“That Was a Stupid Strategy”: An Interview with Survivor: Cook Islands’ Billyby David Bloomberg -- 09/22/2006
A few minutes after Billy was on The Early Show, he was talking to RealityNewsOnline, where we ask the deeper questions. Billy tells us what his strategies were and why they went wrong, what he thought when he saw the Candice conversation on TV, and much more!
RealityNewsOnline: What did you first think when you found out the tribes were divided by race?
Billy: I thought it was great for Survivor but terrible for me as a player, because I knew I had no chance of convincing a bunch of Latinos I would be pro-Latino. It’s very obvious that my chosen culture is heavy metal, which is considered white people music. And I knew I would immediately face questions of where my loyalties lie – and I did. They were still questioning me all the way to the end. It had everything to do with me being heavy metal.
RNO: What do you think of all the hoopla that’s been going on before the first episode even aired?
Billy: I thought it was great that this many minorities were getting an opportunity within the context of the show and outside with the press. They had the opportunity to take the ball and run with it in their lives that they wouldn’t have had before. It was great for all us. I don’t shy away from controversy!
RNO: What was your strategy coming into the game?
Billy: Coming into the game, before I knew how the teams were divided, my strategy was to get together with the average joes and take out the jocks. Once things got divided, then my strategy had to be an eclectic one, changing. Initially I was the oldest, so I thought I’d see if I could get some things accomplished and gain some respect points. That changed with Ozzy having an unprecedented amount of experience. It was very easy for him to make a fool out of me and make me look like I had no idea what I was doing. So my next strategy was that food is always hard to come by on Survivor, so hopefully they’d burn up their energy and I’d conserve. No. More food was caught in the first six days than all Survivors combined, I think! So every strategy I came up with was shot down. So I tried to give all the power to the ladies and hoped they’d bite on that. I thought I had them but I think Cristina blew the opportunity to be in control of her own fate.
RNO: What did you do, either physically or mentally, to prepare yourself for Survivor?
Billy: I watched every episode of every Survivor. I looked at every challenge and the clues that went with it, so I’d know what to expect. I hoped, as part of my Plan F in case things went awry, that at least my value would be that I’d know what was around the next corner. I gave us an advantage in the first challenge and knew what it was going to be, but J.P. and Ozzy didn’t want to hear it. I turned out to be right and turned out to be the one who put the boat together and put the planks in the right order, but apparently that went unnoticed.
RNO: When did you realize the tribe was throwing the challenge?
Billy: I had my suspicions, but I brushed them off as paranoia that comes with being in Survivor. Once we were in the challenge and I was trying to untie an answer, I got pulled down. Why would that happen? That started the realization that my initial suspicions were true. Next thing I know, Ozzy’s just sitting up there not untying anything. So they’re throwing the challenge.
So I wondered how I could get even and send somebody to Exile Island who was most likely to find the idol, which is why I decided on Yul and insisted I pick the person who went.
RNO: Before then, did you realize just how much of an outsider you were?
Billy: I knew definitely with Ozzy and J.P., they were treating me as a second-class citizen. Cristina treated me extremely well. Cecilia was on the fence a lot. Some days she treated me well, some days I never saw her. With her it was just playing the game, going with the stronger side. That’s the way I take it. With Ozzy and J.P., it was so obvious, just the way they talked to me. I would start talking and they would walk away or cut me off midsentence. You don’t have to be an FBI expert to figure out what’s going on there.
RNO: What did you do to try to change that and bond or align with your tribemates?
Billy: The way I figured it, I was so on the outside with the guys, there was no way to get in with them, even though I tried for a moment. But they were just trying to make a fool out of me. I enjoyed the women’s company more anyway, and with Cristina I succeeded. She also considered Ozzy to be this pompous know-it-all jerk. It wasn’t just me.
RNO: Do you feel you were portrayed accurately?
Billy: It’s natural that with TV you’re only going to get one dimension. That one dimension that did show, it was a truthful dimension. There was a lot more to me than that, I joked around a lot, but you only have so much time [on the show]. I did a lot of things right they didn’t show. If it wasn’t for me taking the lead in the first challenge, we’d have finished last. Of course I’m going to want them to show that aspect, but I understand. As for the way I interacted with J.P. and Ozzy, it was dead on, we did not get along. I was an outsider.
RNO: On The Early Show, you explained that you were basically starving for affection, which explains your reaction to Candice. But I’ve got to ask: how did you feel when you were watching this episode and saw that the conversation between you and Candice was not what you originally thought it was?
Billy: Initially it was like that Homer Simpson reaction – D’oh! Since I live in New York, I got to be with family watching this episode. The nice part of it was with J.P. and Ozzy committing the treachery, my mom was bawling, so that moment created some levity and saved the night. Providing that very silly moment was actually okay. I can laugh at it now. I was at a very weak state of mind. You grab on to whatever you can. I have no problem with it. I had a good laugh at myself.
RNO: How do you think being in a tribe of fellow heavy metal rockers would have been different?
Billy: This is a game that has to do with a lot of social skills and getting along. You try to find something that’s different from somebody and exploit it. That’s a common strategy, every Survivor has that. With me, I was too much of one extreme. Everybody was Latino, they were brought up that way and a lot of conversations dealt with lifestyle. I had nothing to add to those conversations. I tried to and it was off track. Not exactly adding to the conversation – a conversation-killer – so they’d look at me and keep going like I didn’t say anything. I wish I’d have been with Cao Boi, Sekou, and Flica – the alternatives. I’d have been so perfect there.
RNO: Did you know Cristina and Cecilia would be voting against you before you went to Tribal Council, or did you think you still had a chance?
Billy: Right until we actually left, I still thought I had a chance, but then I leaned over to Cristina and asked what’s the verdict and she shook her head no, so I said don’t stick your neck out. That’s why I let it all hang out at Tribal Council and said what I had to say and didn’t let J.P. stop me from saying what I had to say.
RNO: In your final words to the camera, you said you regretted not playing the way you wish you would have. How do you wish you would have played?
Billy: That’s a very difficult question to answer, in that every strategy I came in with was out the window before the game even started. I wish I would have gone with the ladies initially and stuck with them, and not laid back to see what happens. That was a stupid strategy, in that my biggest regret is not saying things I wish had said or done. I wish my final strategy wouldn’t have been to let these guys burn themselves out, because that’s part of that wait and see strategy, it was just a bad idea. The best ideas are always to be active and take the bull by the horn. I hate to use the word regret, but as a Monday morning quarterback, that’s something I definitely see I should have done there.
RNO: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time on Survivor?
Billy: I don’t regret any of being out there or signing up for Survivor or being a part of the show. Just the opposite – I wish I’d been out there longer! Most of my fondest memories didn’t get shown, maybe they’ll be on the DVD. I don’t want people to think I’m sour or mad. I’m glad I was out there and it was the opportunity and adventure of a lifetime, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
RNO: Thanks, Billy!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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