Thanks to a surprise double-ouster, both photographer Ace Gordon, 27, and attorney Dan Kay, 32, found themselves on the wrong side of Jeff Probst’s torch snuffer on this week’s episode of Survivor. They called from New York to settle debates about rice rations, Sugar’s smarts, Fang faults and what flavor of ice cream Marcus would be. –Carrie Bell
Both of you ended up on the opposite tribe at the switch. Do you think this helped you last longer in the game or contributed to your downfall?Ace: 100 percent it contributed. Dan: I would have ended up with the same fate. On Fang, I had a good alliance of four but on Kota we won seven in a row so it wasn’t even an option to be sent home. Had I stayed on Fang, I would have enjoyed it more because I started to relax once I started to trust Matty, Randy and Susie.
Do you think Fang would have fared any better in its original state or are they just cursed?Ace: I think at a certain point Kota would have kept winning and they would have focused on cutting away the fat and would have turned the tables on us. Dan: I disagree. They had the food troubles and there are a few individuals on that tribe that are physically-challenged. And they never seem to vote to keep the team the strongest. Ace: I was trying to be positive but it was a lost cause. The weak were threatened by the stronger, smarter players but getting rid of them means you can’t win challenges. I was doomed from the switch. I can’t believe Crystal was an Olympic gold medal-winning runner. When I found that out, I just couldn’t believe how badly she performed. Who was she running against in Athens, disabled kids? Sugar was an idiot savant and Kenny weighed 90 pounds. That’s less than Courtney from China. And then I had Matty. ‘Dude.’ I was like, ‘Dude what?’ And he’d be like, ‘Dude, let’s vote our everyone.’ What kind of a plan is that? We could have lost even if we weren’t playing against anyone.”
Did you trust in your alliance with Sugar, and was it disappointing to have a friend stab you in the back?Ace: Of course, I was disappointed. It didn’t make any sense for her to knock out her best ally. I would have respected it if it was a strategic move because it is a game after all. But she did it for no reason. I wasn’t out to get her. I had protected her four tribal councils in a row. Now she is unprotected and they all know she has the idol so she shouldn’t feel safe. We’re cool personally but strategically I did not think it was a good move. It would be like the US blowing up Britain. Why would you do that? Dan: Because of their funny accents.
As we have interviewed exiting contestants each week, we get the most varied opinions about Sugar, ranging from instable and depressed to smart and cunning to ditzy and a follower. You seemed to get to know her the best so what’s your assessment?Ace: I think she is an idiot savant. She is a brilliant numbskull. She is a lot of fun. Outside of the game she is pleasure to hang out with. But in the game, I don’t think she knew what Survivor was all about. I was trying to strategize with team members who didn’t know they were playing the game.
How was it that Sugar found the idol on Exile and you didn’t? Dan: I do give her credit for finding the idol. I’d like to think that some of the factors that went into my inability to find it were physical. I had heatstroke. I was dry heaving. I had barely any water because we had just gotten fire the night before and hadn’t boiled any yet. I had 12 blisters on one hand. I was miserable there. But the bottom line was that I was not intelligent enough to look harder and widen my search area.
You make an interesting point about the physical toll the game takes on players. Was that the hardest part?Dan: Watching it on TV does not do it justice. It does not capture how mentally exhausted you are and how awful your body feels or how that affects your desire to play the game. I came home from exile and I said to the one of camera crew, ‘I think I’m quitting.’ It sounds silly to say that now because I feel healthy but at the time everything was kind of green. Ace: Dan is hitting the nail. It is debilitating. I lost 35 pounds out there. Things you find so simple in day-to-day activities became a challenge. I would sit and think of things just so I would be sound of mind. You’d see stand up and almost fall back down because they were so lightheaded. I would see black spots when I stood up at times. When I moved to Fang, it was traumatizing. Not only was I trapped on a team that with mental midgets, I was also starving to death. Dan: Please, mental little . Be politically correct. I lost 10 pounds before I went and I lost about 16 or 17 pounds while I was out there. We had more food than Fang. And, if you listen to Corinne, I was eating more of it than anybody else.
Did you realize you ate as much as you did or that your big appetite irked ? Did you contribute to Fang’s low rations before the tribe swap? Dan: I didn’t realize were mad. No, I don’t think I contributed to Fang’s food issues. I love going through this scenario logically. We cooked a half a pot of rice at each meal, probably 10 cups. The amount you are going to get out of it extra if you are hogging is only 4 or 5 extra scoops. By no means was I eating significantly more than anyone else. It was probably magnified by the fact that Corinne’s personality feeds on attacking others and negative energy. Maybe she feels she is making up for something lacking in her personal life. I love food. I enjoy eating. But I was also very cautious about what I ate. I counted the scoops Marcus was having and I always had the same amount as him. But can get petty after 19 days. Had they called me on it, I would have apologized and made changes. Marcus was the only one who said anything to me and I told him I was only eating as much as him. Ace: How dare you slander the golden child?
Do you think the food issue is why you were let go or do you think thought you had the idol or your need for acceptance rubbed the wrong way?Dan: I wanted to trust them but I couldn’t. I by no means wanted to be accepted by Corinne. If I am and I become her friend then I am just as bad as she is. Can you tell I still have a little bit of issues with Corinne and Marcus? Judging my conversations I have had with other cast members, everyone is going through that a little bit. Hopefully I will have the maturity to work through my issues and bury the hatchet. I don’t think she’ll be a big part of my life ever.
Ace, you always made a point of saying that you didn’t care what anyone thought of you. Is this true or did all the trash talk sting a little?Ace: I am a little manipulative. I don’t deny that. Anyway, I’m not the easiest person to get along with. If I like you, great. If I don’t, you might as well go away. I’m not a cookie cutter. If Marcus was an ice cream, he’d be vanilla. Everyone likes it but it gets boring as sh–. I’m something weirder like pistachio where you either love it or you hate it. If you want to dish, that’s fine but you are gonna get it back. I am a very nice person in my setting but out of it, I can be a righteous a–hole.
Who has this competition in the bag in your opinion? Ace: Obama. Dan: It’s anyone’s game at this point regardless of how things are coming across. Ace: I agree. I’m not trying to be obtuse, but this game has so many twists and turns that you may as well put your hand in a hat and draw a winner.
Was this a life-changing experience? Are you recognized in public and what are you up to now?Ace: I have had a lot of come up to me in bars and clubs. They want to take pictures. I was hanging out with Sugar a couple of days ago and she gets mad because the only time she gets recognized is when she’s with me. Work-wise, I am doing a lot of photography and am about to finish a screenplay that I think will be picked up in Hollywood. Dan: I have been recognized, but I shaved my head so I don’t look the same. Life will go back to the way it was, but I think I will appreciate what I have in my life and the in my life more since Survivor. I’m going back to the practice and stay a lawyer. I think I am better equipped to deal with the stress that comes with being a lawyer. If this experience doesn’t change you… Ace: Then there is something wrong with you.