In the series, 12 competitors must survive 40 days in the South African wilderness. The premiere episode, titled “Mission Impossible,” introduced the contestants and aired Sunday on Discovery.
The wilderness of South Africa. No food, water, or clothing for 40 days and 40 nights. This is certainly not summer camp, so it’s hard to understand why anyone in their right mind would sign up. And yet, on the new season of Discovery’s Naked and Afraid XL (which premieres this Sunday, July 10 at 10 p.m. EDT), six women and six men are doing just that. Like, of their own volition. Like, not for money or for any type of prize. Just for…bragging rights.
We had so many questions for these brave (and perhaps unhinged?) individuals, so we turned to Stacey Lee Osorio and Alyssa Ballestero, two of the survivalists from the upcoming season — which, by the way, is comprised of cast members who have already completed 21-day challenges in the past. Yes, that’s right: It’s kind of like a Naked and Afraid all-stars and these folks are willingly attempting the challenge again.
Warning: You may want to proceed with caution. Some of these answers are not for the faint of heart. (But really, weirdly fascinating. Maybe that’s just us?)
Okay, so first things first. Why in the world would someone volunteer to go 40 days and 40 nights — naked — with no food or water? With no monetary incentive or promise of a lifelong supply of Chipotle at the end?
Stacey Lee Osorio: “I think everybody who wants to do this challenge feels that they have some kind of natural intuitiveness when it comes to the outdoors. They think they can communicate with nature and trust that it’s going to take care of them. So, doing this challenge is kind of like putting that theory to the test.”
Alyssa Ballestero: “I think I’m a little different from most other people who have done it. They do it to push themselves physically and psychologically. I just like being outside.”
How does one prepare themselves for something like this?
SLO: “I did a lot of reading and walking on rocks to toughen my feet. I have two kids, so I don’t think that I trained as strenuously as some of my counterparts, because my schedule didn’t permit. But I didn’t feel like I needed to, because I trust myself.”
AB: “I just ate a ton of food. Because I had done a challenge like this before, I knew that I’d be having major cravings. So, I tried to eat everything in sight, so I wouldn’t forget what food tasted like.”
Speaking of food, what’s the grossest thing either of you had to eat during one of these challenges?
AB: “A baby bird egg. We thought they were mature, so we boiled them thinking it was going to be this nice, delicious hard-boiled egg. Turns out, it was a baby bird…and I had to eat it anyway. That was rough. It was more sad than gross.”
SLO: “Some three-day-old carcass. It was a leopard’s kill and it made us sick. But we needed sustenance, so we had to eat off of it for days.”
Well, since we’re already in ick territory, what’s the grossest thing you had to do?
SLO: “Massage a bowel movement right out of my anus with my hands.”
Wow, that’s quite a visual…
SLO: “You know, you gotta get your fingers —”
Ooookay! Next question. Obviously, when you’re naked 24/7, you’re completely exposed, even to the other survivalists. Did any of your naked parts ever accidentally graze theirs?
AB: “Not exactly, but we once built a ladder to get into a coconut tree. I remember every time I would climb up, I would think the poor person holding the ladder to keep it steady had the worst view.”
Do bugs ever get in extremely awkward places?
SLO: “Oh, you’re always finding ticks on your genitalia. I also found one under my eyelid. That was gnarly. It was a good thing we were in a group this time, because I had one of my friends pull a tick out of my eye and one pulled one off of my ass. We did that for each other, like a bunch of monkeys. There’s no shame.”
Were there any hookups between survivalists? You’re out there in the middle of nowhere, maybe things get lonely…
SLO: “No way. We all talk and get very intimate, because talking is all you can do. But everybody loses their libido, because you feel like you’re dying, so the last thing you think about is having sex. But I was so glad to have my fellow survivalist, Jake, there. He was so hot. I had something to look at to pass the time. And he’s gay, so it was super safe.”
What are your relationships like with the camera crew? Did you ever try to bribe them for food or a cuddle?
AB: “Totally. We’d say, ‘We’ll do this if you give us this,’ and they’d just laugh, because they would never break down and give us stuff. But we did try.”
SLO: “Most of the time, I was just angry at them. I was hungry and tired and in a terrible mood, and here come these people who have been eating and drinking — and you can smell the soap on them. It’s hard not to feel ticked off when you’re starving and they’re coming from their lunch break. I once called my producer a sadistic fucker and that didn’t go over well.”
Okay, so after polling R29 staffers, the question most people wanted answered was: What the hell do you do when you get your period?
AB: “They give us tampons! Our one saving grace is that it’s television, so they don’t want viewers to see…that. But for me, my body was so malnourished from a lack of food and water that I didn’t even get my period.”
SLO: “Yea, you pretty much just wear a tampon and try to be as discrete as possible. It’s pretty uncomfortable and gross, but at least we get that one luxury. Thanks, Naked and Afraid.”
Well, that’s a relief! You can check out a short preview of the season, below, which includes a lovely scene of Ballestero stepping on a thorn with her bare foot and, ya know, just dealing with it.