‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Spencer Duhm

Remember the first time you saw “Survivor?” Odds are it involved Richard Hatch running around in the buff, Sue Hawk cursing, or Greg Buis talking into a coconut. The latest “Survivor” castaway remembers this…but he was only ten years old when it happened…

We sat down with 19-year-old Spencer Duhm the day after he was voted out of “Survivor: Tocantins.” We had a chance to discuss JT’s tooth, Jeff Probst’s evil prank, and the truth behind the all-male alliance that we never saw.

Gordon Holmes: So, what happened last night?
Spencer Duhm:
I embarrassed myself on national TV! I’m kidding, they voted me off for strictly challenge reasons. When I went down to the water to talk to JT, they were still really upset about the challenge. But, we moved on. We had a guy alliance from day two, and when I tried to make an alliance with Joe and Sydney they thought I was being sneaky.
Gordon: That does sound sneaky.
Spencer: Well, we re-upped the guy alliance as the priority alliance in the tribe, and we were getting ready to get rid of the girls. Joe went and told Sydney it was going to be either me or her, so they should turn on me. They made it look like it was because I was bad at the challenges, but there was a lot they didn’t show.

Gordon: Maybe if you had lost a tooth in the challenge they’d think you were trying hard.
Yeah, maybe if they thought I was caring at all. Because I must’ve not been concerned at all. I wasn’t trying, I gave no effort…C’mon. I’m a terrible outfielder.

Gordon: When Sydney asked if there were any girls you liked, was she fishing or was she completely oblivious to your homosexuality?
She was definitely fishing. She was the only one who suspected anything on my tribe. Cause at night I’d sleep on one side of her and Joe would sleep on the other side, and Joe would always cuddle. And I like to be by myself when I sleep, so she looked at that as not responding to her. At one point she asked the other guys on the tribe if they thought I was gay. And they said, “Oh no, give him a break. He’s young.”
Gordon: Oh, so if someone doesn’t want to cuddle with Sydney then they’re automatically gay?
Spencer: I think she was going off of how receptive JT and Joe were to her flirting and I really wasn’t. She’s great, and there’s nothing arrogant about her.

Gordon: Did JT ever give you any reason to believe that your homosexuality would be a problem?
Oh, none whatsoever. I didn’t bring it up because I know there is no upside. It can be a subconscious thing. And some Southerners can be homophobic, I’m not generalizing, I’m Southern myself. Some people thought it came across like I was ashamed of it, but that was not the case at all.

Gordon: Now I understand that you weren’t originally cast, you were an alternate. And, when someone had to leave before the show, Jeff Probst had some fun at your expense.
He played a little joke on me. He and one of the other producers came down and they were like, “Yeah, it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out for next season.” Because I was holding out hope that if I didn’t make this season I’d make 19 or the next one. But then they were like, “Because you’re going to be on this season!” I lost it. I couldn’t utter any sound. I was at Ponderosa (where the players are gathered before the game starts) so I couldn’t say anything. But it was very last minute.
Gordon: So the lesson here is: never trust Jeff Probst.
Spencer: (Laughs)

Gordon: Does anyone on Jalapao know about the cross-tribe alliance that Brendan and Taj have been cobbling together at Exile (not an) Island?
I don’t think anyone else in my tribe knows, besides obviously Stephen, it was never brought up to me. We wanted to keep Brendan going every time so we would know where the idol is on their tribe.

Gordon: Help us to get to know your tribemates a little better. When I say their name, give me the first thing that pops into your head. Let’s start with JT.
Leader, helpful, very outdoorsy.
Gordon: Sandy?
Spencer: Psycho Sandy, she’s crazy! But, she’s super fun to have around.
Gordon: Stephen?
Spencer: Huge vocabulary.
Gordon: Joe?
Spencer: Good old boy.
Gordon: Sydney?
Spencer: Gorgeous.
Gordon: Taj?
Spencer: Genuine.

Gordon: What can you tell us about Coach from your vantage point at Jalapao?
From what I saw out there, we thought he was a bit of a wimp. During the challenges, even the weight-holding challenges we were like, “Really? You’re going to put Debbie up there? And you’re going to put Tyson up there?” I mean, Tyson is a strong guy and a great athlete but for holding weight he’s very skinny. Coach would be much better, but Coach kept backing down from challenges. All these things added up, and I kicked his butt in the basketball challenge.

Gordon: So, what’s it like for someone who’s been watching “Survivor” since he was 10 years old to get the call to come on the show?
You have no idea what the adrenaline was like when they handed me my buff. I was freaking out. It was so cool. And the whole experience was unbelievable. The first three days we didn’t have any water or food, but I was like, “Yeah! The first days of ‘Survivor’ everybody starves! Yeah!” I really enjoyed it. I was disappointed that I only lasted fifteen days. But, I had a really good experience.

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