Starvival web series explores quirky side of Craigslist
Ever been so strapped for cash just about anything that would make money seems like a good idea? But how about being tied down to a bed and tickled for an hour by a stranger, posing nude for an artist, or standing barefoot on a someone's face?
Danielle Barker is a starving actress/model living in Toronto who has been there, done that - literally. And, for entertainment's sake, she's filmed it all and posted it online.
Starvival is Barker's comedy/reality web series featuring the Internet's weirdest, quirkiest ads. The shtick is simple: she finds outrageous ads online - often on Craigslist - answers them, and films what happens next using a hidden camera.
In her first episode, Barker travels to a stranger's apartment, gets strapped to a bed, and is tickled for an hour. All for fifty bucks.
Crazy, right? After watching season one - she's just gearing up for a second season - I had to know more.
What can viewers expect to see in season two of Starvival?
Season one was based on odd jobs, whereas season two is going to more revolve around really strange ads - so hopefully it will open more doors. Odd jobs, for example, are like the tickling job. [laughs] That for me was the strangest ad I've ever seen on Craigslist before. So, I went out and did it, and I call that an odd job because I got paid at the end of it... whereas season two is going to also cover more scams, and more generally outrageous ads someone may post - for example, apartment rentals with weird living arrangements.
You mentioned the strangest ad you've ever seen on Craigslist was the tickling one - but is that the weirdest offer you've ever received?
So I would say there are a lot that are... up to par, with that as far as strangeness goes. I get so many bizarre offers on YouTube, they come in daily. Some of the offers that have come in through YouTube have been insanely bizarre and strange. A guy in the States recently asked me to take pictures of my old, ratty, shoes and send the pictures to him. Then if he thought they were ratty enough, he said he would pay me whatever, WHATEVER I wanted to send him my old shoes!
Some of your episodes are SO bizarre, I have to ask - is what we're watching really what's happening?
Yes! And it's a big struggle to try and get audiences to believe in reality shows, because reality shows ARE all scripted. But what I'm trying to do with season two is post the ads on the website, so when people go to the Starvival website they can see the ad there, then when the episode comes out the following week they at least know it's real. That's the only way I could think of to get people to understand that it's actually happening, and it's happening right now, which will hopefully separate it from the other reality shows out there.
So how do you go about filming the people you're meeting with - it's obvious in your videos you don't always tell them what you're up to.
I first shot with a five-year-old camcorder - and that served me well. But I upgraded my camera to this little, HD hidden cam. It looks just like a cell phone - that's how I secretly shoot everything, people just assume it's a blackberry... [pause] I probably shouldn't be saying this because now everyone is going to know my tricks! [laughs]
How do you decide which ads to respond to, and who to, you know, follow up with and actually meet?
I try and cover different communities and elements in every episode, so if I've done one that has to do with, say feet, for example, then I move on to a new category. I don't want to do anything repetitive - just because there is so much weird stuff out there, and I have so much to choose from. In season two I really want to cover all the different communities out there as well as different scams, or perverts that are trying to, you know, lure young women into their apartment. And because you never really know which ones are going to pan out, I try to respond to most of them. And some of them pan out, some of them don't - it's all a gamble, you never /really /know what you're getting into.
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