Taking the hit from his Zhan Hu tribemates this week was Dave Cruser, the 37-year-old man with several occupations listed on his bio: bartender, former model, construction worker, and global citizen extraordinaire. On the show, however, we really didnít see Dave engage in anything out of the ordinary like ďfrisbee golfĒ Ė but he did build one big fabulous barbecue pit. It turns out that ďslave driverĒ should have been on the list, because that was the hobby that earned him an early boot.
Hello Dave, itís good to talk to you. So I understand at home youíre a bartender.
I used to bartend, I quit the job before I went on Survivor, and now Iím doing construction. I do all kinds of stuff.
Ok, a dilettante! How did you come to be on Survivor?
Thatís quite interesting. I went to a casting, and the executive producers from Survivor were at the same place where this casting was, and I saw there were all these people, the right people, you might say.
Was it Amazing Race or something like that?
It was Pirate Master.
(laughing) Oh, I think you made the right choice.
They said, ďWe like you a lotóhow do you feel about Survivor?Ē And I said, ďCool, letís do it!Ē
Alright, I have to ask. What was up with the nudity?
It was purely strategic.
Well, I would hope so!
To get every possible advantage I could get, and they didnít show it, but the guys on the other side, when I whipped off my shorts, were all, ďOh, no!Ē It put them off, which is what I wanted it to do.
We saw you clash with Ashley in a previous week, then Sherea this week. Were you just hard to get along with?
Not at all. After so much repetitive iteration of not getting through, or not being helped Ė I did pull the lionís share of work at camp, and I have no problem saying that. When someone else has a lot of suggestions but not a lot of action, it gets really difficult to listen to, especially when youíre doing all the work.
I think that came through to viewers. Now, are you testament to the Survivor leadership backlash effect? Meaning, take a position of leadership, and pay for it once that shelter is built?
Well, thatís exactly what happened. I had a bullís-eye on my back to begin with, and I didnít know exactly how long it would last. Itís never good to be in a position of leadership or power because people generally ostracize you and vote you out.
But then how can you just sit back and let everything go to pot?
Thatís not in my character, I just canít do it. Thatís why I stepped up and actively embraced the leadership role, to get things done, because I could have just sat around in the mud and the bamboo, like everybody else, getting rained on, being hungryóI couldnít. And if you fend for yourself you have to fend for everybody, so it was kind of a default position for me.
In my interview with Ashley, she complained that your BBQ was too elaborate and it didnít actually protect the fire the day it flooded. What would you say to her about that?
Laughter on both sides
It was the size it was becauseóit was a six-pack of bricks lined by other bricks around it. And it was set up in such a way that water would drain away from it in case it got wet. I could have put four bricks down and framed it up with other bricks, but I figured if youíre going to do it whatís a few extra stones, and now you can put food on one side and water on the other side, whatever. I donít think it was too elaborate at all, thatís what we had to work with, and it worked really well. Our fire was definitely better than the other tribeís; theirs was unsheltered and out in the open. Itís just camping sense, basically.
Since you bring it up, what were the differences between Fei Long and Zhan Hu?
Wow. When it rained solid almost for the first four days, I was taking the big bamboo, cutting it in half, and gathering the rainwater, because we didnít have fire Ė so we were hydrated, they werenít. Little stuff. I can safely and confidently say that of all sixteen people that went on that show, I probably have the most skills out in the wild. And it showed. When I was captured and went over to Fei Long, I gave them every tip I could possibly give them, just to be friendly. And helped them set a lot of stuff up. Little stuff, but you know, things that help make tribe life run more efficiently or whatnot. And I have no problem sharing that information.
Since you bring this up, after the reward challenge, you were kidnapped by the other side. A kidnapping. You would think it would be a dire event. Why does everyone treat it like a Friday night panty raid?
Well, you get to check out the other side, and I especially enjoyed it because I got away from my tribe, which was really wearing me down, and it was a pleasure to be with a group of people that were more cohesive, and put their egos aside a lot more than my tribe did, and you get a taste of whatís happening on the other side. You know, theyíve got a better camp, they had fruit trees and stuff thereóthey had a lot more going on. It was nice to see, it was nice to meet them, it was nice to be appreciated by them. It made all the difference in the world for my whole experience with Survivor.
Do you think Jean-Robert is lying about not speaking Mandarin for 20 years?
No, he actually busted that stuff out pretty quickly. I donít really see how or why he would be using Chinese, except for the fact that he learned it at a very early age in Taiwan, and it happened to stick. I havenít use my French that I took in high school for quite some time, but get me back in France, or if I meet some French people, and it starts to come back pretty quickly.
What about James? Are you super touchy-feely and heís not?
Heís just very not touchy-feely. And I actually am much more tactile than most, I guess. It was kind of an interesting scenario, he was joking with me, there had been a couple of other times where something had happened or I gave him a hug or something like that. I donít know why it throws up red flags. If anything, itís non-crucial, non-essential red flags. I happened to have a lime in my mouth and tasting something citrusy and fresh, versus the snails and mussels and white rice weíd been having, and I was really grateful and decided to give him a hug.
See, now maybe youíre just particularly huggy!
And James is a traditional guy from the South and all that.
Yeah, no! I like to break stereotypes and conventions and stuff. Iím not your average Joe Ė thatís pretty apparent.
Well there you go. Okay, if I read off the names of people in your tribe, could you give us a couple words or sentences, just your impression of them?
Okay, letís start off with Pee-Geih.
Very crafty. A little bit two-faced. A fun personósheís probably going to go far in the game.
How about Erik?
He got kind of two-faced on me, a little bit I saw, last night. But you know, Erikís a good kid. He can be a hard worker, and I really like his manners and his style.
We viewers havenít seen much of him, so itís really hard to get a read on him, thatís why Iím asking.
Heís pretty quiet.
Ok, well what about Jaime?
Jaime is a wildcard. Sheís a lot smarter than the blondie persona she puts on; sheís really smart and sheís pretty crafty. Sheís a lot of fun, sheís got crazy stories. Lots of laughs, sheís always uplifting the tribe and acting as a positive buffer for anything going on.
How about Frosti? Thatís another person I donít really have much of an impression of yet.
Frostiís really strong; heís also really young, heís also fairly mature. Heís also a good buffer in camp. Jaime and Frosti both, when things were going a bit sour, he always had some kind of positive encouragement to say, or, a good attitude, or a good perspective on things that grounded people.
And what about Sherea? I mean--
I like Shereaóbut she doesnít work worth a poop in camp though. She has a very lopsided perspective on the game I believe. She even told me, sheís there for the challenges, sheís not there for the tribe life. The dirt and the food things just freak her out, and she doesnít like it, and she just wants to be in challenges. I thought that was quite bold to actually come out and say just that.
Itís like saying youíre there for games. Of course everyone likes the challenges.
(agreeing) So are they going to wipe your butt for you and cook your food for you? Whatís the story here?
And why wouldnít she wear a shirt? Would that bother you? It would kind of bother me after a while.
No, I just looked at it as a bikini top, and it was so excruciatingly hot, and she had a dress, and it was getting dirty and torn. Also, if you donít boil your clothes, you get like fungal itchy rashy things going on, and we hadnít had enough free water to boil clothes in yet. So, trying to take care of hydration and food, and obviously, if you want your clothes boiled, thereís the pot, thereís the firewood, go grab some water and do it yourself. I was swimming naked every day. I wasnít flashing my junk around town, you know, Iíd put on one of those little sarong temple wrap things, but I spent as much time as I could out of my wet jeans. You know, when you get dropped in your street clothes, the last thing I want to have is chafing and stuff going on. Plus when itís 120 degrees and 100% humidity out there, you donít want to wear anything.
I didnít realize it was that brutal.
Oh, my god. You have no idea. It got so hot, that the inlet where our camp was at, when weíd go swimming to cool off, or go hunting for mussels and snails and stuff, about 18 inches deep from the surface of the water was like hot bath water, you had to dive underneath the water at least a foot and a half to find cool water, thatís how hot the place got.
Talking about Sherea again, she said things like, ďItís not easy for me.Ē Is that a valid defense?
Not at all. Then donít go to the game. (laughs) The thing is, by and large, people are city folk. And they donít have a lot of experience out in the bush, out in nature, out in extreme environmentsóand sheís one of them. So is Ashley. So Frosti and Erik fired up, and so did Jaime; Pee-Geih also came around a bit, she likes to camp and such, but if you donít know whatís going on in that situation, itís got to be daunting.
I guess, yeah. Ok, so in tribal council, Jeff kind of put the spotlight on you as a hard worker in camp. Did you appreciate that? Or was that more detrimental to your case at that point.
I appreciate any positive comment. It was detrimental because whether it made other people feel guilty or insecure or on the opposite side of the fence from meóthatís their problem. I had hoped that my work ethic would have meant more to the tribe, and what I did for the tribe as a whole than it did. Obviously, I was used and tossed out when I was done.
Why do you think your tribe kept Sherea over you? It looked like you only had one challenge where you had a real problem. In all the rest of the challenges you were average, Iíd say, if not better.
Itís kind of like high school kids gossiping. They got on the kick Ė I think Jaime and Pee-Geih had a lot to do with it. Jaime being captured before, understanding what happens and that dynamic; she even said last night, ďhe was way too happy going over there.Ē Itís like thatís a threat unto itself.
So knowing all that, is there anything you would change about your time on the show?
Not really, no. Thereís one thing I would probably do, thatís expose the fact that thereís a hidden immunity idol out in the open, that would have taken some of the light off of me and onto Jaime. But you know, Iím happy with the way I played, and I was true to myself, and I probably wouldnít do much different if I had it all to do again. I probably would have shut up a bit more, and let them flounder a bit more, but I let them go as far as I could allow it, without having toóI sat back as much as I could, it may not look like it, but I did. I couldnít take it anymore.
Yeah. So maybe Survivor isnít for type A personalities or something.
Sure it is, just not the rest of them.
Many thanks to CBS for the interview, and best of luck to you, Dave.