Your Survivor questions for Ba.D.: answered!
I met my honey, Ba.D., on the verge of my 2004 move to Japan.
Over drinks shared with a mutual friend, I told him about why I wasn’t interested in practicing law despite the law degree I’d soon hold. He told me how he liked his beer (“black and bitter, like me”) before launching into an improv Dashboard Confessional-style song that had me in stitches.
I moved. Ba.D. and I alternately exchanged emails and conversed through online forums. Our friendship developed online because that was all the distance between us allowed.
Recalling how much of our relationship was built through the written word, it struck me one day that I really wanted a written update. I wanted to see more words from Ba.D., and I wanted them on my blog.
Ba.D. agreed, but he wasn’t sure what he’d write about. After a couple of weeks, I suggested his stint on Survivor would be a gimme. He could talk about that for years, after all!
I asked you if you had any questions for him, and some of you did. He’s answered these here, giving me a sweet opportunity to remember all the time his written words brought me joy before I returned to Los Angeles.
What is something that you did on Survivor that you thought you would never have the courage to do?
Get on the boat and do it. Seriously, I was aching to do it, but I didn’t know how scared out of my mind I’d be until I got on the boat in the middle of the Pacific and start paddling. And yes, it is something frightening in the back of your mind to think that you’re out in the middle of the ocean, no life vest, sharks and about 3 miles between you and land—and only a flimsy catamaran between you and the cold water. Yeah.
Oh, and what is the ONE item that you wish you had brought with you that you didn’t?
Oh, I brought it, I just didn’t get to use it: A journal and notebook. It was my luxury item, but my tribe didn’t win that challenge, so no go. It was too bad. I would have probably been a little more even keel if I’d had it. Or a camera. Yeah.
I suppose I could ask: What was the toughest part of the show for you? What did you enjoy most?
The two things that sucked the most: Dehydration, and this guy named Rocky. If you’ve ever been really thirsty on a really hot day, imagine taking the biggest drink of scotch you can. Now run around the block like 3 times. Then imagine doing that every three days without drinking anything but coconut water. Dehydration sucks, and is no joke.
The other thing was this guy named Rocky who just rode me like an evil boys gym coach from an 80s teen movie. Or like a glee club kid by a certain cheerleading coach. Sartre was correct: Hell is other people.
Do you have any regrets about being on the show?
Yes: Losing. Maybe not punching out a person or two (not that I’d be allowed to without facing some prosecution).
Deb told me she was in labor for 27 hours w/ your son. Do you think this makes her tougher than any member of the Survivor cast?
Yes and no: Tougher than many of the pretty boy whiny castaways, sure—but many folks are just as tough, for different reasons—like Christy Smith, who went way far in the game despite being deaf and ostracized by her tribe, or Chad Crittenden, the first player with a prosthetic leg, or Cristina Coria, who before coming on the show survived being shot by a murder suspect.
Deb’s also tough as nails (I can tell you stories), but she refuses to audition for Survivor.*
Hmm .. the Chicagoan in me wants to ask if somebody pissed him off so badly, that he wanted to just make them “disappear”. You know, concrete galoshes into 500 feet of Lake Michigan “disappear”.
Yes, a guy named Rocky (see above) and a guy named Mookie. I guess their names were totally appropriate for that question, huh?
Did you, or any of your fellow castaways have any military survival training, and if so, did it really help?
I didn’t, but one of the older guys my season was a door gunner in a helicopter in Vietnam, so I imagine that counts. From what I gather in talking to him, it didn’t help him at all. Survivor is kind of its own animal. You’d do better watching that guy Bear on Survivorman before going on.
I made up my own training schedule, consisting of trying to make fire from pretty much nothing and keeping it alive for 3 days while brushing up on my first aid and coconut opening skills.
In your view what is the right stuff to survive? What did you think was the right stuff at the time you applied/auditioned?
There’s survival and then there’s survival on Survivor. There’s a kinda mix you need. But I’d say its 1) The ability to think outside the box 2) A certain adaptability that allows you to work with almost any kind of people and 3) A level of “moral flexibility” that will let you do or say what you need to survive and 4) The ability to keep your humanity intact in most situations.
Looking across the seasons, which survivor do you admire the most and why?
This is actually a question on the application!
Did you go really hungry? Did they monitor you?
Oh yeah, the hunger is for real. People pay a lot for coconuts. When you’ve not eaten anything but for 9 days, there is a lot of the suck. You can live off of them, but gah.
Being a pretty laid back guy, did something/someone really make you angry?
Yes, see above about that guy Rocky!
How often did you laugh…if ever?
Not nearly enough. But once I did again, things got better.
Honestly, did you ever get so hungry you considered eating one of your own limbs? Which one would you eat? Do the producers at least give you guys salt and pepper to season said limbs?
No, not my own. 🙂 You always eat the other guys first, starting from the flank … what, you’ve never read the story of Alive?
Was it hard to watch yourself on TV? Would you say how they portrayed you was accurate?
Parts were very hard, especially my last tribal council (I was watching it by myself in a New York hotel room). And yes, for the most part it was me … edited and parsed down to make me look a certain way, but it was me.
What would you do differently if you could go back to compete again?
NO SPOILERS! 😉
What was harder for you: the physical toll (being hungry, no sleep) or the social aspects?
The dehydration … oh man, the dehydration.
This one if from my nine year old son: Were you ever really REALLY scared? And if so, what scared you the most?
Yes! Of falling off of cliffs and of sharks! REALLY SCARED of sharks. Two of the deadliest sharks in the world (and one of the highest counts of shark attacks) are in Fiji where we shot the show.
Did you ever get a little ticked off that Jeff Probst would show up completed rested, showered, and with a full stomach and then proceed to yell at you guys with his annoying play by play during the challenges?
You better believe it, though mostly with Jeff’s play by play. It’s his job to do (because you’d be surprised how quiet it would be on tv without it), but man it gets iritating when you’re trying to concentrate on the challenge, or worse when you’re trying to hide your flubs. You hear a lot of “Thanks, Probst.” from folks during the challenges.
Also, did the cameras bother you? Or did you forget they were there after awhile?
You’re hyper aware of them for the first day or so, and then you totally forget they exist. Heck, you find yourself standing in these perfect little half circles for conversations without knowing why. They’re like ninja! With cameras.
I need to know how I can get on the show. Seriously. This is not a joke. I have tried a few times. (Okay once.) But I don’t have time to mess around. I’m 43. I can wear a bikini. I’ve had laser hair removal. I love to camp. Who can you put me in touch with so I can get on that show. I don’t even care about the money; I just want to go somewhere hot and play.
This is one of the questions that I get asked A LOT. Like once a week. The best advice I can give on this is to just be interesting and willing to talk your mind. They want interesting people from all walks of life, but you’d be surprised how “cookie cutter” applicants can be. They’re looking for big characters, so, if you apply (and in your case if you apply again), make yourself into a character—take one or two little things about yourself that are big and just blow them up. I went for the gamer nerd, and well, look where it got me?
Oh! And the second piece of advice I can give is to be persistent. Many of the non-recruited, cool players were fans who just kept on applying. Leslie Nease (the really REALLY Christian lady from Survivor China) applied like 30 times before she got on.
And the third piece of advice is to know the game. They really, really, really, really, want people who know the game. My friend, Bobby “Bobdawg” Mason of Survivor Vanauatu proved that he knew the game by bringing in a huge flowchart to his interview showing who got voted off when, what their mistakes were, and their occupations. Cochran from this season of Survivor is studying at Harvard Law, and wrote his entrance essay on how the jury on Survivor works in contrast to the judicial jury system, and flaws and advantages in both.
How did being on Survivor change your view about people?
Honestly, if anything it reinforced some of my beliefs: If you treat people with some kindness, and at least a speck of respect, you can get pretty far in life. I mean one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known won my season. And yes, I know (and saw in spades) that people can really suck. It really is a microcosm of the human condition, even as manipulated as it may sometimes seem.
* Ed. note: See Ba.D.’s answer on Jeff Probst’s play by plays for further detail. As you know from my road rage post, there’s little that says “I love you” quite like staying out of jail for your offspring.