Max Djenohan barely survived 14 days naked in a perilous Panama jungle. Then he went back for 21 days more in the buff.
What’s up with that?
You can see Djenohan in his second episode of Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” on Sunday.
Certain frontal parts of him will be blurred, but his backside is all over the screen.
The reality show’s premise is to pair a man and woman in extreme environments with two survival items and not a stitch of clothing. Not even shoes.
The first time, in 2017, Djenohan and a partner, Bianca, endured a 14-day rugged romp with aggressive caimans, snakes and thorny mangroves. He was portrayed as a bit of a jerk in “Special: Island of Tears” that aired last April.
Even so, the Edmonds man who grew up in Shoreline was asked back in July 2018 to appear on a 21-day challenge, shot in a different region of Panama.
On this escapade, airing Sunday, he is paired with another man, Seth.
“That was a curveball,” said Djenohan, 29.
“My partner was an East Coast conservative, right-wing, gun-toting Trump supporter,” he said. “And I’m a Seattle greener to him. I was raised by a hippie mom. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”
That included sleeping arrangements.
“If we need to stay warm, I don’t care, I’ll freakin’ cuddle you, we can go back-to-back. You have to do what you have to, but he was not having it, at all. He was, ‘Don’t get close to me,’” Djenohan said. “I’m comfortable with my sexuality. I have a beautiful girlfriend.”
The two naked men meet up with two naked women in Sunday’s two-hour show. What happens is under wraps.
Djenohan works at Seattle snowboard company Low Pressure Studio and is a semi-pro boarder and fearless backpacker. “Anything outside, I’m down to do it.”
His adventuring posts on Instagram, where he goes by NomadikMax, led to him being recruited for “Naked and Afraid.”
To train, he rubbed sticks together to start a fire. It’s harder than it looks.
“When I was halfway through my bow fire drill, I was like, I’m tired, and I’d walk straight to the fridge and grab a sandwich,” he said. “Then I thought to myself, that is not going to go down when this is actually happening.”
To prepare he didn’t prance around naked. He hiked barefoot and stuffed his face.
“Feet and fat,” he said. “You need to get your feet ready and you need to be as fat as possible to get into this challenge. When I look at the (show) trailer, I was like, dang, I was a fat boy.”
He can’t reveal how much weight he lost. Nor could he say what two tools he and Seth shared as naked castaways. In past episodes, it’s usually either a blade of some sort, firestarter or a pan with lid.
He was more naked than afraid.
“It’s not scary when you have a whole camera crew there,” he said. “They film for 10 to 12 hours a day. There are 10 or 15 people looking at you — the deckhands, the producer, the sound guys.”
The crew didn’t slip him water bottles or bug spray. A bandage, yes.
“We were scrambling to get the shelter together and I freakin’ sliced the bottom of my foot wide open.”
The crew had toilets and toilet paper. Djenohan had leaves and stream water, which he called “nature’s bidet.”
Circadian rhythm was set by the sun.
“You wake up with the sun and you charge for as long as you can and keep charging until sunset then hunker down,” he said. “At night, that’s when all the animals come out, all the predators in the jungle. So you need to be close to your fire or have traps set up.”
Meantime, “The crews were staying at this five-star hotel … every night having this delicious meal,” he said.
For contestants, there were no retreats to the comforts of civilization or a makeup artist to make it look like they were bug-bitten and filthy.
“No way. I wish. That would make it so much easier — just rub some dirt on and get back to it,” he said. “It’s 100 percent real.”
“There are moments you are like, why am I doing this? I could totally not be swatting at bugs for hours and hours or have food in my belly and a bed to sleep in and a shower,” he said.
When he thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did: “All the food was gone. It started pouring down rain. Our shelter wasn’t built yet and I got some mild giardia where I literally couldn’t move for two days and the bugs were devouring me,” he said.
There’s no jackpot at the end for making it all 21 days. The pay for being on the show breaks out to below minimum wage, Djenohan said.
So why do it, not once but twice?
“You are completely disconnected. There’s no stimulation from the outside world. You never get that in our modern-day society. I’m all about the struggle … Knowing that if I can make it through things like that on a physical or mental level, I could push through anything.”
In the episode “Botswana Breakdown,” Jefferson teamed up with a female Rhode Island bartender to bare all in the barren plains of Africa. They faced intense day heat, cold nights and a watering hole filled with animal waste.
“It makes ‘Survivor’ seem like day camp with your buddies,” Jefferson said.
“The bugs are on you all day and all night. Bees in your ears. Ticks crawling on you. Mosquitoes find you interesting all day and want to hang out on you. The bugs can go wherever they want. At least on ‘Survivor’ you have clothes.”
Asked how life has been since, Jefferson said: “It takes about a year to not take things for granted, like turning on a faucet. I think about it every day.”
Jefferson, named a Cosmopolitan magazine dateable bachelor in 2010, is now married and an expectant father living in Everett. He is a loan officer at Guild Mortgage.
“It’s not stressful. I get to come to work every day, fully clothed and I have a belly full of food,” he said.
He still gets recognized from “Naked and Afraid.”
Same with Djenohan, who said, “People were like, were you on TV?”
Djenohan expects more attention from the upcoming show.
“It’s going to be gnarly,” he said.
Reporter Ben Watanabe, a loyal “Naked and Afraid” viewer, contributed to this story.