I'm running through the woods in the High Sierras of California. I'm having a hard time breathing because I'm a few thousand feet above sea level and I have a heavy vest weighing me down. I could really use a Xanax. Myself and my friend Jacob are out of breath but pushing ourselves harder than we ever have before. A device on my arm won't stop vibrating with the message "Hunt Team in Pursuit." I could really, really use a Xanax. Did we lose them? In the midst of the panic we begin to enter a closed zone and our vests start blaring. I'm terrible with direction so I let Jacob lead us out of it. I get a whiff of my own body and it smells like fermented egg salad that had been floating in the Ganges for a few days. Our alarms stop and our devices deliver a video of a blonde Australian man who tells us the hunt is over for the day. We made it, for now. And I could really use a Xanax.
If you read me this scenario six months ago, I would have thought that Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk had collaborated on an adaptation that was part Lord of the Flies and Logan's Run. Nope, Rob. This will be you. And it will be one of the most horrific, challenging, rewarding, painful, joyful experiences of your life.
On Tuesday, July 30th at 9/8c I will be making my television debut on a competitive survival reality show called Capture on the CW. Myself and my friend Jacob are one of 12 teams competing in the wild to win $250,000 over a 30-day period. We had devices on our arms which showed our location on the game map. We had to avoid capture to stay in the game, and we had to fight for food and advantages. If we stopped moving for more than three minutes, our location would be revealed to the team hunting us. And we did this. Every single day. On like, a few beans.
I'm a performer at an improv theater in Chicago called iO, and when I responded to an email from a casting director I thought that this competition would be perfect for myself and Jacob. We're 6'3 and 6'4. I was a Boy Scout. He used to row for Princeton. And if we play this right, it might be one of the first times that gay men could be portrayed as strong, capable, athletic and honest on a reality show.
Little did I know that in a few short months I would in the middle of the woods digging up a flower root with Jacob, watch him bite off the outer bark to get to the soft interior, and say to me with dead eyes, "This is a new low." Adjusting to outdoor living was a little tougher for Jacob, since he's currently pursuing a degree in Urban Planning and is a city-boy in every sense. His sense of direction would be invaluable as we would play this game. I had an easier time adjusting to the wild due to Boy Scouting and living off an island in the Florida Keys for a short period of time in college. But nothing could have prepared us for the hunger, which was why we were eating a root. A dirty, dirty root.
Living and competing with us were 11 other teams of two, ranging from outdoor survivalists, to a champion boxer, to Parkour athletes. This was also going to be a challenge, since at the end of every two hunts, the teams who weren't captured voted to eliminate a team from the competition. There's no doubt we are the biggest ones there. How do we downplay our strengths? How do we convince teams to keep us? The strategy of the game is a little hard to master since if a hunt team fails to capture a team, they are automatically sent home. What's to stop your friends from capturing you if its either their head or yours? It's not your typical show.
I encourage you to join me in watching what is sure to be one of the most entertaining, dramatic, intense, hilarious television experiences of the summer. I'll be blogging for Huffington Post every step of the way, so you can catch recaps and behind-the-hunt information from your lightly snarky but always on point author. There's going to be a lot that won't make the episode edits, and I will gladly fill you in.
You can follow the show online through the Capture Facebook, Twitter or CW mobile app. If you haven't gotten to see much of what the show is about, check out the extended preview here.