Idaho survivalist will be featured in Discovery's 'Naked & Afraid' Sunday

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comMarch 20, 2014 

Jeff Zausch, a survivalist from Idaho, showed off his skills on "Naked & Afraid."

A Pocatello man will show off his survival skills - and, at times, his bare behind - in Discovery Channel's "Naked & Afraid" on Sunday. The show airs at 7 p.m. MST.

After the show, Jeff Zausch, a 26-year-old who works at Idaho State University, will also appear on a live talk show "Naked After Dark," also on Discovery. He lost more than 30 pounds during his three-week "survival of the fittest" ordeal in Madagascar.

The show began its second season last Sunday. Each week features a different man and woman - who are strangers - trying to work together to survive for 21 days in the wild without food, water or (gasp) clothes.

"Naked & Afraid" has received mixed reviews from critics, in part for playing off of friction between the people it features. A New York Times review of a different episode concluded that the participants' "21 days in the Costa Rican jungle play out like one long, bad first date, or a terrible vacation in a sour marriage."

Here are links to reviews in the New York Times, Variety and The Daily Beast.

The Idaho State Journal did a profile on Zausch. (That article link includes a video interview).

He agreed to do a short Q & A with us too:

What appealed to you about the show?

I live my life to do the things that nobody else has ever done before! I think of myself as a pioneer, breaking the trail for all that come after me! My father, Matthew Zausch, was the greatest survivalist that I have ever known, trying to live up to his great legacy was more than enough motivation for me to complete this challenge.

Does the show blur out private parts, or does it show you buck naked?

Yes, all private parts are blurred! Except for my butt, that is still visible. It's on Discovery Channel and is rated PG-13.

Any trepidation about being naked?

Absolutely not! In high school I was known as the "mooner." So almost everybody has seen my butt already anyway. I was just worried about getting my "package" caught on some sharp desert thorns! Fortunately that did not happen and my "boys" came back in one piece.

How much did you weigh before the 21 days in the desert? How much weight did you lose?

I weighed 180 pounds before the challenge. After I was done, I weighed 149 pounds. I lost 31 pounds in 21 days!

Have you tried to get on "Survivor"?

No, I haven't. But after this experience I believe that I could not only do "Survivor" but I think I could win! Maybe that's next ...

Has the show opened up any new opportunities or job offers?

Yes, I have been getting calls from all over the country! Many people are impressed with what I was able to do out there, and there are many job opportunities that I am currently discussing with my wife.

Have you stayed in touch with your partner from Arizona?

Yes, Eva and I have been in contact after the show. Even though I almost strangled her several times in our cave, I have come to really like Eva and the person she is.

What's the biggest thing you learned from the show

The challenge gave me a whole new appreciation for shoes, fast-food, and cups (yes ... drinking cups! Do you know how hard it is to find a natural cup in the desert? Ridiculous!). I would also encourage others to not be content with being ordinary. Everybody has the opportunity to take what they have been given in life and use that to become extraordinary people.

NOTE 'NAKED & AFRAID' FANS: Zausch also shared some behind-the-scenes tidbits that we will post on Sunday, before the show airs.

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