[DISCLAIMER: This interview and accompanying photographs contain explicit language]
Having just moved to New York City, which only happens to be the most expensive place in the world (actually, NYC only ranks #29 while Tokyo takes the first spot), Broke-Ass Stuart has been my salvation when it comes to cheap living. In case you’ve never heard of him, blogger-turned-author-turned TV show host Stuart Schuffman has built an empire based on a simple premise: “What makes you interesting is not the things you own, but the shit you do.” Far away from being preachy in its ideology, Broke-Ass Stuart and its guide to various cities are a go-to resource for people with limited means willing to explore the underground spots usually only reserved for locals. With such a strong concept and an ever-expanding fan-base, IFC approached “the Chief of Cheap” and offered him his own series: Young, Broke & Beautiful, which premieres tonight at 11/10c.
It’s an honor to speak with the pimp-daddy of budget travel! What exactly can we expect from your show, Young, Broke & Beautiful?
I will be traveling all over the country and showing our viewers how to explore some of the lesser-known corners of big cities like Baltimore or San Diego. I’ve had a following with my books and blog, but things happen a lot more organically with television; you’ll definitely get to see and experience things that won’t show up in regular video tours.
How are you feeling, now that your show is about to air?
Fucking excited! I can’t wait for people to see all of the craziness that we were able to capture. I mean, I get fitted for vampire fangs in the pilot episode in New Orleans; doesn’t get better than that, right? There are also so many good parts filmed that don’t make it because of the length of the show [approximately 30 minutes per episode], so I’m hoping we’ll be able to release some extra footage in the future.
How many episodes have you shot so far, and which is your favorite?
We’ve done six for the first season, and… man, there’s something great about each place. There’s nothing quite like New Orleans, though! On one hand it’s your quintessential American city with a large portion of our history encapsulated there; but it definitely is a great city, especially from a musical standpoint.
I know! I saw the pilot episode, and you actually got to meet with…
Irma Thomas and George Porter Jr. (bassist of The Meters). It was absolutely unbelievable; I mean, I’ve listened to these guys’ music for years!
How did you score a show? Did you approach IFC?
It’s funny, but my entire career has been random: everything I’ve done, I’ve come in through the backdoor. I was interviewed after one of my books had come out, and when the question “What’s next?” came around, I answered that I wanted a motherfucking TV show. A few days later, Sam (Erickson, Executive Producer) called me and we got the ball rolling.
What has your relationship with your fans been like?
Absolutely great. I love meeting with people who use my guides and who enjoy the “broke-ass” life. Call me an egomaniac, but as I travel, they’re the ones who host me and the ones I party with; they’ve all got an attitude I can relate to.
Are you on the road right now?
Nope! [laughs] Pajama bottoms, and answering emails. Or playing Angry Birds.
I hope they’re good pajama bottoms at least.
They are! I also wore them during this one interview with this girl called Jen Jajeh who gets in bed with people whenever she interviews them.
You’ve said that you want to enjoy life not as a rich person, but as a real person. Could you elaborate on that concept?
It’s about truly being able to live life. Of course, they’re not mutually exclusive. You can be rich and enjoy your life free of only material needs: look at Bill Murray! Don’t know the guy, but he represents the kind of person that can be wealthy but actually takes the time to step back and enjoy his existence.
I’m going to give you the name of certain celebrities, and you tell me whether they have the “broke-ass” attitude or not.
Yes. Totally embodies that bohemian spirit.
The Dalai Lama.
[hesitates] I’d say yes. I don’t like her music, but I respect anyone who is able to reinvent him or herself.
Let me play devil’s advocate. Was there ever a time where being broke wasn’t all that fun?
Are you kidding? I’m always in need of more money! [laughs] Absolutely! I could do so much more if I had the capital; the potential to grow also depends on the funds you have. But I love my life, and it’s not worth it to work endless hours if you never have time to spend that money.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
Young Broke & Beautiful premieres Friday, June 24 at 11:00PM ET/PT on IFC