Charlie Herschel of Survivor Gabon: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

It’s no revelation on here that I’m a fan of Survivor (see past interviews with Todd, Brad, and Brandon). As part of my ongoing preparation to be on the show, I interview all the gay contestants on here as they are voted off or, in the case of Todd last year, win the million dollars.

Last night, gay New York City lawyer Charlie Herschel joined the list far sooner than I anticipated, especially with two people openly arguing about their dislike for one another before the vote. It shouldn’t be surprising, though, in a season where the strongest, most capable players have all been blindsided at tribal council. Charlie was no different, and joins his bromantic ally Marcus on the jury.

This interview happened really fast, with CBS calling and saying, “Are you free now?” seven minutes before I had a scheduled teleconference for my day job, but we went for it. Here’s what we said:

I know we just chatted briefly on Facebook last week, but I certainly didn’t think we’d be talking again so soon.

You and me both…

Watching last night’s show, I was a bit surprised. You seemed to be off most people’s radar and then out of nowhere, you’re being called the mastermind and pulling the strings. Where did that come from? I didn’t see it on the show.

I think, starting out, I had a little bit of a target on my back as being more of a thinker or maybe schemer because I looked like Todd, I was wearing a suit, I’m an articulate person… so I think people knew I was an intelligent guy. But I don’t think anyone thought I was the mastermind.

When Ken put that in people’s minds, it was the first time they thought of or heard I was the mastermind, but it wasn’t so far-fetched that it didn’t make sense. I was getting along with everyone. I was performing well in the challenges. Things were lining up in my favor throughout the game, so I don’t think it was so outlandish. But, yeah, Ken totally made that up out of thin air.

That’s what it seemed like, but you never know, I’ve heard in the past that you never know what can happen in the editing room…

Yeah. I was in a strong alliance where we all were making a decision as a team, so there was no mastermind behind the scenes calling the shots. Marcus, Corinne, Randy, and I were all making the decisions together as a group.

You’ve been open about being a fan of the show from the beginning, so after sitting home and watching this, thinking ‘This would be really cool to do,’ did anything surprise you when you got out there. Was there anything you weren’t prepared for?

I think, being a fan, I read so much about it and I devoured as much information about Survivor as I could, that I was well-aware I was going to be hungry, I was going to be dirty, it was going to be boring, I was going to be annoyed… that I was entirely prepared. The people who aren’t fans, for instance Matty. I think he signed up two weeks beforehand and I’m not sure he even knew he was playing for a million dollars. He was like, ‘This is hell. I’m starving. This is a horror show.’ Those are the people who let the audience know it’s way harder than you ever imagined. But it was just as hard as I imagined, if not a little easier, just because I’d been so overprepared with people like Matty saying ‘This is a horror show.’ It wasn’t a horror show for me. It was like a dream come true and I had a blast.