Ira Glass is the creator of the public-radio show This American Life, but he used to have a really cool job. As a tweenager he performed at kids’ birthday parties as the “Magical Mystifier” (true story), doing magic tricks and making balloon animals. Here, he shares some of his children’s-entertainment skills with you, while answering your questions about haircuts and blow jobs.

The book he recommended for aspiring balloon-animalists is Roger’s Rubber Ark: One Balloon Zoo, Volume Two.

(He asked us to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid of the balloon popping. The only reason that one popped, he said, was that it was old.) (Suuuuuuure.)