Survivor: Cook Islands Interview: J.P.
A talk with the buff professional volleyball player about playing the ultimate game.
by Staci Krause
(IGN - 10.10.06)
October 9, 2006 - Survivor: Cook Islands held a twist in the wings for professional volleyball player J.P. on Thursday night, when the confident former Aitu tribe member was voted off his tribe, much to his surprise. Nate is the only other member of that tribe that was unaware of the change of decision to vote off J.P. instead of Stephannie.
We talked to J.P. about his experience in the Cook Islands, his shock at being voted out and who he hopes wins the whole thing.
IGN TV: How did you come to be on the show?
J.P.: I was having breakfast at a restaurant and someone came up to me. They asked me what I do and I told them they were like 'no way' and then asked me where I'm from and my background and all these questions and then they took my information down and then I got a call.
IGN TV: Had you seen any of the show before?
J.P.: I saw a little bit of last season and a couple other seasons but not on a regular basis. I love the show, but I don't get to really watch TV all that much.
IGN TV: When you got there, was it what you expected?
J.P.: Yeah. Yeah, it was I guess. It was just so surreal, it was crazy.
IGN TV: What was your initial reaction when you found out about the division along racial lines?
J.P.: I loved it. Not that I was prepared for it, but it was just a chance to be a representative for your culture, your background, your upbringing, your community. And for me, it was a little personal because I've brought up my whole life with people not even realizing that I'm Hispanic just based on my looks. This was just a cool way for me to say ' hey everybody, I'm 100% Hispanic.' I'm from Costa Rica.
IGN TV: Were you worried about being stereotyped?
J.P.: Yeah. Yeah. I didn't really care though. The race thing doesn't bother me so that's why I loved. I was like 'sweet, we get to embrace our culture on national television.' Of course, you are worried about, like last night, they kind of portrayed me as sitting around and I was not lazy at all. I worked really hard. That stereotype I didn't like. The being lazy
we're hard workers. Whatever you give us, we're hard workers at it. That stereotype. Other than that, I didn't even really even care.
IGN TV: How do you think the show represented you and your personality?
J.P.: I wish they would have made me look a little bit more brighter. 'Cause I was. I'm very intense and I'm very hardcore and I'm very candid and open and, at the wrong time, honest. I am all those things. And I am confident and I am slightly arrogant. I'm not going to hide from what they show because it is on tape. I hate people who say that. But I wish they would have also shown the times I was goofy. I smiled, believe it or not, out there. I made jokes and I had fun and I was goofy. I did all those things. I talked to people about personal things and I had fun. For episode one, they didn't show me that much, but every time they showed me I was always so intense, like game face, arrrr. Then in episode two, I was the bully on the show. And then episode three, I was just super intense the whole time again. They just kept making me look that way. Blah blah blah.
IGN TV: What was your strategy going into the game?
J.P.: To go in and try not to be in any way controlling and try not to be a big presence. Wherever I go, I'm a presence. I walk into a bar, I'm a presence. I'm always that guy that guys feel threatened with their girlfriends just for no reason. I'm always that guy for some reason. I didn't want to be that. I wanted to try to act more subdued, but once you get comfortable, you are who you are. I really didn't fake my personality when I was on the original Aitu tribe. We were just all kind of more adult about it. If we had a problem, we said it out in the open and we all talked about it. We were really comfortable with each other. Ozzy and Cristina got into fights all the time, but they worked it out. I would say something and if Cecilia didn't agree or if Cristina didn't agree, it wasn't like 'I hate you bitch'. We talked it out. I never felt threatened over there. So I kind of took that when I went to the new tribe and I'd say 'we should do this' or 'do that', and they took that as 'oh my god, look he's being bossy' and 'he's being a leader' and stuff like that. I took my experience from my other tribe over. And my experience in real life is very in your face. None of my friends would last because I'm the nicest one out of my friends.
IGN TV: You seemed genuinely surprised when the vote turned out the way it did. How do you think they managed to vote you off in that way without you (or Nate apparently) having any idea?
J.P.: That's because I genuinely was! (laughs) I took that nap and they did it while I was taking a nap. I was tired. It makes me mad because I took that nap, we just got back in from that last challenge. I did that swimming part and I was dying. That wiped me out. So I said 'I'm going to take a nap, if you guys need me, I'll be in the tent.' And that's when they decided to say 'hey'.
I was really, really shocked. I don't hate any of these people, but I was just really shocked about Brad, Adam and Cristina. Especially Cristina. I told her I would take her all the way. One thing about me is that I keep my word. I made an alliance with Nate, Brad, Adam, Cristina, Cecilia and Ozzy. Those were the people that I wanted to take as far as I could. I would report to Cristina everyday, what people were saying. I just don't understand why she didn't trust me. Everyone thought I was this diabolical schemer and I wasn't.
IGN TV: Do you wish you hadn't voted Billy off like that?
J.P.: No. I told Billy I would have done it again. I didn't vote Billy off because of his laziness. The only time I commented about his laziness was when I said he didn't carry the workload. But the rest of the time, I talked about trust, trust, trust, trust, trust. I didn't trust him. They didn't show this, but he made an alliance with all four of us the first day. He told the girls 'J.P. and Ozzy want to do the guy thing against you since there's three of us. I'm not having it, I'm going to stick with you girls.' And then he told me 'you and I would be good. Who would ever think that the big jock is going to hang out with me. It would be a great idea, no one would ever suspect it.' And then he went to Ozzy and said 'we can't beat J.P. He's too big and strong.' And he went around to everybody. So then, the girls came up to me and Ozzy one day, because we are really open, they are like 'we're mad at you guys' and we're like 'why?' and they are like 'we heard that you don't want us' and they totally called us out. I'm like 'no! Billy said 'dedede' and then Ozzy's like 'Billy told me blah blah blah' and I'm like 'whoa, whoa, whoa, we're getting played by Billy right now.' I was like 'I don't trust him.' I knew that if we got to the merge, he would defect and talk about us. The 'whoa is me, they are picking on me because I'm the heavy, out of shape, heavy metal guy' and it would have been easier for him to get away with that that for me, the big, strong guy to come in be like 'hey guys, no, he's lying to you.' I would have had a hard time diffusing that.
IGN TV: Why do you think of the original Aitu tribe, three of the first four eliminations have come from there?
J.P.: The curse of Billy. The curse of Billy has been upon us. You know, I don't know. With Billy, we voted him out because of the trust factor. With Cecilia, I think it was just she didn't fit where they needed people. And it was really just by one vote.
IGN TV: Do you think you were playing too hard?
J.P.: I wasn't playing, though. That's the thing. Everyone's making me this like I was in charge of everything and I was running the show and I wasn't. I didn't even start the alliance at the Raro tribe. I was sitting on the raft and me and Nate and Brad and we were talking and I don't know who brought it up, but they were like 'we should do an alliance with us four stick together' and I go 'ok, yeah, cool, let's do it' and they were like 'we need more girls' and I was like 'oh my god, this is sweet, this is where Cristina fits in. I've got one! Cristina's totally loyal.' And then Nate goes 'I've got Parvati' so then we were one up on them now.
I thought Nate this whole time was the one who orchestrated [my elimination]. Nate and Parvati. So at the finale, I'm going to give Nate a big high five, because he stuck to it. He didn't know. I was really bummed with Adam and Brad and Cristina.
IGN TV: How tough was it being on the island with no fire, no drinking water and no luxuries of any kind?
J.P.: Oh, it sucked. The first few days really sucked. Thank god we got the flint.
IGN TV: What was the hardest thing for you?
J.P.: Eating. I had a hard time. If you notice, if I'm not talking, they always show me eating. I was starving. I was dying. I'm used to eating a lot.
IGN TV: Did you bond with anyone?
J.P.: I thought I did. I thought Cristina and I were completely tight. That was the biggest shocker to me.
IGN TV: Who do you hope wins the whole thing?
J.P.: Well, for the game reasons, I don't think anybody on our Raro tribe is going to win the game only because I don't think they have the mentality as a group and it shows. I mean, them voting me out because.. it wasn't a strategic reason why they voted me, they got this 'girl/guy' thing, it should be a 'what is going to be the strongest tribe going into the merge' thing. I'm thinking Ozzy has all the components to win the game, maybe he'll slide his way through there. He's going to have to lay under the radar big time now. And Yul seems to be the superman right now. He's doing everything right. He's playing a good game. So maybe those two. But then you gotta watch out for the silent ones, Candice, Becky or Sundra.
IGN TV: What are you up to now?
J.P.: I don't know. Not anything really right now. I've started coaching again, but I've told everybody that interviewed me that I want a job, so if you have a job for me, give me a job.
IGN TV: Any last words for America?
J.P.: I loved the whole experience. The game was great. I loved it. I can't wait to go to the reunion. http://tv.ign.com/articles/737/737938p1.html