It ain't easy being a hooker. The world's oldest profession is wet, rough, and taxing as hell -- particularly for females.
Get your mind out of the gutter. We're talking about fishing.
The ancient sport is the subject of Animal Planet's newest reality TV competition, Top Hooker. The show pits ten of the world's top anglers against each other for the chance at $30,000, a new pickup truck, and liquid glory. And South Florida is represented by "Sexy Spearfisher" Melanie Housh of Key Largo.
We talked to Melanie about her dream catch, having goldfish in her mouth, and hanging out at Gilbert's Resort.
In addition to free diving, spearfishing, offshore fishing, and generally channeling her inner Ariel, Housh is a professional fire lieutenant, paramedic, and rescue diver. So she's a badass by land or by sea.
Cultist: Can we expect a lot double entendres in the duration of the series?
Housh: I would think so. [Laughs.]
How do you feel about your "Sexy Spearfisher" nickname?
It's cool, it's cool. It goes with the show and it's what I love to do, so I think it goes hand in hand.
It's reality TV, soooo, was there a lot of drama?
There was not a whole lot of drama as far as between the contestants. But there was a little drama already with one of the guys, Ian -- he busted his knee on one of the competitions right off the bat. That was kind of dramatic. But as far as amongst the contestants arguing and bickering, that kind of thing we didn't have a lot of.
Anything unexpected on the show or any crazy moments?
The competitions were unexpected. I knew it was gonna be extreme and taxing and stuff but some of the events that they put together I was not expecting. It's not everyday fishing that they do, which made it more exciting. I can stand on a boat and fish any day but to do these other events and be really creative with it was pretty fun.
With the first challenge, it was pretty funny. The tank was filled with thousands of goldfish, so you think its going to be easy scooping them up with your mouth. But every time they would push away. The pressure of the water would push them away. I had to change my thinking and really think of a fish gulping something. I'd go down with my mouth closed and suck the goldfish in, gulping them. It was pretty funny to take in three or four at one time.
Have you ever had a live fish in your mouth before?
Yeah, joking around I've bit a few. Like playing around, but not like intentionally competing.
Was it hard to go from balmy, warm Keys water to the water for the competitions?
I didn't struggle with it, but I wasn't as happy about it. I don't like the cold water -- I can usually put on a wetsuit. That wasn't so fun ... being in a bikini in cold water.
Any dream fish you still want to catch?
Yeah a blue marlin, which is definitely on my list for this year. I am going after that this year so that's the big one for me.
You're a paramedic. Do your life saving skills ever kick in when fishing and you have an urge to resuscitate your catch?
No. I want to take it home and cook it (laughs). We do some catch and release, I definitely love the sport of fishing. But I definitely enjoy bringing home and cooking our catches -- no resuscitation.
Obviously you spend a lot of time in the water but you still look great. Any hair/skin tips for ladies now that it's summertime?
It's a constant battle actually. The salt and stuff is pretty drying. I'm definitely into more natural things, products and foods. Whole Foods and stuff like that. I guess it kind of goes all together. Lots of conditioner!
What's your favorite fishing spot in the Keys?
All over is amazing for fishing. Whether you go in back country or offshore you get the whole variety. With some contestants they only have fresh water, but here we're so versatile. For fresh water we have the Everglades, we have the best of both worlds. And not only the Keys but Miami which is 30 minutes away, fishing is amazing there too so I'm pretty spoiled.
Any favorite spots in the Keys to recommend to us city-dwellers?
Yeah actually, Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill, that's one of our favorites. And Gilbert's (Resort). Me and my girls -- that's one of our known spots after the sandbar.
What do you say to people who aren't necessarily into fishing ... why should they watch the show?
Maybe it would give them the itch to want to go and try it. It's something you can do with a family, you can do it on your own. It's like natural therapy. You're out there with your own thoughts and you can compete with yourself. It's an adrenaline rush. Pulling in a big fish, having to fight it and struggle. It's an all around great sport.
The show, hosted by comedian Reno Collier, airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.
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