Bowery Resident Talks About Camping with Bear Grylls

Posted on: August 18th, 2010 at 6:34 am by

Last week, we learned that longtime Bowery resident Joe Resto won a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tag along with Bear Grylls in the Canadian Rockies.  The Bronx-born deejay was one of two lucky souls chosen among a pool of 20,000 applicants as part of the Discovery Channel’s Fan vs Wild contest. This special episode of Man vs Wild is tentatively scheduled for September 8.  In anticipation of the event, Resto was kind enough to answer a few questions we had about his trek.

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Bowery Boogie: We understand that you are contractually restricted from providing details about your trek, but what was the most challenging part?

Joe Resto: One of the most challenging parts about the adventure was the unknown. The crew, including Bear, purposely wanted me to have genuine reactions to the environment and any feats I was asked to perform. We were high up in the Canadian Rockies so the atmosphere was very different than what I’m used to. The air is very thin up there so it took a few days for my body to adjust. I’m also a very picky eater, and if you watch the show, you know that Bear has a habit of ingesting some pretty disgusting things. Meals were very hard to swallow.

BB: Was it a rough transition from concrete jungle to Canadian Rockies wilderness?

JR: It was definitely a culture shock. One minute I was on 1st street and 1st Avenue playing handball, and the next I’m in the most remote part of British Columbia. No cabs, no cable, no internet, no bars, no cell phones, no women, no anything! I was totally stripped of everyday conveniences which was disconcerting at first, but at the same time, very liberating.

BB: Did being from New York City help you conquer the challenges? In what ways?

JR: Growing up in the Bronx in the 80’s definitely helped. I have seen A LOT in my time up in the Northeast borough. In my early 20’s I was shot in the back in a random, senseless act of violence. My best friend sitting 2 inches next to me was killed as one of the bullets pierced his skull. Most of my friends weren’t able to survive the pitfalls of the streets. But at my lowest point, I was able to muster the strength and will to overcome those challenges. It may not be the same type of survival needed to survive “The Wild,” but it did prepare me to dig deep in the face of adversity and find inner-strengths.

BB: Would you go again? What do you take away from this once-in-a-lifetime trip?

JR: In a heartbeat! The experience was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime journey! As evidenced by the hundreds of emails and facebook comments I’ve been receiving from friends and fans around the world, this was truly an adventure most people would give anything to be a part of. I feel truly blessed and very very lucky to have been chosen.

As far as any “take-aways,” I definitely have a new respect for our beautiful planet and the creatures that inhabit it. It’s almost overwhelming to see these mountains and glaciers that have been formed through thousands of years of geologic evolution. Seeing wild animals in their natural habitat and the smell of pure mountain air is more than enough to realize that we must protect our planet and preserve our natural resources.

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BB: It would be poor form if we didn’t ask about the delicacies you ate while in the woods. Can you divulge any details?

JR: That’s the million dollar question. I have been asked by everyone and their mother, “what did he make you eat”? I can’t provide any details, but I CAN say that it was pretty disgusting. But when you’re in the wild and hungry, it makes it a little bit easier to accept. When I think back about what I ate, I honestly start to dry-heave.

BB: Is Bear as badass in real life as he appears on screen?

JR: What you see is what you get. I didn’t know what to expect when I met Bear for the first time. But we bonded almost immediately. He’s the ultimate survivor and very knowledgeable. He’s like the ultimate boy scout. During our time together I probably asked him a hundred questions and he was able to answer each and every one of them. He is nature’s biggest fan. If I had to be stranded anywhere in the world, I would want Bear right there with me.

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BB: Who would you rate higher, Bear or MacGuyver? Why?

JR: NO contest! MacGuyver had his day, but Bear is the real deal! Let’s see how long MacGuyver lasts in the Sahara desert without food and water.

BB: What do you enjoy most about living on the Bowery?

JR: The character of the neighborhood is different than any other part of Manhattan. It’s almost as if the Bowery is a place where everyone goes to get away from “The City.” I love the fact that there’s always something going on, at any time, on any day. I can get great food at 2am on a Monday or hear great music at 3am on a Wednesday, and all within 5 blocks of my house. I’m also a life-long handball player and there’s a few handball courts down here. The courts at West 4th have been my second home ever since I moved downtown.

BB: We read that you are a DJ. Where do you spin?

JR: A week before I flew off to my adventure with Bear, I landed my first job as a DJ. I’m currently DJ’ing at a few bars throughout the city, including Jake’s Dilemma and The Gin Mill on Amsterdam, Off The Wagon on Macdougal, The 13th Step on 2nd Avenue, and 3 Sheets Saloon on West 3rd Street.

Man vs Wild currently airs Wednesdays at 9 pm on the Discovery Channel.

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