Courtney Marit didn’t see her end coming even though she learned the rest of her long-held Casaya alliance thought she was “annoying” and “a poseur” after a particularly nasty reward challenge. With Terry, the strongest player, and Shane, the Casaya ringleader, openly hoping to take Courtney to the final two, the rest of Gitanos staged a coup and ousted the L.A.-based fire dancer. Marit, 31, the 10th contestant voted off Survivor: Panama – Exile Island, recently talked with PEOPLE about heating things up and finding creative inspiration on Survivor.

Did you realize at any point how many people thought you were a threat to make the final two?
You know, I should have seen it coming. I sure wish I could have made it to the final two and beat them, whoever I went against, because I think I could have! But my time came on the island and I had an amazing life-learning experience just being on a show and having cameras on you.

You wanted to go on Survivor to learn more about yourself. Did you?
It was insightful to me to see how I reacted to different situations and just taking some of the comments personally. It has left me totally inspired in my life to just work with my company, Revolve Productions. We create multimedia events and it’s bringing all the performers in L.A. – deejays and musicians – together to spread some good love all over.

The audience got to see you dance with fire after you won access to your luxury items a few weeks ago.
The minute I saw my fire bag, a huge smile ran across my face because spinning fire just feels good. I’ve traveled around the world for eight years and most of the time had my fire gear with me. It’s my American Express card – I don’t leave home without it!

You fire-danced for Johnny Depp once, didn’t you?
I was in Antigua and heard Johnny Depp was down island and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I have to do a fire show for Johnny Depp!” I flew down to St. Vincent, where they were shooting Pirates of the Caribbean. He loved it and he was very cool, a very real spirit.

Will you hang out at any of Shane’s clubs soon?
Oh yeah, I see him all the time! It’s cool. We give each other hugs. We went through a really intense experience together. I think that’s why we were alike because we were so volatile – we would both act childish and be dramatic. We’re funny, man! We definitely brought some game into this season.