A professional surf photographer by trade and lifelong waterman by passion, Santa Barbara’s Branden Aroyan is no stranger to the high art of wiping out. But even his background couldn’t prepare him for the soggy floggings he received late last fall as a competitor on ABC’s award-winning reality game show Wipeout. (It’s the one where grown men and women in wetsuits and helmets try to navigate a truly wicked and potentially back-breaking obstacle course perched perilously above a giant swimming pool.) “[It was] so physically challenging, completely disorienting, and super tiring,” says Aroyan with a smile. The show’s sixth season premieres this Thursday, May 9, at 8 p.m. on ABC. “There were some glorious moments and some major embarrassing moments. You just never know what the producers are going to focus on … I guess that is why you have to tune in and have a laugh at me being a dork.” Here are three more reasons to tune in.
1. It Almost Never Happened: Generally not much of a TV guy, Aroyan was watching the tube a few years back when he happened upon Wipeout. Captivated by the good-time carnage of the show, Aroyan quickly decided, “I could do that. I want to do that.” A lengthy online application was filled out late that night, and within a matter of days he was contacted by producers. But despite nailing his audition (he wore his own wetsuit and brought flippers, a surfboard, and one of his underwater cameras as props for his character, “Banzai B”), he never heard back. All that changed last summer when he got the proverbial call, was asked back for a second audition, and scored a spot in season six.
2. Pure Entertainment: Though most of your laughter may be coming from that part of your brain that takes sneaky pleasure in seeing other people writhe about in pain, watching Wipeout is a guaranteed good time. And this factor only gets multiplied when you know one of the people involved in the beat down. In typical Wipeout fashion, Aroyan got a little banged up during his obstacle course attempts and, among other bumps and bruises, suffered a lingering jacked-up shoulder, the injury the result of, in his words, “just hanging on for dear life.”
3. Top Secret Info: Super-strict confidentiality rules have prevented Aroyan from divulging exactly how he fared during filming last November. In fact, he hasn’t really been advertising that he was even a competitor, at least until now. “It has been easier to just not talk about it,” he says, “but all that changes once the show is on next week. … I am pretty excited for it. I told the producers my first day, ‘This is the best show on TV. I mean, where else do you get to do all this cool stuff?!’”
A live screening party will be kicking off at 7 p.m. at Seven Bar & Kitchen (224 Helena Avenue) in Santa Barbara