When it came time to produce the Fear Factor celebrity edition, we wanted to be sure that our contestants didn't get any kind of special star treatment. In fact, we went so far out of our way to be tough on them that we wound up with one of our creepiest, grossest stunts ever.
For starters, we checked in with a couple of animal wranglers to find out what types of creatures really give people the chills. Lions and tigers and bears topped the list, of course, but you'd be surprised how many people have a hard time handling creepy crawlers like millipedes and scorpions.
People certainly have good reason to fear scorpions. Besides their sinister appearance, scorpions are capable of releasing deadly venom through their stingers and give out nasty pinches with their sharp claws.
We found out the world's largest scorpions are called Emperors and quickly set out to round up as many as we could for the stunt. Emperors are not deadly but they sure can hurt. It was clear we'd have to have medics standing by on our set at all times with the proper anti-venom just in case any of them got out of control.
We also ordered a bunch of Giant Millipedes from Africa. Each one of these suckers is eight inches long, has 150 pointy legs, and is capable of secreting horrible smelling substances in self-defense. All we had to do was figure out a way to combine millipedes and scorpions in one stunt and we knew we'd be in business.
Oh, and just to make things even worse, we added 15,000 super worms to the mix. Super worms are like mealworms on steroids. They're real feisty with sharp little legs that really dig into the skin. They've been known to draw blood from our contestants. And, to top it off, they also smell horrible. Combined with millipedes and scorpions, the super worms virtually guaranteed a successful stunt.
We designed a 17-inch square plexiglass box that would fit around the head of the contestants and put them face-to-face with 40 millipedes, 20 scorpions, and 1000's of super worms. The box's open top construction would make it possible for the animal wranglers to dump in all the creatures AND set a couple of millipedes and scorpions right on top of the contestant's heads. No doubt about it, this was not going to be the usual star treatment.
All we needed to complete the picture was a gross location, and we found it in an abandoned train tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. Nothing like a muddy, smelly tunnel to make the contestants feel yet more ill at ease. And it was all the more disconcerting when our set medic started telling us about the various dead bodies that had been found there over the years.
Sound like a stunt you'd be willing to try? Think hard before you answer that question. Contestant Kelly Preston described it as the nastiest thing I've ever done. Donny Osmond called it the grossest thing he's ever experienced. Coolio probably summed it up best when he said, I'm traumatized for life!
by RICH BROWN