Stuart Schuffman, travel writer and blogger, is better known as "Broke-Ass Stuart," purveyor of all things inexpensive and idiosyncratic. Based in the Bay Area, Schuffman has written for Lonely Planet's travel guides, created a couple of zines, and put together a website, Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Website, where he and his team of young, broke writers blog about affordable and quirky goings-on in San Francisco and New York. He has two books out, one on each city, and now Schuffman is the host of a new TV series, premiering Friday, June 24, 2011 on IFC, where he will showcase the weird, wonderful, and cheap in six U.S. cities: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Diego.
Young, Broke & Beautiful is the title of the show, as well as Schuffman's personal motto and the tag line of the industry he has built around the concept of "Broke-Ass." Everything he covers and promotes is either free or almost free, but a slim pocketbook isn't enough to earn the moniker. Broke-Ass is measured not by how little money you spend, but by how cool and eccentric you can get on as little cash as possible.
In the first episode, Schuffman descends on Louisiana looking for a good time on a low budget. Armed with a cheerful, try-anything attitude that sometimes borders on manic, he visits the requisite New Orleans bars, gnaws at crayfish, and ogles a crocodile in the heart of a swamp. But Schuffman also lives up to his claim to fame -- getting off the beaten path, drawing out a city's secrets, and spreading the word to his fellow Broke-Asses. The unexpected stops on his wandering path include a cemetery, a fang-fitting parlor, and a very cool tree house. Schuffman is particularly fascinated by the music scene, and the show takes a welcome break from its speedy pace for a Cajun band's front porch jam session.
Although Schuffman has conceded to the mainstream enough to let a camera crew follow him around on his exploits, his transition from online, independent print media to television is not entirely without peculiarities. The show is constantly interrupted with text splashed across the screen -- facts, commentaries, and even links to websites -- giving it the feel and functionality of a blog. Despite the spectacle inherent in a TV show, the emphasis is still on DIY, cheap, and uncommon fun for the common man. For everything he does, Schuffman tallies up the cost or vetoes it with a decided, "This is not Broke-Ass!"
Young, Broke & Beautiful brings Schuffman's unique brand of adventurous budget travel to a more mainstream setting but mostly preserves his indie flair. Targeted at anyone who loves a good deal or anyone keen to get beyond the surface of a city, the show will open up some of America's hidden urban gems as well as encourage the spread of the Broke-Ass lifestyle. And along the way, it might just make Broke-Ass Stuart a bit less broke.
Young, Broke & Beautiful premieres Friday, June 24 at 11pm on IFC. For more information visit ifc.com.