(Hesperia) – With the ever increasing popularity of reality TV shows, or as they are called “real life series”, it is exciting to hear that a new show will bring the national spotlight to the High Desert. A&E Network premieres the new original real life series “Barter Kings,” featuring a skilled pair of entrepreneurs as they trade up from low value items to items worth thousands more.
“Barter Kings” features the thriving subculture of cashless trading, following Steve and Antonio, two of the best barterers in the business, according to the network. In a time where cash is hard to come by, Steve and Antonio have figured out how to get what they want without spending a dime. There is no limit to what these two set their sights on and they will carry out strings of trades based on inherent value in order to get there.
I spoke with Steve and Antonio about the show and about their business.
High Desert Daily: How did this all start?
Steve: It started kind of with an idea. In 2005 Antonio and I had started several businesses together and we had done a couple of ventures. Everywhere that we went we noticed that people had in their garages or in their living rooms stuff that they weren’t using. They had been accumulating big stuff, small stuff, paintings, stuff they didn’t even care about. We would ask them about it and they would say “Well, this is stuff we tried to sell a couple of years ago” or “We don’t ride this anymore” or “We can’t afford to go to the river”, every excuse in the book because of the economy. So we started asking people “Would you trade something that I have that I don’t use for that?”
It just started with a simple question, and a couple of people traded with us. Then we waited a year and we started doing it again. We decided this is something that is kind of fun and cool, and we meet a bunch of people. In 2008 we got real serious about it.
HDD: How did the show come about?
Antonio: The producers were actively seeking people to get on the show that trade, and one of their guys got a hold of us and invited us down for an interview. I actually went by myself and I personally thought I did a poor job, but the next day they were up here in Hesperia checking us out. It’s pretty awesome the way it happened. Six months later here we are.
HDD: What is it like having the cameras follow you around all of the time?
Steve: I use this word all of the time and I have to find a better word, it is kind of surreal. At first you are conscious of everything that is going on, and what you are going to say next. But after two weeks of 12 hour days, you become numb to it and it is just part of your daily life. You actually start looking forward to it. I’m almost programmed now to do cool and funny things only when cameras are around. My family thinks I’m boring now.
Antonio: It becomes your first life, not your second life. It’s enjoyable, but it is definitely hard work. It becomes second nature to you.
HDD: How do your families feel about the show?
Antonio: They like it, they are excited about it, and they welcome it. My whole family has been on camera with the show – I have two teenagers and a 10 year old. They are in, actually, two episodes. So they are looking forward to it, the popularity.
Steve: Well, we’re at two different stages because his kids are 10+ and mine are 5 and 9. My kids are super shy. While Antonio is becoming the cool dad again, because his kids are a little older, my kids are wondering what the heck is it going to mean to them and if their friends going to make fun of them because their dad’s on TV. But when they saw themselves on the promo the other night their eyes just absolutely hit the ceiling and it was like they were seeing themselves in a feature movie in a movie theater, it was cool.
HDD: Now that the promos are airing, are people starting to recognize you from TV?
Antonio: Not yet. I’ve been getting a bunch of texts from people, a lot of relatives and friends I’ve known in the past, but no popularity contest yet. It’s been pretty quiet still. But I’m definitely ready for it, Steve’s ready for it and we’re hoping it comes like a storm.
HDD: What is the most interesting thing that you’ve traded?
Antonio: We’ve traded a horse, a muscle car, and a big F-350 truck.
Steve: The first show is probably the coolest one for me. I traded for a speed boat for my family to ride around at my in-laws house, and I actually brought it to them as a huge surprise after I traded for it the same day. So it was pretty awesome.
HDD: Have you seen any of the finished episodes and what did you think?
Antonio: I’ve seen the first episode and I’m just ecstatic with it, I love the way it turned out. I didn’t think it would turn out like that. You film 12 hours a day and you have no idea how it is going to turn out, not knowing the industry. Then you see it and it gives you hope. So I’m really happy with it.
Steve: I understand that it is a 22 minute show and that’s it. But there was stuff that I actually thought was funny that never made it. And then there’s stuff that I didn’t think was funny that they used and it turned out to be funny. They do such a good job that I don’t even question or judge it anymore. It’s awesome the way it turns out.
They can’t put everything into the show, there’s a lot of stuff that we tried to trade that didn’t work out. There’s one day where I went to three different locations and never made a trade. Well, they can’t put that stuff in the show because they only have a certain amount of time. It’s legitimately hard work. There is a fail ratio, and people need to keep that in mind. But if they do put a little hard work into it…this is a cashless society, everybody’s open to it, you just have to figure out why and how. It’s a great way to do things.
Antonio: I hope everybody loves the show, I hope we get a lot of viewers. It’s a great concept, s great show, and we’re looking forward to it.
Steve: We’d love to see the High Desert benefit from it, a little publicity, a little “on the air” type of recognition for the cities and towns we go to and some of the local businesses that helped us out. Hopefully it will be a great thing for the whole community.
A&E’s “Barter Kings” premieres Tuesday, June 12 at 9PM ET/PT with back-to-back episodes. Visit www.aetv.com for more information.