Last August, we were interviewing one of our 100 Creatives, Spencer Morin, on the phone as he was working as a production assistant on a super secret show out in the Everglades. He wouldn't tell us what is was, but we could have sworn we heard someone yell tripod or python in the background. Turns out the latter was correct. It's a National Geographic show on snakes starring none other than Henry Rollins. We prodded Morin for the details about Hank and the show. Being Rollins's wingman as he hunts for serpents in Florida swamps just happens to be one of the top items on our bucket list.
This isn't Rollins first project with National Geographic. He recently starred in Born to Rage, where he investigated the so-called "warrior gene," a gene found in men that some scientists think is a possible indicator of violent behavior. The Explorer series episode aired in mid-December, but set your DVRs in case of rerun. Think you have this skull-crashing gene? Take the quiz here. (And we kinda don't believe it's just men who have it. Now who wants to arm wrestle?)
For this latest project, Snake Underworld, Rollins spent about a week in Florida swamps exploring the fringe of America's secret snake subculture: snake smugglers, snake breeders, and even those who "self-envenomate." If you've ever caught one of Hank's many spoken word tours or enjoyed one of his 2.13.61 books, you know one of his first jobs as a teenager was feeding live mice to pet shop snakes. National Geo execs discovered Rollins obsession for snakes during filming for Born to Rage.
As Snake Underworld doesn't air until April, Morin and Rollins couldn't disclose many particulars about the Everglades shoot so forgive us if this reads a little Tiger Beat.
New Times: What was your role on the show?
Spencer Morin: I was the production assistant, but proudly so, the only production assistant. Normally on the sets I've worked on there's at least 20 in total. But I ended up getting a call from a friend and he said "hey, I dropped your name to Nat Geo. They're looking for a PA." This guy says "Henry Rollins Snake Underworld." Production assistants do a little bit of everything on the set. This time I was doing the whole kit and kaboodle. It was me, a producer, a DP who worked on Exit Through the Gift Shop, and Henry.
Why Henry Rollins for a snake show?
The man loves snakes! I asked him that when I picked him up from the airport after he opened up to me a little bit. I couldn't believe how candid he was. He went into one of his rants and showed me a couple snake tats.
Most surprising thing about Rollins?
Despite all the man has been through, and the magnitude he carries in our culture, he is one of the funniest, loosest, most intelligent, and damn blunt people I've ever met. Driving him up and down Florida, North and South, he'd DJ the trip with his iPod to figure out what he'd play on his radio show on KCRW after the shoot. I couldn't believe it. He would play Tinariwen, throat singing, local 1980s funk from DC, 1960s Tibetan rock, all kinds of stuff! Of course he threw in a little bit of punk, some BF b-sides, Slayer, and a band I can't remember that was damned angry stuff, but it came from a demo tape that he listened to and loved.
He has this appreciation for local music or start-up bands that's really awesome. He actually picks out the bands he likes and he takes the time to listen to them so he can play their stuff on his show. He's all about changing it up. He's also all about keeping it real.
What does he think of Florida?
I'm proud to say I introduced him to conch fritters. He was already very familiar with cafe con leches and is crazy about them. Rather than putting words in his mouth, I figured I'd just ask him. (Spencer sends a quick email to Hank.)
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"I like it geographically but it's a state that didn't let its citizens vote without discrimination, which as you know is in violation of the 15th and 19th Amendment. I think they elect some bad players and also helped steal a presidential election. The SCOTUS helped, of course. Past that, my audience is great to me there and I like it there." -Henry
Last question: How did he smell? (Kidding. Well, tell us anyway.)
Cinnamon... And roses... Or nothing at all.