If you have an outhouse, there's a former pro wrestler who'd love to rummage through it.
He's "Heavy Metal" Ric Savage, and between 1991 and 1997 he was one of the better known pro wrestlers in the sport, thanks to moves like the "choke slam," the "pile driver" and the "sunset flip."
Since retiring 15 years ago, Savage, 42, has gone from being "Heavy Metal" to doing what many men do in retirement: walking around with metal detectors -- except he's getting paid to do it as host of the new show "American Digger," which debuts March 21 on Spike TV. The show features him leading a team around the country searching for hidden treasure buried in the backyards of everyday Americans.
Savage prefers using the metal detectors at the site of current and former outhouses.
"Outhouses or 'privy' sites are great places because they're like little time capsules," Savage told HuffPost Weird News while using his metal detector on the shores of Coronado Beach in San Diego, Calif. "Yesterday's crap are today's artifacts. People throw away bottles; they throw away a lot of broken implements from their home."
Some of the things that Savage has found under old outhouses include bottles, jewelry and coins.
"They used to cover them up -- they'd put a layer of dirt over it after a certain amount of time, so you can find a lot of great stuff, thousands of artifacts, from an old privy site," he said. "The trick is you got to find the site itself, which isn't always easy."
Savage comes by his desire to root through outhouses organically. Although he's known as a pro wrestler, he's a lifelong history buff who used to bug his parents to take him to historical sites like Gettysburg and Manassas, the way other kids beg their parents to go to Disneyland.
"I've always been a history buff," said Savage, who, after ending his wrestling career, moved to Gettysburg, Pa., to perform a live storytelling presentation called "Haunted Gettysburg."
He still remembers his first artifact, which he got while visiting the Appomattox Court House near Richmond, Va., the site of Robert E. Lee's surrender in 1865.
"It was a Civil War bullet that I still have in my collection," he said. "That got me interested in the artifacts and as I began to collect, I started to study dug artifacts and I thought, 'How cool is that? If I can out and find them, then I can populate my collection without having to pay for them.'"
That was 10 years ago, and Savage has since found artillery shells, swords, bullets and pocket knives.
"Soldiers during the Civil War used to take bullets and pound them into poker chips," he said. "I've found those, and they also used to carve bullets into chess pieces. So there's a lot of different stuff that can be found when we hunt camp sites and 'privy sites.'"
But some professional archeologists don't exactly "dig" Savage's new show. Two separate organizations, the Society of American Archeology and the Archeological Institute of America are protesting the show in hopes of, well, burying it.
SAA spokesman Paul Mullins, a professor at Indiana Purdue in Indianapolis, said that while professional archeologists want to work with people in what he calls the "relic hunter community," he thinks Savage and his show send the wrong message.
"You can't just dig a hole and take something out," Mullins told HuffPost Weird News. "There is little in the ground that is worth money, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have historical value. Professionals separate everything into quadrants because everything thrown out at the same level was thrown out at the same time. [Savage] might not keep stuff because it doesn't interest him, but there might be value that we don't know."
Ben Thomas, the director of programs for the AIA, said the problem with a show like "American Diggers" is that it encourages a mindset of commerce over comprehension.
"When you've taken history and lowered it to the monetary equation, why keep it then?" Thomas asked.
Savage said he isn't concerned with the critics and believes that even if the show is a hit, it won't cause historical sites to be clogged with fortune hunters carrying metal detectors.
"I don't believe this show is going to cause millions of people to go out with metal detectors and rip up historical sites any more than I believe that 'Antiques Roadshow' is going to make people knock off their aunt so they can get that old Singer sewing machine out of the attic."
|Eerie Discovery By American Savage|