By Charles Homans of ESQUIRE
The crew of the Alaskan fishing vessel Northwestern returns to TV screens this month in the third season of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. The reality show has turned the crew — who are all still working crab fishermen — into reluctant celebrities. Onboard their ship in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Captain Sig Hansen talked about how it all feels.
You’re suddenly famous for doing the job you’ve always done. What’s that like?
Me and my wife were in Las Vegas, and some gal comes over and — I’m not kidding — she literally tore my shirt halfway off. My wife’s standing right there looking at this, and I’m like, “Hey man, there’s nothing I can do about it!” It was bizarre. And Vince Neil! When I met him, he freaked out. I’m thinking to myself, isn’t this supposed to be the other way around?
Has your lifestyle changed much as a result of all this?
There are reporters, phone calls, a lot of scheduling. So that’s new for our families. People recognize us — I have to talk about fishing when I’m at the grocery store. In a way it’s flattering, because before the show, they’d look down their nose at you if you were a fisherman — you were really a second-class citizen.
I noticed you’re selling thongs with the Northwestern logo on your Website.
I’d like to clarify the thong thing — that was “not” our idea.
How are the sales?
Honestly, I thought we’d sell more.
Do you watch reality shows differently now that you’re in one?
I’ve learned a lot about how they shoot these things. As far as other shows, I can see that they’re more staged — the confessions and all that. But I think what sells this show is that you can’t fudge it — you couldn’t put actors on the boats and have the same show.
What do you think the appeal of the show is to your fans?
I think people see in us what they would like to be themselves. Because maybe they spend all day in a cubicle — they’d like to be out there doing something like we do, but they’ve got bills to pay. They can’t just pick up and go to Dutch Harbor.
Now that you’re a bona fide reality TV star, have you thought about switching careers? Doing something less dangerous?
I’ll fucking kick you off my boat. [Laughs] Fishing is what we know. The TV show won’t be here in twenty years, but we will be. That’s reality.