‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff

Change is inevitable, be it in life or on “Survivor.” New contestants are introduced, Medallions of Power are put into play, and entire shows are moved to new nights.

Fortunately, some things never change. Heated arguments take place after immunity losses, alliances are broken, and quirky people who have trouble fitting in are sent home first. Now you can add Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff to that list. I spoke with Wendy the morning after her dismissal and had a chance to find out how Espada feels about Jimmy Johnson, what happened to her lightning-quick alliance with Holly, and what she thought of La Flor’s sweet dance moves.

Gordon Holmes: When we were in Nicaragua you said you didn’t want to sing or dance too much for fear of alienating yourself from the rest of Espada. And then we meet up with La Flor at the challenge and they’re singing and dancing. Do you think it was a mistake to keep your toes from tapping?
Actually, my tribe was singing a lot that first night, and I kinda giggled to myself thinking that was funny. But, I thought the La Flor Tribe was adorable, coming out and doing their little thing. Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe the stuff my tribe said about how terrible and hokey that dance was. I loved it. (Laughs) I didn’t tell them I loved it, but I did.
Gordon: And what kind of songs were Espada singing? Gangsta rap?
Wendy: A lot of just popular songs, oldies more like. I can’t remember off the top of my head. I could have joined it, but I didn’t.

Gordon: What happened with your alliance with Holly? It seemed to start two seconds into the game.
It was immediately on the beach and it threw me for a loop. I didn’t want anyone seeing me with her cause I knew what they’d think. I felt it was way too soon, so I was kind of trying to go off on my own and not talk to anyone so it wouldn’t look like I was making an alliance with anybody…which kind of wasn’t a good thing for me. But Holly coming up to me right off the bat was way too fast. And I wish I would’ve said, “Let’s wait and talk later.”

Gordon: Was there anything you could have done differently to stick around longer?
I could have been myself from the start and talked more and gotten to know people. Tooted my own horn.

Gordon: Where is your accent from?
I lived in Maine in the summers and New York in the winters my whole life. Until I joined the Army in 1986 and then I moved wherever the Army sent me. “Home is where the Army sends you,” is the expression.

Gordon: Last night we got to watch Jimmy Johnson give Espada a pep talk. Did the tribe buy into that, or were there some eyes rolling?
From what I understand, he was asked to do that from the guys. And, I think a lot of people loved the fact that Jimmy Johnson was on our team. They thought it was an asset. I was surprised to hear what Marty said about Jimmy Johnson last night because he was one of the ones who was sucking up to Jimmy.
Gordon: Was Jimmy J. an asset to the team?
Wendy: I was rather disappointed because Jimmy Johnson had said to us that he was asked to be a leader and to give people feedback and to make decisions on behalf of the tribe. So, I actually was kind of excited about getting feedback on our abilities and performance. And he didn’t do that. That was very disappointing to me. I really thought he was going to be more of an asset to individuals. But, maybe that’s a lot to ask of the guy in a challenge. He’s not on the sidelines watching.

Gordon: What is the tribe’s opinion of Jimmy T. at this point in the game?
That’s a good question. Jimmy T. told me right up front that he didn’t really care for Jimmy Johnson. I think he told several people that. But, the next thing you know he changes his mind and thinks he’s not such a bad guy. I think Jimmy T. said a lot of stuff that people misinterpreted. I heard people say that he was getting on their nerves. But I think they interpreted his comments incorrectly. Like last night where he said, “I have to go away and I have to calm down.” I think that hurt him a little. Well, not a little, a lot. I think that he’s a really nice guy.

Gordon: You were the first person I interviewed in Nicaragua, and I thought you seemed like a nice person even though we didn’t get to sing together.
Gordon: But it seemed like a lot of people had already judged you based on your attire, before they’d ever spoken to you. I heard a few times, “The woman in the cowboy hat has to go.” Do you think you never got a fair chance to play the game?
Wendy: I don’t know. I tend to smile a lot and maybe that makes people uncomfortable. I’m surprised people said that just based on the hat. I wear hats all the time. And they’re not just cowboy hats.
Gordon: It may have been the boots, too.
Wendy: I don’t feel like my tribe felt that way initially. Was it mainly the younger tribe?
Gordon: Nope, people from both sides.
Wendy: Really? That surprises me. It might just be because people don’t trust people who smile a lot. Maybe it was just because they could pick someone out.

Gordon: Last night you said your husband thought you’d be the first person out of the game. What was his reaction when he found out he was right?
I didn’t tell him anything. He found out last night. And I could see by his face that he was devastated. I think he never thought that’d I’d be the first one out. I think he was teasing me. But him telling me that really affected me. I think he felt really bad. I don’t want to say he felt responsible, but I think he was sad and shocked.

Gordon: Why did you vote for Yve last night?
I voted for Yve because who was I going to vote for? It wouldn’t have made a difference. But, I clearly felt like she lied. People told me that I was being voted for, she clearly knew it and didn’t tell me.

Gordon: Alright, let’s get into some word association. Let’s start with your buddy Yve.
Oh gosh…this is a loaded question. I’m going to be a little bit subdued.
Gordon: That’s no fun.
Wendy: I’ll say, determined.
Gordon: Jillian?
Wendy: Strong willed.
Gordon: Jane?
Wendy: Tough and true to her word.
Gordon: Holly?
Wendy: Holly is just really playing the game.
Gordon: Marty?
Wendy: I didn’t trust him.
Gordon: Dan?
Wendy: Just having fun.
Gordon: Tyrone?
Wendy: Quiet.
Gordon: Jimmy T.?
Wendy: A very kind person.
Gordon: And let’s finish this off with Jimmy Johnson.
Wendy: Um…he didn’t like me. (Laughs)

Gordon: They didn’t show this last night, but after you were voted out you seemed to get a little bit lost in the graveyard…
I got really lost!
Gordon: We were very worried that they were just going to let you wander around Nicaragua until the finale.
Wendy: You know what, I was shocked. I was like, “Where do I go?” It was devastating, I wanted to fall into one of the graves and drop dead.

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