When this first aired on History it was by far one of my favourite shows, and to this day (even though I’m a huge sucker for Forged in Fire, American Pickers and even Storage Wars & Pawn Stars), it was the best reality show they had on the channel. It was a really sad day when it was announced that Billy Jamieson, the host of the show had passed away and this is why the show never ran for more than one season. What made it all the worse though is that they never ran any repeats or made it available on catch up… At least not here in the UK. But I did manage to find the full first season on YouTube which is amazing… Get stuck in!
I was going to write about the show first, but then I decided that it would probably actually make more sense to tell you a little about the man himself first. If he’d lived a little longer and been able to continue his work (especially since having the tv show) I truly believe that he could have become the Robert Ripley of today – I have equal respect for both men and love that both have been able to leave behind a part of them for future generations to learn from.
Billy was a hell of a character and it’s no wonder that he managed to snag his own show – he was full to the brim with charisma. He was a trader in antiques, antiquities and tribal art along with being a reality television star and purchasing the Niagara Falls Museum in 1999. This step was one of the things which helped to catapult him in to the limelight as that muesum was the long lost home to the mummy of Ramesses I.
He has been described as a mixture between Indiana Jones and Gene Simmons… and I can so see that. I think the fact that he was just a normal guy, and a bit of a rocker at that is part of what made him so successful! His fiancee, Jessica Lindsay Phillips was no different! She is covered in tattoos, leads a rock n roll lifestyle and above all shared Billys interest in the weird! By the way if you loved what Billy did and want to see how Jessica is continuing this, her social media feeds are awesome, go check out her Instagram feed below which is both interesting and beautiful… There’s even an H. R. Giger statue!
I’m not at all superstitions but there is always a lot of controversy around his death, when he passed away from a heart attack aged 57. To be honest I feel like he would have liked to level of uncertainty surrounding one part of his death which is that he passed away on the day that his acquisition of what was supposedly the head of Saint Vitalis of Assisi (who was strangely known as the patron saint against sicknesses and diseases affecting the bladder and genitals… because that’s the legacy everyone wants). I didn’t know Billy, but I do know that he loved a great story, which is why I think this is a story he wouldn’t even necessarily want to debunk… Now a legacy as a story teller, a real life Indiana Jones and a modern Ripley… That’s a legacy worth leaving!
I think that gives a nice overview of the man who really furthered my interest in tribal art for sure. I was always interested in shrunken heads and skeletons etc. but he opened my eyes to a whole new world… Through this amazing show!
The show itself is a simple concept. Billy goes out around the world and chases down leads for a wide range of artifacts and tribal art pieces, and they are REALLY diverse. At the one end of the scale we’ll see shrunken heads, mummies, skulls and even shrunken torsos! Then at the other end we see cannibal forks, shields, masks and staffs to name just a few… We even see some torture implements and a land speed record motorbike!
I think I can honestly say that you won’t see more variety on any other tv show, and certainly not more stuff you’ve never seen before! It really is like watching someone try to fill a Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
You’ll be amazed at how exciting the show can be too while you follow him try to obtain certain items, sell others in order to free up some funds and then take other bits to auction. Nothing was more exciting than when he was chasing a Polynesian God Staff which was found in Connecticut museum – if I remember rightly in their umbrella stand! I won’t tell you what happens with it, but its a history reality show documentary which actually somehow keeps you at the edge of your seat!
As well as seeing the amazing finds which fill his loft, we get to see some other things as well which leave an amazing impression on us of this incredibly interesting man. We see his relationship with Jessica, which looked like it was absolutely special and genuine, whilst we also see another thing which connected these two… Social gatherings! They knew how to throw a party! In this show we see them rub shoulders at their own parties with rockers and movie directors.
Do yourselves a favour… You need to see this show… Open your eyes and broaden your horizons in regards to what you find interesting. Its a big and REALLY weird world out there!