‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Shannon ‘Shambo’ Waters

The most memorable “Survivor” players have either had a trademark look (Rupert Boneham’s tie-dye t-shirt, Richard Hatch’s nudity), a heated feud (Sue Hawk vs. Kelly Wiglesworth, Colby Donaldson vs. Jerri Manthey), or a clever nickname (“Boston” Rob Mariano, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper, Benjamin “Coach” Wade).

Former U.S. Marine Shannon “Shambo” Waters nailed this “Survivor” triple play with her glorious mullet, her betrayal of Galu’s 90210 alliance, and her 80s-inspired nickname. We had a chance to talk with this unforgettable player the day after she was voted out of “Survivor: Samoa.” During our chat she spilled the beans on lost chickens, smuggled bananas, and the Samoan barbecue of a lifetime.

Gordon Holmes: My brother in law is a Marine, and he wanted me to tell you…now I know I’m going to get this wrong, “Hoo-rah.”
Shannon “Shambo” Waters:
It’s “Ooh-rah.”
Gordon: Ooh-rah!
Shambo: (Laughs)

Gordon: So last night, you had to have had some idea that your number was up. Immediately after the challenge Jaison and Russell were conspiring against you, and Jaison didn’t do a very good job of hiding it.
The second Jaison started to run away, I thought, “Dude, I’m going home tonight.” On three occasions I asked Russell to repeat word-for-word, and he gave me three different answers. So, I was sure to pack everything I owned for the very first time going to tribal. And, I wouldn’t have had it any other way because Brett won immunity and he deserved to stay.  I wanted Foa Foa to maintain that integrity that they worked so hard to stay together, so I had no problem.

Gordon: I spoke with “Danger” Dave and Laura over the past few weeks, and they maintain that they never slighted you or tried to make you feel like an outcast. How do you respond to that?
I think those guys have to own a quiet moment and try to figure out what it is they have done. I know there are things that I have done, and I think that the hatchet just really needs to be buried. Everybody knows what they owned, and far be it from me to disparage anyone at this point. It would be senseless. I don’t really have any comment, other than I’m glad I made some great friends while I was out there.
Gordon: Who would you consider to be your great friends?
Shambo: Definitely Johnny and Jaison because they’re beautiful, good, decent human beings. Yasmin…Russ with his redneck, disparaging-others values. Hopefully I’ll have an influence on him so he can live his life in a different manner, but he is a great guy. Mick, Natalie, Ashley, Erik…those guys I will probably my entire life have friendships with. Those guys are all on my Christmas card mailing list.

Gordon: You were in charge of the chickens in camp, and there were some problems there…
Everything that was shown on television is not always what happened. The funny thing is, if you do nothing, you can’t be accused of doing anything wrong. I was cleaning the chicken coop, and one of the chickens got away. One of the chickens got away on my watch, but I caught that same chicken.
Gordon: You and “Danger” Dave had a disagreement over how the chicken was prepared. I still want to know, how was that chicken?
Shambo: The day that we made the soup, every single individual that was there said it was the best thing that they had eaten, even from food reward challenges.

Gordon: The training that goes into becoming a U.S. Marine is pretty intense. But, in “Survivor” it seemed like your emotions were getting in the way of how you were playing game. I guess my question is; how would you compare the two experiences?
It’s nothing like the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps can prepare you for life better than any university in the world. But, in the Marine Corps there’s a band of brotherhood where you are always looking out for each other, and “Survivor” is the exact opposite. As far as appearing to be emotional, I am an incredibly emotional human being. Do I get my feelings hurt sometimes? Absolutely. But, I was true to myself, and if I felt like crying I wasn’t going to hide it. Maybe it’ll be an inspiration to other people to be true to their emotions.

Gordon: Was it rough last night to hear the things Russell had to say about you to Mick, or was that just part of his game?
I was laughing at the TV watching it with loved ones. They were pretty disturbed, but I said, “You guys, on more than one occasion, Russ, Jeff Probst, everyone was bugging me about my mullet.”  And Russ would say, “Shambo, I know you’re hiding bananas up in your hair, give me a banana!” And I will guarantee you there wasn’t anybody out there that wasn’t packing some major breath. There’s no personal hygiene other than swamp water. Did I have mack daddy breath? Absolutely. Did Russell? I’m not going to answer that cause Russell is a bad guy and Shambo is a good guy.

Gordon: OK, let’s talk about some fun stuff. Tell me about that Samoan feast.
Oh my God, that was absolutely, positively the time of my life. When I heard that “Survivor” was going to Samoa and I was cast on that show, that’s what I wanted to do. Meeting the people, and drinking with the chief, and dancing with the locals and little kids, and learning about their hierarchy… I sat there with the chief and with what I think are his advisers, there were about eleven of them, the entire time, about five or six hours straight. It was very informational, uplifting…it was beautiful. It will forever in my mind be one of the best days of my life.
Gordon: When you guys are being rained on, I’m not jealous. When you’re getting smashed in the Schmergen Brawl challenge, I’m not jealous. But when you’re doing stuff like that, I am so jealous.
Shambo: Dude, you stand corrected, the Schmergen Brawl was my favorite competition.
Gordon: Yeah, but I’m a dainty little writer…
Shambo: I’m a forty five year old with multiple surgeries, broken bones, head injuries…but there was so much heart out on that battlefield.

Gordon: If you could choose one moment from “Survivor” that people could remember you by, what would it be?
That’s a good question.
Gordon: Not bad for a dainty, little writer.
Shambo: I would say having the honor of being with the Samoan tribe that we got to dine with. I was pretty buzzed, and didn’t have full recall. But watching it last night and seeing me make that toast, it was a moment. I got a little teary eyed. I loved being there.

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