“Nerve wracking” and “terrible” are words Stacey Osorio uses to describe watching herself on TV’s “Naked and Afraid” last April with her family.
In the Discovery Channel reality TV program, a man and a woman are dropped off in a remote environment to live together for 21 days without food, water, fire or clothes. On day seven Osorio was sleeping when a pot of boiling water fell on her, burning 10 percent of her body. With the threat of infection looming, producers decided it was too risky for her to continue. However, they invited her to return for “Naked and Afraid XL,” where 12 people from last season’s shows live together for 40 days in the South African bush. The 10-episode series premieres Sunday and runs through the summer.
“This was my redemption episode,” said Osorio, who is the only one of the 12 to not “survive” her initial challenge.
Of the 24 people who have attempted “Naked and Afraid XL” over the years, only eight have lasted the full 40 days, Osorio said. She is not allowed to say if she will join that elite number.
“Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, then Africa,” said Osorio, a single mother of two studying wildlife biology at Lewis-Clark State College.
Filming began in January. Before the cameras rolled, Osorio and other contestants were briefed by game rangers about the extreme dangers they faced.
“Everywhere you established camp you had to build a boma,” Osorio said.
A boma is a fort-like perimeter around a living space. It offers protection from predators and large animals like elephants or Cape buffalo that could trample them as they slept. They were also warned about lions, leopards that would stalk them. “It happens all the time. They’re like a monster,” and hyenas, she said. “They crush your skull when you are sleeping and drag you off into the night.”
Bomas were built with acacia trees, which are full of 3- to 4-inch-long thorns. After the first few days their naked bodies were covered with scabs.
“We used thorns to dig thorns out of our feet so they came in handy,” she said.
Each contestant was allowed to bring a blade and another item determined by the producers. Osorio brought a khukuri, a utility knife similar to a machete, and some fishing line with hooks. Another man brought a leather pelt and from this she was able to fashion a crude loin cloth.
The six men and six women began in four separate groups of three with the objective of coming together. They then decide whether or not to stay together.
“It’s like being at summer camp, but in hell,” Osorio said. “I learned so much about how to be compassionate and tolerant and patient.”
Osorio said she’s been told the first episode focuses heavily on her because of a confrontation with another person.
“People love to watch people yell at other people, unfortunately. I think it was legitimate. I’m not going to apologize for what I did.”
Osorio works as a field data technician for Idaho Fish and Game. She plans to use the experience she’s gained on the show to launch a survival skills business.
“Now I’m forever bonded with these people and even more alienated from the rest of society,” she said with a laugh about being on reality TV.
If You Watch
What: “Naked and Afraid XL”
When: Premieres 10 p.m. Sunday, July 10
Where: Discovery Channel
Viewers should check local listings for schedule changes.