Survivor: Caramoan may be long gone, but castaway Erik Reichenbach still has a lot to say! Once a former Fan on Survivor Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites, Erik swapped roles and returned as a Favorite for the Caramoan installment, the second helping of the show’s newbies vs. returnees concept. I got the chance to ask Erik all about Survivor’s latest season, including his medical evacuation from the game, Dawn’s teeth, Brenda’s ousting and that total bullshit Reunion “Special.” Here’s what he had to say:
The Littlest Winslow: Is being on Survivor harder or easier than it looks like on TV? What’s the hardest part about the experience?
Erik Reichenbach: Being on Survivor is a lot harder than it looks like on television. There are so many more factors that come into the gameplay aside from the elements, competitions, and the other players. My two biggest factors were primarily my diet and energy. It is extremely exhausting to compete on Survivor and for me, maintaining my food intake was super important. Playing the “game” portion is also a very difficult part of the game, but with a little understanding of social dynamics and people pleasing, you can go a long way. The fact that there is a production crew filming your every move is oftentimes an overlooked portion of the game. It’s almost the “meta-game” you have to play even before you get to compete on a show like Survivor.
How did it feel being MedEvac’d from the game so close to the end? Walk us through what was going on in your head at the time.
I have been over this story many times now, as it has been completely ignored by the show itself. Basically I had a cut on my right leg from some ocean rocks that got infected late in the game. Leading up to the tribal council in which Brenda went home I got worse and worse, eventually getting a fever, dizziness, and a low blood pressure. After Brenda was voted out (which I was kind of half-awake for) I asked for some medical attention and Jeff declared me unfit to continue the game. A few hours later I woke up in the hospital with this dumb look on my face. What just happened? I remember what happened, I just was unaware of the gravity of the situation.
Were you aware that Cochrane and Dawn were working so closely together?
I was aware they were working together, but not to the extent I saw on television after the show aired, which in hindsight, was stupid. I should have known better that those two had something going on. I thought Dawn and I were tight. Pfft!
How shocking was the Brenda vote off? Did you know anything about Dawn’s teeth and their relationship at the time?
I knew all about the teeth incident, but because of whatever the hell was happening to me at the Brenda Tribal, I was really unaware of what the hell was going on. I thought Sherri went home and that there were 7 votes cast (there were only 6 people left in the game).
Fun Fact: When Dawn came back to camp screaming, Phillip went to see what was going on. Malcolm, Reynold, Eddie, and I were playing cards and didn’t really care what Phillip did. A few minutes later Phillip returned to tell us, “It is something personal. Dawn doesn’t want to really talk about it.” All the guys agreed. Whatever Phillip, we can respect that, and kept playing cards. Phillip came back five minutes after that and informed us, “Dawn’s teeth fell out, she looks like a hillbilly” and we all kind of looked at each other like, “WTF PHILLIP YOU’RE BREAKING YOURE OWN GODDAMNED DON’T-TALK-ABOUT-IT-RULE! WE DIDN’T CARE IN THE FIRST PLACE!” But more subtle than that.
I still talk here and there with Stephen, Cochrane, and Bob Crowley, but otherwise I have been really busy working on comics and art. Christina Cha has talked to me about making a children’s book, too!
The Caramoan Reunion was pretty much bullshit, right? Care to comment on that?
It sucked. Everything that a reunion should be about: tying up loose ends, finding out how people are doing from the season, talking about the social dynamics of a complicated game…all of that was overlooked by Probst for gimmicky shtick and pointless rhetoric. The game of Survivor has not run out of steam; there is still so much that can be talked about and discussed.
Speaking of…what is Probst like off-camera?
Not what you think of him from watching the show. He wasn’t always that way though, and I specifically recall while filming Micronesia how I perceived him as a guy who was “hard, but fair” to all castaways (which is what made him a great host). He has definitely turned into a different kind of person since I last saw him with my little brother back in 2008.
Tell us a bit about your art – what kinds of stuff do you do and where can people buy it?
I have always been an artist and illustrator, even when I was first on Survivor back in 2008. I’m working on multiple comic books and graphic novels, including a reality television parody called, “Starving for Attention” which has already reached 100 sales since June on Amazon. You can see all my artwork on my website, www.erikreichenbachcomics.com and I do commissions for just about everything!
Now for the kicker – Would you play Survivor again?
I would definitely play Survivor again, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be asked back to play.
Survivor’s upcoming 27th season – entitled Survivor: Blood vs. Water – will debut with a special 90-minute broadcast on Wednesday, September 18 at 8PM ET/PT. You can find Erik on Twitter or at any of the links above.