A Chat with Billy the Exterminator

When it comes to the A&E reality series known as “Billy the Exterminator,” there seems to be no middle ground: either you’ve never heard of it, you’ve heard of it but can’t watch it because you’re too squeamish, or you’re absolutely addicted to it. I was in the first camp, but after receiving review copies of the first two seasons of the series on DVD (both of which hit stores on Dec. 21), my wife immediately fell in love with Billy Bretherton and his family-filled pest-control operation and demanded that I watch the show with her.

So I did…and now I’m addicted, too.

Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to chat with Billy in conjunction with these DVD releases, but when I first called him at Vexcon headquarters, I was told that he wasn’t in the office. It was never formally confirmed whether or not the reason for his absence was confusion over time zones – I’m in eastern, he’s in central – or the fact that he was battling a bit of a sore throat, but whatever the case, I was told to call him on his cell phone. After listening to his hold music (John Lennon’s “Imagine,” if you were wondering) for a few seconds, Billy picked up and the interview began.

Join us now for…

Bullz-Eye: I understand you’ve got a little bit of laryngitis working on you.

Billy the Exterminator: (Laughs) Yessir, a little bit.

BE: Well, I’m battling a sore throat myself, so you may consider me sympathetic.

BtE: Well, thank you!

BE: I’ve got to tell you that I’ve only just discovered the show, thanks to these DVD sets of Seasons 1 and 2, but my wife and I are now both officially addicted to it.

BtE: Oh, well, cool! I appreciate that, man! I appreciate all the support I get.

BE: Hey, no problem. What’s funny is that I’m a TV critic, but somehow I missed out of the show, so when we got the DVD sets, my wife put on Disc 1 of Season 1 just on a whim, really. But it’s hard to stop watching!

BtE: Cool! I appreciate the compliment, thank you!

BE: So your show was a long time coming, wasn’t it? I mean, they first filmed you for “Dirty Jobs” in 2004, correct?

BtE: Yessir, that’s when we went international…or the United States, at least. (Laughs) But we’d been filmed for the local news since about ’96.

BE: How did that come about? Did the news approach you?

BtE: No, sir, basically…we live in a small town: Benton, Louisiana. There’s about 2,000 people here. In northwest Louisiana, there’s 72 companies, and we just called them all and told them to send us their undesirable work that they won’t do. Of course, that draws media attention, newspapers and magazines. They would upload the information on the internet, and some producers found the footage, fell in love with the family, and the rest is history.

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