'Survivor: Nicaragua' 's Jimmy T Says He's Not an 'Annoying Loudmouth'

"It saddens me that people didn't see that I was genuinely trying to look out for the team," says the booted contestant

Photo: Monty Brinton/Landov

Another week, another Jimmy. This time it was team geezer member James “Jimmy T.” Tarantino, 49, who found himself in the Marty’s cross-hairs on Survivor: Nicaragua.

The Gloucester, Mass.-based commercial fisherman expressed his disappointment to PEOPLE about not being able “go with the flow,” being portrayed as an “annoying loudmouth” and realizing that the game in less about survival skills than ever before.

Why do you think you are sitting here today instead of the physically useless Danny?
Plain and simple, Marty considered me a threat. I would have been out last week if he hadn’t considered Jimmy Johnson a bigger threat. The [show] makes it look like it was because I was so annoying and everyone couldn’t stand to be at camp with me. Jeff Probst blogged that everybody wants to get rid of a dog that barks all day long. That’s just inaccurate.

So you contend that you don’t talk a lot?
Every three days for about five or 10 minutes after we lost a challenge, I tried to make it clear to people that Marty was steering the ship toward the rocks. I’m the kind of person that if someone is driving the bus off the cliff, I’m gonna go for the wheel. Others are lambs going to the slaughter willingly and they don’t speak up for themselves. I thought I could help the tribe win. It wasn’t about my ego like it everyone perceives. It saddens me that people didn’t see that I was genuinely trying to look out for the team and that they focused on the negative and constantly replayed those moments.

Did you ever think, Maybe I should just shut up and keep my head down?
That did occur to me on occasion but it’s not my nature. When you’ve spent 49 years being a passionate, genuine hard worker who does the right thing all the time and has had success, it’s really hard sit back and shut up. Speaking up is not what works in Survivor. There are two games going on: the survival game and the social game. I went full bore into the survival game and that wore me down physically and mentally.

Do you think the survival game matters?
There’s no emphasis on that. I slept one hour a night because I was busy building shelter, providing food, keeping the fire going while others slept. No one saw that. They chose to show the bickering because it is better drama. If I didn’t work myself so hard, and just thought with my head, I could have sat back, smiled and agreed with everybody so that I could jump off just as the bus went over the cliff.

You referred to Marty as the puppet master.
It was clear to me from day one that Marty put his own self-interest first and that his running of the tribe was completely insincere. When I tried to call him on it, he would argue, dismiss it and turn it around on me in a very charming, soft-spoken and clever manner. He’s a boardroom guy and he’s great at manipulating so he definitely had the upper hand at negotiating. He charmed Jill and Eve and he even got Tyrone to switch his vote from Danny. I knew I was in trouble.

Were you manipulated by Marty to vote for the other Jimmy or do you stand behind that vote?
I didn’t get caught up in the Marty show. Jimmy wanted to go home. He made several references prior to tribal. He was sick episode one. He was hurting. He was done. He needed the luxurious comforts that he has become accustomed to over the years. That made it easy for everyone to vote for him. I was not part of Marty’s scheme to get rid of Jimmy. I was mad about him not giving me a chance with the beanbags. He tried to put me in a few times but Tyrone wouldn’t come out and give other people a chance like we’d decided before the challenge. He couldn’t get him out so he wasn’t as strong a leader as people thought.

Had you made it to next week’s tribe switch-up, would you have fared better?
Yeah. I needed a fresh start. I was praying that I could make it to the merge so I could expose Marty for what he was. At the second and third challenge, I made smiles and little winks at the young tribe to give them a friendly impression of me.

Well at least you have your American Idol audition tape now.
[Laughs] My singing career is obviously not going anywhere. That was a perfect example of me trying to give comfort to people who were shaking uncontrollably and brought to tears by the elements. I was trying to provide distraction but got perceived as off my rocker.

Do you still hope someone from your tribe wins?
I have a strong desire to see Jane win because she was the only real person on my team. I don’t know if she can, but she’s tough, genuine, sincere, hard-working and smart. Of course, so was I. Look where that got me.

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