Rob Cesternino talks with the latest player to be eliminated from Survivor: Kaoh Rong in our weekly exit interview podcast. Plus, Rob talks to Jordan Kalish about the moments from This Week in Survivor History
Survivor Kaoh Rong Exit Interview with Joseph Del Campo:
Rob: Joe, good morning. How are you?
Joe: Well I’ll tell you Rob, I’ve recovered from my gastrological thing but the bumps and bruises I’ve gotten from you this season, oh my goodness!
R: [laughs] Joe, well let me just say, great job out there. Look, I know that it’s always harder than it looks and look, I commend you.
J: I know you know. Well you did it so you do know, so thank you, thank you very much.
R: Yes and we have a mutual friend in Rudy and so any friend of Rudy is a friend of mine.
J: Well thank you. He’s a wonderful guy. He’s 88 and I hope to see him again- we usually see each other in November when the Navy Seal museum has their annual muster and we meet there. He’s doing good. He’s slowing down, not quite as fast as he was like me but he’s 88 now, I’m trying to catch up, but I don’t want to catch up, that means if I catch up then Rudy’s with the Lord.
R: [laughs] Oh no.
J: He’s still doing good, thanks.
R: And did you keep up with him during the season at all or do you only see him like once a year?
J: Well, also we have a cabin in North Carolina. He’s got with a couple of his former Navy Seal buddies, so we’ll probably see each other this summer up there. So twice a year. He’s up in Virginia Beach. He doesn’t live locally. We got to see each other a couple months ago, he came down, there’s pictures and I posted them.
R: So I saw you on the Ponderosa video, Joe, and it looks like that you were totally feeling better. How long did it take to go form where we saw you last night to when you end up sort of like back to normal at Ponderosa?
J: Well, for the next 3 days- you have to understand my gastrological thing was pretty severe and when I was able to be relieved, it caused some internal/physical things going on. So about 3 days after that I was quite miserable so even if I had been able to, on the island, on the beach, resolve that, I don’t know if, certainly not during the challenges would I have been able to do anything. It was quite painful. So by about day 4-ish I was good to where I could not sit on a little rubber cushion and be comfortable.
R: [laughs] Now Joe, a lot of times during the season we didn’t quite always get to hear your perspective on what was going on and what your strategy was in terms of the end game. So talk us through a little bit of where you were hoping to go from that point in the final 5. Obviously you and Aubry were tight, but what was your plan to getting down to 4 and 3?
J: If you actually saw the- I don’t know if you had a chance to see that- the reward, there was talk about it was going to be Cyd, Aubry and me. But as you know Rob, things can change in a blink of an eye. You get back to the beach, you think you’re going one way, you go another way because things are said. So it was still up in the air. As far as I was concerned, still up in the air. We got to see how other people played into it, but certainly it was going to be, I hoped, Aubry and me. From day 1 we made that pact when we were on Brains, also that I would stay kind of out of the limelight because usually the old guy gets a target on his back and Aubry being the player she is and was, we didn’t want that to happen. So you didn’t see a lot of screen time with me because I was not involved in the negotiations. We kind of agreed upon that. I look at it as a team effort. I’m sure the super-fans say well you know, you really weren’t doing a whole lot of strategizing, well we were but kind of quietly. So it is what it is. You’re depicted and edited the way they see it and that was fine. I’m good with it.
R: So we saw Aubry talking about you know, actually I think Cydney might be the bigger threat, but it seemed like when you guys were on the reward you were talking about taking Cydney to the end. Did you and Aubry have that conversation about, “hey, I think we’ve got to get rid of Cydney now and take Tai to the end?”
J: No. So going on the reward, we sat down and of course, there we are, we’re being ourselves and having a good time, and I think I brought it up, or I forget exactly how it came to be, but that time that was said. Now going back Rob, once you get back to the beach and you get with other people, there were two people left, Michele and Tai, whether or not there would have been a change of plans I can’t really guess. At that particular time I thought that was the way we were going to go. Unfortunately Mother Nature stepped in and threw a whammy on me, so it didn’t happen.
R: Yeah. Now talk to me about going to the end with Aubry. Did you feel like that you had a shot to be able to beat Aubry or did you feel like she had become such a close friend that if the end result was that she was going to win the season and you were going to be there next to her, you were fine with that outcome. You were just in it more for the experience.
J: Well kind of both, Rob. First of all, what would I be able to argue as far as “I did this strategy, I did that strategy, hey I won the reward” “well that’s okay Joe, what else did you do?” So I knew it would be like pleading to the Romans here: “please save me, don’t save her.” Well, I didn’t have a platform to go on, so I pretty much would have been the elder statesman. I played the game back in the shadows and if you thought that was admirable, we did it as a team, but I have an incredible competitor here in Aubry, because at that point you’re in competition with that person, and so be it. However the chips fall. So did I think I could win? Probably an outside bet but I was not the contender. I was not the odds-on horse. So it didn’t happen.
R: So let’s go back to a couple of the previous votes. In last week’s show, we had Tai had this plan where he wanted to vote against Michele and you guys all ended up voting for Jason. But if Aubry had come to you and said, “Joe, I think we should go with this plan: let’s go with the Tai plan and take out Michele,” would you have been open to that, or did you want to vote Jason out no matter what at that last vote?
J: No, well you can imagine now, I was stewing about Jason. What was not seen, and I think they attributed it to Aubry, was Tai started taking a walk down the beach. Michele and Cydney were collecting clams over on the rocks about 150 yards away. And I was there talking with Aubry and we knew how strong he felt about the Michele issue and I said, “let’s do Jason. I’m gonna run over and tell the girls, ‘let’s do Jason.’” And she said, “great, great.” Ran over there, I said, “We’re going to do Jason, we’re going to do Jason. All four of us, tonight.” Run back, and that’s why we had left him out of the vote, because we were too afraid that he would go tell Jason, “This is what they wanted to do.” So we left Tai out of the vote. Now the reason I’m sure they didn’t show that Rob, was that would have given away the whole council. So they couldn’t air that piece. So I understood that. But it more or less came back to that it was Aubry’s deal, which was a joint effort. Again: joint effort.
R: Could you talk a little bit about what your relationship was like with Jason and Scot following the sabotage from the camp? It looked to me from the TV show that you really never could forgive those guys for what they did to the game, that you were the fire-maker, they’re putting out the fire and it seemed like that that just never flew with you, that idea that we’re going to sabotage what we’re trying to do out here.
J: Rob, as you know there’s all those hours of filming and what- 42 minutes make it onto the show. There was a lot of stuff that was not shown, words going back and forth, and insults and things that happened from them toward me and vice versa that caused just, you know, very, very upset and angry. So I carried that through the game and I wanted to get rid of Jason at the end there, the person that caused me the most upset, anger or whatever. But it was just the game. If you’ve seen Ponderosa you can understand that once the game was over, he and I were buddies. He’s a veteran, I’m a veteran. It was about the game. And once outside the game, we come back to real-life. So the game was over for me and what’s the next thing?
R: Well that totally did come through in the Ponderosa video, if people haven’t seen that. You guys look like you do have a good conversation there at the Ponderosa. But going back to his vote last week, he votes for you in a scenario that he could really vote for anybody but he felt like you and him really just never were able to see eye to eye in the game.
J: His comment I think if I recall correctly was, “he doesn’t deserve to be here” meaning me. I mean that’s the kind of animosity we had toward each other. That was verbalized and he made it known. That’s the reason. It was kind of a PO’d vote. He was PO’d at me but once we walked into the Ponderosa threshold, that was all behind us. That’s it. It was a game. A lot of money at stake, but it was a game.
R: I want to talk about another one of these votes form earlier in the season. I want to go back to the Debbie vote. At that Debbie vote, we have a scene where Aubry comes to you and says, “hey, we want to vote off Debbie tonight, what do you think about that?” and you said, “I don’t like that idea, I don’t want to vote off Debbie,” and then you and Debbie vote for Scot at that vote. Did you think that you had talked Aubry out of that idea or did you know that Aubry and Cydney were still going through with that plan and you were just against what they wanted to do and voted for Scot?
J: Rob I think at that time, I was so fixated on the vote. The reason is, and part of the anger those guys had to me, was there was an earlier vote where it was the Nick vote where they wanted me to do the Debbie against one of my own people and I said, “no problem, I’ll do that,” and I didn’t because I wasn’t going to betray one of my own people and that started the anger, I think, with the guys. Never got away from that. As far as that, Debbie was kind of acting a little strange that day and I knew she was causing some ruckus with the girls and they kind of banded together, which I finally saw on TV. I did not see that there on the beach because I was doing other things. But so, there was all that chit chat, I was not privy to it. I was going to the vote I thought, I hope it would go that way. It did not. I understood why they did it though. It wasn’t like I was all upset like “why did you do that” I kind of understood it because of Debbie’s behavior that day and kind of upsetting them and thinking she was a loose cannon. But I did not vote for her.
R: Did you have any trust issues with Aubry? I know that was your tightest ally in the game but really on those two occasions, that Debbie vote and also on the Peter vote, she went off and did what she wanted to do at one of these votes. Did you ever consider that as that was a problem with your relationship with her in the game?
J: Not in the game. The interesting thing is then seeing on TV about like that time with Tai saying, “Joe’s causing problems, we have to get rid of him,” and stuff like that. I didn’t realize, of course you don’t when people are having their private conversations, that that was going on. In the game, no I trusted her. I believed that we would go to the end together if we were both around. So the little bumps and grinds in between there was part of the process, I thought. I didn’t want to get all upset about it and question that. So I did trust her implicitly, yes.
R: Did you have any idea that when you guys came back from the challenge last week, the reward challenge, and you were upset about losing and you were trying to get everybody to get all the firewood, did you have any idea that that was making Cydney so upset?
J: No, just we needed wood and everybody always contributed and that particular day, maybe I was grumpy. They called me grumpy Joe. I was hoping they would call me the most interesting man in the world but that never came up. [laughs] But anyway, Cydney is very sharp person who does not want to be told what to do. Apparently she didn’t have respect for me saying it that way and made it known. “Hey you don’t talk to me that way.” So I had not. We had established a pretty decent relationship as you saw her referring to me in the deleted scene like the grandfather toward her, we really did have that. It was after the vote where she almost went out with the three votes against her, and her and I after that established a very nice relationship. A fatherly/grandfatherly relationship. So I was kind of surprised when I saw that little clip. But hey, it’s the game.
R: Joe, how much did it bother you to be outlasted in the game by your nemesis Mark the chicken?
J: Well you know, I had respect for him, and I do have respect, but he jumped down one day and his talon poked a hole in the top of my foot which started to bleed and all I’m thinking is that’s all I need. The chicken pokes Joe, it gets infected, he’s yanked because of the chicken. So I would never have hurt the chicken, I know Julia said, “Joe will kill the chicken.” There was no way I was going to wring that chicken’s neck. I just didn’t want it pooping on our food, you know. Tai would sleep with it in the hammock at night and I’d get up in the middle of the night because I didn’t sleep very much. I’d hear, “cluck, cluck, cluck” of the chicken in the hammock and he’s asleep with the bird. He was more like a son! It wasn’t a pet. For Tai it was the son he doesn’t have I guess. I think it’s comical that they played it the way CBS has done. I think it’s great. It adds a little humor to it. I think it’s great myself.
R: All right, well Joe thanks so much for coming on with me. You were a great sport the whole way through and I’m glad it seems like you had a fun experience out there. Hope to run into you next week with everything going on with the finale.
J: Absolutely, and some time in the future if the powers that be think, “well he’s not THAT old, maybe he’ll move faster!” I’ll go back in a heartbeat.
R: You’d do it again?
J: Absolutely, in a heartbeat. Absolutely.
R: Okay, all right Joe. All the best to you. Take care.
J: Take care of yourself, bye.
Special thanks to Molly Jackson for writing this week’s interview summary