By Jeff Walsh
When I first posted that Spencer Duhm was the openly gay contestant on this season of Survivor, I didn't know that his strategy in the game was to not tell anyone. Each week, I'd watch wondering when it would come up. It never did.
Last night, after 15 days, this 19-year-old University of Florida student was voted off. If you watched the show, it seemed like his weak performance in a physical challenge was the reason, but in this interview, he says more was going on behind the scenes.
Here's what we said:
Hey Spencer. I just watched the show this morning and didn't realize we were going to be talking so soon. It's interesting, because when you were first on the show, I put a notice up on the site that there's a young, gay contestant this season, then as I'm watching the show there was no reference to it, so I figured maybe they're just not using that storyline yet. Until last night, I never realized that no one knew…
It was a conscious decision of mine going into it. I get flak for this, because people say 'Oh, everyone's really accepting…' But I'm thinking, in a social game, people will find any reason to get rid of somebody and I was good friends with all the guys on the tribe, so I don't want some subconscious thing… I mean, I was ona tribe with a bunch of people from the south, and I come from the south, too. I'm not bashing people from the south. It's a known fact that sometimes Southerners can be a little less open-minded to homosexuality, so I first see my tribe and I got people with the belt buckle and the boots and everything, and I'm like, OK, it might not work out in my favor to tell everybody that I'm gay. So if they don't ask me, I'm not going to sit there and offer it up. And they never asked. I felt there was really no upside, and there could be a downside.
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.
By Jeff Walsh
Todd Herzog wanted to go on Survivor since he was an overweight 15-year-old in Utah. When he finally turned 21, the now-skinny gay Mormon flight attendant almost made it on the show two seasons ago, but was turned away because the producers felt that he looked too much like hunky Asian hottie Brad Virata?!? But, this time around, Todd made it to Survivor: China, where he made no secret about the fact that he was playing the game and playing to win.
Last night, he took home the million-dollar prize. Possibly the youngest winner of the show, and the first gay winner since daddybear Richard Hatch on the first season, Todd actually founded a Survivor club when he was in high school. He was even voted "most likely to appear on Survivor." So, this wasn't just a passing fancy for him. Online, he has his detractors, to put it mildly. He made no bones about the fact that he would lie and manipulate people to win (but if you don't, you don't win.).
Todd called us up himself Monday after waking up from an afternoon catnap in his apartment in Utah. Well, OK, actually CBS publicity called us and Todd (who was now in New York City, and had yet to sleep from winning the show 17 hours earlier in Los Angeles) spoke to us while still buzzing on the frenzy of the finale, after hours of endless interviews. Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
Brad Virata went on Survivor to break stereotypes and win a million dollars, but only accomplished one of his goals. He was voted off the show on the show's eighth episode, but became the first member of the jury that decides who wins the million dollars. On Sunday, December 17, he will be on the jury that selects the million-dollar winner and appear live on the reunion show that follows. Throughout the show, Virata seemed to be having fun with the whole notion that he was playing a game, rather than follow the stressful (albeit possibly more successful) path of other people on the show. Whenever the game had a twist, he was there smiling and taking it all in, while everyone else winced, plotted and schemed. Chatting with him on the phone, it becomes very clear that is just the way he handles life. Talking to Oasis exactly a week after his being voted off the show, he was still upbeat and engaged after days of a rigorous publicity schedule. In fact, he laughed so freely and often during our interview, I just removed the (laughs) marks from the transcript, because without the audio or knowing his take on life, they actually came across as excessive. But on the phone, they were playful and addictive, and really did help paint a picture of his great outlook on life. Virata, the fashion director for Lucky Brand Jeans, recently spoke with Jeff about his life on and off the show:
By Jeff Walsh
I wasn't supposed to watch Survivor this year.
I've been purging a lot of my TV shows to concentrate on writing my novel more, and Survivor was on the hit list. Do I really need to watch starved, dehydrated people making puzzles on the ground in Africa?
But, I happened to catch the first show, where they just introduced the cast and showed highlights from the upcoming season, and then I saw Brandon Quinton. Damn that CBS! They put a hot femme twink on! Now, I have to watch the damned show all season!