On Friday, we participated in a conference call interview with Marcus Lehman, 28, who fell victim to a fake merge on the latest episode of Survivor. Marcus, a resident physician who earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard, proved to be a man of more than a few words and a fan of Snickers bars.
Why did you want to get rid of the hidden immunity idol?
I had a multitude of reasons. Not just because it would be hilarious to watch Jeff banging his forehead and start twitching when he found out about that but it was mostly because we were all sitting around having this great time and when Kenny pulled that clue out you could just feel the weight of the game totally change and turn really negative and everyone knew that it was going to be there. It just painted the biggest target on everyoneís back and it was just a totally awkward situation and then when Randy went and got it it was sitting there on the table and literally nobody wanted it and so instead of trying to figure out a one in ten chance of me ending up with it we just sort of thought well letís just get rid of it. Letís turn this game on its head back in their direction and just get it out of this game and for our group of people it was a benefit because it just simplified things. We knew Sugar probably had the idol so that would have been the potential of 50/50 chance of getting the other people another idol so we didnít really want to go there. Iím just amazed that everybody did it.
Iím surprised nobody wanted to draw straws or you know some kind of . . . ?
We tried that but then itís that whole kind of thing where I would still rather that idol be floating in the ocean than one of the people I donít want to have the idol have it and nobody . . . thatís the thing when you have ten people trying to agree on what to do with the idol thatís really almost the only choice you have.
Fair enough. Since you were out in Africa for so long were you starting to get used to it or was it difficult every single day?
I loved it. I tried to remember every day to step back and be in Africa. So, Iíd go on walks and hikes and canoe and swim and fish; never sit in the hut and take a nap and complain about everybody else. That was definitely my M.O. out there, and I knew it was hard. We all knew it was hard and yet that was almost one of the things to appreciate is what it felt like. I got every drop out of every moment I was out there. It was awesome.
What are your thoughts on Crystal? It seemed like you had a new alliance there when you figured the cousin and the friend thing.
Her cousinís named Kenneth Cox. Heís a great guy. Really a stand up person and like a brother to me and has always been reliable always been there for me when Iíve been in Atlanta and so to have a huge connection like that . . . . I donít know about you guys but for the most part, I donít care where I am I try to honor and respect my real friends and I thought that would be something great for us to build upon. Especially given that Susie was . . . sheís spent days trying to back out of every promise sheís made with us so for me it was like this is a god send. Iíd love to have somebody that I have this much faith in because theyíve got to be aware of how this impacts your life outside of the game. That wasnít the way she saw it but. . . .
What did you notice about your first real meal after you got voted off? Did you eat a lot? Did the food go right through you?
Probably both. I ate a ton and it was weird because you get full but that being said I had the reward feast I conserved some of my food from that and then the merge feast so I probably wasnít as starving as I might have been otherwise but I ate and I ate and I ate and then I just had to keep the food near me. It wasnít then that I need to eat it it was just that I need to have it just in case. So, I wouldnít let them take the trays away and I kind of slept with them in my room and I didnít end up eating any of it but the whole concept that I was going to be without food for a second after that just became the scariest thing ever.
So you were keeping it like a security blanket I guess?
Pretty much. Like if I could have spooned with it, I probably would have.
I want to talk to you a little bit about Susie. You kind of almost seemed like you commanded her to keep you around. Did you ever promise her anything in return for her safety for you?
The thing is Susie and I had a conversation and both being Hispanic-Americans it was a cool opportunity for us to speak Spanish and to hang out and get to know each other. When she wanted to vote for Corinne everyone looked at me like somebody needs to talk to Susie; Marcus why donít you go do it. We talked and we made a promise to each other like Iím telling you Susie letís get to that final six and letís see by the time we get there that things will shape up and weíll be able to make a decision on final five and four and three and all that stuff and just buy into our plan because it was working so well. Seven and 0 like weíre destroying the other tribe and having such a great time in the process. And, you know she made a promise Iíll stick to the plan just keep me informed keep me in the loop. Weíre cool. Weíre down. Letís do it. And then the next day she starts with this whole campaign of itís just a game. Promises donít count. Itís just a game. Are we really going to do this? First of all, itís not just a game. Itís like you guys wouldnít be talking to me right now if itís just a game. Thereís a lot that goes into and a lot that comes out of it and a lot that people see and that was part of the emphasis donít go down this road but we needed her at that point and unfortunately Dan was quickly divesting himself of all his attributes and it was frustrating and that was really the extent of it and it was the extent of the deal we made with everybody. Letís make this final six and I guarantee by day 30 youíll know who you want to vote out next. Itís just going to make itself clear. We may not even have this choice because so much can happen between now and then so at that point when we made the second merge . . . the second twist I was just tired. Trying to justify yourself to people that are really only thinking about themselves and weíre all thinking about ourselves to a certain extent but I was genuinely trying to keep everybody in the game as much as possible and that was the joy of being in that Kota tribe is that everyone has the right attitude and is really supportive and everyone is sharing the spotlight and yet people were still trying to keep it all to themselves and itís frustrating because itís like guys you can get so much more out of it if you just jump on this and really own it.
What about Dan? I mean were you threatened by him or was he really annoying?
Honestly, I think it was a lot vice versa. I hope only the best for Dan. Heís a great guy. Heís one of those rare people thatís actually taken the initiative to go do some soul searching and be introspective. I think maybe it was hard for him because all the things he says he hasnít quite made that bridge into really understanding whether he does them or not and it was too bad because I spent many, many days arguing against Charlie and Corinne saying this is the most annoying guy in the world, heís paranoid, he wonít sign on. Itís tough. Because, Iíve been there. Iíve done a lot of introspection, had some rough turns losing my sister a couple years ago and stuff and you really do have to take a step back so I really admired that he was doing that and I really wanted him to be a part of our group but I mean, dude, heís our age, athletic, good looking, intelligent and he still got himself voted off before Susie. I donít have any idea how to say it. Thatís saying a lot because we all were rooting for him. We really were.
Now do you think that Susie should be gone because sheís not attractive and unathletic?
Sheís not unathletic??
That sheís unathletic. That she doesnít have the athletic ability.
I think you sort of missed the point. Obviously, Randyís not in the greatest shape either. Iím saying if somebody is not well-suited to fit into a group of people then itís Susie not Dan and she just was the odd man out in a way and so itís remarkable that in spite of that Dan still managed to be even in contention for the running between he and Susie so itís unfortunate. I hope he can see what he could do better because I know heís looking and I really hope he finds it. I really do.
At the very beginning it seemed like you had a pretty easy path to the end. At that point I was really rooting for you because you had pretty much planned everything out to the end. Did you kind of feel your power slipping at the point when Jacquie got traded out to the other tribe and voted out?
No, I think the consolidation of power into our group actually came after Jacquie got voted out. I mean we werenít managing our resources well in the first Kota tribe which is evidenced by losing the challenge with the water slide. Charlie has like a perfect score on the Math SAT and he just was nervous to be the one with all the credit on there and Bob is a physics teacher but honestly that was not his strong point and we just didnít manage our resources well so when we got to that group of seven that was like all-star land. It was awesome having Randy who is a really bright guy there. It wasnít about my power but for me it was Iím going to go out there and do all this stuff with the challenges and fishing and fruit gathering and everything else that I was a part of and if you guys want to ask me questions and I can give my advice then cool but whatever gets us through the next round is what I care about. And, I mean us. Because the hope was in the end when you have five or six people left people look at that and say you know what? I appreciate that person and Iím not going to vote against him and the juryís going to vote for me and that was kind of the hope. If you do good for others, theyíll maybe do good for you. The power really for me stopped when the fake merge happened. That was the one thing we knew could happen but we really just didnít have a way to defend against it. If youíre going to scramble things up again then the people who are afraid of your positive attitude and there are always out there in real life, in Survivor, what not theyíre going to be able to take advantage. It would have been me or whoever else in that situation that would have gone home. I think that was pretty much the turning point for me.
Iíve been dying to ask you. Tell me about your penis.
Dude! Pictureís worth a thousand words my man. I need a song or like a slow video with freeze frames.
What happened when you saw it and then what happened in real life when it actually aired on tv to you?
Well, I didnít see it on tv. I got wind of it through the internet stuff. I immediately changed brands of underwear to a no speed pocket brand so I can walk down the street now with complete impunity. Obviously, Iím not pushing ball up the hill very often but fortunately I donít worry anymore and then other than that dude you just got to laugh. I mean itís funny. I can google my penis and Iím not a porn star. I lost a few dates, probably which is alright.
Were you aware of it when it happened?
No! I mean Iím sure everyone elseís penis flopped out at some point even people who donít have penises. I mean we spent half the time naked because itís so hot out there and then itís so cold at night that if you got your clothes wet you couldnít sleep. So, I mean the random penis shots is only one of many episodes that it occurred in the time of living with these people but it was obviously fleeting and virtually invisible in the words of CBS . . . whatever smug bastard wrote that. So, youíve got to laugh and CBS was very apologetic and Doug McCauley called me and said heís sorry. I believe him that it was an accident. So cool.
Relationship with Charlie. It seems like you guys were kind of flirting. You ate the fruit off his shoulder in one scene?
The piece of fruit on the dudeís shoulder . . . I was going to eat that thing whether it was on Susieís or Randyís butt. Like I donít even care when youíre starving out there you eat whatever you can. The relationship with Charlie and I was fun. Heís a great guy. I think that CBS had the opportunity to portray it as it was which is a great friendship between two people who have a lot in common and really respected each other and wanted to revel in a group of people. We had a great group of people out there that just were really appreciative of each otherís abilities and it was awesome. They had the choice to follow it that way or kind of make it into the traditional letís make twelve year old jokes about gay people and straight people. I think they did a little bit of both. They acknowledge that there was nothing going to happen between Charlie and I but then they spent the rest of the show kind of portraying Charlie as being madly in love with me and leaving things to be interpreted. The reality was I depended on Charlie as much as he depended on me. And, he really was a strong support during some really tough times trying to sort out what was going on with Dan and it was awesome because I could trust him to figure out stuff for us and knew that he had everyoneís best interests in mind. Itís just so rare to have anyone like that in a situation as tense and as stressful on a social level as Survivor so I hope to be friends with Charlie for a long time so I would hope that the few people who have come up and said I really admire you guys being able to have a friendship in a spotlight like that and really respect each other on a more mature level and I hope if anybody takes that from the situation then that would be awesome.
Whatís your relationship with Corinne? She seems really mean in a lot of the confessionals and yet you guys seem to be good friends.
Yeah, itís funny. I think that you judge people by their heart and their heart comes out in a lot of ways. Corinne, I think, loves saying stuff that gets people riled up. Thatís her shtick a little bit. She reminds me a lot of my sister. My sister was a really cool person but it was like a love hate thing sometimes. She would say stuff that would just drive you nits and then other times she would be the sweetest person in the world and she was very much my sister and that was never going to change. And, Corinne is sort of the same way. I see her as a sister in the sense that sheíd say these hilarious things sometimes and other times sheíd just say these cringy thngs. God, how can this come out of this personís mouth? And, yet you knew she had your back, you knew she was working hard for everyone and again it was that same positive attitude that weíre going to share the spotlight and weíre going to get through this game playing hard and playing together and in the process really, really enjoy it. And, you know however those people are disguised theyíre still those good people so I still think really highly of her
Can you explain Randyís rant on the beach about being the King of Gabon?
It was Randy being hilarious and totally hammered. That dude literally could barely walk out of that merge feed. He was trashed beyond all belief. I wish you guys could see some of the other film. Randy and I had a great relationship. We made this rule that you had to take your swimsuits off or else youíd be freezing at night and weíd lay the mat out at the lake. We had the rule that you had to be naked. You just had to. We just carried these jokes on the whole time and just having a blast with it. And, then the merge feast we were just having a great time. We were eating food which was such a blessing out there. It was good company. Everyoneís in a good mood. I think, you know, they ask you those questions like, ďDo you feel on top of the world?Ē Like heck yeah! Weíve just had this great nine or ten days with these people and weíve won all these challenges. Yeah, heís probably the king of the world and heís being his usual wiseass about it.
So that was in response to a question probably?
Oh sure. Most of our commentaries are. But, in the sense that theyíre appropriate but I think he just got on his little rant and started talking about . . . because if we did merge it was a great situation for us. We knew to expect that itís probably not going to be the case but on the flipside you know when youíre wasted like he was youíre going to say some funny stuff. That included.
Going into your tribal council did you know that you were going to get voted out and what was your reaction to that?
You never go into tribal council with any sort of guarantee unless you have an immunity necklace around your neck. Knowing that it was going to be me or Kenny so I had my bags. I was ready. I really had faith and hope because those were really the only two things you can have when youíre dealing with people who are on a different level in terms of how their strategies are going to go and stuff and so youíve got to hope that what youíve done in the last couple days means enough and the fact that I opened the door for Crystal and said, ďLook if you canít do this. If you think itís not the right strategy, letís talk about it. Letís figure out something. I want to build something here thatís going to last.Ē And, I gave her that door to walk through at any point and she never did so at that point, Iíve done everything I can and I wasnít willing to do anything else. I wasnít going to stay in that game longer by losing my dignity and the things that I believe in. When the names started coming out, I kind of knew what was going on. Then all I could think about was Snickers.
So, you were happy to get voted out at that point?
I was ready because I knew it was either that, or I totally get sketchy and do all this conniving crap that I just am not interested in. Iíll get a million dollars somehow, but it wonít be that way.
Last nightís immunity challenge looked really tough. Can you give us an idea how much time elapsed before Matty won?
Time seems to stretch forever. It probably wasnít more than ten minutes but somewhere maybe around seven minutes I think. It was sort of like everyone dropped off pretty quickly. I think I have the shortest arms in the world. I remember Jeff telling me like Marcus is starting to shake, he needs to change positions. I was like, ďDude, I can not even move on this thing. I donít know what youíre talking about.Ē It was interesting watching last night because I saw Matty moving around and Charlie and Bob doing that and I was like ďGod! I do not know how they did that!Ē Height based or not it was definitely a tough challenge and I commend Bob and Matty for lasting as long as they did. It was tough and I was just not built for that one I guess.
Iím sure youíve read and heard about Jeff calling you subtlely arrogant. Do you think that is a fair assessment?
Do you think that questionís a fair question? I mean anyway I say this is going to come across bad I think. I donít think he said I was subtlely arrogant I think he it was more like one of the most arrogant people that has ever played Survivor and if you think thatís how I came across then whatever I say doesnít really matter.
I donít necessarily agree. I just wondered what you thought of that?
I donít consider arrogant a positive word. I was surprised because I really thought I had a pretty good relationship with Jeff. I got along with him really well. I also read a lot of things where he seemed to be pretty annoyed at the popularity I apparently had at camp and things like that. I mean honestly I donít think about that stuff. I never told anybody where I went to school. I never sat around talking s*** to people. I never would have even told people I was a doctor except the first question they asked us was what do you do? And, even then I didnít say it so you know if people still want to think itís arrogant then cool. Let Ďem have it. At some point thereís nothing more I can say about it. I think my actions speak a lot louder than anything that he said.
If you had stayed in the game did you plan on sticking with Corinne and Charlie to the final three?
Yes, definitely! I was as committed to the ideal of this six people as anyone else and I really felt like letís see how the game plays out another ten days to get to that five or six people. Weíre going to have a lot more information. Weíre going to know if we need to switch anyone out but I really felt good about Charlie and Corinne and I knew that they were a very trustworthy pair of people and that was important to me in the game.
Did you, Charlie, and Corinne really intend that Randy replace Bob as the fourth in your alliance?
The big difference between Randy and Bob is that I keep pointing back to this nap scene in the show before I got voted out. We basically were spending hours trying to figure out was it going to be Susie or Dan and Bob took like a four hour nap and the nice thing about Randy is that his head is in the game and he was another person who was actively strategizing and trying to sort through things and Bob was a very trustworthy guy and was a great person to have on our side but he was definitely more of you tell me what to do and Iíll do it. Thatís where it was tough for me in the last three days because it was just me out there strategizing and there was not a whole lot else that I could do because it was just kind of like eh Iím the only one really working hard over here to figure out what weíre going to do next and so thatís probably more of where the mentality came from of would Randy make a better fit for our group than Bob? Bob was still in the group so the major issue was we have five people that are great but we need six. Whereís the number six coming from? And, I hoped it was Dan. I hoped it would be Susie and it just really didnít work out either way.
What have you seen on tv that surprised you?
That surprised me? Thatís a good question. But the answer surprised me. It surprised us all. Shocked and horrified might be another way to express that. Nothing really. We thought so much about what was going on. I knew kind of what was going on with the Fang tribe because of what Randy and Dan and them were talking about so even that I wasnít that surprised about. I canít say Iím all that surprised. Iíve really enjoyed watching the show like I got a real kick out of it and it was really neat to kind of see the whole thing play out from the perspective of the final product. And, Iím excited to see what happens from here on out.
At the tribal council, you said you wanted to keep the tribe strong rather than merge. That made sense to me but were you surprised or frustrated that the tribe members didnít see logic in it from past episodes?
I made that comment really from the standpoint of hoping that Crystal would come around. I mean she has all the skill youíd think sheíd need to be a strong member. We didnít know if we were going to merge or not. She was one of the people I definitely thought would be good to keep around. I wasnít saying that to protect myself at all. It was just more of a commentary and honestly I knew I was not dealing with logical people. At that point, I had my bags. I knew that these guys were either going to figure it out or not and I was just hoping that Crystal would think twice because of her relationship with my friend Kenneth and if thatís not going to stop you then nothing is going to stop you so enjoy the show.
Since youíre the first jury member how much thought are you putting into what youíre going to ask?
A lot of thought. If you see the Ponderosa episodes, within a couple days it starts to weigh on you Iím still going to have an impact on this show. In between trying to take deep breaths because your stomachís so full, enjoying the sights, itís there. Itís exciting to see whatís coming up next. It was exciting to have someone else to hang out with soon. Itís just a part of the game. It felt good to at least have a legacy that I was going to get to follow through the whole rest of the program.
How was the main decision making done in your alliance?
I made a lot of references to a hydra. We were just a many headed beast because everyone was smart, everyone was thinking and frankly I think Corinne and Charlie are way smarter than I was when it came to this game and Jacquie was amazing and Randy was like ďGuys, what do you think?Ē And a lot of times we didnít have to talk about stuff because everyone was on the same page. You couldnít help if you turned your brain on coming to the same conclusions every time and then fortunately every one of those people saw the value of staying out of tribal council. You donít have a lot of thinking to do if you are executing your plan to as much perfection as we did. Thatís simple logic there and it really was a group think. Iím humbled and flattered that people think I was the leader. I really didnít think that was ever an issue. I love to participate and if people want to praise that then thatís cool. I spent most of my time thanking everyone else for how well they were doing in participating and itís just not something I focused on so I definitely wasnít the dictator in the group or any of that stuff. Thatís just not how I roll.