A woman and her 'Ax Men'

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'Ax Men'

Brandon Larsen, of Superior, Wis., in a scene from season 6 of "Ax Men" that is set in Wisconsin. (January 24, 2013)

Q: At any point when the film crew was there, did they ask you to create or manufacture situations--or shape what you were going to say to the camera?

A: No. The work was real. But there is a subtle pressure to play to the camera. (At one point, Peres said she saw her brother involved in an unexpectedly dangerous task) and I started screaming and tears were running down my face and I was like, "What the f--- are you doing?"...so I think that maybe having the camera close to me had something to do with me giving way to those emotions.

In the same way that I think having a camera on them made some of the guys act out a little more. I think they played to the camera a little bit. For one thing, there are female members of the camera crew, so there are young women on the site, which doesn't happen very often. You know how building construction workers will play to the young chick who's walking by on the street? I think our guys did that a little bit.

Q: Why did you decide to do the show?

A: Well, our company is in trouble. We don't know how much longer we can hang on because we're out of money and our mortgage lender is getting very impatient. When they said, "Do you want to be on 'Ax Men?'" we spent a few minutes thinking about it, but not many.

We were a little afraid. One concern was OSHA — what if something happens on film that isn't supposed to happen? We're liable. We had friends who said, "Are you crazy? This is your reputation. Do you really want to be on a reality TV show?" And we thought about it for a few minutes and finally said, we have nothing to lose here. If there's a possibility that this show could increase our visibility to the point where we could boost sales, it could be the difference between our success and our failure. And failure is a very real option right now. We're looking it in the teeth.

Q: In addition to the publicity, I'm sure you were paid to be on the show. Do you mind saying how much that was?

A: I don't think we're allowed to talk about this, but the fact is, we didn't get paid. We were not paid. I hope that's not a trade secret.

Q: Wow, I'm surprised!

A: We wondered if we were being guppies here. Later we kind of asked delicately if there would be any sort of fee and they said "no." You can see how naive we've been all the way along. I mean, I don't have to say that, I'm sure you're thinking that yourself.

Q: There's a whole genre of shows that focus on these testosterone-and-cigarette professions (pawn shops, catfish wrestlers, ice road truckers). You are one of the rare female faces to be on a show like this. I mean, it's called "Ax Men."

A: That's exactly true, and that's part of my concern. I'm wondering if we're going to make it on this show because we're so different from the other crews. I think it's possible that the audience of "Ax Men" is gonna say, "What the hell is that broad doing there?" and turn off.

I watch the show and I love Shelby (Shelby "Swamp Man" Stanga, who dredges logs in Louisiana). I think he's a great character. But how many people like Shelby partly because of the relationship he has with the women in his life?

We've got it backwards — we've got one tough broad running the show and a lot of guys doing the work. My fear is that may not be appealing to the audience. I don't know the audience of "Ax Men," but based on what they've had for the last five seasons, what we're serving them is a little different.

Q: One of the female cast members on "Storage Wars" apparently had plastic surgery — paid for by the show— to amp up her sex appeal. I gather you won't be going down that path.

A: No, I see myself becoming the Betty White of the Northland.

Q: What goes through you mind when you hear Mark Gustafson's quote about the show being "pure fabrication through editing"?

A: (Long sigh) I know that things can take on a different color through editing. I mean, I've seen editors at newspapers change the tenor or direction of a story, but it didn't happen very often — and I always thought of it as bad editing.

This is TV and they have to make a story otherwise people won't be interested. But I don't think that they need to go too far afield to make our story more dramatic.

Q: And you're willing to swallow however you're portrayed?

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