ENID, Okla. — An Enid man is starring in the latest episode of the Discovery Channel TV series "Naked and Afraid," airing 8 p.m. Sunday.
The show pairs together two strangers, a man and a woman, who must try to survive together in a remote, harsh environment for 21 days, with no food or water, and no clothes.
Discovery Channel reached out to Jeremy Upshaw a little more than a year ago to see if he would be interested in such an experience. He couldn't say no.
When Upshaw isn't working a sewing machine at the Uniform Stop, he's seeking out the extreme.
"My whole life I've been doing a lot of kayaking, martial arts, I do a lot of Alpine climbing ... I search out as much adrenaline fuel as I can," he said.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Upshaw said. "I was blessed enough to have this chance, so I decided I had to do it."
For a year, Upshaw has had to keep tight-lipped about his nude survivalist expedition.
"It's almost like going on the most exciting adventure of your life and then coming home and not being able to tell anybody about it," he said.
He won't have to stay quiet much longer.
He can't share the outcome of his episode, and he can't say where he was sent to, but called it "a very dense and unforgiving place."
"Imagine the deepest, darkest jungle and that pretty much sums it up," he said.
Before setting off, Upshaw had roughly three months to prepare. He needed to whip his body and mind into the right shape for what lay ahead.
He spent a lot of time in the sun, and he toughened his feet by running barefoot along the Enid trail system, earning many strange looks.
The only food or water that would be available is whatever he and his partner could find or hunt on their own. There would be days of hunger and thirst, so he skipped meals and fasted to get familiar with the feeling.
He cleared his head, wanting "no inhibitions and no demons" getting in the way.
But when the clothes come off and the challenge begins, it's a very different thing.
"That's the amazing thing about this, I think when you're stripped down like that, nobody can really fully prepare," he said.
In a survival scenario, shelter is the top priority, he said, but what people often don't realize is that clothing is a person's first shelter. When it's gone it is dearly missed.
"You feel the rain pound that much harder, the cold is colder, the sun is that much hotter and unforgiving," he said. There's no barrier to bugs. Calluses begin to build in places they never have.
The nudity on the show is anything but erotic, he said, and past the first few moments there is no embarrassment either, there's no time for it.
"I wasn't really worried about who saw me or what I looked like ... because you're fighting for your life," he said. "I'm pretty calm under pressure usually ... but I think I had a few moments where I kind of looked inside myself and asked, 'Why am I here, why am I doing this?'"
The physical and mental stress of exposure, thirst and hunger are joined by isolation, darkness, and danger.
In the daylight hours there is a small crew, but when night falls, they leave, he said, likely to somewhere more comfortable.
"We had to be alert out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and especially at night time ... one false move, or a slip and fall can be potentially fatal," Upshaw said. "You don't know what darkness is until you're in the belly of a jungle."
Adding to the tension, Upshaw and his partner were "very much opposites," he said.
"I think the people are going to be surprised by our partnership, our relationship we had on the show," he said.
Despite the differences, the two still talk on a regular basis.
"I don't know of many other bonding experiences like that," he said. "Pretty intimate accommodations out there."
Every minute was a struggle, he said, but he would endure each one again "in a heartbeat."
"I think we learn our greatest lessons through hardship and struggle," he said.
For their full story of survival, he said to tune into Discovery on Sunday night.
"I hope it's as fun an adventure to follow along with as it was to go on," Upshaw said.