Mike Rowe has eagerly taken on jobs that aren’t for the faint of heart — or stomach. This season, the popular TV personality insisted his guts were put to the test like never before.
“Dirty Jobs” returned to Discovery in January, nearly a decade after it originally wrapped. Over the years, the 60-year-old has tried numerous messy, smelly and downright dangerous gigs.
The new season, which premieres Sunday, will continue to chronicle Rowe’s determination to meet unsung heroes from across the country. But Rowe admitted even he didn’t know what he signed up for this time around.
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“It’s a very filthy season,” Rowe told FOX Business. “I mean, we see some things that will make your stomach roll. But the one that freaked me out interestingly was … there’s a guy named Ed Currie who grows the Carolina Reaper, which is a hot pepper, one of the hottest peppers ever made. In fact, he does a thing called the ghost pepper. One drop of this stuff on your tongue can really wreck your whole day.”
“I was working with him all day, bringing in the harvest, making these hot sauces,” Rowe recalled. “And I had to record a song that evening. I was recording a song with John Rich. And the guys who were there working with Ed, they all pulled me aside, and they were like, ‘Mike, don’t put this in your mouth ‘cause you’re not going to be able to talk. You’re not going to be able to sing. Forget it.’ Anyhow, my producer wound up trying some. He threw up in his beard. [He] hallucinated. Didn’t sleep for two days.”
But that wasn’t the worst of it for Rowe.
“It’s not every day a licensed veterinarian will give you a scalpel and let you castrate a cat,” he said. “Spaying and neutering feral cats is a huge undertaking. I went to … a facility in Texas that focuses entirely on castrating these feral cats to stop their population from exploding. I mean, just on a personal level, to remove the testicles of another creature … Let’s just say that my dreams that night were fevered and vivid.
“The cats are boycotting this season,” he joked.
Aside from feral cat fixer, some of the other jobs Rowe will try his hand at this season include beaver relocator, deer urine farmer and pool line fixer cleaning 17 years of accumulated filth.
There was even one job that made Rowe do a double take – hotel soap recycler.
“I like the irony of that segment,” Rowe explained. “Cleaning soap, essentially recycling soap. It’s pretty important. When you think about how much the average bar of soap is used in a hotel, it’s once or twice, and then they throw it out. And then a new bar comes in. So what happens to all those … hundreds and hundreds … of soaps that have only been used once? Well, it’s disgusting.
“They melt it down. It’s hot. And then they create new bars of soap. A lot of it is shipped to third-world countries where hygiene is a real problem and soap is truly in short supply. We profiled an organization down in Florida called Clean the World. They’ve shipped millions of bars of soap all over the place. It’s pretty great.”
Rowe said, at this point, he doesn’t have to look for work. The jobs come to him. The star said he receives numerous emails and letters from folks who want to showcase their unique business.
“I stopped looking many years ago and just turned the whole thing over to the viewer,” said Rowe. “Most of the ideas we get are from people who write in, who have watched the show for years and say, ‘You think that’s dirty? Come castrate a cat.’ Or, ‘You think that’s dirty? Come clean a pool that hasn’t been cleaned in 17 years,’ and so forth. All the ideas come from the viewers.”
And Rowe insisted he’s always looking for a challenge.
“I tried rod busting last season, and it’s maybe one of the toughest construction jobs there is,” he said. “I did it, and then I walked funny for about two weeks. Sometimes you just look at the title of a job, and you say, ‘OK, that probably needs to be attempted.’ And other times, the titles look banal. Like, ‘Bridge maintainer – how hard can that be?’ Then you’re 600 feet up in the air … and you’re scared to death. You just never know until you show up and do it.”
“Dirty Jobs” originally aired on Discovery from 2005 to 2013. It was rebooted in 2020 as a limited series titled “Dirty Jobs: Rowe’d Trip.” By popular demand, Rowe brought back the series, and he’s eager to see what else is in store for him.
“Underneath all the exploding toilets and feces from every species and misadventures and animal husbandry is an honest look at a day’s work,” said Rowe. “And people are always going to be interested in ways to make a buck. And I think today, in particular, there’s so much talk about the definition of a good job.
“There’s so much interest in how to prosper as a result of learning a new skill that’s in demand. We’ve always talked about essential work, but now, after the lockdowns, essential work truly became headline news. ‘Dirty Jobs’ was there. It never really went away.”
The new season of “Dirty Jobs” premieres Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. on Discovery.
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