On Friday we spoke with Charlie Herschel as part of a conference call interview. The recently eliminated Survivor contestant proved to be gracious and insightful. The 29 year old lawyer and marathoner from New York City was thrilled by his time in Africa, shared his thoughts on the game, and offered some surprising information.
Is Kenny really the one holding the power at this point?
Iím not sure who in that alliance is holding the power. Itís hard for me to tell as a player because I played with Kenny for three hours by the time I got voted out. We merged that day so I really had no insight into his and Crystalís game besides what Matty and Sugar told us. I clearly think thereís a clear divide between the five people in Kennyís alliance and then the three people left from my alliance. So, I think that fivesomeís holding the power. Where the chips fall, who knows?
So what had Sugar shared with you up to that point?
In what way?
In how that tribe was operating? How that whole alliance was coming together?
We didnít want to be too transparent in our strategy so we were never like tell us the strategy, give us a power point presentation on exactly where everything stands. So we kind of like just asked what do you think of blah blah. And it was clear that she had very good things to say about everyone in that tribe. I think she found and so did Matty Crystal overwhelming and overpowering. I think Matty really likes Susie. We knew that. Matty loved Kenny. You knew he was really close to Kenny. Heíd always talk about the walks theyíd go on so Matty seemed kind of like unmoveable and Sugar seemed like a little more easily swayed because sheíd been on Exile so much she didnít develop as strong of relationships but she didnít know what had happened with the whole voting fiascos of their last tribals so we were not clued in on any of that.
Did you and Corinne feel that it was going to be pretty easy to sway Sugar up Ďtil last night?
No. We knew it was an uphill battle. Sugar hated Randy. Hated Randy! And, I tried to knock sense into Randy and Corinne, and I said we canít be mean to Sugar. My strategy all along individually was to not be mean to people because you never know when you needed them but they didnít play that way and I tried to make them play that way because that was affecting my game at a certain point. And, Randy never really took note of that strategy but Corinne really did try to become girly friends with Sugar. Theyíd go to the stream. They talked. They gossiped a lot. I think Sugar bought that they were becoming a little bit friends but in no way was she ever going to trust Randy and she hated Randy and she never really trusted or liked a lot of the stuff Corinne said. We thought maybe we had a chance with Bob if we could use Bob to get Sugar on our side because she recently lost her father, Bob was kind of a father figure for her, Bob was in our alliance so I tried desperately in those three hours to enlist Bob to convince Sugar to stay with us because I knew the three of us just yap, yap, yapping wasnít gonna make much movement but I thought Bob was our golden ticket.
Your personal experience with Randy, what did you think of him and what did Corinne say about him when he wasnít around?
Randyís a great guy. Heís interesting. His home life is very unique. Heís a loner. Not a very emotional person so being in a group like this is a new experience for him but the thing that I saw in Randy which I didnít see in a lot of people out there was intelligence. I was really searching hard for that in the people I was aligned with because I wanted to be aligned with someone who if they had to make a move on my behalf. If they had to do something strategic for the alliance I want to be able to trust that that was a logically sound thing to do. If I were aligned with Sugar, I just wouldnít have been able to put that trust in her. I donít think that Ace should have put that trust in her. And, Randy, whether you like or hate him, whether you find his abrasive nature nice or not heís an intelligent guy and I could trust the things he said to a certain degree unless he got really hot-headed. So thatís where I sit with Randy. I was very frustrated a lot of times when he did get hot-headed but at the same time I was like maybe this will be to my advantage if we get really to the end of it and heís really alienated everyone.
I actually think that you got out at the right time because who really wants to be on a tribe called Nobag?
Yeah, I mean itís not the smartest people who thought of that. Kenny actually thought of that name and Iím not surprised. Itís not the most talented bunch left in the game.
Do you think the trick to securing Sugar would have been to talk to her last?
We talked to her several times. Actually, the last person to talk to her was Bob. Yeah, I definitely thought we had to get to her last. It seems like the last person to talk to Sugar is the one who changes her mind but thatís a little bit of the tv stuff, you know? We tried hard that day and so itís a fine line to trying so hard that itís transparent what you are trying to do and also trying to actually gain her trust. You canít force it down her throat. At a certain point, and this was my strategy all along, you have to trust someone. Itís not so much that they trust you. Itís a relationship and you have to believe.
Iím also curious what do you think is going to happen with Randy and Crystal still living together?
I think itís a recipe for disaster. They hate each other. They hate each other so much and I was banking on that hate and also Sugarís hate of Randy to keep me in the game. Like I thought there was enough hate there to take out Randy. They hated him that much. So, I think it will be fireworks.
What was it like to hang out with that local tribe after the reward?
It was one of the best days I had out there. They actually flew us there. We spent the night on cabanas overlooking the water and the dance that they do and the ceremony that they have literally lasts twenty four hours. The whole time we were there they were performing for us and singing and dancing and feeding us and being very spiritual. We also did a bogelut (sp?) which is a drug so if you wonder why we were kind of dancing our asses off it was because we were highly drugged in that scene and dancing all over the place. It was a fun experience.
What are you doing here? You were supposed to be there for a long time. I was counting on you.
I was counting on me too. I know it was an unfortunate turn of events. All these twists in this twisty game and we were always on the wrong side every time there was a twist. My alliance got the short end of the stick or didnít stand up to the twist. The first twist boom Jacquie gone. And, the second twist, boom Marcus gone. Then we merged really soon after that and so we just werenít up for the challenge.
I want to go back to before the game a couple comments. You had a relationship with Clay Aiken? Can you describe that a little bit?
I actually prefer not to talk about my personal life.
Okay, well you did know him back then?
Yeah, Iíd prefer just talking about Survivor.
And, another comment you made is you wanted to be the gay white male Cirie and I was wondering now looking back at what happened afterwards how well did that work and what were your thoughts on that?
The thing that I loved about Cirie is how she was very likeable and she strategically was able to be nice and be competitive and strategic and I think in my mind I executed that strategy well. I was friends with everyone there and got along and developed relationships that were very strong with everyone. I think people liked being around me but I was still able to be competitive, strategic, conniving and all those things.
So you think you were successful?
I hope so.
Did you know that Sugar had the idol?
You know sheíd gone to Exile so many times that we just assumed she had the idol. They had like woven this story that sheíd had it and played it . . . it was very complex the story they told. It didnít matter what story they told. Any time someone potentially had the idol our strategy was to play as if they had the idol. So you notice that when Dan got voted out we threw three votes to Susie even though we didnít think Dan had the idol. He went to Exile he could have potentially had the idol. It was moot whether he had it or not we were going to play as if he had it so we were going to play as if Sugar had it. Iím not sure what I would have ended up thinking I thought for sure Iím going to play as if she has it.
Then why did you send Bob to Exile Island?
That was actually Sugarís decision. They donít show it but Sugar turned to me and said letís send Bob. She was very close with Bob and that was actually a smart move on her part. That was the first thing that I was like actually maybe she is close to Bob. Maybe there is a chance to sway her. That was the first indication that there could be a possibility. Because I thought she was trying to be nice to Bob by sending him out to Exile island but I guess she was just scheming.
Really? That surprises me.
Of course, we all were fine with that. I thought that if there is an idol out there I want Bob out of all these four people to get it. Bobís the only one in my alliance. And, so did Corinne. So the minute that Sugar said letís send Bob before we went up to the mat we were all like of course weíre on board with that. We were very excited to send Bob.
When we talked to Marcus last week, he said that you and Corinne were smarter than he was. I was wondering if you could describe Marcus and how did that alliance work?
I could just tell off the bat that Marcus was a solid guy but I didnít put too much trust in him too soon and we could have like slowly grew our friendship over the first ten days and it developed into an alliance that I trusted him because of a relationship that we built. Then we slowly got to know Corinne better and everything happened really organically because we didnít have to vote anyone out. We had the luxury of time at that point. Fortunately, these were intelligent people that I could trust them as if they were me. I think Marcus was just being very generous by saying we were smarter than he was. Weíre no smarter than he is. Weíre all intelligent people and weíre all working for the same purpose: to support our alliance.
Was there any decision making process? Was there any conflicts or did you guys all just come to the same conclusions naturally?
There was definitely a lot of debate you know between us but it wasnít heated. You know we wanted to be really cool-headed and level-headed about every decision we made and look at the pros and the cons and every move we made who should we approach, how should we do it, you know, da da da. Everything was really thought out. We saw both sides to everything. And there were sometimes when weíd butt heads in the alliance but we worked through it.
You seem like a really happy guy. It seemed like when you were voted off, when you found out Marcus was voted off you were smiling and Corinne was all upset. Was that just your personality or was it just a game and you didnít really care?
I had like mixed emotions. I was devastated that I had to leave the game because I thought there was a lot more damage that I could do but at the same time I actually came on Survivor and Jeff was like bring me your torch youíre being voted out of Survivor and thatís just crazy. I still canít believe I was on Survivor to this day and that is a milestone indeed on Survivor so I just had to grin from ear to ear that was happening and also was like when something bad happens sometimes you put a grin on to hide your true emotions. I was definitely upset but I wasnít bitter or angry towards anyone.
If Corinne had been voted out last night instead of you and youíd stayed, youíd be alone with no alliance. What would your next move have been?
Everything happened so fast. We had the merge that day. We had to scramble really fast and I thought you know what I donít think that Crystalís going to be the one voted out. I think itís going to be likely Randy maybe Corinne. I knew that I was going to have to scramble after that and all bets are off with my alliance because thatís not the road that I was going to be able to go down. So, I hadnít concocted my plan because I was at that point living in the moment of getting through that day but I did know in the back of my mind that I was going to have to leverage a lot of these relationships that I developed. I was friendly with Matty. I was close with Sugar. I was close with Bob. And, it was going to have to be no longer the alliance that I had because that was not a winning strategy.
Why did you say in your final words that you didnít think youíd make it past the first tribal council?
Thatís just within my character. Iím a lawyer. I thought Iíd fail the bar. I donít expect good things to happen to me. I for some reason always hope for the best but kind of expect the worst. And, everyoneís worst nightmare when they go on Survivor is that theyíll be the first one voted out. And, my mind just played the trick on me that I was convinced I would be the first person voted out.
Are you proud of how far you did make it in the game?
Yeah, Iím thrilled. Iím so proud. Iím proud of the way I played. Iím excited that I got there by winning so many of the challenges. We got there by forming strong relationships and strong friendships as an alliance. I did everything I could do I feel like and I wasnít mean-spirited about it.
Were you truly as blindsided by your ouster as it appeared on tv?
Yes, I was truly as blindsided by my ouster as I was on tv.
Did you have any idea that Kenny appeared to be the one behind voting you out?
No, I really had no idea who was behind voting me out. When I got voted out I thought really although I was surprised, this makes sense. These people are probably thinking because even though they hate Randy who was the target who I thought was going to be voted out why would they vote out the person who is the least likeable who they could vote out any time, who they could beat in the finals if he ever made it to the finals. Why not vote out the threat? The younger guy, the one who could probably have a better chance of winning challenges who people liked. Vote out him. Okay, this makes sense. Itís strategic. And, then when I learned last night that it actually was just a personal grudge that Kenny held that gave me pause and I didnít really understand why he would play a game where youíre supposed to play strategically, where he thinks heís playing strategically, but play based off personal grudges and really put your alliance in jeopardy by lying to your alliance about why you are gunning for someone.
What was your take on the squabbling between Matty and Randy at the reward challenge?
I was disappointed in that reward challenge. I think to win and be effective players you have to be focused. You have to be communicative. I donít think anyone was that. What you donít see on tv is that we hadnít eaten for the last three days. When we arrived at Fang, Crystal and Kenny and their tribe had not rationed any of their rice. There was no rice left. It was all gone so we werenít thinking straight. Meanwhile, the other tribe has been eating the food that we won on our rewards the food that we rationed from the beginning so I can see where everyoneís coming from. You donít eat for three days and try and play this game. Walking up that hill was one of the hardest things Iíve ever done athletically. Just walking up the hill. So to think straight I think everyone was just a mess at that moment. We hadnít eaten.
Is there anything in hindsight that you would have done differently in the game?
Whatís the most unexpected thing you encountered while you were in Africa?
The most unexpected thing?
Yeah. Iím sure you had a bias or a preconceived notion of what it was going to be like before you got there.
There were a lot of ticks. Often, I had ticks on my dick. We all had ticks in every nether region all the time and we were always spending mass portions of the day helping each other remove ticks from each other. That was very surprising and we ate termites together through the first few days when we had no food and I think I never really expected Africa to be so cold at night. The nights were the hardest part physically to get through. It was really, really cold and freezing and a lot of people had no clothing.
You were surprised by Kennyís motivation. What else were you surprised by watching the tv show?
Everything that happens on the other tribe Iím surprised about because I didnít see it. But I was mostly surprised and kind of disappointed by Crystalís character. I saw her and I wanted her to be . . . I knew she was an Olympic athlete when I was going in to the game. Iím a runner, sheís a runner. I thought Iíd have a lot in common with her. Sheís not a nice person. When she voted people out and made strategic moves, she did it with such low class and a mean-spirited nature. Sheíd flip people off in the voting booth. That was just not behavior that I think is commendable. I think a lot of her moves and strategic moves are very intelligent and I respect those moves. I just think . . . I was surprised at how she executed them with such mean-spiritedness.
What kind of predictions do you have? It seems obvious that Randyís going to go next. Do you have a prediction on who is going next? Who will be final four? Who is going to win? Anything like that?
It seems obvious that there is now a five versus three. I think actually if their going along with the same strategy voting out the threat in the three thatís left that probably Bob is the biggest threat out of Corinne, Bob, and Randy. Randy is probably the least threatening. In that no one likes him and heís probably the least physical. Bob and Corinne although he did perform well in a lot of challenges but Randy might get on everyoneís nerves and he might be the next one if they start playing back to the emotional game. They sort of have the game in their lap right now. They can vote out whoever they want and for the other three, unfortunately, I think it might turn in to one of these predictable Survivor games where youíre down in numbers and itís like boom, boom, boom, boom. And, then at the end when you see those five people left at this point I would think someone who would play with class. Not necessarily with class but someone who would play a nice game would probably get the votes of the people like me and Marcus and other people who might be voted out. So I think Matty has probably played the most balanced game in that regard.
What about Sugar?
I think Sugar has gotten . . . when I watch the show like the viewers and a lot of my friends who watch the show I love Sugar. Iím like sheís so cute; sheís cute as a button. Look at her get that idol. Thatís awesome. Thatís not what happened. Thatís not what we experienced with Sugar. Sugar was demanding. She was bossy. She ripped apart the bags that we were given. She would take them and make burlap dresses out of them without asking. She demanded where to sleep in the hut. She demanded how things would be cooked. She always told you how to do things. She wasnít likeable at all. She was very close with Ace in the beginning. Ace had rubbed people the wrong way in the first few days so everyone sort of associated Sugar with him. So Sugar I think is going to have a hard time making a case for being worthy when she really has not made many friends out there. Although watching the show and now knowing Sugar in real life I like her and I liked her in doses out there but thatís not how she was perceived out there.
Any other surprises you want to share?
I think everyone else is pretty accurately edited. And Sugar, she did those things and the things you know she says that are cute thatís her. Itís not like they made it up out of thin air. She can be really cute and there are times when I look at her and I just want to give her a big hug. She has a lot of heart but unfortunately, she wasnít playing Survivor a lot of times. When she got annoyed, when she got cranky, instead of biting her tongue she just was annoying.
What about Bob? Everybody seems to love Bob. Heís a great old guy and all of that. It seemed like Dan had some almost disparaging things to say about him. Does he have another side to him?
For the first twenty days I was in Survivor, we voted out one person. We went to tribal once and youíre living in very strange circumstances so everyone gets on your nerves so if you let it get to you it will get to you. Bob tells these very long stories. I love that. I could tune it out if I didnít want to listen to Bobís stories but they are very long and if you are easily frustrated you had to listen to Bob a lot and that could get on your nerves. But, I think thatís where a lot of Danís frustrations came from. If you were to complain about Bob and I think even if he said what people complain about him is the long stories.
I think I know the answer to this question but I do want to talk to you about Marcus some more because he seemed to come off a little arrogant. Is that the experience you had with him as well?
No, not at all. I donít know. Itís a tough question. We talked about this a lot out there actually. Heís clearly a good looking person. Heís a smart guy and everyone likes him out there. Everyone liked him. Every single person. Except for Dan who now has said some not so nice things about him. I think itís easy for people to point to that and be like if he ever in any instance recognizes any of those attributes I just said people say arrogant. And, I didnít see that in Marcus. I saw him as confident and I appreciated that. Sometimes you donít want to see the good looking alpha male who can do anything be mature. Be happy with who you are and he definitely was. Marcus is a great guy. I donít think heís arrogant. If anything if I were to complain about Marcus it would be what a lot of people have been discussing about his high road, low road thing. I think he sometimes has warped expectations for people.
And, how about Corinne? I love Corinne just because she is that put it right in your face type of gal but is that more of something she does to everyone or just something that we see on tv in her private confessionals?
Corinne says it like it is in the confessionals. Corinne would say it like it is behind peopleís backs. She would never intentionally hurt someone to their face. Like she would never say to Susie, ďI want to stab you in the face. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.Ē But, she obviously had said that behind her back and thatís what I think a lot of the audience members were thinking when Susie was letting Marcus loose. Corinne actually, believe it or not, has a really strong heart and she really cared about people in the game. Itís hard to believe because she said some things that can come off as really mean-spirited but itís never to hurt peopleís feelings.
What happened last night at the immunity challenge that Susie won?
Thatís a really good question. That challenge lasted for I think like an hour and a half. We want this to be over. Just someone win, someone win. And, they edited it so it looked like it was close between Susie and Sugar but Sugar at one point had flames for like one second but thatís it and no one else had flame at any time in the hour and once Susie had flame we were like just win it, just win it just get this over with. It was painful. We unfortunately couldnít practice making a fire before we started because the Fang tribe in the first twenty days had already used up their flint. So they were out of flint. I guess Crystal, Susie, and Kenny were practicing that morning using the flint that we had conserved. And, unfortunately, it was hard. The knives that they gave us were really blunt. And, I think they probably feel like they made a mistake in making them so blunt because it would have been more exciting if like a few more flames went up.
Did you make any lasting friendships in the game other than Marcus?
Yeah, I actually was friends with everyone. I didnít get to know Kenny and Crystal cause I only was in the game with them for three hours but I love Bob, I love Randy, I love Corinne, I love Marcus, I love Paloma, I love Kelly. I keep in touch with these people. I really like these people. Even Sugar I talk to and I know I said some not so nice things about the way she behaved in the game but as a person I like Sugar. I like Ace. I get a kick out of Ace. I like everyone.
It seemed like you were the peacemaker in your alliance. Do you think Randy and Corinne will be able to hold together without you?
Thatís a good question. I think itís going to be tough. I think primarily because they donít have the numbers. Randy knows this game inside and out. Heís watched every season of Survivor and heís analyzed it up the whazoo. Iím not so worried about strategy. I just think they need to make sure and I think theyíll realize that they are in such dire straits right now and so down in numbers that theyíve got to turn something around if they are going to pull this out.
Did you realize that you ticked Kenny off by passing around the clue to the hidden immunity idol during the fake merge feast?
I had no idea that I ticked him off at all. I had no idea.