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Culture / Entertainment

Real Naked and Afraid Survival Skills — Our Picks for Your Must-Have Items

Now Hear This

BY // 09.04.19

I was recently in Florida visiting my father. Given that it was July, the weather kept most of our activities contained to the indoors. I often can secure one of the guest apartments in his retirement community to stay in while I am in town.

It’s wonderful getting to be so close to him, but on the downside, the television has very few channels. That said, on this trip a few weeks back I found myself with a handful of options (primarily golf) and decided to watch the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.

First off, it’s not soft-core porn meets horror film (the title leads you in that direction). In fact, you’ll realize after watching a few episodes that it is the furthest thing from sexy.

Most of the participants aren’t model good-looking, and all of their private parts are blurred out. Believe me, after watching a few minutes, the whole naked part becomes inconsequential.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t award-winning television, but it is riveting. The premise is that a man and a woman (who don’t know one another) are dropped off in a remote location, naked (thus half the title of the show), and forced to fend for themselves for 21 days.

Most of the episodes I have seen have been in jungle-like regions. Where the temperatures can be scorching during the day (especially in direct sunlight) and sometimes drop dramatically in the evening. You might forget that if you are naked, every part of your body is exposed to the elements.

In one episode, a burly kind of guy (I believe he was on the SWAT team) got such a severe sunburn that he had to tap out after only a week. Another big thing that can be horrible are the bugs. Apparently, there is no escaping them, especially when you are trying to sleep at night.

Over a recent lunch for a colleague’s birthday, I shared my newfound wonderment over this television show.

For this week’s Now Hear This PaperCity Dallas office question, I decided to ask: What two items would you bring to a Naked and Afraid expedition, and who from our team would most likely make it the entire 21-day challenge?

Also, making her debut this week in Now Hear This is Jess Dudley Prescott, who just joined the team as the Dallas advertising director/associate digital publisher.

Jess is originally from Cleveland and has lived in our fair city for the past 10 years. I was over the moon that I didn’t have to explain this week’s question and she immediately shared that she is a devoted fan of Naked and Afraid.

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor-in-Chief

Having never watched Naked and Afraid until Billy told us about it, I am a bit of a rookie on the subject of survival techniques.

However, I was a Girl Scout. And while my sole camping experience (on the beach for one night in Malibu) doesn’t really qualify as roughing it, I’ll give this question my best shot.

In all practicality, I would bring tablets for purifying water and some sort of knife. How I would make fire is beyond me. Will have to revisit the Girl Scout handbook on that one.

If I wasn’t thinking practically, I would probably bring a bottle of tequila and a hammock: Bonus points if I could bring a good book. Something long like Anna Karenina to keep me occupied for 21 days. I may be boozy and blind by the time they come to pick me up, but I’ll be alive!

As for the person on our team who would go the longest. . . It would most likely be someone totally reasonable like our digital reporter Megan Ziots.

She is levelheaded always — and she plays tennis, meaning she probably has the strongest arms out of anyone in the office and thus would be more capable of climbing trees (to escape predators), building a shelter (from scratch) and wrestling whatever wildlife is necessary to eat. 

On the other hand, I could also see Billy totally winning this one. He’s an eternal optimist and would come up with a way to spin the whole thing into a chic, Slim Aarons-style beach vacation.

He is so social that he would no doubt befriend the indigenous people and become an honorary member of their tribe. Plus, he already keeps a skinny-girl diet, so he would delight in the idea of eating lean for 21 days. Yes. Billy might just have us all beat.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

I remember as an elementary schooler being forced to read some gruesome book about explorers lost in the arctic who were so cold and tired they ultimately decided to lay down in the snow and fall asleep, knowing they wouldn’t wake up.

While I can relate somewhat more to this level of exhaustion as an adult than I could as a 10 year old, I remember throwing the book down, absolutely shocked. It just didn’t click with me.

I knew then that I was a survivor and would always do what it took, no matter the odds. That being said, I do not plan to wander through the arctic anytime soon, and if you know me, you know that I wouldn’t be caught dead appearing on this show.

But for hypothetical purposes, I still bet on myself to make it to the end. I think Christina and I share this fighter instinct and I would put money on her coming out on top any day. She is also very in touch with nature and might secretly love it.

Billy could also be a surprise victor, as he is full of useful information. Like that the show Naked and Afraid is actually hilarious and can make for great conversation over an entire team lunch.

As for my two items, a swath of mosquito netting I could wrap myself in by night and wear as a chic Grecian toga by day is a must. The second would be a lighter. 

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

I occasionally do fall prey to trendy diets. One of my very best friends, Dana Garner, and I often joke that we need to pick-up some minor flu or perhaps a stomach parasite to help us drop a few pesky pounds. That said, the whole concept of this show is somewhat intriguing, given that most contestants lose quite a bit of weight over the 21 days.

I think I’d either quit after two or three days or I’d make it to the end. There would be no in-between. I’d have a rough time in the beginning, but after I made it over that hump, then I think my survival instincts would kick in.

Having watched enough episodes and seen what “winning” contestants brought with them, I would bring a machete and lighter. The machete would be useful in many ways — for creating a shelter out of brush and foliage and for hunting.

Plus, it would make me look quite rugged (hey, even on a remote island, appearances are important).

The lighter would be key for creating a fire which seems to be important for warmth, water purification and cooking. Also, a lighter would come in handy in case I hear someone playing a Journey ballad in the distant background.

slim aarons
PaperCity’s Billy Fong could turn Naked and Afraid into a glamorous experience.

My prediction for the colleague that would last the longest (or might even make the 21 days) would be a tie between Christina and Linda. They both have a competitive spirit. I also think that given that Linda has two daughters, she would want to be an inspiration to the two of them by making it through the entire challenge.

Megan Ziots, Dallas Digital Reporter

My two items would be bug spray and beer. From the PaperCity Dallas office, I think that Christina would last the longest. I could probably last a day. I would really not enjoy being naked in the wilderness. Too many bugs.

Brooke Dowdy, Publisher Dallas and Fort Worth

My two items: mosquito netting that could also provide sun protection – does that exist? Also, a giant bottle of Casa Dragones tequila. I would probably last until the tequila wore off!

Twenty-four hours?! Maybe less  — depending on the size of the bottle. As for who would last the longest — Christina and Megan are tied.

Jess Dudley Prescott, Dallas Advertising Director and Associate Digital Publisher

I love this question. My items would be 1) some sort of fire starter as it is practical for warmth, food and boiling water. 2) Machete — to create shelter and clothes.

The person that I think would last the full 21 days would be Maggie. I asked Christina to give me back story on why each person would last, and Maggie seems to be extremely savvy and street smart. 

Samantha Olguin, Associate Publisher, Fort Worth, Director of Business Development and Sales, Dallas

Well, this is downright hilarious, I would last negative time, I wouldn’t even try, I have zero outdoor survival skills. 

I did camp once though! That was comical. I accidentally put the fire out as I was told my only job for five minutes was to keep it burning. . . and well, that didn’t go so well. 

Anyways, let’s pretend I make it to Naked and Afraid. The two things I would bring would be antibacterial hand soap and sunscreen. 

Why so random? You think. Well… I am a germaphobe so the hand soap would be necessary for me to attempt to carry on for the day. 

The sunscreen… let’s just say I get sunburned when I have SPF 50 on so you can only imagine what would happen if I had none.

Why would I not pick materials to actually help me survive, you ask?

Because I wouldn’t. I would last maybe a full day, which would honestly be pushing it and need to make an immediate exit as soon as the sunset.

I think Christina would last the longest because she is super-determined and not that weirded out by the outdoors, unlike the rest of us. 

Linda Kenney, Account Executive

The idea of spending 21 days in the elements, while dressing au naturel, is anathema to me.

Macabre and gruesome experiences are not my thing. However, like all human beings, I possess survival instincts and would do my best to stay alive and perhaps even be friendly to the other tortured soul who would be my partner.

I suppose two things to take would be a Benchmade Bushcrafter knife and a Nitecore flashlight. However, if clothing were allowed, I would take a Hazmat suit and hiking boots, perhaps in camouflage. 

Speaking of surviving, I think my chances are good that I would last 21 days because I am so competitive. I wouldn’t be at my best at the end of this hell.

My colleagues stand a good chance of making it to 21 days, simply because they are some of the most persistent, goal-oriented people that I know, not a weak link in the PC chain.

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Coordinator

Just writing this is causing me to have anxiety about being on this show, so I don’t think I would last long at all.

I was a Girl Scout for a few years and went on multiple outdoor camping trips, but I’m sad to say I gained very few survival skills from those years.

The two items I would bring would be some sort of water purifier and sunscreen. Even though I have very few survival skills, I know that water is really important and I would hate to be forced to drink water from some unknown source.

I also know that I would die of sunburn in just a few hours if I didn’t have sunscreen.

It’s tough to say who would last the longest because I’m not sure any of us would last all that long. . . but I could see Megan or Christina having some secret survival skills that help them stay on for the longest.

If you ever have something you want our team to address, shoot us your thoughts via social media or email (@papercitydallas on Instagram; facebook.com/papercitymagdallas on Facebook; or yours truly, billy@papercitymag.com). Or, better yet send a message to the office, handwritten on the Smythson stationery of your choice — and feel free to include a bottle of Veuve. Champagne really helps get the ideas flowing.

Look for the next installment of “Now Hear This” from Billy Fong soon. Also, check out our Instagram Stories that accompany each feature with more witty insights on the topic of the week from your PaperCity Dallas team.

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