At one point in their lives, everybody has hit rock bottom or somewhere close, but in the end, triumphed and held their heads up high. In this episode, Charlie Frattini joins Tanya Memme to talk about the fair share of mishaps and challenges he had overcome in his journey. Charlie is a Master Builder and the host of A&E’s Sell This House Extreme. He shares a very personal phase in his life he went through as a child being bullied for several years and how he managed to break free from the cycle and stand up for himself. Charlie also talks about what it’s like being on Naked and Afraid behind the scenes and the importance of simply paying attention to those around you and how you can impact their lives, and they impact yours in return.
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This episode is a special one because I have Charlie Frattini in the house. I don’t know if you guys know this, but Charlie and I worked for five years on the show called Sell This House: Extreme. It was called Extreme because Charlie was on it. I have known you forever and we have been through many ups and downs together. Working on a show like that is crazy.
We’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of good and bad things. We argued a little bit. I nailed your spider monkey through the wall a few times. I put in your cat door for Cartman. Do you remember that?
I remember that. He came to my house. This was after the show. We weren’t working together anymore but you came to my house and you installed the cat door.
That’s exactly right.
If we could do that now again, it would all be documented.
We would be, we were stupid. We could’ve documented that. What were we thinking? We do know each other quite a while and you’re a close friend.
You are too. Since then, your career has gone crazy with how many shows you’ve run and been on. How many episodes of Naked and Afraid have you done?
I’ve done 121-day episodes and 240-day episodes. I’ve been on quite a few shows.
They have a new show. They have a new show which I’ll be on as well, which I can’t say much about. You know how that works, Tanya.
Is it a Naked and Afraid Show or is it a new show Discovery is answering?
It’s a new show that Discovery is using that’s a different format related to Naked and Afraid.
You’re going to be on it.
There’s going to be about four episodes. I’ll be on all four. We’ll see. I can’t say too much. You know how it is.
I’m on a show now that I’m not allowed to say what it is.
When we get off you’ve got to tell me.
You already know what it is.
I do. I’m playing stupid like I’m not supposed to know.
You’re not. You just found out because I know you wouldn’t say anything yet.
She’s on a great show and she’ll be happy to see what you do.
It’s going to be exciting news to launch it and tell people it’s what I’m doing, but this about you. You’ve also done a bunch of other shows on Discovery. How many other home design shows have you done?Standing up for yourself and defending yourself is a psychologically liberating experience. Click To Tweet
I started TV at a late age. I was 50 or 48 when I started.
Talk about total reinvention.
I completely reinvented my whole life. That’s what I’m different too because I still have a career. I was building high rises in New York City. I did that up until 1986 or so. I got out of the Marine Corps in 1985.
Ex-marine. Did you hear that?
Don’t listen to her, I’m still a Marine.
I love it.
I got out of the Marine Corps and I went to construction. I built high rises. I built a lot of bridges, viaducts, underground utilities, and in New York City.
When you say building houses or building skyscrapers, buildings, and stuff after you got out of the Marines. Where did you learn all of your skills?
Before the Marine Corps, I went to college during the time before they took over the American Embassy in Iran. Once that happened, I was in the officer training program and I dropped out of college and I went in as an enlisted man because I wanted to go and fight Iranians. Unfortunately, at that time, Reagan became president almost immediately and Iran gave everybody back. It’s probably a wise decision. That being said that I was still in the Marine Corps and I was happy and did extremely well. I got out of the Marine Corps and I went into construction. I was already in college for engineering so I stayed and went to college again and went back after the Marine Corps.
After being in the Marine Corps and doing the things I’ve done, sitting in a classroom and having a seventeen-year-old kid next to me telling me, “I got a 93 on this exam. I’m happy. I’ve got to tell the professor. I got this right.” Meanwhile, I’ll get the 70 and this guy’s crying about two more points on his exam. I dropped out at eighteen credits to graduate and I went to construction. My personality in the Marine Corps, training, and discipline I went extremely far in construction where I held roles. I should have positions. You should have a Master’s degree for them but I was still in college.
You learned a lot of these skills when you were in the Marine Corps.
Outside the Marine Corps. I learned them quickly outside. I listen and shut my mouth. You guys shut your mouth, do what you’re told, listen, and learn. I did that for many years. I did that for about twenty years at the time. I was building a high rise and the Discovery Channel was well known and was looking for a builder. They know and have heard about me. They asked me to start a team.
People were starting to know of you.
New York City knew who I was.
Why do I believe that?
I have a tendency to be a little colorful. I build quickly and inexpensively. I make a lot of money for the people I build for and you also there’s a lot of stories involving me. That being said, they heard about me, they asked me for a video on a little tape or four minutes long. I sent them a tape and they immediately gave me eleven episodes for a television show called Construction Intervention.
That was before Sell this House: Extreme.
They didn’t even go to a test market. They gave me a contract for eleven episodes.
You’re this Italian Marine doing your thing.
No. I was a construction guy. I never was in front of a camera before. I took it well. I have two guys, the owners of the production company that taught me a lot and I did great. It was a great show. Unfortunately, John Ford was the President of Discovery at the time. He left in the middle of production. A guy named Clark Bunting took over and buried all John Ford’s television shows. I ended up not getting a second season out of it was a great show. You can find it on the internet. Google Construction Intervention Discovery and you’ll find it. It’s on the Discovery webpage.
What happened after that? That’s the way the business goes. I’ve done many shows.
That’s the business and they say it’s lightning in a bottle. I was lucky. I got instructed a few times. I left and I tested with Extreme Makeover, Ty Pennington.
I tested for that too. We have similar stories.
They were all assholes. I could say it because this is the internet. I don’t give a crap. Ty Pennington was a nice guy. He was pulled into six different directions. He was going from one set to another. He was always running.
I met him briefly. I did not have a good experience screen testing for that show. It did not go well.
I want to hear your story after I tell you mine.
That’s a whole other interview. This is about you.
I won’t get into the story. Let’s say that they weren’t nice to me and I expressed to them how that wasn’t a nice thing to do to me. Needless to say, I didn’t get it to take but that’s okay I wasn’t disappointed because I got to meet you. That’s when A&E wanted to do a television show. You had Sell this House: Extreme. You were on 190 episodes at the time. They wanted to do Sell This House: Extreme version. I screen-tested with them and I got the gig. The first time I met you was when we were in Austin, Texas. I was ripping down a wall in the kitchen yelling, “Roger, get out of here.” That’s how we met. Roger has it. We did 33 shows with them. That was a rocket ride.
Is that how many we did? Was it 33 shows? I feel it was way more than that.
We did 33 or 34 episodes. It was a rocket ride. We had a good time.
We did. Honestly, it was one of the most fun when it was you, me, and Daniel. We had a good time. It was fun.
It was a lot of fun I have to admit.
I was planting daisies and you were eating spiders.
I’ve been eating bugs a lot of my life. That is true. I eat a lot of books.
Which brings me to you’ve had one of the most interesting lives that I’ve ever heard of. Your life has taken many twists and turns but I want to go back to when you were a kid. What was it growing up? What were you as a kid? Who was this five-year-old? What were your parents like?
My father was a former Marine too and he’s alive. He’s my hero. I emulate him and he always will be. He’s not getting up in years but he is but he was a tough guy. He taught me how to be a man which is good. Unfortunately, it took until I was about eighteen to make that happen. I was severely bullied from up until the eighth grade.
That’s not good. I didn’t know that.
I was bullied badly from second grade on to eighth grade. It was ugly. I used to go home crying all the time. My father would hit me or he’d be upset at me because I wouldn’t fight back. He ridiculed me and it was hard. To this day, nobody will ever bully me.
A kid that was being bullied, and when did it stop? How did you make the transition? Is that why you went into the Marines aside from your father being an ex-Marine as well?
No, the reason I want to run because my father was a Marine, and I wanted to prove to him that I was like him. I’ve done that my whole life, believe it or not, I wanted to prove to my father that I was as equal in strength as he was psychologically and physically. How did it end? The bullying ended when I was in eighth grade. There was a kid named Edwin Lopez, he was bullying me badly. I was getting ready for a good high school in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was one of the top three high schools, but it was a bad area. It was a bad area in Brooklyn.
Edwin was making fun of me and I had enough. It was a whole six years of my life that was being bullied. I kicked them down the steps, we got in a lot of trouble for it and I realized that I can’t do this anymore. It’s not going to happen. I’ve had some rough times. I got beat up a few times in high school as a result of defending myself from being bullied but I realized that each one that I’m not going to die, and if I do, it is what it is, but I can’t let it happen anymore. It was a psychologically liberating experience for me that I was able to defend myself and from probably 17 to 58 I’ve defended myself and I will also defend anybody if I see somebody getting bullied.
I have seen that happen. I have witnessed it.Their power is your fear. If you don't show the fear, they're powerless. Click To Tweet
It’s not going to happen. You’ve seen it with somebody we both know. I threatened to stab him with a screwdriver. I said, “Don’t do that.” It’s true. We were in Yonkers, New York. I said, “If you keep on talking to her that way one more time, I’m going to stab you.” I’m not going to let someone else be bullied.
I know. I’ve never forgotten what you’ve done for me so thank you. You’ve always been incredible to me. Was it then when you went into the Marine Corps that you got your confidence and your strength? I can only imagine going through a program like that. You walk out going, “No one is ever going to bully me again or make me fall.”
I had it in my mind when I was going through high school that I didn’t want to be bullied again. I was formulating that lifestyle. It wasn’t until the Marine Corps when they attempted to bully me in the Marine Corps. Not the hazing you go through a boot camp, which by the way, I was number one in my class. In the Marine Corps, you get bullied. There are bullies in there like in any other form of life and I stood up to every one of them. I’ve won many battles and I’ve lost quite a few as well.
What would you say to parents reading this that have kids that are being bullied in school and don’t know what to do? What would you tell parents to do?
It’s an interesting dynamic. Being bullied, if you’ve never been bullied, is a terrible thing and for parents, it’s not to continue to bully the child at home, but to give them the confidence that they think they need to find and defend themselves or to stand up to a bully. There has been no encounter that I’ve had where I was bullied. I’m going to tell you an interesting story that happened later in my life but there’s no encounter that I’ve had that the bully or the girl that was doing this to me. When you stand up to them, they immediately back down.
Their power is your fear. If you don’t show the fear, they’re powerless and that’s it. I’ve even had some, where I have not been able to successfully defend myself against them in a fight but the respect that I’ve earned has transcended me beyond their bullying where they’ve changed their whole attitude towards me. All I can say is, “Stand up, demand that you will not allow yourself to be treated that way whether you’re a woman or a man,” and defend yourself.
A quick story. This is going back a couple of years ago. I was building a high rise in New York City and I was on this job and out of the building walked an individual that I recognized. I’m 47, 48, 49, or somewhere around that. Out of the building is this guy. I said, “I know this guy. Where do I know this guy?” I’m on a high rise building. Nobody wanted to screw around with me and high rises. I was a tough guy in my high rise. I knew this guy and it dawned on me, he was one of the guys in grammar school that used to bully me.
It’s not the guy you mentioned?
No, it’s a different guy. That’s one thing about boy mentality. It’s a mob mentality. When one does it and gets away with it, others will start to join. You’re taking it from all ends, but this was one of them.
You met up with someone that bullied you in grade school.
In my adult life. The awakening thing for me, Tanya, was that here I am in my late 40s and I felt I was eleven years old again for about 1.5 minutes. My body and everything started saying that they have such power over you that I remember. It was at least 1 or 1.5 minutes where I was like. “Oh man.” After 1 or 1.5 minutes I said, “If that jerk doesn’t work I’m going to knock him out,” and it was over.
What happened? Did you talk to him? Did you meet up with him?
I said hello and we were friends. That was it. I did express to him and said, “I don’t even like you. You were not a nice person,” and he apologized. The point of it was that I never thought as an adult where I am never going to be bullied again. I saw one of these guys and it was I felt like I was eleven again, for a short period of time, but I did feel it.
That’s interesting. This is crazy. Here are you doing all these TV shows, what do you think about that? What do you think about life in general when you never know what’s going to happen in your life? Some people get fixated around, “I needed this. I need to build skyscrapers. That’s my career.” You don’t know where life is going to bring you.
Life goes in big, different directions, you have to be able to adapt. That’s one thing that the Marine Corps teaches you. You have to adapt to every situation and overcome any obstacles that you have. You might have heard that quite a bit of adapt and overcome. That’s something they instill in you. Being able to adapt not only to life situations but things that occur in your career, family life, or in your personal life. That’s important and a lot of people lose sight of that. They stay focused on one thing, and there are no trajectories off of that. Any road you’re on has an exit ramp. If you’re on a highway from California to New York, there are multiple exit ramps, there are ways to go and that’s what life is. Life is a highway with exit ramps, you have to be prepared to take them.
That’s true. I do want to talk about what it was like with all of them with Naked and Afraid. I do want to get into that moment because I know that you almost died on the show. I remember there were three months, I couldn’t even get a hold of you because you were in the hospital. You were not okay so what was the scariest thing about doing a show Naked and Afraid?
The 21 days seemed to be the toughest time I’ve experienced in my life. It’s funny because then when I went to a 40-day, 21 days was a walk in the park. It was easy. The first time I was on 21 days. I did finish it and there was a point where we did not have water and we were boiling water. We were only getting maybe a liter a day, and we were losing 2 or 3 liters a day. We were sweating like crazy. That’s a lot of work. We were losing much more than we would gain. You had to boil it because it tasted awful, but it was still water. After about two days of being severely dehydrated, I was ready to quit and I never thought I would ever quit.
If there’s one thing I know you are not a quitter so I’m surprised to hear you say that.
My father is my hero and he would never quit and I live. This was all to show my father that I am a man, believe it or not. I still try to prove to my father that I’m a man. It’s the psyche of a person. I was ready to quit and it wasn’t until I finally found water that I didn’t quit. I thought about robbing the bank a few times but never did so doing it. Thinking about it and doing it is two different things. I had the resolve not to quit but it was a dark time in my life.
I had to come to terms that I’d never quit anything in my life. I was seventeen at the time and in the Colombian jungle. I had to deep down search why I was feeling this way and it was a tough time. I did not quit, I stayed strong, I worked through it and I ended up finishing the 21 days. That was the tough time on that one. As far as tough on the show, you’re eating bugs, snakes, and whatever you can eat you. You’ll go days with no food and the last one I was on, I’ll get into and tell you about that quickly so you don’t have too much time.
We have plenty of time. Don’t you even think you’re getting out of this?
People are getting bored listening to me.
No. Do you understand that Naked and Afraid is one of those things that there are a million questions. You’re there and completely naked. What is it like when you start? Do you take off your clothes in the truck and you walk out? How does this work? Do you practice being naked?
I’ve done TV shows. I’ve done 33 or 34 shows with you. I did eleven with Discovery I did nine with HLN. I was on Ink Master with FYI TV at the time. I did quite a few TV shows plus my Naked and Afraid. Out of all the shows I’ve ever done, Naked and Afraid is about 98% it’s not a joke. It’s a real TV show. The entry is fabricated and the exit is real but then they might do something like when you’re talking to the camera but everything else is real emotions and real life. When you asked about getting naked so the first time I was on Naked and Afraid I didn’t have a problem getting naked, all you have to do is ask me. Naked and Afraid is you’re with two guys, two girls, and the producers. You have the camera guy, sound guy, assistant producer, field producer, and the regular producer.
That’s seven people.
There were 5 or 6 people and there were the girls and guys.
They’re with you the whole time?
They’re with you at that moment when you disrobe. You’re in the truck and the truck takes you to the place where you are getting off. You jump off the truck, and they say, “Strip.” They have the camera on as you take your clothes off. There are girls and guys there and you only met them an hour ago. You get undressed. They say, “There’s only one camera.” You know what happens when there’s only one camera, “Let’s do an over the shoulder,” and they get dressed again.
Because you’ve got to get all these shots and all the angles.
You know what it’s like. You get dressed again. They say, “Get back in the truck. Get out the same way you got out. Get dressed,” and you get dressed again.
That’s what you meant when you said that part is not real.
That’s not real so you get undressed again.
You’re naked again and you’re standing there. The driver of the truck is right next to you and you say, “I’ll be fine.” They say, “Get dressed again. We’re going to get you a distance shot.” They go out into the woods and they’re 20 feet away from you and they’re like, “Jump on the truck and get naked again.” They jumped on the truck and got naked again, “Get dressed,” and now you’re dressed. They say, “Get back on the truck.”
They get back on the truck. They’re like, “Get back up in the truck.” You get back in the truck. They’re like, “Jump out of the truck and get naked again. We want to get a close-up. Get the headshots and a close-up of the button and your belt and you’ve got to do that. Unbutton your belt now. Stop. I’m going to get behind you. Unbutton your belt and pull your pants down.” You unbutton your belt and pull your pants down and now they’ve got back shots.
I get it.
She’s doing nine takes.
You’re doing all that and now what happens?
After they’re done with that they send you into the jungle and they do the same thing to the girl.
You walk in like no one’s been in it before.
When they say, “Go over there and wait, we’re going to call you in a minute.” You go a half-a-mile to the jungle and there’s somebody in the jungle waiting for you. They say, “Sit here.” You’re sitting now in a jungle with ants, spiders, insects, and snakes.
How do you know which direction to go?Nobody has a perfect life. As beautiful as you are, you don't have a perfect life. Click To Tweet
They say, “Go that way.”
You go that way and they don’t know what animals are in the jungle. You have no shoes. What do you do?
They know. I don’t know. I’m waiting for the girl and when the girl and I meet up they do the same thing when we meet up. I had never met her before and we talked for a quick minute. After, we head out. They give you a map and they say, “This is where you’re supposed to go.” They show you on the map and they point you in a general direction and say, “Go ahead. Go find your place to live.” That’s what you do and you go live for that.
What’s the first thing you do? This, to me, is relevant to life especially when your life is completely turned upside down. We’re in quarantine and we have this Coronavirus going on. I want to talk to you about your views on that in a little bit. When your life has turned upside down and you feel vulnerable especially a situation like that, what is the first thing you do? Do you find shoes? Do you find clothes? Do you find something for warmth?
The mind goes in all different directions. You can take the best and number one survivalist in the world, if he’s not psychologically prepared for all the adverse conditions that he’s going to experience, he’s not going to make it. It’s not about survival. It’s about psychological survival. You’re out there and you have insects and the mosquitoes are ridiculous so you’re being swarmed with mosquitoes. You get one on you, I’ve seen it. You’re like, “It’s a mosquito. That’s one.” I’m talking about when there’s a blanket of them on you and swatting them does nothing.
You’re constantly itching, scratching and it gets worse.
You got spiders up your butt. You’ve got scorpions. I have a scorpion here on my arm because I’ve had multiple scorpions on me. I haven’t gotten my centipede tattoo yet because in the Philippines I was bitten by a centipede three times. The centipede bite is a less venomous insect but they’re less than a venomous snake but they’re excruciating things and I had it three times. There was a girl there as well in the Philippines, she wasn’t with me, but she was there and she got bit twice.
What does it feel like? What does it do to you?
It’s like a hot poker is put into you. When the first one bit me, I was stupid. This was me. This was in the Philippines in 2018. I went to pick it up like an idiot because I’m like, “I’m going to pick it up.”
Off your body or off the ground?
Off the ground. I’m going to pick up the centipede, cut it’s head off and it’s food. I figured that if I picked it up behind the head I’d be fine. I picked it up behind the head but I miscalculated where the head was. It reached around and bit me right in the finger. I’m not exaggerating. It hurt. My whole arm up to my shoulder was numb. It was like a pain. I had to lie down. I was out for about three hours. I couldn’t move but it was only three hours so it was easy. They were like, “Do you want me to take you out. Do you want to see a doctor?” “What’s he going to do for me? You’re not pulling me out. I’m not quitting.” I’ve got to deal with it so you sit there in pain and you deal with it for a few hours and it eventually goes away. The 2nd and 3rd time was one shot. I had two centipedes bite me at about 3:00 AM in the morning. We were in a cave and it bit me on my butt. Let me tell you that it was two of them. I was out for about nine hours.
There were marks. You could see their bite. There might have been one that bit me twice, that bastard. I don’t know but he had his girlfriend with him. I got bit twice in my butt and it hurt and I was out for about nine hours. I couldn’t move. The pain was tremendous. You don’t have a blanket, a pillow. and food. We had plenty of water but you’re emaciated and you got to deal with it. You don’t quit. You asked me how I made it through. It’s a psychological fortitude. You can’t give up. There are many things in life I’ve had that at one point I wanted to kill myself. To be honest, two things but you don’t give up and I’ve been in some low spots. I’ve always allowed my strength to psychologically pull me out.
What are some of the things that you say to yourself?
You have to analyze each situation. The first time I was upset with my own life was when I was a teenager being bullied. I couldn’t handle it. I don’t envy the parents of the kids now. My kids are older but the kids now they’ve got social media. At least when I went home, I was able to hide. Here, you can’t hide. You can’t hide from the computer or your phone. Social media bullying is terrible. When I was younger, I had written letters about how or a list of how I wanted to hurt myself. It’s one of the biggest things that I fear.
Did you really think you’ve contemplated it?
I was on a date. We didn’t have phones back then but there were landlines. They didn’t have what we have now. I was on a date and I was about 15 or 16. My father found the list and he was beside himself and he went looking for me. I couldn’t have gotten far. I didn’t have a car. I was fifteen years old whatever it was. He found me in the movie theater. When we dragged me out and he was like, “Are you okay? What’s going on? Why are you so upset to be talking about?” I was like, “I wrote the list three months earlier or whatever it was. What are you talking about?” I was embarrassed because he embarrassed me in front of the girl. It was a tough time. To this day, I worry about that with my own children. It’s a fear that I have because I experienced it.
How did it go? How did you get out of it? How did you get past that time in your life?
At that time being younger, I don’t remember how I got out of it. I can say that I was lucky because I didn’t hurt myself, although I contemplated quite a bit. I was lucky and I don’t know if it’s the way I am now that was in me then and I didn’t know it.
You are a positive person, though.
I always have been and I’ve had quite a few things that I shouldn’t be positive about. I’ve had a lot of things that happened to me when I was younger. What are you going to do? Cry about them? You can’t. You have to move on with your life and you have to make your life better and try to make those around you better. Deal with the things that occurred. Nobody has a perfect life. As beautiful as you are, you don’t even have a perfect life. Nobody does. It’s impossible. I’m sure there are things in your life that affect you and I want to do this here with you.
You can. I’ve never been interviewed as a life master, but maybe I should do my own Life Master interview.
You should because there are things about you that I know that I won’t tell people because you and I spent a lot of time talking.
We did but I’ve been through a lot since we worked together and it has in some ways changed me but for the better but life changes you. When you go through those down points and you get yourself out of them. It’s almost like you carry forward I want to say jaded, but it changes you, for a little part, not a good way, but also changes you in a good way. It makes you more secure and powerful and you know who you are. It’s like what you said, you’ll never be bullied again. All of those things and it strengthens you inside. It comes at a cost. It comes at a price.
It does and there are scars that are invisible that you can’t see. I have scars, you have scars we all have scars, but that’s okay because everything heals.
You’re in the jungle and you’re talking about scars. You’ve been bitten by all these bugs. You’ve probably never been bit by a centipede before or the other things that you were bit by and you probably do have some scars now from those experiences.
I hold the record for the shortest Naked and Afraid: XL Extraction. For the two times that I did not finish XL, I did not leave or quit. I was pulled out. If I had my druther, I would have died in the jungle.
Tell us about that experience. It must have tested you spiritually and emotionally, in every single way being in a situation like that.
Being pulled out four hours into the jungle tested me emotionally and I was crying. I was a 55 or 54-year-old man and I was upset. I never failed. Remember I made it through everything in my life and I get through this failure. It was terrible. I severed my quad tendon. I stepped on an ant nest and ants are like bees that’s why if you see I have ants all over me because I got bit by an ant. If there’s something I wasn’t bitten by, it was a dragon but everything else I got bit by. I stepped in an ants’ nest and they swarmed me. I was on a hill and I stepped to the right to avoid them a little bit. I stepped and you can hear a pop on the camera. Thank God they were filming it and I severed my quad tendon. It was a terrible thing. I wanted to stay. I begged production for me to stay with tears. I was like, “You can’t take me out.” This was day one. I had 39 more days. If you’ve never severed a quad tendon that’s what makes your leg work. If you don’t have a quad tendon your leg doesn’t work. You can’t walk or do anything. I hobbled.
It’s painful too.
It was painful but the doctor was gorgeous. She’s an Ecuadorian doctor. She’s beautiful and I speak Spanish luckily. My leg was in so much excruciating pain. Above your knee, if you don’t have a quad tendon you can push your hand down halfway down your knee now you can’t do it. Try it. You can’t do it. When there’s no quad tendon the angle is straight down and that hurts when you do that. I was in pain when I found the spot and there was no pain medication. She came running over and as much pain I was in I was like, “She’s gorgeous and beautiful.” I haven’t seen her before that. I kept on flirting with her and every time I flirted with her, she put her hand down my knee to make me stop flirting with it. She was a bad person but she was beautiful.
Needless to say, I had a severed quad tendon and it took me three days to get home. I was in a lot of pain and I had to deal with the fact that I was pulled out. I failed. I never failed at anything other than a marriage, which I worked hard for. I stayed in the marriage for 34 years and it was a tough marriage. Not all of it, but a good part of it. I went to my father and said, “Dad, I’m sorry, I failed. We’ve been married 36 years.” Other than that, Naked and Afraid affected me in failing.
It’s interesting why you feel or why you call it a failure. I don’t even think that I could try. Charlie is trying to get me to go on Naked and Afraid with him. I’ve not given him an answer. I’m sitting in silence. Is not even trying a failure? The fact that you tried is so much bigger. I don’t look at what you did as a failure at all. It’s interesting how hard you are on yourself. You’re hard on yourself, Charlie. Would you look at somebody else who completed a 21 day or a 40 day, and goes on their second 40-day and goes through everything that you went through, pulled out early, would you look at that person he failed as well?
Yes, because they didn’t complete it. I failed my first 40-day after four hours. I failed my second 40-day after 29 days. I made 29 days and people have a perception of me. I’m a former Marine. I always take care of the group that I’m with. If I’m with you and I have something and you have a piece of something and not everybody thought that way in other groups. I was giving my rations to somebody. I was helping that person out. I wanted to make sure everybody was healthy. I knew my body. I was working hard. The problem wasn’t something I recognized nor anybody around me recognized. They all thought that I would overexert myself, which wasn’t the case. I got bit by a mosquito and I got dengue fever, and dengue fever is a bad disease. It’s a deadly disease. The Philippines is rampant with it.
This is the first 40-day.
This is my second one. The one I got back from.
On the second one, you were pulled out early.
No, it was the first one when I was pulled out early after four hours. My second was in Ecuador.
I’ve got them mixed up. You’re back and you’re trying again.
I was doing fantastic. I did amazing and remember that I’m the oldest one to do it. Fantastic, I did great. I had a mantra to get out of the cave. When you’re out of the cave because we lived in a cave, some portion of it got to the cave, you get to see what’s in the jungle. I had been in the jungles before as a young marine so I was comfortable. Put me in a jungle and I’m more comfortable than I am. Even though I grew up in New York City. I got bit by a mosquito and I was in bad shape. I was hallucinating and delirious for a while. My heart rate was 149 beats per minute, which is relatively high. They call it tachycardia.
My normal rate is anywhere from 60 to 66. It was 149 beats a minute, my blood pressure was high. They thought it was because I was dehydrated and it turned out that I wasn’t because I was hiding from the doctor because I knew he was going to pull me out and hide from him. He came and checked you at night and I wouldn’t be there. I’d make sure I disappear. They ended up pulling me out and that was an extremely tough time.
I had a guy named Duck. He was one of our one of my partners, and one of the guys that were with us there. Duck and I’ve been through a lot on this episode. Duck went with me, he said, “I’m not letting you walk out of here alone.” Duck and I have forever bonded because I have to do that amazing thing. It was tough because I had a lot of soul searching to do. The hardest part was that I was in a hospital in the Philippines for ten days. I was in bad shape and I thought I was going to die. Discovery was concerned.
What do you think pulled you through?Like anything else, rock bottom exists, and you can always revisit it. You have to be prepared for it to revisit it again. Click To Tweet
I have to give credit to the doctors in the Philippines. Discovery had a plane to medevac me and it was a couple of things that put me through. Medically, it was the doctors. Discovery had a plane that they would ready to charter. They contacted me and said, “We’re going to pull you out. We’re going to have an infectious disease doctor on a plane and we’re going to fly you to the States.” The doctor in the Philippines wouldn’t release me and I thank God because when I got back they told me I would have died if I left the Philippines. They don’t know how to treat dengue fever here but they know how to treat it there. You won’t believe the medicine. I had five IV bags. They would give me medicine and they’re taking blood every two hours. I had my veins.
I went from 200 pounds to 196 pounds to 156 pounds. I was emaciated. I sat up in bed and I got a double Immuno Hernia. My testicles and intestine got big. I have a double hernia, which is horrible. It was a severe hernia. My heart got to twice its size. It took over my left lung and it was difficult to breathe. My heart was this big where it’s supposed to be this big. They were worried about me dying. It was a rough time there for a few days and I was scared.
I remember that. That’s the time.
I was in bad shape. When I got out of it, I told everybody that I got my first immortality card. Nothing kills me. I’m unstoppable but when I had dengue fever was the first time I ever realized that I could die. I was scared because there are so many things in life that I haven’t done yet.
What are some of those things you want to do?
Marrying you is out of the book. I’m already married. I have a lovely wife. She’s a wonderful girl. What are some things I want to do? I haven’t spent enough time with my children. Life Masters is about low points in your life.
Also, how you got out of them.
There’s not one low point where people will say, “I hit rock bottom,” whether you’re on drugs, alcohol, or experiencing financial difficulties. There is a rock bottom. Anything else that rock bottom exists and you can always revisit it and you have to be prepared for it to revisit it again. I’ve hit rock bottom multiple times in my life. It’s subjective to each person. What your rock bottom is may not be mine. You may say, “I have $0 in the bank and I’m at rock bottom.” For me, that’s a normal occurrence. Whereas, my rock bottom is something you wouldn’t understand. You would say, “I don’t understand why that’s your rock bottom.”
Don’t you believe though that the pain is all the same?
The pain is exactly the same but it’s subjective. It’s subjective to each person but the pain is the same and it’s painful. I’ve had multiple times that I was at rock bottom and what brought me out of it was sometimes luck, a stranger, a family member or sometimes it was myself, but I’ve had quite a few.
It’s interesting. We’re in quarantine. We’re dealing with this whole COVID-19. There’s a lot of uncertainty in people’s futures and some people feel they have hit rock bottom. They’re dealing with family loss as well as financial loss. You’ve dealt with many unknowns in your life, talking about being in the jungle and not knowing what’s going to happen. I feel you’ve got the mentality to help people through this now. What are some of the things that you would say to people going through this now that feel like this is the end all be all if they’ve hit their rock bottom?
That’s a tough question to ask me. Especially because I didn’t have time to think about it. Being in rock bottom is when you feel there’s no way out, there’s no way to overcome it, and you’re fixing and it gets worse and worse in your mind. There’s always a way out. As a country, a world, and a civilization, we haven’t reached rock bottom yet and for the people that are home and experiencing no job, expecting the government to bail them out, which is not going to happen. It may happen for the short-term, but what we’re experiencing now the long-term effects of this is going to be far greater than anything any of us have experienced.
I look back and I look at my father who was alive after the Depression and my grandparents who I knew well, who lived during the Depression. They were tough, resilient people. We now and my generation is a little different than the younger generation. We have everything. We have social media, we have food at our fingertips and we’ve gotten spoiled. I won’t say it at the risk of offending people but we’re soft, I included, I’ve got soft too. The jungle has given me the knowledge that I am not necessarily soft, but I can become one at will not because I am. I prove that I am not soft by going through the jungle and surviving the time that I have on the television show.
Our rock bottom hasn’t occurred yet. Should this continue and the economy begins to fail. We start not to have the food that we used to have, going out of social life, the money, it’s going to get a lot worse for people. As far as COVID and people dying, it’s a funny thing because everybody’s cooped up in a house and we’re waiting for that magical date that the California Governor, the New York Governor, and the Maine Governor now says, “Everybody can go out and go back but keep on social distancing.” Everybody’s going to have a sense of safety. They’re going to feel like they’re safe. In reality, nothing’s changed from May 1st when that day happened. COVID still out there, people are still going to die. It’s that feeling of safety that they’re looking for.
As far as people dying, this is as crass as it sounds, it could be me. I have a weak heart because of what I went through with the jungle. I have problems with my heart. I’m susceptible to be a casualty of this COVID. Even though I am this, everybody has been saying the world and the globe and we have to global warming. This isn’t necessarily about emissions, although it has something to do with it. It’s my opinion. The world is evolving. On Mount Everest at 26,000 feet, they have a section that’s yellow where they have seashells and they have all this aquatic life. That was at one time underwater so I didn’t get up there. It was put up there by the way the world works. People are dying and this is a way of COVID and it might be what everybody is looking for. The animals are coming back, the plants and the tree life is changing so people get adopted.
In a positive way, you mean?
In a positive way. People are going to die. COVID is calling out, unfortunately, and it sounds crass and everybody’s going to write about Charlie’s an idiot and that’s fine. This is my personal opinion. It’s calling out or removing the weak of us society and that’s nature. What are you going to do about that? We’re going to try and live with it. Many people got it, they survived it, those that are weak or not and it’s sad because it might be a grandmother, it might be me. It might be my son, God forbid.
We are all waiting for a vaccine so once that happens, it changes things, but who knows.
We’re going to be waiting for some time. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen as we want it. We don’t want it to be too depressing. COVID-19 if you look at it, it’s the earth cleansing itself.
In a way, yes. I see what you’re saying. To help people mentally through this.
I’m not doing a good job at that.
You’re giving perspective on it. I do think it’s getting from point A to point B, and keeping yourself focused on the things that do matter and try not to do things that don’t. That helps a lot and focus on your relationships, your family, the things that you do have control over.
Don’t give up.
Never give up. The fact is we’re all in this together. There’s a lot of people that are gaining financially a lot of money from this whole situation. It’s hard sometimes because you hear celebrities all over the place going, “Stay home, don’t spread COVID-19,” and meanwhile, they live in a resort-type house. It’s hard for people out there that are hearing these people and if there’s a lot of discrepancies now that’s showing.
The economic differences between the classes are definitely visible.
It’s showing now.
Think about when you were struggling as an actress. You were in New York for some time, but you may be living in a studio apart and you struggle.
Honestly, Charlie, I went through something difficult in the last few years. I’m living in a teeny, tiny, two-bedroom, dark, depressing apartment. I’m hunkering down with my boyfriend because he has a nicer place. I don’t have a backyard. I haven’t been in the sun for a long time and it’s affecting me. I understand the idea of being in a place because this is a townhouse and it’s a smaller place too. I understand how people are struggling with it. It’s hard.
It’s easy if you have a beautiful house with a pool and a backyard under the sun and kids can run outside and it’s in your private space, but this is different for people, especially people that are living in New York in a tiny apartment with their next-door neighbor, God knows doing what. Also, all the noise and all the inconsideration. Those are the people that I’m most concerned about during all of this and they’re probably also suffering from their neighbor, father, or their daughter having it. It’s interesting how this is a test against the psyche.
They’re staying home for four weeks and people are already done. It has shown a lot about our society. I’ve been in the jungle for six weeks and I was happier. I know that I’m going to be fine. Psychologically, emotionally, and physically, I’ll be fine but there are a lot of people that aren’t.
This is probably some people’s first time weathering a storm like this. It’s funny because I walked off a TV set, quit my show and I was out of work for five years. It was tough and I had gotten close to other jobs and certain people were producers on that job that were friends with me. I almost felt like the business was against me for a little while there. When you feel that way and you’re out of work, a single mom, and you’re all this thing, when you’re going through that by yourself, it is a lot more difficult than when everybody’s going through it. Going through this, I ended up getting another television show and my dreams basically came true, after going through five years of total hell and it all comes to a crashing halt. I don’t know if it’s all gone, or if it’s not, but it’s interesting because I have a different outlook now. No matter what I feel like I’m going to be okay because I’ve already been through worse.
Exactly. Your rock bottom, you haven’t hit it yet but you will and you know what it feels like.
I feel like I already did hit it.
Do you know what’s funny? I’m sitting here thinking and talking to you that the rock bottom is there but after a while when you get scared because I look back, as you’re talking, I’m thinking back to the time that I’ve been at my lowest. The good thing about it is that it gets deeper. That bottom gets a little bit deeper, where you realize you can handle a lot more than you felt you could. What happened that brought me to rock bottom two years from now that’s not bottom anymore. The bottom went down a little bit further because I know I’m strong enough to make it through that and I’ve got more for this and it keeps on getting deeper and it’s the way we are.
It gets deeper but you mean it gets more solid in a way where you’re building that rock and that rock gets harder. You’re not saying that your rock bottom. The circumstances get worse and worse.
No, but you’re able to handle it. Exactly, you can handle it now.
When talking about rock bottom, every time you hit there that rock gets stronger and you’re building your foundation. Never hit that again. It is a mental game that you play with yourself. I’m at the point where I don’t know what is going on with the future that I have with my career, I may be out of work again. I don’t know but I’ll definitely be able to deal with it a lot better and be there for other people like you are on this program. I want people to know that they’re not alone.
I can offer this to you and anybody that’s reading this if they ever get the feeling that they need to talk, email?
How can they do that?
It’s simple. I have an email address HelpMeCharlie@gmail.com. I set that up a long time ago for somebody that would want to ask questions about construction on the house if they have a contract that is telling them something that they don’t think is right or they’re not comfortable with it. Email me and I’ll respond to you and I’ll tell you whether you’re right or wrong. Even if you need to say something out if you’re going to be somebody looking for more than help then that’s different. Not financial help because we’re all in the same boat but if you need help to talk and say, “I don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t want to hurt somebody else.” I’m here to listen.
I’ve had a close friend whose father hurt himself and I was able to try and console her. It’s a hard situation. I was there twice in wanting to hurt myself. Once I was a little more serious than the other and thank God I didn’t go through with it because I realized that I’m worth more than what got me to that position of wanting to do that. There are people that feel that’s the only straw to hurt themselves. That doesn’t accomplish anything. You have more to give. Everybody has more to give than not being here.
True. Sometimes when you feel like you have nothing left to give, those are one of the times you should because it makes you feel a lot better. That’s one of the things that I started to do when I felt I had nothing. Somehow, someway, or whatever way I could I started giving more. Whether it was bringing my friend a cup of coffee, a flower, or calling up somebody out of the blue and telling them, I thought they were awesome. It’s amazing, you start putting that stuff out there and it starts to come back.COVID-19 is the earth cleansing itself. Click To Tweet
Absolutely and pay attention. People that are watching us that don’t have problems, pay attention to those around you. Because I guarantee you, there’s somebody that does. Most of us go through life and don’t pay attention to each other. If you pay attention, you’ll see when you need it and if other people pay attention, they’ll see when you need them. It’s being aware and going through life being aware.
That’s important. I want to know where we can learn more about you and where we can watch all of your episodes?
If you go on Discovery.com you can find Construction Intervention. If you go on the A&E website has a webpage.
Don’t we love A&E?
A&E is awesome. Discovery is awesome, too, I’ve got to be honest with you.
Discovery is, but isn’t it on Amazon too? Can we binge watch on Amazon or Apple TV?
I don’t know. I’m sure you can with Construction Invention, Sell this House: Extreme and Naked and Afraid. I’ll be on 21 days Naked and Afraid.
For your Naked and Afraid, can we see it on Discovery?
The XL is called Colombian Conflict and there’s another one XL Three and XL Five in the Philippines. Google my name and everything comes up. Through COVID we filmed another one, which you’ll see. New television now is COVID TV as I call it because it’s like this.
This is the best we could do for now. Check out Charlie. Your Instagram and social media are amazing. You’re always announcing everything that you’re doing there too. It’s @ChasFrattini.
@CharlieFrattini if you’re looking for me.
That was different.
That was my email address. Everybody knows my personal email address. Should I give my phone number too? Before we go, I want to know one time when was your lowest?
That’s for another Life Masters interview but it was when I hit rock bottom from walking off a TV show and not working for five years. I was also in a marriage that was beating me up crazy. I don’t mean physically at all but emotionally. It was an accumulation of about 5 to 7 years where I lost everything. I lost all the money that I had made. I lost a lot of friends, my life, my house, and my marriage but that is a whole other story. Do you know what I attribute it to a lot of it? Decisions are everything. Everything that you decide to do or decide not to do has a huge impact on your life. It was a series of bad decisions because I was dealing with self-worth issues from being emotionally and verbally abused by people I was allowing in my life.
I was a part of your life for both of those scenarios.
No, this all happened after.
That was still involved, when you walked off the talk show which I’m not going to the specifics of but there were reasons behind it. As far as I’m concerned, the reasons were valid but you were treated poorly and nobody cared about the reasons. Whereas now, if those reasons came forth, it would be a different story.
It was before the #MeToo Movement broke out.
As far as your marriage, I know you and your ex-husband. I understand some of the situations I’m not going to get into it because I have my own marriage issues and you know that. You’re a wonderful person. Everybody, she’s a wonderful person and she has a lot to offer people. Everybody has to recognize and trust it.
Thank you. This is about you and not about me and I want to thank you.
I want it to be about you.
You can interview me on Life Masters. How’s that?
I have a set of questions that are going to knock your socks off which I’ve knocked the socks off before and she has pretty feet. I’m going to leave you with one thing. You’re not going to elaborate. Do remember that time in San Antonio and Riverwalk. You were sitting at a table next to the river and it was later at night and I can’t run down the river, I sat down and said, “You’re never going to believe what happened?”
Do you remember that story? That will bring a smile to her face.
We will not elaborate on that story.
That was an interesting story. You’ll never guess what happened then and you were like, “No. Are you kidding me?”
We had fun together. We had a lot of fun working together. I loved every minute. I hope that we get to do a show again together in the future. That would be great.
I would love that. In fact, I will be talking to the producers of Naked and Afraid and I will see if I can make that happen.
You said that you mentally have to have the capability to get through and it’s all mental. I don’t think I have it.
You’ve got something that they didn’t have. Me.
I’m 58 I’m going to be 59 in August 2020. In 2021, I’m 60. I’m going away for 60 days at this If there’s still a Naked and Afraid on the Discovery Channel.
I’m not doing that. I might do fine.
I enjoyed it. Anything you ever want from me, call me.
I love you.
I love you too. I always will and thank you for sharing all your amazing stories. I might have to learn more about these stories to have to do a sequel part two after your 60 days.
I was boring. I’m sorry. I hope you got what you wanted out of it and you’ll know about my 60 days. You’ve got to be in the jungle with me.
Let me know if that’s what you want to watch on TV. You out there that are reading. Thanks for reading Life Masters. We have to do Part B with Charlie Frattini.
Absolutely. I’d say B, C, D, and E. Why stop at B?
Why stop now? Check out more episodes on iTunes and my YouTube channel. I’m also going to be uploading these on iHeart Radio and all kinds of other platforms. Check out my social media so you can see where we have all the episodes posted. I can’t wait. Thanks, Charlie, for coming to the show.
You’re welcome, Tanya. Anything for you.
- Charlie Frattini – LinkedIn
- @ChasFrattini – Instagram
- @CharlieFrattini – Facebook
- iTunes – Life Masters
- YouTube – Tanya Memme
- iHeart Radio – Life Masters
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