LOS ANGELES — Adult film star Tommy Gunn knows what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, and he even customized a van to prove it.
In fact, his one-of-a-kind vehicle was so impressive that Gunn recently sold it on national TV when he appeared on the hit reality show “Pawn Stars.”
In an episode titled “Pawn Apocalypse” that first aired on July 24 and will repeat on Thursday, the 2011 XBIZ Male Performer of the Year was able to successfully negotiate a sizeable cash deal for his refurbished, 1980 Chevy G30 Front End - Brougham Camper.
“Pawn Stars,” which is in its eighth season on the History Channel, follows the daily activities of the family-owned World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, where Gunn now resides. It’s become the highest rated series on History Channel and one of the most popular reality shows on cable, spawning several spin-offs.
Gunn has performed in more than 1200 movies during his 10-year porn career, but his background is in mechanics. So when he purchased the beat-up van three years ago in Riverside, Calif., for $800, his original idea simply was to get it road worthy before that task took on a life of its own.
“I gutted out the interior and painted the outside all black and one of my friends thought it looked like some sort of ‘apocalypse van,’” Gunn recalled. “That’s when a little light came on in my head. I thought to myself, that’s a great idea. Let me restore it in the fashion of an apocalypse survival, zombie-type vehicle. So this fun little thing turned into a three-year project.”
It soon became a labor of love for Gunn, who poured about $20K of his own money into restoring the van, which came with 95,000 miles on it.
“I put in a new motor, transmission and overdrive unit and redid the interior like a limo,” Gunn said. “I did all the fabricating, welding and upholstery. As I finished it, it got such great attention from people when I drove it around. People took a liking to it. After three years of building it I thought to myself what am I going to do with it? I thought about doing a zombie ice cream truck or a zombie food truck.”
Gunn said it was a challenge to find a place to park the van without it attracting the wrong kind of attention.
“I was forced to get an RV spot at a storage center and it was costing me $125 a month to store it,” he admitted. “I thought, I love this thing but maybe selling it off ain’t a bad idea.”
Gunn placed a couple ads on Craigslist, but no serious buyers emerged. Then as he watched "Pawn Stars" one night as a casual fan he noticed how the show was soliciting prospective sellers.
“They were saying if you have something you might want to sell, go to our website and submit a photo and if we respond we’re interested. And if we don’t, then we’re not interested. So I took a photo and submitted it and a few days later I got an email from them,” Gunn explained. “The email said, ‘if you’re interested in selling it, legitimately come up with a price and we can arrange for a specific time to shoot and hopefully it will air if it’s good enough.’”
After a few emails and phone calls with the “Pawn Stars” producers, Gunn said he actually drove to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on April 16.
“I said, ‘let’s do this, let’s see what happens,’” he said.
Interestingly, Gunn noted that during the taping there was no mention by the “Pawn Stars” cast or crew about his profile in the porn industry.
“Strangely enough, no one in the whole place or the crew mentioned anything about me being whoever I was. I find that hard to believe out of 20 people,” Gunn said. “So I just decided I’m not going to mention it either.
“So we shot the whole thing and it came time to offer me money and it wasn’t what I expected. It was actually way more.”
Gunn did not want to disclose the final amount he received in print, but he did walk away with several thousand dollars — the exact figure is revealed on the show. Gunn said cast member Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison asked him why he wanted to sell the van.
“I told him that I want to build another one. So I plugged myself on the show. I said, ‘if you want one of these vans, let me know and I can build it over again.’ I was excited that they were excited about it. It was fun.”
Gunn added that parting with his creation ended up being bittersweet. “It kind of broke my heart because I put so much time and effort into it,” he said.
In teasing the episode, the “Pawn Stars” website says, “Corey braces himself for the apocalypse when he checks out a state-of-the-art survival vehicle, built to fight off zombies. Will Corey escape in style or will he let the deal die?”
It airs again from 9 to 9:30 p.m. PST Thursday and then will be repeated twice on Monday.
Meanwhile, Gunn said the trailer for the mainstream horror movie “Wolves" in which he landed an action role is available now. The David Hayter-helmed film is expected to premiere nationwide later this year.