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'Naked and Afraid': Orlando artist struts his stuff

Orlando artist Steven Hall may be naked, but he sure doesn't come across as afraid on the season premiere of "Naked and Afraid." Hall proclaims himself "King of the Forest" in the Alabama wilderness. His most memorable moment: He cuts off a snake's head and eats its beating heart. He hasn't seen the episode, which airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on Discovery Channel. The series unites male and female strangers in extreme environments for 21 days. "I'm a pretty tough dude," Hall, 32, said in a phone interview. "The weather was the hardest. It's a literal survival situation. The things you can't control are the things that can kill you." The episode taped in July. The temperature ranged from the 90s to the 40s. There were storms, heavy rain, coyotes, little food and a terrible-tasting possum. The thorns, especially hard on naked people, ranged from small to biblical, Hall said."People think it wouldn't be as hard as Tanzania," he said. "It was intense. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I wouldn't change a single second."

He strikes up a quick rapport with his partner in the wilderness adventure: Chalese Meyer, 26, an endurance athlete from Utah. When she says she's gay, he says he knew."She said, 'I haven't seen one of those in a long time,'" he said, referring to his penis. "I had an inkling. I thought she was a tomboy. The more we got to know each other, it was more apparent. I have a girlfriend I love to death."

On the show, Meyer says she finds him compassionate and a true friend."I never judge a book by a cover," Hall said. "To be so close-minded to think that someone is lesser than you because of how they live is a horrible thing."He does acknowledge, however, that it was "a bonus" when his girlfriend learned that his co-star is a lesbian."My girlfriend is so supportive," he said. "She was more worried about me getting hurt. I'd never do anything to mess with the relationship."Hall, an avid outdoorsman, displays remarkable ease on camera. He was part of a pilot for "Built to Survive," a survival show that wasn't picked up. That experience, he said, helped him land on "Naked and Afraid."But what about eating that snake?"It's a straight primal thing," he said. "It's amazing what you'll do when you have nothing. You are stripped of everything. You have to earn everything. It humbles you in a way how we take everything for granted. Ice cubes are the most amazing thing on the planet."The 5-foot-10 Hall weighed 160 pounds when he started the show. "I was in great shape," he said. "I lost about 25 pounds."Tattoos of two angels -- Michael on the left, Gabriel on the right -- decorate his torso. "My angels keep me safe. I'm blessed to have them," he said. "My personal relationship with God helped get me through the challenge."

Hall has lived in Orlando about 20 years and went to Edgewater High School. He worked at downtown bars before focusing on his art, which he described as loud and filled with hard colors and lines.As an artist, he goes by the name Nevets -- Steven backward -- Killjoy. He transformed a family friend's 1970 Volkswagen Bus into a rock celebration featuring Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Janis Joplin."My art, when you walk into a room, it makes an impression," he said. "It's going to blow your mind. Be sure you're sitting down." (I was.) Check it out at's confidence in the wilderness is striking and amusing. "I live my life that way. I never give up," he said. "Work ethic is something you can't learn. You're born with it. If you don't have confidence in life, you won't go anywhere. I won't settle for just OK. I'm going to change the world."He adds that he doesn't think he's arrogant. "I can back up what I say," he said. "I have a resume and track record to prove it."Yet Hall said being humbled was the main thing he took away from "Naked and Afraid.""When you're stripped of everything, it makes you appreciate the people in your life," he said. "It's the realization the people in your life are the most important thing. It was enlightening."

Copyright © 2016, Orlando Sentinel

  • Hal Boedeker

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