is it's a talking point. It's a stepping stone to talk about mental illness and disorders because this dermatillomania is part of the obsessive compulsive disorder spectrum. And so in our collection, we don't have a lot - it's very hard to show mental illness. You can't show a brain and say, this is depression because you can't tell the difference. But a picked jar of human skin has gravitas.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

DHODY: You know, you can - and people will look at that and then they'll stop and then they'll read the label, which is very educational. And it informs you about this condition. And so what I always like to say is people come to the museum for lots of different reasons and - but they always leave informed, more informed than when they came in, whether they like it or not, whether they want to or not.

EISENBERG: Right.

DHODY: You're going to leave informed.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DHODY: That's my job.

EISENBERG: Well, I have to say - yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It is nothing like any place I've ever visited before. And you, as a curator, you are nothing like anyone I've ever met before. And I'm so happy that you agreed to walk the eight minutes and be on our show. Everyone give it up for our mystery guest, Anna Dhody.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.