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Interview With Magician Derek DelGaudio; Interview With Author Elif Shafak; Interview With Israeli Labor Party Leader Merav Michaeli. Aired 3- 4p ET
Aired March 19, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Today, the female gaze on politics, science and as victims of misogynistic violence. I speak first to Israel's Labor Party
leader, Merav Michaeli, about breathing new life into liberals, as the nation goes to elections again.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate.
AMANPOUR: From Atlanta to London and beyond, men attacking women. I asked acclaimed Turkish writer and activist Elif Shafak about gender-based
violence and a controversial trial in her country.
ROYA BEHESHTI, FRIEND OF MARYAM MIRZAKHANI: she showed that the impossible is possible.
AMANPOUR: Roya Beheshti joins us about Iranian women defying expectations, the story of her friend, superstar mathematician, and the only female
Fields Medal winner, Maryam Mirzakhani.
DEREK DELGAUDIO, MAGICIAN/WRITER: What is the disparity between who I am and how I'm seen by others?
AMANPOUR: The art of deceit. Our Michel Martin speaks to magician and writer Derek DelGaudio about being the Amoralman.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Israelis head to the polls on Tuesday yet again. It's the fourth election in two years. And there's seemingly no end of the cycle of political
deadlock and dysfunction after yet another failed coalition left Israel without a functioning government during a pandemic.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now hopes that the country's world- leading vaccine rollout will propel him and his right-wing allies to victory, because, for the past 20 years, the left has been increasingly
marginalized, this despite producing the state's iconic Labor leaders, from David Ben-Gurion, to Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Rabin.
Indeed, the diaspora Jewish community mostly identifies with these politics as well. Now, for the first time in the country's history, polls in January
showed that Labor might not win any seats at all.
But my first guest says: Not if I have anything to do about it.
The newest party leader is Merav Michaeli, the only woman leading a party into this election. And she is joining me now from Tel Aviv to talk about
how she's going to revive her party's fortune.
So, welcome, Merav Michaeli.
It used to be the party in power. It used to be the transformative party, but now Labor is barely registering on the political dial. What are you
going to do about it?
MERAV MICHAELI, LEADER OF ISRAELI LABOR PARTY: Well, good evening and good morning, Christiane. And thank you for having me here.
Actually, it's not already in danger. Thankfully, after having to fight for a long time in order to really even force, I would say, force on the
previous leader of Labor to hold primaries, as he was supposed to, according to the constitution, we went all the way to the Supreme Court
until I won this battle.
Ever since I won the primaries, thankfully, Labor is back on its feet, and it's giving a good fight, on its way back. And my project is to take it
back to fulfilling its role as the governing party of the center-left camp in Israel, as someone and actually a political body that needs to take
Israel back towards the Zionist vision that it has strayed for -- from too long under Bibi Netanyahu.
AMANPOUR: So, when you got the job, when you were named and I guess elected as head of your party, the left-leaning newspaper in your country,
"Haaretz," said, welcome to the worst job in Israeli politics, Merav Michaeli.
And just to hammer the point home, the actual facts show that from 1995, where your party had about 37 percent -- sorry -- 36 percent of the
country, now, in 2021, it's about 16 percent.
So, again, you have managed to move the dial a bit since you have taken over.
But what will it take to successfully contest an election from the left?
MICHAELI: Well, what we're seeing now, the dysfunctional system, as you have described it very well at the opening, is a result of 12 years under
But, actually, this begins in 1993, when Netanyahu came onto the political sphere of Israeli politics.
He introduced new language and standards that Israel never had before. And he started the campaign of hatred and incitement and delegitimatization
against the Yitzhak Rabin, the late prime minister from Labor, against the Oslo Accord, against peace, against the left, against the Arabs.
And it's been going on. This campaign by Netanyahu and his partners and very big financial powers that are backing extreme right-wing powers in
Israel is continuing to this day. And the result is what we are seeing today, a political camp that is completely fractured and has no political
But, at the same time, we see that the majority of Israelis actually want what Labor has to offer. There's an amazing disconnect between the wishes
and the desires and the interests of Israelis, because Israel is not Netanyahu, not at all.
The majority of Israelis are interested in equality, gender equality, gay rights, in civil equality for Arab citizens. They are interested in a
welfare state. They're interested in pluralism, in freedom of religion. And even after 28 years of incitement and delegitimatization of the mere idea
of the two-state solution, there still is a tiny majority supporting the two-state solution, even if many people are completely convinced that it's
So, what we need to do now is really gain back our confidence that was shattered after the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
the assassination that was caused by this incitement campaign. So we really have to get back up on our feet.
AMANPOUR: I just want to follow up on that, because a former opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, who you obviously know very well, has said that
actually in this election campaign nobody's talking about those issues that you're saying, and they're very, very important issues, peace and the
economy, all sorts of things.
They're just talking about who's for and against Bibi, as she calls him by, his known nickname. And he does seem to have nine lives. And he is riding
high on what has been called a very successful vaccine rollout. He claims, and many in your country claim that they're getting back to normal.
He is coming into this election with quite a lot that the people approve of right now.
MICHAELI: The vaccine operation that Netanyahu brags about so much is actually enabled not because he's such a talented buyer, but because of the
infrastructure that Labor has built here in the beginning -- at the beginning of the early days of Israel, the infrastructure of public health,
something that Labor stands for ever since, infrastructure for major social services for people of Israel.
Listen, Netanyahu -- it's important to notice Netanyahu has not won a single election ever since 2009. The only reason why he was able to form
governments over and over again was because leaders from the center-left camp were giving him the votes, the mandates that they received from people
who wanted to replace him.
That was held back in Ehud Barak 2009. It was Yair Lapid in 2013. And, of course, now it's Benny Gantz that is still doing it while sitting with
Netanyahu in his government as we are speaking.
So, this is why it is so important for me, as someone who never gave into Netanyahu and never was a partner in any of his governments, it's so
important for me to give hope again to a majority of Israelis who want a decent Israel, who do believe in an Israel that is a just society, that is
striving for peace.
We -- what we need is really to give people the confidence that we can build back political power that can become government again. It's a long
way. And it's not going to happen in this election. But if we don't start doing it, it will never happen.
This is why I said from the first moment I am taking Labor back to the Rabin way, to the point where he was assassinated, after having understand
-- understanding that Israel needs to turn back towards the Zionist vision, a Jewish home with equality for all its citizens, striving for a just
society and peace.
This is what this project to me is now, because Israel's future depends on it.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting you say that, because, as you say, quite a few of politicians who believe what you're saying, and many are concerned
that if there isn't a deal with the Palestinians, a proper peace deal, it could very severely compromise Israel's status as a democratic Jewish
So, I want to ask you, though, the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room, obviously, is that Benjamin Netanyahu, the sitting prime
minister, is under criminal indictment for corruption and a number of issues leading to that. And yet he hasn't resigned. He refuses to.
And you keep going to these elections. The last Likud prime minister who was indicted and investigated was Ehud Olmert. And he did actually resign.
And now he's basically saying that he feels: "Nothing is of any significance to him, Netanyahu, except his own personal fate. this is the
only thing he cares for."
And, moreover, they believe that he wants to win in order to change the dynamic in the Knesset and get this case dismissed against him.
What do you think is going to happen? You don't think that Benjamin Netanyahu is ever going to resign, right? How do you think that he's ever
going to answer this indictment against him? Or are you going to endless elections? Some people think there might be another one after this one.
MICHAELI: Well, unfortunately, we -- this is a danger that we are facing.
So, what we're obligated to do is really do our best to try and hope that we can achieve 61 mandates, a bloc that wants and committed to replace
Netanyahu as prime minister. We have seen very distinctively that, ever since Netanyahu was indicted, actually ever since he was interrogated, he
was -- he's constantly attacking the democratic institutions in Israel, the police and now the justice system and the Supreme Court and the attorney
And it's very clear for, I think, many of Israel's citizens how dangerous it is to have a prime minister in such a situation, while he's using his
position to weaken Israeli democracy.
This is why it is so pressing that we get the bloc of 61 mandate necessary to replace Netanyahu. If there is a result that enables that, it will be
the responsibility of all the chairs of the different parties who are very much far apart in their ideologies and their -- the way they see the future
of Israel, but if we manage to get this number of mandates, it will be on us to find as narrow as possible even a consensus that we can agree on and
build a coalition to start the rehabilitation of Israeli politics, Israeli democracy and the state of Israel.
Hopefully, we can achieve that. As I said, this is -- really, it's extremely important the for Israel and its future.
AMANPOUR: So, as I said, you are the only female leader of a major party heading into these elections. You're also a feminist.
And many have looked and we have looked at your famous TED Talk, which was called "Cancel Marriage." I'm just going to put a little clip of that and
we're going to talk about that for a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAELI: Still today, when a couple gets married, they are pronounced man and wife. The man remains a man, and the woman is turned into a wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm sure there's a lot of -- that resonates with a lot of people around the world.
But, also, Merav Michaeli, you wear black all the time. I read it and now I see you wearing black, because you say that you don't want people to look
at what you're wearing, but listen to what you're saying.
Talk to me about the TED Talk, your feminism, and what you're trying to do as a woman in politics.
MICHAELI: What I have been trying to do as a woman before I was in politics. I am fighting for equality, both gender equality, but, as a
feminist, I want a more equal society for all. And that is what I have been working for ever since I can remember.
And, yes, I'm very well-known in Israel for my feminism. And this is something that actually I find extremely energizing now that I am heading a
major party in Israel. That is true for a lot of women, but also for men, because we already have many men who are very interested in equality and
understand how much they have to gain from a world that is egalitarian.
And, actually, Labor under me is the first ever party that is running to the Knesset with an egalitarian, a completely egalitarian list, where every
other seat is occupied by a man. The first one is by a woman, and then a man, woman, man, woman, woman.
And this is -- for me, it's -- I have been trying to achieve that ever since I entered politics eight years ago under other chairs of the party.
And I haven't been able to. And as soon as I was elected, this was my first decision, and it just happened like magic.
So, so much can happen. And our society can be so much better, so much more just, and in a way that really derives so much more prosperity and so much
more security, personal security for all. This is what I have been working for, for over 30 years now, and this is what I have been trying to do in
politics and will continue to do in politics as now the chair of Labor.
AMANPOUR: Merav Michaeli, the Labor leader, thank you for joining us.
Now, men killing women have made headlines this week, starting with the murder of Sarah Everard here in London, whose grisly killing sparked vigils
and protests, demands for government protection and accountability for the perpetrators.
In Atlanta, Georgia, eight people were murdered on Tuesday, six of them women of Asian descent. This has once again raised the important questions
of why femicide is on the rise, and how to prevent misogynistic violence.
It is at the heart of a controversial case in Turkey right now, where a woman is charged with murder for allegedly killing her husband in self-
defense after years of abuse, torture and sexual assault.
And I have been speaking to Elif Shafak about this. She is Turkey's most popular female writer, and she's a woman's rights activist.
AMANPOUR: Elif Shafak, welcome to the program.
Let me start by asking you about this horrendous case that's going on in your country in Turkey.
Melek Ipek is on trial for murder, although she claims it was self-defense from an abusive husband, who not only beat and tortured her, but also hurt
her daughter. And you can clearly see the marks on her body. You can see that she was beaten up in her face.
Tell me how important this trial is for Turkey. Are people paying attention? What does it mean in Turkey right now?
ELIF SHAFAK, TURKISH NOVELIST: It is a very important case. And it's just heartbreaking what she has gone through.
She's a very young woman. She's 31 years old. And she's been married for over a decade to this man, subject to violence for years. And on that
particular night, she was sexually assaulted, stripped naked, tortured in front of her children by her husband.
And, as a result of that, among also torture, in pure self-defense, she murders, kills her husband. The case is very important for anyone who
believes in women's rights. And, also, we need to bear in mind that, in Turkey, this is happening every single day.
So, two things are happening. The number of cases of violence against women have escalated. And, also, the way the murders are taking place have become
more and more violent.
AMANPOUR: Elif, I want to read you a shocking statistic. I couldn't even believe it. It is said that three women are killed every single day in
Turkey. Right here in the U.K., it's one woman every three days.
These are extraordinarily high numbers, and obviously killed, most of them, by men, but those people who are their partners or husbands. Are there any
protective laws in Turkey for women?
SHAFAK: It is a huge human rights crisis. And it has been escalating over the years.
The government mentions that, in last year, around 266 women have been killed. But we know and women's rights organizations have been -- announced
over and over again that the real number's much higher.
And, for instance, a particular organization called We Will End Femicide has detected over 486 cases. And we do know that many cases do not go
reported. So, in addition to this, there are honor killings, stories that we never hear about.
It has become a major crisis. And, unfortunately, women are left alone. Turkey, as you know, is one of the signatories to the Istanbul Convention,
which was signed in 2011. And it's the first international treaty that protects victims of domestic abuse and gender violence.
But now the same country, the same government is trying repeatedly to withdraw from the convention. So, let alone building new laws and taking
protective measures to protect the victims, it is even abandoning the treaty that it itself has signed years ago.
AMANPOUR: Elif Shafak, you have written about any number of these issues in your novels. One of your latest novels was narrated through the eyes of
a sex worker who was very, very badly abused.
I guess what I'm trying to figure out is, is this something that's just taken for granted in Turkey? Or are there strong women's rights groups? The
Istanbul Convention, so important. And even within the Erdogan family, I think it's the president's daughter who has stepped up and said, no, I
support this convention and he hasn't pulled out of it.
What are the forces at play right now? Why is this killing, these killings so pervasive?
SHAFAK: There's no doubt that Turkey's deeply patriarchal and sexist, and, in my opinion, a homophobic country.
That doesn't mean that women are silent, and actually there are many women's organizations that are constantly raising their voices and
struggling for equality. But there is no support from the government, from the authorities.
Many women, when they go to the police, when they go to the courtroom, they are being left alone. And the perpetrators, people who commit these crimes,
just the opposite. They get constant reduction in their sentences.
So, just to give you an example, very recently, on the 8th of March, women's rights activists who have been on the streets marching to end this
violence, many of them have been detained and arrested. So I don't think the government is doing anything to support women.
And, also, another example that I think is quite telling, in 2016, they tried to pass a very controversial bill called marriage bill, which allows
rapists to get a reduction in their sentences. But I'm talking about rapists of underaged girls. If these people agree to marry their victims,
then they would get a lighter sentence.
So the government tried to pass this law, then tried again four years later. Such horrific debates are taking place in other parts of the Middle
East as well, but Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia have taken important progressive steps to end this, whereas Turkey has been going in the
opposite direction, backwards.
AMANPOUR: It's so extraordinary, because Turkey, obviously, of many of the countries in that region, was so advanced in terms of taking -- of secular
politics, of looking after many of its citizens.
But it seems that, under President Erdogan and ever since he came to power as prime minister, these numbers have been rising. And while it's almost
offensive to talk about, oh, that's the culture, but he says things like this is a family-based, traditional family culture. What does he mean by
SHAFAK: Well, they have been saying things like what's happening inside a house between four walls should stay between four walls. So, for instance,
if a woman has been subject to abuse and rape, she should not complain about it.
They have been saying things like feminists are trying to destroy traditional Turkish family values. And, again, they have been saying things
like they do not believe in gender equality and the Istanbul Conventions, against our culture, against our values.
All of that is, of course, is very controversial. And it's not helping women. Just the opposite. It's emboldening, encouraging perpetrators to
continue with their violence.
AMANPOUR: Elif Shafak, you live now mostly here in the U.K., and you are very observant of what's going on. You have been tweeting and commenting on
the Sarah Everard murder here and the reaction to the women who have come out to protest, come out to demand more protections.
I don't think you can compare apples and oranges. But do you see comparisons in terms of gender violence and the spikes that are happening
not just in Turkey, in that part of the world, but here and in the United States as well? I mean, look at what just happened in Atlanta. Six Asian
American women were killed amongst eight people who were killed in Atlanta.
And there are very scary similarities that we should be aware of, all these connections. What happened in Atlanta is juxtaposition of racism and sexism
and hatred, xenophobia. It's very scary.
I'm very happy that, in America, the Violence Against Women Act has been renewed. But I can't believe that 172 Republicans have voted against it.
What's happening in the U.K. with Sarah Everard's horrific murder, and afterwards the way women who are just trying to hold a peaceful vigil, the
way they have been treated by the police in this very country, all of that is very problematic.
We have a huge human rights crisis. We also know that violence against women and domestic violence have tripled at least throughout the pandemic.
So this is a time we need to have this conversation. And I believe women are tired of hearing empty promises, empty words from politicians.
We need concrete measures, concrete change. We need to have honest conversations, but true progress is definitely due.
AMANPOUR: I want to put to you the notion of male allies.
As you know, victim-blaming happens the whole time. It's happened in Atlanta. It's happening in Turkey with this case. Here in the U.K., rapes
are -- rape prosecutions are at an all-time low. And you mentioned a lot of these cases are not coming to court. They are not being adjudicated in
Jackson Katz, who's a pretty well-known ally of women, and has done some amazing feminist talks, including a viral TED Talk, this is what he told me
about shaping the narrative and men taking responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON KATZ, ANTI-VIOLENCE EDUCATOR: Men will say, well, listen, I don't rape my women and I don't abuse my girlfriend and my wife, so it's my
That's as ignorant as saying that I'm a white person who doesn't burn crosses on my front lawn, so, therefore, I'm not -- racism is not my
We're in the 21st century. We have accumulated wisdom of decades and centuries of human rights law and equality and justice rhetoric, as well as
practice. And it's time that we have more men who are willing to put that rhetoric into action, and actually act on those on those basic sentiments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Elif, how do you react to that? And it's one thing to say that in America and in the West, but what about maybe in your country? Is there
a sense, particularly amongst the younger generation, that men also either need to or are stepping up? I don't know.
SHAFAK: I find it very important that we do not only have these conversations among women, but among men as well.
Coming from a country like Turkey, one thing that I have observed is, wherever there's patriarchy, of course, women are unhappy and unfree and
oppressed, but men are unhappy as well. So, we need to be in this together.
And we need to talk about a certain form of masculinity that is constantly being imposed on us, how it's being venerated by the systems, authorities.
Anyone who doesn't conform to that description of masculinity is also suffering.
I think it's also equally important that women's movement goes hand in hand with LGBTQ+ rights, because many transgender citizens are also suffering
from this kind of violence. So there are lots of conversations that we need to have together. Rather than going within, I would rather have a women's
movement opening up.
AMANPOUR: I think that's a really important, important point. And we need as many allies as possible.
Elif Shafak, thank you so much indeed for joining us today.
SHAFAK: I appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: Now, our next guest penetrates the concept of identity with illusion and slight of hand, the writer-cum-magician Derek DelGaudio.
His skillful display has brought in the crowds for his off-Broadway show "In & Of Itself," which has now been adapted by Hulu for the small screen.
Here he is speaking to our Michel Martin about card tricks and his new memoir, "Amoralman."
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Derek DelGaudio, thank you so much for talking with us.
DELGAUDIO: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: So, you use illusions. You are a specialist, an award-winning specialist in I think what's called slight of hand. Is that the right way
to say it?
DELGAUDIO: Yes. I have a background in slight of hand.
MARTIN: Would you mind walking me through that? This is something that people can read about in your memoir, "Amoralman."
How did you get started?
DELGAUDIO: When I was 12 years old, my mother played a practical joke on me, where there's these little -- they're almost like a cap gun, but
without the gun part, where you can just have a little cap on a spring- loaded mouse trap, and you can hide it under a Coke can.
And she played this joke on me. So, when you lift it up, it makes a big sound. And it scared the hell out of me. But I thought it was hilarious.
DELGAUDIO: And I asked her where she got it. And she said there was a joke shop down the street from her work.
And so she took me there one day, and I went in to buy some mischievous items. And there was a guy behind the counter who made a pocketknife
vanish. And I realized it wasn't a joke shop. It was a magic shop.
I went home that day, instead of buying a bunch of pranks I bought a book on sleight of hand, and I got hooked and it was kind of all I did for a
while. And I didn't perform for anyone, but I just sat in my room and practiced.
MARTIN: Eventually you became, what's the right term, card cheat, card shark? What does that mean? For a brief period of time, what's the right
DELGAUDIO: Card mechanic or card shark. I mean, all those terms are acceptable. And, yes, I was hired by an organization or a private
organization to deal poker.
MARTIN: So, the point here is you're not cheating for yourself, right? You're cheating for the people who set up the game, right?
DELGAUDIO: Correct. You know, in the blackjack world they call it a bus stop dealer. And these are actually common in Vegas, you know, back when
the mob was running town where they would have card mechanics working as dealers to cheat their high-roller customers, make sure that they didn't
walk out the door with a bunch of money.
But as, you know, sleight of hand, like everything else, became kind of an antiquated craft, became arcane, that stopped being as popular in casinos,
but private games, you know, you'd still have people moving under fire as they would say using sleight of hand to cheat at cards. And some people
create -- or designed entire games around that concept of we will have a game but we'll have a crooked dealer to help fleece the customers.
MARTIN: Do the players kind of know? Do they think it's rigged when they play anyway or they just not know?
DELGAUDIO: I think it's inconceivable that it's happening to them, anyone at any given time. It's something you hear about in movies. You know,
you've maybe seen it on a television show or something but you can't imagine that these people actually exist and these things are actually
occurring. And I think people maybe underestimate the lengths at which one will go to achieve these things, and also how realistic it can look.
You're not really playing a poker game at that point. You're simulating the act of playing a poker game. And it becomes a real-life simulation where
everyone at the table thinks that they're playing poker and they're convinced with every ounce of their being that that's what happening, but
they're not. It's just a simulation of a game. And I think it's very difficult for people to conceive of that, that they are living inside of
something that isn't real.
MARTIN: I know that many people think we're putting a lot on, you know, cards but it's really there. And I have to tell you that one of the reasons
that fascinates me as a journalist is that we are technically -- we say we in the quest for truth, right?
MARTIN: We are trying to find out what's true. And one of the things that you have to learn really on as a journalist is you may never know what's
true, number one.
MARTIN: And even if you do find out, people might not care. They don't care.
DELGAUDIO: That's a really good point. Or not only might not they care, they might have set up their value system and their belief system that they
can't believe the truth you're offering. It might be too painful for them to accept the truth because their entire life has been built around a lie
or at least they've been functioning as if this thing is true. I mean, it's very hard for one to accept that that is not true and that their life, you
know, thereby, is not true.
So, it's -- I think it's -- no one wants to be a fool and no one wants to be embarrassed or, you know, made to look a fool. And so, I think it's very
difficult for people to admit when they have either fallen for some sort of scam be it political or at the card table and it's hard to come around and
it takes a lot of courage and -- you know, to do that.
MARTIN: One of the things you talk about in your book, "AMORALMAN," is that you spend spent a lot of time alone as a kid. Why is that?
DELGAUDIO: I mean, I don't know the exact reason, but I know that part of it was I grew up in Colorado, and my mother was gay. And I think that that
forced me into my own closet of sorts by being around -- there was a lot of bigotry where I grew up.
And that was passed down from generation to generation. So, it was hard to lead a normal life in the sense that, you know, I didn't like having
friends over or anything like that because, you know, there was very real judgment. There is the fear of being judge. But then there is actual
literal judgment in some cases. And so, it just became easier to be alone and to not have to worry about that.
MARTIN: And one of the things you said in the book that really intrigued me, you said that, you know, spent hours mastering these techniques, you
know, you spent hours doing it but you didn't like to perform for folks. I mean, here you are, you're isolated, you're in a -- the way you describe it
in the book, you're -- the choice -- you know, you're kind of in a town that's split between conservative and very conservative.
MARTIN: You're facing a lot of opposition because your mom is gay. And that could have been your way to be liked.
DELGAUDIO: Yes. I mean, also part of it was I didn't want to draw attention to myself. And so, as much as it might gain -- you know, be a way
to connect with others, it was also still dangerous to me in the sense that that meant more attention. And if I was able to hide things, what else was
I hiding, you know. I didn't want them looking into me or my life that closely.
And being interesting was one more way to get people to look my direction. And for me, it was all about getting people to just look the other way.
MARTIN: At some point, you start looking for mentors. I mean, like the first one was probably like the owner of the magic shop who really
introduced you to the world, and then started introducing you to mentors, people who were really great artists and technicians and -- to teach you
more technique. This is how you meet Ronnie?
MARTIN: Yes. Tell me about him. Tell us about him.
DELGAUDIO: Well, Ronnie is a lot of people to me because he was a mentor but also a cautionary tale in that, like, I romanticized this world of card
cheats and swindlers and hustlers and things like that, mostly from cinema, and that is not a life generally anyone would choose.
And it's a very hard life, not just technically difficult but also the toll it takes on one's person of living in secrecy in so many different ways,
having to lie all the time, both inside work and then it expands slowly outside of work because you kind of need to keep juggling the truths that
you're trying to create around what you do and who you are.
And so, Ronnie was a figure that taught me not just about the technical aspects of these things because I convinced him that it was only for my
educational purposes, it wasn't to actually do, but then also the real-life consequences of what it is to live in that life and, you know, opening my
eyes as to how -- what the world really is as opposed to what I imagine it is.
MARTIN: Did you think you were going to make a living playing cards, dealing, whatever?
DELGAUDIO: I once hinted that I wanted to maybe go down that road. And Ronnie showed me some scars that I had never seen before, because he had
never shown me because he had been attacked after a game. He played in a game, and afterwards was stabbed in the parking lot, and basically left for
dead. He didn't tell me that story until I showed an actual interest in doing what he did. And he was sort of one of those scared straight moments
where they take him to prison and say, this is what you want your life to be like?
And so, I didn't think that was a life I was going to end up being a part of. But, you know, years later, I ended up doing it for a short amount of
time despite knowing the consequences.
MARTIN: It just seems like you've been thinking for a very long time about right and wrong and why people do what they do and what's worth doing, and
it just seems interesting that you would end up in a place where you're cheating for a living. And it just -- I just wonder how you squared that.
DELGAUDIO: Yes. I wish I could say I struggled more with the decision to do it, but I didn't. In the sense that I had -- I was meant to end up
there. I was meant to end up at that table and see what I saw. Morality and ethics aside, I feel a responsibility to take the things that I recognized
in that experience and share them in ways that I don't think anyone else would have been able to had they not had that experience. And that was
enough to show me what I needed to see so that I could move on and help others see things that I recognize.
MARTIN: I have to talk about the film. You know, I read in a novel called "The Vanishing Half," it's somebody by -- by somebody named Brit Bennett,
that the only difference between lying and acting was whether your audience was in on it. It was all a performance just the same.
DELGAUDIO: Yes, that's accurate.
MARTIN: Yes. And you kind of fixed that problem of having to hide your artistry, right, with the staged play. But what made you decide to do that?
The one I'm thinking of is the latest one, in and of itself, which people can see on Hulu as I said. What made you decide to do that?
DELGAUDIO: I think like anyone I struggle with who I am and what I am supposed to do in this world. And I had struggled with that question alone
for so long, I think I just decided to make it a part of the work and have a dialogue with the world instead of just staying in my room and thinking
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELGAUDIO: Two things are about to happen. One of these things you will see, and the other thing we will see. We get to see you transform into
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Let's do this together. Help me describe it in a way that it doesn't ruin it.
DELGAUDIO: I understand. It's very difficult to describe. It's -- I've called it a theatrical existential crisis.
DELGAUDIO: You know, I go out on stage, and I struggle with what it means to be and be known as something. And we watch me struggle through the
process of being told I'm one thing, me thinking I'm another thing and me trying to resolve what is the disparity between who I am and how I'm seen
by others, and why is that the case, and what happens, what does it mean to be and be known and to be known as something that I don't necessarily want
to be known as or to be known as just something even I want to be known as, what does that mean? Does it mean I'm not other things? And so, just
struggling with the questions of identity in a very public form.
And the real secret of the show is it's not really about me. I only use my story as a proxy for people to enter the conversation for themselves and to
think about who they are in this world and what it means for them to be seen.
MARTIN: People who had the privilege of being in the audience have a very emotional reaction to the work.
MARTIN: And I just -- I mean, obviously, there is some awesome card play and card mechanics, as you say, there's some awesome visual effects. But
what is it do you think could evoke such a reaction?
DELGAUDIO: I think people -- I don't think we really have real conversations about seeing one another enough. I think that most of the
conversations that are had these days are political or politicized. At least they're not -- or they're done maybe in like a self-help context,
which is certainly isn't.
And so, I think that the show is sort of a trojan horse for that same conversation, which is a human conversation of what it means to see one
another, to be in this world and to be, you know, to be connected in a way that we can't ignore and that we are all shaping each other's identities in
this world, and there's real consequences attached to that in terms of how I see you matters.
It doesn't matter, like, how I see you and how I recognize you and everything that you are, or if I choose to deny you of everything that you
MARTIN: I can't help but think about the politics of the current moment, especially over the last four years where we have been demanded to ignore
the truth of our eyes in the service of somebody's agenda, right?
Now, on the one hand, your work is about awe and kind of respecting the power of awe. On the other hand, it also makes plain how much people are
willing to believe because they want to believe it.
MARTIN: And that is scary, do you not agree, if you think about how democracy's supposed to function? Isn't there something kind of terrifying
DELGAUDIO: Yes. It's absolutely terrifying. And I kind of relate this explicitly in the book I talk about this idea of the poker table being a
simulation and how easy it is to live in a world -- in a fiction that's written by others without even knowing and living it as though it's true.
And I can't help but recognize the parallels between that world, that microcosm and the world we're living in, especially in the political
And, you know, specifically, when it comes to things like, you know, democracy and voting and how it's nearly impossible to know what -- if it's
a game or not or if it just looks like a game and there's people better at pretending to play it than others. And so, it becomes less about truth and
more about humanity for me. And truth does irrelevant in a point, as we've seen over the last few years where facts don't matter when it comes to, you
know, swaying people about decisions and things, facts aren't necessarily what people are making the decisions based on.
MARTIN: Why "AMORALMAN"? Why is that the title of your book?
DELGAUDIO: You can't have light without dark. And so, the title is "AMORALMAN" to kind of point to that duality in a very -- both a personal
way but a way that I think is universal. I mean, we all struggle with am I a good person, am I a bad person. It was an exploration of duality of that
for me and what light I saw in the darkness, a light that could only be revealed in such a dark place.
And so, I titled it "AMORALMAN" because I wanted to -- I don't know, it points to that duality and is it a moral man or amoral man? And I leave it
to you decide.
MARTIN: Derek Delgaudio, thank you so much for visiting with us.
DELGAUDIO: Thank you very much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Of course, facts do matter, truth does matter, science matters and math matters.
Finally, we want to end this week with a tribute to an inspiring woman in a field dominated by men. Maryam Mirzakhani became a national icon in Iran
after winning the Fields Medal back in 2014. She remains the first-ever woman and the first Iranian to win this highest honor in mathematics. And
she's the focus of a new biopic "Secrets of the Surface." Here's a clip of Maryam celebrating the beauty of her subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARYAM MIRZAKHANI, "SECRETS OF THE SURFACE" (voice over): When I look at some papers or talk to my collaborators, there's some nice idea. I feel
really fascinated. It's like listening to music or seeing an amazing drawing. It's really like art.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Sadly, Maryam lost her battle with breast cancer back in 2017 when she was just 40 years old. She had moved, obviously, from Iran to the
United States. Math professor, Roya Beheshti, was her lifelong friend. And I've been speaking to her about her legacy and her beautiful mind.
Roya Beheshti, welcome to the program.
ROYA BEHESHTI, FRIEND OF MARYAM MIRZAKHANI: Thanks. Thanks for having me here.
AMANPOUR: So, it is a remarkable story, the story of the first-ever female Fields Medal winner. So, let's start at the beginning. What was it like
when you first met in school? I guess it was in primary school in Tehran. Was math a part of your agenda at that time?
BEHESHTI: Yes. So, I met Maryam when we started the sixth grade, that was the beginning of middle school. And we became close friends immediately and
we stayed close friends throughout high school, college and then here in the U.S. And we were at this special school for talented students, for, you
know, talented women. It was an all-girls' school, K-12 education is gender segregated in Iran.
And the principal of the school was a very strong woman who was determined to educate successful women through this school, and the environment was
very encouraging for people, for the students who wanted to do math or science.
AMANPOUR: Maryam herself said that her first love was books, was reading, was literature. She thought she might want to be a novelist. What was it
that turned her from literature to mathematics?
BEHESHTI: Well, when we met first, she was not particularly interested in math. So, in the first year, she was not doing particularly well in math
and she was a little bit frustrated. But after the summer break, in the 7th grade when she became back, she suddenly got very excited about math and
she started to do very well. And then we started to share the passion of loving math and doing math together.
AMANPOUR: You have said about her that we lived math, we read math, we ate math, we slept math. It was all math all the time. And you've described how
you both loved it and how particularly Maryam loved it.
BEHESHTI: Right. It was absolutely great to work with Maryam. She had such a beautiful mind, such a beautiful way of thinking about math, very, very
original person. I have, of course, talked to a lot of mathematicians, I have never seen the amount of passion that she had for math in other
people. It was really unique and she was extremely energetic and positive.
I felt very energized from the beginning until the very end when I talked to her about anything related to math, I really felt energized, even when
she was -- you know, later when she got sick. So, she had a unique personality in terms of her love for math.
AMANPOUR: And that these great pictures in the documentary which show her basically on the floor with these big pieces of paper and she's got all her
diagrams and all annotated. And at one point, her daughter, Anahita, said, oh, mommy's painting again.
BEHESHTI: Yes. This is like very different from probably what people hear, imagine about Iran. When we were growing up, women doing math, engineering
(INAUDIBLE), it was never regarded negatively. There were many women. And the case of Maryam was unique in the case -- in the sense that her level --
the level of her accomplishments was absolutely unique. We didn't have anyone like her. But there were many other women who were doing well.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's really important story to tell actually because I'm not sure that outside of Iran, people would automatically assume that you
had such not just proficiency but permission, if you like, to take these fields. And we know that in the west STEM subjects are still quite
difficult for females to access and to stick with.
But in 2014, Maryam won the Field's Medal. As I said, it's kind of the Nobel prize for mathematics, given every four years and only to those 40
and under. She was the first woman ever. This is what she said at that time about what it means to women in this field.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIRZAKHANI: I think it will change after some time. And -- but it's not something that would change in two or three or five years. It can take
decades. But things like this change. And there are examples of these kind of changes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, were your American professors, your American, you know, college students, were they surprised to see such highly educated,
competitive and proficient Iranian female mathematicians and scientists?
BEHESHTI: Yes. I guess they were. Like the first year, I was in graduate school, I remember that one of my female friends suggested that we should
run this seminar for women only because it is intimidating to ask questions in front of men. And I was shocked. I thought, why on earth, if you have
the opportunity to compete with men, to compete with men, to study with men, would you choose to separate yourself from men?
So, I think now that I reflect about that, I realize that, you know, maybe we had a different -- you know, we had -- there was some value in us
working together and growing our confidence before going to the university, and maybe a lot of students here, they don't have that support, a lot of
women who go to math, they don't have that support. And I, you know, value all the efforts which are made in giving this support and creating this
support network for women and math here.
AMANPOUR: I just want to play another set of soundbites really from the documentary about what some younger women, Persian students, have said
about her legacy and the inspiration she has left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People look at her and see what she accomplished. And girls will look at that and say, that can be me.
DORSA MAJDI, FARZANEGAN HIGH SCHOOL: I think she's raised the bar for girls, but, besides that, she's opened up a new way. She has proved us that
it doesn't matter being the first one, you can do anything that you want to, and you put your desire and your effort in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was one of us. She was just like us in this school. And that helps us to think why can't we do what she does, and it
makes us feel better about what we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How do you feel about that and how do you think she would feel about that?
BEHESHTI: Well, that's true what those people mentioned. Yes. She showed that the impossible is possible, and it has a very big impact on women, and
women in Iran and actually women everywhere in the world. And she never considered herself a role model. But I think, you know, she was happy to
know that, you know, more people -- more women would choose to do math because of her.
AMANPOUR: It's an amazing story. And we're so pleased, Roya Beheshti, that you could speak about her and about the importance of math and the
importance of girls in this field. Thank you so much for being with us.
BEHESHTI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we want to wish all Iranians, Afghans, and anyone else around the world who is celebrating Nowruz this weekend. Happy New Year,
Happy Spring Solstice. And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and
goodbye from London.