Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Television Show

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It all started with a zine, then some Lonely Planet travel guides, a book deal via Craigslist, the goddamn website, and now a television show, born of an offhand comment made during a Gothamist interview two years ago. Broke-Ass Stuart’s guides to living cheaply tell readers how to get the most out of San Francisco and New York, and now his travel show, Young, Broke, and Beautiful, explores the thrifty underground culture of six US cities, beginning with New Orleans.

Broke-ass or not, Stuart Schuffman has always been a self-proclaimed wanderer.  “Traveling is my passion, so I thought, ‘Why don’t I share the knowledge I’ve gained with other people?’”  Armed with scotch tape and a working knowledge of photocopiers, Broke-Ass Stuart filled local bookstores with his homemade travel guides, until a fortunate scanning of Craigslist wanted ads landed him a book deal.

“The thing that I lost from zines to books was the personal relationship with the stores that carried them,” he says of his departure from the pinnacle of broke-ass publishing. “The main reason to get a book deal is to widen reach.  I still don’t have any money,” he laughs.

Although his early efforts were low-fi, Stuart Schuffman is a pedigreed travel writer and thorough researcher.  He simply prefers meeting a city’s people to seeing its things.  “Working for Lonely Planet was great, but you have to be two different people–the explorer and the introverted post-travel writer.  It’s all fun, and it’s all lots of work in different ways,” he says, but ultimately admits that meeting people is his “thing.”

Enter Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website.  The website focuses less on traditional travel writing, and more on what’s going on right now. What started as an online place for Schuffman to hawk his wares has grown into a community of writers spread across both coasts covering everything from “Great Ideas for Cheap Dates” (art openings, public library movie rentals) to “How to Be an Interesting Person” (face tattoos, dangerous travel destinations).  With the majority of writers based in San Francisco and New York, he’s aiming to break into Los Angeles next (and how: “I’m hoping it spreads like an STD,” he says, semi-jokingly).

Armed with the help of production company, 44 Pictures, Schuffman and crew hit six cities in six weeks in order to film the first season of Young, Broke, and Beautiful, which has been picked up by IFC. “There’s something really lovely about every place I’ve ever been,” he claims, “but I love New Orleans.  It’s the city that says yes.”  Young, Broke, and Beautiful is not your ordinary travel show.  Their criteria: “The weirder the better.  The things that are going on underground say a lot about culture as a whole.”  Where else can you expect to see a self-proclaimed broke-ass get fitted for vampire fangs and get down at a sissy bounce art house tattoo party?  Which is not to say that the show is meant to tell viewers exactly where to go, “It’s less of a practical travel guide, and more about the business of exploration,” says Schuffman.  Something that is largely possible because of the show’s home on IFC instead of more traditional travel channels.  “It’s edgier,” he says, adding, “I can say the shit word, but not the fuck word…”

While Young, Broke, and Beautiful isn’t necessarily meant to be a practical travel guide, the Editor-in-Cheap still has solid travel advice for would-be adventurers: Read books and consult the internet, but crowd source your friends for off-the-map destinations, and remember to get lost.  “Just lock your stuff up and wander.  No routine, just go.”  But most of all, “Say yes, but say yes responsibly.”

Young, Broke, and Beautiful airs this Friday, June 24th at 11pm on IFC.

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This Broke-Ass Stuart piece is occupying the Thursday space, usually reserved for Dear Sugar. Fear not, advice-seekers and Sugar-enthusiasts, your Dear Sugar will be back tomorrow morning!


Melissa Tan is a former runway model, fashion designer, motorcycle enthusiast, and bacon aficionado who has written for The Examiner, The Rumpus, and The Bold Italic. When she’s not sewing or writing, she can be found hunting for new music or the perfect hot dog. Usually at the same time. More from this author →