Discovery Channel star shares dirty secrets of show
On every episode of the Discovery Channel TV series Dirty Jobs, host Mike Rowe digs in and gets to work at various messy, difficult, strange and sometimes disgusting tasks.
Viewers sometimes wince as he crushes up old toilets or gets up close and personal with dung beetles. He wields plungers, hammers, blowtorches and fishermens gaffs, and even operates the occasional forklift. He seems like the kind of guy youd call to fix a leaky roof or a burst water pipe.
But Rowe, 48, says he isn't—and never has been—very handy.
"Fixing things never came easily to me," he says. "I didn't get the gene."
Rowe's mother, Peggy, agrees that her oldest son wasn't hard-wired for hands-on repair work.
"That might be an understatement," she says with a laugh. "There are a lot of things Mike does well, but he's not very handy around the house. He could change a light bulb and probably change a fuse, but he was never all that interested in doing those things."
Mom and son agree: Mike's grandfather and father were the handy ones.
"My grandfather was a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, a steamfitter, pipe fitter and a stonemason," Rowe says. "He was the kind of guy who never read the instructions. He was the king of the neighborhood, the guy everybody came to if they had a problem or needed something fixed."
Rowe, who lives in San Francisco when he isn't on the road for Dirty Jobs, is single, but says, "I've been with the same, very understanding woman for 13 years." He and his two younger brothers grew up on a farm in Baltimore County, Md., where the family had a modest parcel abutting several hundred acres of state-owned land. His parents were educators (Peggy taught English and special education; John taught eighth- and ninth-grade history), but they also raised chickens, pigs and horses, and grew corn and tomatoes.
"I thought I was Huck Finn," Rowe says.