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The Two Worlds Of Josh Bernstein

The globe-trotter who hosted The History Channel's "Digging for the Truth" and now stars in a new series for the Discovery Channel is as comfortable in modern culture as he is among primitive societies. And he finds room to smoke in both.
Michael Marsh
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007

(continued from page 2)

Hosting "Digging for the Truth" taught Bernstein that the success of his new series will depend on his own preparation, dedication and passion. And while the likes of Mead, Roosevelt and Eastwood continue to influence him, Bernstein understands that the secret to success lies within. "I focus on my own life," he says, "my own objectives and doing what I think is right and what's best. I'm inspired by other people's lives, but I'm not necessarily motivated by them."

So what is it, then, that motivates Josh Bernstein? "The desire to create quality," he says. "Whether it's on the trail with BOSS or on the television with Discovery. I am tremendously fortunate to do what I do. To be able to go to these places and get fully immersed in these cultures, to meet the experts and become part of a period of research and inquiry, of learning and physical understanding, and doing it over and over again, is like winning the lottery. I'm motivated to be the best that I can be more than anything else.

"I'm not doing this for fame and fortune," he adds. "I'm doing this because I love learning and throwing myself 100 percent into the expeditions. I'm doing this because sharing the experiences with millions of people around the world gives me a greater sense of empowerment."

Bernstein remembers the first cigar he smoked with a smile. He was on a date with a beautiful woman named Nanette. Bernstein was impressed by her insistence on going to Morton's for steak, but was nearly stunned when she suggested they smoke cigars after dinner. Bernstein can't say what cigar he smoked, or even if he enjoyed it, but what he does remember is that he fell in love with the sensuality of the cigar-smoking experience. Eight years later, Bernstein fell in love with the cigars themselves.

Bernstein and his "Digging for the Truth" crew were in Patagonia exploring the myths of giants in South America. It was the middle of Season Two and Bernstein, who had been traveling around the world constantly, was feeling beaten up. He felt as if he was running a marathon and had just gotten past the halfway mark. There was a long way to go and it was only going to get harder. It was then that Bernstein's soundman, Rob Peterson, suggested they go get some Cuban cigars to relax with. They purchased a variety of brands, including Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo and Punch, and from there on out, at the end of each day's shoot, they would smoke cigars and play pool in the hotel's cigar room.

After Patagonia, on the last night of filming an episode, Bernstein would buy Cuban cigars and they would wrap with a cigar party. "The cigars were a thank-you to the crew and truly a cathartic release," says Bernstein. "It was a way for me to send my thanks up with the smoke into the universe after a grueling two weeks on the expedition."

These days, Bernstein has explored many brands and tried a lot of different cigars. But because he has the luxury of frequent international travel, he mostly smokes Cubans, though he is also a fan of Fuente Fuente OpusX. "I like strength," he says. "My beer is Guinness, my Scotch is Lagavulin and my cigar is Cohiba. I like the flavor, the quality and the allure of that brand. My favorite is the Siglo VI, but if I only have time to smoke a Siglo IV, so be it.

"Cigars have been tremendously helpful," he adds. "I'm not usually one for vices, though I think everybody should have one. Mine is I love a good cigar."

Being that Bernstein is a self-described fitness freak, he understands that the health warnings about smoking are real and that moderation is important, to a point. He also understands there is more than just one's physical health. "There also has to be a sense of spiritual health," he says, "and for me, having that release, that celebration, that cathartic thank-you to the universe, that giving of thanks and praise through cigars and smoke, is invaluable. It far outweighs any of the risks."

Photograph by Darryl Estrine

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