Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson
MW: Please introduce yourself?
TT: My name is Tom Touw, and I am an avid outdoorsman, military officer, tv watcher, and someone who loves to enjoy life.
MW: How did you get cast to be on Naked & Afraid?
TT: I think like most people it started for me just by seeing the show. I watched the first three or four episodes that aired and thought to myself I would do that. Almost on a whim I went to the Discovery web page and applied. No kidding, about an hour later I got my first phone call from the show. The process took about three months, and consisted of numerous phone and camera interviews using Skype. The final phase consisted of them flying me to Los Angeles, and having a medical review, psychological examination, and one final on camera interview. About two weeks after LA I got a phone call saying I would be cast. I had about a months notice before being shipped off to Cambodia.
MW: How was it when you first got naked on the show?
TT: You know, before I left for the show I really didn’t pay much attention to the nude aspect, other than thinking about the survival aspect of it. I have never really minded being naked, so I didn’t think I would care. I felt that way right up to the point they told me to get naked. I was enjoying the insertion, as the boat was cool, the terrain was beautiful, and my mind was swirling with all of the tasks I had ahead. The boat stopped, and they told me to get naked. All of a sudden I got nervous. I just told myself this was what I came here to do, so I stripped down and made the best of it. I felt weird for about the first hour, then you just kind of get over it.
MW: What made you want to do Naked & Afraid?
TT: When I watched it I felt like I could do that. I wanted to test myself, and anytime you tell me something is the hardest thing to do, it makes me want to do it. I really latched on to the saying “The Everest of Survival Challenges”. I wanted to make it, and I wanted to be part of the elite group who conquered it.
MW: What did you think of your partner?
TT: Carrie and I are very different people. At the time of the challenge, I could tell she was very head strong, and really wanted to prove herself much the way that I did. We had very different approaches and goals throughout the challenge. Carrie wanted to take risks, and experience everything she could. Once we had a viable water source, shelter, and a food source that took no energy to get I wanted to take the safer approach. Looking back I can see more that I should have taken more chances, and tried to accomplish more. Having said that, Carrie and I approach stressors in very different ways and I stand by my approach there. The editing did make it look like Carrie and I butted heads all the time. That isn’t true. Some of the best times out there for me were when the camera crew left for the night, and Carrie and I talked about home, and our lives.
MW: How did you keep from catching something?
TT: We were lucky that we weren’t in Cambodia during the rainy season. We just practiced the best hygiene we could. Always store food down stream, pee downstream, and defecate away from the camp. The only good news about not eating is that you rarely have to go to the bathroom, so from that aspect hygiene was easy.
MW: How was it being in Cambodia?
TT: Cambodia was beautiful! I had been in Thailand before, so I was fairly familiar with the region, but the people in Cambodia really make that country. Everywhere you look you see people smiling and enjoying life. The terrain is beautiful too. Sadly, we didn’t get any real time to site see, other than the five hour drive from Phnom Penh to Koh Kong.
MW: What was your favorite thing to eat?
TT: Without a doubt it was the clams we found. Eating the salty hot clams out of the fire was amazing when you are starving. We did also catch a crab which was delicious, but rather small. We also ate fish, but they were usually still alive, so by far not my favorite.
MW: How did you feel when you made it through to complete the challenge?
TT: Accomplishing the challenge was amazing! Knowing we had overcome one of the most difficult challenges ever devised was incredible. Coming back in to civilization was almost surreal. I had a shower that lasted over an hour (cold but I didn’t even care), and then feasted at the restaurant in the hotel. To be honest though, my high was short lived, as I called me then wife that evening, and that is when she told me our marriage was over.
MW: Would you ever do it again?
TT: I would do it again in a heartbeat! It’s funny but as time passes, you forget the pain, but remember the highs. I bet if I do go out again, I live to regret these words quickly.
MW: If you did it again who would you want as a partner? And why?
TT: Well I’m going to assume you ask this based on the construct of a man and a woman again, so I will limit my choices to the women who have accomplished the challenge. I think if I had to chose I would say Alana Barfield. She showed some great skills, and completed the challenge even after her partner was medically taken out of it. Her sense of drive I think would match well with mine.
MW: How can fans reach out to you?
TT: The best way is to go to my Facebook page which is TomTouw or you can get me on twitter @TomTouw1
MW: What would you like to say in closing?
TT: To me, one of the things that makes Naked and Afraid so amazing are the different types of people and the different approaches to accomplishing it. I am honored to be counted among that group. I did Naked and Afraid during a very tumultuous time in my life, and for me, accomplishing that challenge gave me the strength I needed to look beyond my situation and find a new road to continue my life. Thanks for this opportunity to share some of my impressions of my experience, and I encourage anyone who would like to know more to contact me.