Stuart "Broke-Ass" Schuffman's love for New Orleans is partially rooted in vampire literature.
"I love history, and I've read a lot of Anne Rice books, " said Schuffman, host of the Independent Film Channel's new "Young, Broke & Beautiful."
"I've always felt this sense of mystery in New Orleans, and there's something I can't put my finger on, but that's New Orleans."
Schuffman was recently in town filming for the show, which documents him as he discovers the cheap hidden treasures and rich alternative cultures across America.
Airing Friday at 10 p.m., the Big Easy episode will chronicle his adventures such as meeting Sissy Bounce artists Big Freedia and Katey Red, hanging out at the Spotted Cat, visiting the NOLA Art House on Esplanade Avenue and discovering the city's cemeteries.
"We went to one of the Lafayette Cemeteries and hung out with Lord Chaz, who's a big vampire-looking dude, and talked about the system of cemeteries in New Orleans, " Schuffman said.
Some of his most memorable local experiences were spontaneous.
"Chaz's friend made me some fangs, and we also ended up in an original dungeon in the French Quarter, and all of that was totally unplanned, " he said.
Before Schuffman brought his enthusiasm for cheap travel and America's underground gems to the small screen, he was just another broke college graduate.
"I was like, 'What do I do? I'm broke and I'm Stuart, I'm fresh out of college, ' so I put together all these ideas and Broke-Ass Stuart just kind of came along with it, " he said.
Schuffman started out small a decade ago as a travel writer for zines. That led to a gig with Lonely Planet and a book deal on offbeat travel. Television seemed to be a logical next step.
"The momentum from my 'Broke-Ass Stuart' guidebooks for San Francisco and New York, and from my new one which is just a general survival guide for broke asses everywhere, it kind of pushed me toward television, " explained Schuffman, who lives in San Francisco. "The premise of the show ... is you don't have to have a lot of money to do that."
In this season of "Young, Broke & Beautiful, " Schuffman explores Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis, Boston and his hometown of San Diego, in addition to New Orleans.
"We knew from the beginning that New Orleans was going to be high up on the shortlist, and I love this city, " he said. "It's one of the oldest cities in North America, and there's so much history and potential for mayhem there, so how could I not go?"
So is New Orleans the best "Young, Broke & Beautiful" city in America?
"I don't like to play favorites, but there's no place like New Orleans in the world. It's the city of yes, " he said. "You can be as freaky as you want to be, no one's going to hate on you for it. And I will celebrate you for it."
Ultimately, though, Schuffman says that the city's joie de vivre sets it apart.
"There's so much revelry here, and it's kind of like a first love that sticks with you forever, " he said.
Schuffman also enjoyed interacting with locals.
"Having a giant camera crew can make people weird, but everyone was really friendly and nice, " he said. "Most people might say 'Don't put me on camera, ' or 'Get out of my place, ' but in New Orleans it was more like, 'Hey baby, what ya doin'? That sounds cool.'"
"I'm looking forward to getting back to New Orleans, " he added. "I'd love to live there at some point or another."
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