One of this week's double bootees was James, victim of yet another injury. In this conference call interview, the talkative grave digger from Louisiana dishes about his fellow Survivors, his utter disappointment with "Superman" Colby, and he also explains the finer points of banana etiquette for those of us unfamiliar with the concept. Read on:
So, James - what was actually wrong with your leg?
I pulled my ACL and my meniscus.
How long will that take to heal?
Well, it was only supposed to take 6 months to heal, but it healed wrong, somethingís gone wrong with it, I donít know. And they have to go in there and fix it again.
Would you blame your injury on Smergen Ball or was it just a freak accident, the way you landed on your knee?
Actually, I blame it on a curse. I have to be cursed, there has to be like a jinx or some bad juju. I donít know if I should get a rabbitís foot or throw salt over my shoulder or something, but - getting hurt on a reality tv show on the beach. Like, really? It has nothing to do with the challenge, itís just one of those - and Iíve never been hurt in my entire life. The second show is the first time Iíve ever been in the hospital, and now I wind up in the hospital again! I need to figure something out to get this spell off of me. It definitely wasnít the conditions or the challenge, itís just bad luck. I donít understand. I get hurt on the beach? I dig graves for a living, you know, in the hot sun with a shovel. I shouldnít get hurt on a silly beach.
The night you were voted out, did you have any idea it was going to be you?
I kinda figured. You know, theyíre trying to save me from myself. They kept going, look, I donít know whatís going on, but it donít look good with your leg. Especially after the little dance on the beach that we had. So, yeah, I kinda figured it was about my turn. I understand, it was just part of the game, trying to keep the team strong.
Were you surprised that Amanda put your name down?
Not surprised at all. I mean, obviously, Amanda was the one that made me the dumbest Survivor ever for a little while, until Eric took my title. She gets rid of me at the drop of a hat, she plays the game hard. She does her thing. Weíre still friends, weíre still cool, but sheíll definitely get rid of you at any time she feels necessary.
What do you think the major problem was with that tribe? I know you mentioned the ďone voiceĒ earlier, that nobody was listening to the others, but other than that.
We were squared away athletic-wise, we were all intelligent, we could all figure stuff out. The thing was, a certain group of us just wanted to be the MVP. Everybody wanted to be the top chef and nobody wanted to be the sous chef. Nobody wanted to cut the onions, everybody wanted to make the soup. You canít have a good soup or you canít ever win Iron Chef or any show like that if you donít work as a team. And nobody wanted to work as a team or play their part.
How quickly did you get drunk after having your torch extinguished?
[laughs] It takes me a while to get drunk, but I definitely worked on it. About a good half hour, I was there. A good bottle down, bottle and a half, I was on my way! I had to drink enough for everybody else. Honestly, they were stuck out on an island, and if I donít do them justice by drinking as much as I can for everybody, I had a shot for everybody a few times.
How tragic was it to find out your Superman sucks?
Honestly, it was one of the most dramatic things of my life. It was weird, because Colby was what I aspired to be when I watched the show. I love the show, and Iíve always watched the show, and I thought Colby would have been the best ever. And he got there, and he wouldnít do any of the challenges, or he wasnít doing his best, you know, doing anything around camp. It just seemed like he wasnít motivated, he wasnít trying to win. He wasnít trying to work as a team, he wasnít trying to pull the rope, he was just trying to do his own little passive-aggressive Colby thing. Which is cool, I guess, it helps him out in life. Heís a successful guy and heís doing good, but itís just kinda like wow, whatís going on here?
Was there anybody there that you were surprised to see? Anybody missing that you would have liked to see?
I still, for the life of me, have no idea why Ozzy wasnít there. I mean seriously, besides Colby, even more than myself, Ozzy was the baddest challenge guy ever. You know? Ozzy should have been there. Ozzy should have been on the boat, in the plane, at the island with us. As far as somebody who shouldnít have been there, casting chooses who they want and they have a great mix, the way they mix is always fun. So, I wasnít surprised at who was there, I was surprised at who wasnít there.
Why didnít you try to race Rupert and his bad toe instead of JT?
[laughs] Because! Not to say that Rupertís not fast, which heís not, but I wanted to race against somebody who I considered at that time to be fast. I wanted to see really what my knee could do. I had no idea what was going on, and I wanted to test myself and see what was going on. In hindsight, yeah, maybe I could have raced Rupert, but it wouldnít have made a difference. It would have been foolís gold for me to race Rupert. It would have been a true test to see what was really going on with myself to race JT, and thatís what I got. I got what I wanted.
I know youíve had a tough time thanks to some of the editing this year, but do you think you still have a lot of fans out there?
I hope I do. The thing is, I actually love the editing, I love that they actually kicked it to where I felt that my teamwork made me look like I was angry and super aggressive all the time, and all Iím saying is ďLetís work as a team!Ē The only thing is, it hurt my mommaís feelings. [laughs] My poor momma seen me as being super aggressive, and mean all the time, kinda upset her. But yeah, hopefully my fans like me, you know, because I pretty much stayed true to who I was. I just wanted everybody to work as a team! I recently learned that I have tone issues and I might come off as being aggressive, but really, if you would listen to what I was saying and not my mannerisms and the way I was saying it, I really was trying to speak for the best, with what was going on. I really wasnít worried about alliances, I wanted to win. Because the more you win, the closer you get.
What was the deal with Steph? What was your relationship with her like?
It was kinda weird because...I understood, this has kinda been her life. Especially the old school people, this is what theyíve been doing forever, but they just consider themselves to be head and shoulders above everybody else. But they have to realize, you canít be the lead driver in every challenge, or in every camp situation. Sometimes you need to take a side role and be a role player, and pull the rope with everybody else. That strengthens the team more than you winning the challenge by yourself. It just doesnít happen anymore, itís a whole different type of person, and a whole different type of athlete playing this game now. In the old days, yeah - you could do that, you could just go willy-nilly and pull it through in the challenge, or puzzle. But now these puzzles are a little more complicated, you need to pay attention. You donít have to be that guy every time. She just had a hard time not being the MVP of every challenge, and it was kind of upsetting because I was like ďBaby, just pull the rope and do it together.Ē And she just absolutely refused to do that.
How about Amanda? It seems like you were really close to her.
Of course Iíd be close to Amanda, Iíve been on this show the last two years of my life. Iíve starved and struggled in the jungle with her. You know? Sheís been my social guide to help me...figure out how to eat bananas! Amandaís been helping me out with a lot of stuff. So yeah, I have a strong relationship with her, as I should, because Iíve been on the show three times with her, and the last experiences weíve had have been pretty unique.
I know you were disappointed in Colby, but how was he out there? Withdrawn, or part of the group?
It mean...it was like this. We were ultra cool, we did have good conversations about vehicles, but...I donít know. The relationship was what it is. Iím good with people - I mean, not really good with people, but I can be around anybody and talk and have a good time with anybody. As long as everythingís good, itís great. But when we get to challenges or you do something, it could cause a strain.
Some people have complained about Rupert being annoying around camp. Do you think thatís accurate?
[much laughter] My thing is, Rupert worked so hard and Rupert did his thing - Rupert kept fire. There ainít nothing wrong with being a pirate. You let him do his thing, thatís Rupert, thatís who he is. I canít fault nobody for what they do. He enjoys that, and thatís how he is, so no...I didnít find him annoying at all.
Do you regret doing Survivor this time?
Oh, no. I donít regret doing it this time, I enjoyed every moment of it. And I especially liked the editing of how Iím being a bully, and how Iím being super aggressive when Iím talking about working as a team and focusing and listening to one person and not going willy nilly. Itís teamwork! Thatís just crazy, and I love it. So, yeah, I definitely would do it again. Chance to win more money, chance to have some more fun on the beach - it would be an easy decision for me. Yes, I would do it.
This one is sort of hard to ask, but it has been brought up - have you ever taken steroids?
[James cracks up at this] You know, I love that! Itís so funny...you have to see my sister, like I tell everybody. Iím just like this. When you see my sister, youíd be like, okay. My family is just muscular. And nobody believes me, I really donít even work out, thatís the even crazier thing. I donít work out. I donít do nothing anymore. I kinda work, and hang out. But nobody believes me until they see my sister, and then theyíre like, no - serious? Because my sister is bigger than I am! So, yeah. Everybody likes asking that question, Iíve been hearing that - maybe the steroids have been helping me since I was thirteen. Iíve been like this since I was like twelve or thirteen, so...Iíve been going through that steroid stuff forever.
In Jeffís blog, he said the Heroes made a good move by voting you out. What are your thoughts on that?
Jeff had it on his mind for me this year! I donít know what I did to Jeff or how I upset him, but Jeff just had it on his mind. Thatís Jeff, itís his opinion. He loves Colby, he said that Colby was the strongest, best, loveliest, most gracious Survivor dude ever. So he wanted his boy there, so I understand that. Itís within his rights. Jeff is what makes Survivor Survivor. So if he thought it was that way and I should have been gone, who am I to argue with him, you know?
In the one Tribal Council, Jeff even said his niece could beat you in a race. What do you think about that?
Look, people have been talking about that all day - I love that challenge, I also want Jeff in this challenge and to bring JT along! I need to have one more race with JT, I would love to race his niece, Iíll give her a really good head start and I might even run backwards. Itíd be a good time, so anytime heís ready, set that one up too! [laughs]
Do you think you should have been a Villain instead this season?
Not really. I mean...I donít know. However they want to put it, however they want to take it. Yeah, they kind of made me look like a villain. Which, itís kind of suspect or kind of a fine line between Villain and Hero anyway - we are all hustling for a greater goal of winning a million dollars. So you really canít say anybody does more villainous tactics than the other. But itís fun. I like it. However they put me in, Iím down.
What was the hardest part of this season for you?
Honestly, the old school people! Watching how they were out of touch with what was going on, how Colby...now honestly, when I can out talk somebody, thatís pretty bad. When I can out strategize you? I donít know, your game is kinda soft. When Tom went up against a cripple and couldnít stay on the tribe? I donít know. Itís kind of upsetting to watch. Because Colby really was like the best thing ever, and he still is probably a great guy, but in that episode, in this series of Survivor, the way he was reacting and how he was just so blase about everything was just upsetting. I didnít expect him to win every challenge or pull through or do something spectacular, but I expected him to fall in line and work as a team. Just like Tom, as a fireman - surely, as a fireman, you would work as a team! And they werenít having it, they wanted to do it their way.
What was the easiest part for you?
These last couple of years, Iíve been on Survivor quite a bit. So being on the show, with coconuts on the island, shoot - we were like Gilliganís Island on this time. We had the best shelter ever, we had coconut wine, we had coconuts, we had food. I mean, itís kind of second nature to me now. All I need is a machete, I donít need to do a group. It taught me to survive in a jungle, I guess. We need to get our own show.
Besides Colby, was anybody totally different than you expected them to be?
Nah. Everybody was kinda what I expected them to be, the only other person would be Tom. Tom didnít play as a team. Heís a fireman, surely he would understand teamwork and pulling the rope and falling in line and doing the best for the greater goal of...especially at the beginning, making it towards the merge or making it towards the end where you can be off by yourself and do your own thing.
Can you explain ďbanana etiquetteĒ to us?
Honestly, banana etiquette was some kind of crazy, preposterous, politically correct people used to make a person look like theyíre being an animal, theyíre not being civilized. I really donít believe in it, I figure if youíre hungry and the bananas are displayed there...when youíre hungry and you go up to get a banana, you shouldnít have to ask everybody if they want a banana. If they want a banana, it seems like theyíll ask you to grab a banana for them, or not get a banana at all. You shouldnít have to every time make a broad, glamorous statement about ďDo you want a banana? Iím hungry. Are you hungry?Ē Like, really. If youíre hungry, you should just get your banana and have fun. So that banana etiquette was preposterous.
Were people picking on you with that, or were there others? Were did that come from?
It really is like Lord of the Flies sometimes out there. These people just make their own rules. And they fly by the seat of their pants. I wasnít eating any more bananas than anybody else, Colby and Tom were actually eating bananas and blaming it on me! It was like, just a hustle, just a play for them to try to get me out. Iím crippled and I eat all the bananas! So, theyíre doing their thing, theyíre playing the game. Theyíre trying to figure out a way to keep themselves within a certain group, and keeping the light shined on them in a certain group. Therefore, it has to cast a little shade on somebody else. It just happened to be the crippled one, eating all the bananas too. Itís kinda cute. Itís a game, baby - theyíre having fun with it.
How disappointing was it to be on such a strong tribe, but always get defeated by the snarky Villains?
It wasnít the fact that we were losing, it was the fact that we werenít playing as a team. It was the fact that a certain group caused us not to perform at our best ability. And thatís the thing that was upsetting. I donít mind losing if you play the game together and if the game plan holds true. Itís called a plan for a reason - itís not called a plan not to follow it! You make a plan, you stick to the plan, you know? That was the thing that was killing me the most, it wasnít the losing part - and that was upsetting, I donít like losing - but if I do my best, and everybody just does their best and we still happen not to make it? Thatís a real loss. Even if we win and nobody plays together, thatís still a loss.
In the one challenge when you just creamed Randy - when we interviewed him, he said you had to live with your actions, that you just snapped at him. What happened there?
That was good times. I mean, Randy - you never know what a guy can really do. And for him to antagonize the situation and mess with me, I only thought it was good to mess with him back. I really thought it was just fun and games, I didnít realize he was that upset. We were going back and forth for a bit, I just thought we were playing around. Then he threw mud in my face, and antagonized the situation. Now if you throw mud in somebodyís face, I do believe they have a chance to defend themselves - not really defend themselves, but retort in an equal manner. So if you do something antagonistic towards me, Iíll do it back.
In previous interviews, you have been quoted as saying you wanted to play a more social game this time. Do you think you achieved that?
Yeah, I kinda did. I kinda saved the girl who I relied on in all social aspects of Survivor. I had to save Amanda one time, and it was kind of cool. She was actually kind of surprised, like ďWow, dude, I was really in a bad spot.Ē And I was like, yeah, you were. I had to hustle and dance a little bit and smile and make everything good for her. So yeah, I definitely was surprised at myself about that. It might not have looked like it from everybody elseís eyes, but as far as me actually saving Amanda, thatís kinda alright. I kinda did that, it was kinda cool.
Whatís next for you?
Whatís next for me? I donít know. I mean, Iím kinda open to anything. I donít really know where to go and I donít want to limit myself with what I can or canít do, so...good, fun times figuring it out.