SPARKS, NV - Two months ago Brenda Morgan and Elizabeth Giusti took a break from their cocktail waitressing jobs at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks to participate in the reality television series “Hillbilly Handfishin.’” Their journey took them to southern Oklahoma.
“The production company got a hold of The Nugget and asked if there were two middle-aged cocktail waitresses who’d like to be on the show,” Morgan said. “Elizabeth and I said yes.”
For almost a week the two spent hours in the water trying to catch giant catfish with their bare hands. It wasn’t exactly what they’d expected.
“I’d never been to Oklahoma before,” Giusti said. “I knew it was flatlands, I knew it was a dry county and I knew there was a very good chance I was going to get bit. But I had no idea of the snapping turtles and the snakes and the big hairy spiders and the mudslides and the poison oak and the fire ants and all the other crazy things they have there.”
Some days the two were in the water for almost nine hours.
“It was fun but it was terrifying at the same time, I got bit pretty good,” Morgan said. “There was no training. They just said that the catfish really don’t hurt when they bite it just feels like sandpaper and that’s a big old lie. It hurts. I almost cried and I had battle scars for three weeks.”
When the pair arrived at the first river they found out they were going to be competing on separate teams.
“The two Russian boys were the captains and they got to do the schoolroom pick,” Giusti said. “It was disappointing because us cocktail chicks were going to rock it!”
Both caught fish but say the experience was far from glamorous.
“We thought we were going to be pampered princesses,” Giusti said. “Oh no, we weren’t pampered at all. We had to get waterproof makeup and that hairspray that holds really well. Brenda really needed that!”
She says her whole family is looking forward to watching the upcoming episode.
“I’m excited to see my grandchildren’s faces and my friends and family,” Giusti said. “We’ve been waiting a long time and it was a lot of work so we’re anxious to see how it all turns out.”
Morgan says it’s something she’d do again if she had the opportunity.
“I’m glad I did it, it was fun and terrifying at the same time but it shows you’re never too old to do something new,” Morgan said. “All of our customers are excited and they can’t wait to see it. After it airs I’m sure we’ll have more people coming in here looking for the catfish ladies!”
The episode airs on Animal Planet August 5.