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Statesboro son to 'Party Down South'


November 18, 2014

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    When it comes to partying, it doesn’t get any more real than with Bulloch County’s own Southern son, Michael Duke Jr.
    The 22-year-old volunteer firefighter and pest control technician is slated to appear on CMT’s “Party Down South 2” this season, with a premier episode running Thursday, Nov. 20.
    A viewing party is scheduled for that night at Statesboro’s Wild Wings Café. “Get there early,” Duke said. “The show starts at 9 p.m.”
    Being selected for the popular reality show was a bit surprising, because Duke (that’s what his friends call him) applied for the part as a lark, he said. “I was watching the show one night and thought ‘I can do this,’” he said.
    So, he applied online, and was shocked when he got a call to meet the casting crew on Tybee Island. Then a few weeks later, he was called back to fly to Los Angeles for a second interview.
    “I thought, there is no way they are going to pick a guy from Statesboro,” he said. “It was a wild hair that turned into the chance of a lifetime.”
    The CMT “Party Down South 2” show is all about partying, Southern style. It’s about drinking, mud bogging, riding dirt roads, hunting and fishing, sports and just about anything a country girl or guy does every day for fun, he said.
    Those things are right up Duke’s alley, and he said he got the part as a cast member by just being himself.
“They asked me what I like to do, what I am known for. Basically, I’m just a Bulloch County guy,” he said. “I like to hunt and fish, ride four wheelers, play in the mud, ride dirt roads, just hang out with the local boys and have a good time.”
    He took off to Biloxi, Mississippi, to join the other members of the crew. They worked together at a beach rental company, lived together, ate together and partied together for a month while camera crews filmed their every moment.
    “I was nervous at first, but you get used to the cameras,” he said. “Sometimes we stayed home, sometimes we went out.” Biloxi citizens invited the crew to party with them, and the crew formed friendships based on similarities and the time spent together. “You can’t help but get to know each other,” he said. “Nobody else can relate to what we did. There are the inside jokes, the bonds — friendships that are formed for a lifetime.”
    The Southeast Bulloch High School graduate is the son of Michael Duke Sr. and Kim Duke. He has two brothers and a sister: Mitchell, 20; Marshall, 18 and Michaela, 12. He is a volunteer firefighter with the Bulloch County Fire Department Station Four in Nevils, and is a technician with Coastal Georgia Exterminating.
    Other than that, Duke is just a regular guy, he said.
    “I was able to be myself,” he said, adding that the reality show is not scripted. “What you see is what you get, and I took that to Biloxi.”
    The crew did what they wanted to do and Duke found out that partying Southern style isn’t just a Georgia thing. “In Mississippi they do what we do here,” he said. While there, he and other crew members were invited to go mud bogging, riding ATVs, and join in “good, down-to-earth fun. The people opened up their homes to us — they are no different than we are.”
    Duke said he will never forget the experience. Would he do it again? Of course. “I have no regrets,” he said.
    It is a bit of an experience to suddenly find himself a celebrity, however. “Life is normal (after returning home from Biloxi), but they haven’t advertised the show until recently,” he said. But Duke isn’t the type of guy to let a little fame change him. He is still “Duke,” he said.
    Heather Allison, CMT spokesperson, touted the “Party Down South 2” series as a fun-filled show that offers a true-life view of Southern partying.
    “Marking the beginning of a franchise for the hit series, the one-hour, 12-episode season follows this rowdy group of eight as they arrive in Biloxi, Mississippi ready to shotgun the summer. “Their time in Biloxi quickly proves to be filled with mud pits, hook-ups, hangovers and a whole lot of drama as they get to know each other, party together and form close-knit relationships that will last even after the final keg has been kicked,” she said in a statement released about the show.
    “Duke has always been the head of his social circle — he never passes up a party and is always there when his friends need advice or help with a problem,” she said. “When it comes to women, Duke does not want to be known as a ‘player.’  He’s a true romantic and if he finds the right lady, he is going to treat her right.”
    Yes, ladies — Duke is single.
 
    Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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