RALEIGH – Most people would shudder at the thought of getting dropped in the middle of nowhere, completely naked, with a stranger. No water or food. And a film crew.
But not Raleigh entrepreneur Wes Harper.
The 49-year-old owner of IT support firm LightWire, Inc. took up the challenge on a lark – and soon we’ll finally get to see him bare all.
This Sunday, June 23, the father of five will appear on Discovery Channel’s two-part episode of reality hit TV show, ‘Naked and Afraid,’ at 9pm, and again next Sunday.
His mission: to survive in the humid, tropical savannas of Brazil with a woman he just met called Jesse — for 21 days.
“I’ve done marathons; I did the Raleigh Half Ironman. But this was so wildly different than anything I’ve tried to do,” Harper told WRAL TechWire in an phone interview ahead of the show’s airing.
“It was at such a high level. Once I set my sights on it, I just had an appetite for it.”
Interestingly, his kids weren’t so shocked at the prospect of seeing their father naked on television.
“One of the kids said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like you, Dad,” he recalls with a deep laugh.
From armchair viewer to participant
As for how he initially got cast, it all started with his wife, Molly.
“We watch the show religiously. I’m an armchair quarterback. I’m always screaming at the TV, ‘Don’t do this. Do this.’”
One night, while watching the show and sharing a few drinks, his wife had had enough. “She got her laptop, pulled up the application, and we had a good laugh filling it out.”
Then he forgot about it. Two days later, the producers called and the rest is history, as they say.
That was back in 2017. Over the next year, Harper had to undergo a series of physical and psychological tests to make sure that he was up for the task.
But as for the naked part, that wasn’t a big issue for him: “I’ve never been shy about being naked. It doesn’t bother me.”
However, a little more challenging, he admits, was teaming up with a stranger sans clothes, who also happened to be a woman.
“I had tried to mentally get ready for that exact event months ahead of time. In reality, it’s a very awkward real experience. A little frightening, a little exciting — and all of it is documented on camera.”
Filming occurred last April, and he wants you to know one thing: it’s the real deal.
“There are no granola bars waiting for you; there’s no toilet paper. There’s nothing. It’s the most miserable and wonderful thing that I’ve done at the same time.”
Did being an entrepreneur prepare him in any way for the harsh conditions? “Absolutely. [It] helped me with the focus, the drive, the mental fortitude.”
Harper remains tight-lipped about exactly what transpired, but he does give this little teaser: it’s a two-part episode, so it’s safe to assume that there was enough activity to fill those time slots.
“That’s not a very common occurrence,” Harper says, unable to hide his pride.
Perhaps surprisingly, he says he’d be willing to do it all over again.
“It made me realize I had stresses in my life that I had created myself. I learned to dial it back a notch. Honestly, you really don’t have to check your email every two minutes. It’s all going to be okay.”