Farm implements, interesting taxidermy -- and a zebra-skin rug.
Those are the only clues that Mark Meyer, one of the stars of the Travel Channel show Baggage Battles, would give out in advance when describing an episode of the reality show -- which airs tonight -- taking place at the Rocky Mountain Estate Brokers/Whitley Auctions in the town of Eaton, east of Fort Collins.
Meyer, who is 26 and lives on Long Island with his parents, is one of four auction specialists who travel the country for the show, attending auctions, primarily of unclaimed freight and baggage, to gamble on unopened boxes and trunks and to outbid or outsmart one another in order to cash in on whatever antiques, electronics or other unusual merchandise they can get their hands on.
"This was a smaller auction in terms of clientele and merchandise," he tells Westword. "But sometimes you find the best stuff at the small ones."
Baggage Battles, now in its fourth season, airs tonight at 7 p.m. MST on the Travel Channel; the episode, called "Bunny Money," is described thusly:
"The auction specialists head to Denver, hoping for a Rocky Mountain High profit. Billy and Mark scuffle over an authentic German World War II item, and one buyer gets excited after finding an original Playboy Bunny costume."
Here's our full Q&A with Meyer, who has a solid New York accent, always wears jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, and endures an intense rivalry with fellow star Billy Leroy.
Westword: You weren't in the sexiest part of Colorado, but what did you think of the state?
Mark Meyer: We went to Fort Collins, but I got to spend a day of my own time in Boulder, and the mountains are quite breathtaking. My dad had worked at a ranch for a while as a young guy and always talked about them, so I wanted to see for myself. It was my first time in Colorado.
What did you find at the auction?
There was a lot of interesting taxidermy, a lot of antiques. It kind of had that Old Western feel to it. There were a lot of farm implements.... I did pretty good.
You and Billy don't like each other on the show. Is that animosity real?
We are incredibly competitive; he is arrogant, and that has caused me to have a distaste for him. It is easy for us to get along before the show and afterward. But while it is on, he can get underneath my skin. I'm half his age, so I'm a bad guy because of that.... He grows on you, but he's nasty when you meet him. There are times that me and Billy haven't spoken for a month. It can get heated. In the first season, we barely spoke at all.
What are some items you won that have stood out as favorites?
Lost freight auctions are some of the best to attend. In North Carolina [last season], I was walking by a pallet with what looked like a NASCAR and racing collection. That's where I got the autographed racing suit that belonged to Dale Earnhardt Jr. worth $3,000. It is an exact driver's suit that's been authenticated by an expert. That piece is dear to my heart. I haven't had the heart to sell it yet.
Do people who come into your store [Nifty Thrifty in West Babylon, New York] know they are buying stuff that was on TV?
Sometimes. But I buy items that sell themselves. It's nice to say it was on TV, but it's nicer if it's just a quality tool or something that someone really wants.
Why do you swear so much?
There's a lot of energy in the room. There are a lot of people, and it can be infuriating when they run up the price or take too much time. I really encourage you to go to a live auction. There are shot callers, 600 people...it can get very emotional. Sometimes I have a trucker mouth. In season three I cleaned it up a bit.... I can get flustered or upset, but once the cameras are on you for 45 minutes, you forget about them.
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