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Secret Lives

Lifting the veil on surprising and secretive jobs, pursuits and lives.

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I Spent My Childhood Helping My Mom Sell Dead People’s Junk

I was only 8 when I began working as an undercover security guard at estate sales. Among the dusty trinkets and used shampoo bottles, I learned a lot about human nature.

Secret Life of a Mermaid

Their lavish costumes and group swims provide a community they could never find on land — so much so that they don’t identify as human.

Secret Life of a Children’s Party Princess

I thought a summer job at the Princess Academy would be a carefree escape. But I learned some hard lessons about real life while playing make-believe.

My Secret Life as a Rogue Romance Writer

I thought penning steamy books about sex-crazed werewolves was the dumbest job ever. With a little subversion and a huge thesaurus, I learned to love it.

Confessions of a Professional Fake Shopper

When desperate storeowners want to convince passersby to stop in, they hire fun, happy people to pose as shoppers. They’re actually out-of-work actors, retirees, and me.

He Killed His Wife, Then Wrote a Novel About It

The police had no idea about Richard Klinkhamer's gruesome crime—even when he wrote down the details and sent them to publishers.

Secret Life of a Mormon Porn Star

I thought I could make my double life work, until meeting a fellow Mormon on set forced me to confront my own contradictions.

Jannie Duncan: “Beautiful Human” or Fugitive Killer?

She was imprisoned for murdering her husband, then escaped and assumed a new identity. Her adoring friends and employers had no idea.

Secret Life of the Professor Who Lives with Nazis

Sociologist Peter Simi has spent 20 years embedding with skinheads. As hate crimes spike across America, his intimate insights are more crucial than ever.