Well, someone has to go first.
The reality of Survivor is that anyone can be the first to be voted off – although it’s not usually a young, strong guy. In the first 30 seasons of Survivor, only four of the first boots were men under the age of 40. (And one of them was übervillain Jonny Fairplay, who was a special case.)
But in Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, it was 35-year-old yoga instructor Vytas Baskauskas who was first to take the walk of shame.
There’s no question that other members of his tribe would be weaker in challenges, but Baskauskas was perceived as a well-connected contestant who might emerge as a threat.
Baskauskas tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and whom he holds responsible for his ouster.
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. You campaigned to get back on the show, and then you were voted out first. Discuss.
I wondered if I had made a mistake even coming on the show. I knew coming in that I would be a threat, but I thought there were plenty of other guys who would be more threatening than me.
There are a lot of physical threats on the season: Joe, Jeremy, Terry. But as far as villainous men, I was the only one. The other villains didn’t get chosen – Jim Rice, Shane, Troyzan, Brad Culpepper. None of them made it. So I was the only male villain out there.
Wait. You’re a villain? I don’t think the perception of the American public is that you’re a villain. Did the other 19 contestants see you differently than the rest of us?
I think the people out there with me thought I was a villain in the sense that I was strategic. Somebody like Keith, who is not strategic or manipulative, is not thought of as a villain because he doesn’t do that stuff. I don’t think I’m a villain either! I agree with you.
There were two different storylines about why you were voted out. On one hand, Shirin said you were too well-connected to other players. On the other hand, they portrayed you as Creepy Yoga Guy. Which was true?
I mean, do you think people get voted out for teaching yoga? If you rewind that scene a little bit, Shirin was actually the one who came to me and asked me to show her yoga. She said she needed to learn yoga for her posture. I wasn’t out there trying to teach yoga to anybody! She asked for help, and I showed her stuff because she was having back pain. And when I was done, she was like, ‘Thank you so much.’ I wasn’t voted off for that. I was voted off because Shirin convinced everyone that I was the most well-connected person out there.
Was she right? Did you have pregame alliances?
I tried really hard not to create a bunch of alliances. The only person I had talked to in the flesh was Shane Powers, and he didn’t get on the show. I sent a text or two to Terry. And I had talked to Spencer. But I wasn’t the most connected person out there.
So who was?
Look at Jeff Varner. He had talked to almost every single person on my tribe before the game started.
Let’s go back to the yoga. You were labeled on the as being creepy. Did it play out that way on the island?
No. It sucks to be portrayed as being creepy on national TV, but I was just doing what Shirin asked: to help her with yoga. I think the creepy storyline was just for TV.
The worst thing about being portrayed as creepy is that you can’t shake it. The harder you try to prove that you’re not creepy, the creepier you come across.[Laughs] Yes, but I’m really not creepy! Everyone who knows me back home knows that I’m not creepy!
You said you had no hard feelings when you were voted out. It’s a classy thing to say. But you must have eventually gotten mad.
I was on a boat taking me to Ponderosa, it hit me and I was like, ‘Wow. I’m really the first one out.’ And it’s hard not to get pissed off, but I tried to keep it in perspective. Everybody’s out to get you, and you can’t be mad at them for playing the game. But it was really, really sad. It was a bummer.
So are you still mad at anyone in particular?I’m over it. There are a few people who I might not choose to be friends with – Abi and Shirin, and maybe after last night, Kelley Wentworth. [Laughs] But no, no real hard feelings. If they’re ever in L.A. and they want to come say hi, I’m happy to meet up for a cup of coffee!
Want to hear more from Vytas Baskauskas? Check out the audio interview below to hear his exit interview with two-time Survivor contestant Rob Cesternino!
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Survivor: Second Chance airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.