‘Survivor’ Castaways Gervase & Marissa: ‘The Game Seems Easier Now’


Gervase and Marissa Peterson (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

Name: Gervase Peterson
Age: 43
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Marissa’s Uncle
Previous Season: “Survivor: Borneo” – third jury member
Current Residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Cigar Lounge Owner

Name: Marissa Peterson
Relationship to Significant Castaway:
Gervase’s Niece
Current Residence:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Personal Claim to Fame:
Putting myself through college.
Pet Peeves:
When people say they’re going to do something and don’t do it.

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Gordon Holmes: Gervase, tell me about this young lady.
Gervase Peterson: Marissa is one of my many nieces.
Gordon: I think you were supposed to say she’s your “favorite niece.”
Gervase: Hmm… I can’t say that because I have too many of them. But of all my nieces and even my kids, she’s a lot like me. I can see why we click. We think a lot of the same things. We get the same jokes. I think she’s a little bit of a party girl. But she hasn’t partied till she’s partied with me.
Marissa Peterson: (Laughs)
Gervase: Cause I’m a party boy. She’s smart, funny, athletic. She’s the whole package and she’s going to need it here. She’s definitely one of my favorite nieces.
Gordon: “One of.” See, you’ve been upgraded.
Marissa: I should be his favorite niece cause I could stretch and say he’s my favorite uncle. But now I feel like I should take that back. But, everything he said is true. Even the partying.  I am a party animal.

Gordon: Your favorite uncle was part of a cultural phenomenon. Richard, Sue, Rudy, Gervase…these are all names that even non “Survivor” fans remember. You were eight at the time. What do you remember about your uncle’s time on the show?
Marissa: Like everybody, I remember him eating the rat…the cow comment…
Gordon: Oh man, that’s going to come back and bite you.
Marissa: (Laughs) I remember being eight years old and thinking, “He didn’t mean that. He doesn’t think I’m as stupid as a cow!” I was surprised he didn’t take the fall for that. I remember him being lazy, which he said was his strategy and he’s not going to do that again this time. And, his likability, everybody liked him. But when I’m eight, my first priority was recess, so I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of it. I remember being in the theater when the first “Harry Potter” came out and people were just swarming him for autographs.
Gordon: It’s been quite some time since he’s been out there. Does he still have it?
Marissa: I call him “old man” because thirteen years is a long time. It’s over a decade.
Gervase: (Laughs) It sounds bad when you say it like that.
Marissa: But those past thirteen years, he’s used them for the best. He learned to swim. He has improved in all aspects. The first season was a social experiment. Nobody knew what to expect.
Gordon: “Alliance” was a dirty word back then. Now you have no choice but to have one.
Marissa: Exactly! So, after thirteen years I feel like he’s in his prime. He just beat me in a footrace. He’s still got it.

Gordon: Gervase, does being a part of an iconic season help or hurt you? You might not recognize some of the faces here, but everybody recognizes you.
Gervase: I think being season one holds a lot of weight. Everybody out here wants to talk to me.
Marissa: I see people’s eyes. Everybody wants to talk to you. They like you.
Gordon: That summer was the summer of “Survivor.” I remember there wasn’t a person in my office who wasn’t watching it.
Gervase: I woke up one morning, turned on the radio to the lowest station on the dial and waited until they mentioned “Survivor” then went to the next station. I went through the whole dial. It changed the landscape of television.

Gordon: The game has changed a lot in 13 years. It moves much quicker with alliances starting a minute after hitting the beach. Have you stayed on top of all this?
Gervase: Yeah, I’m a fan of it. I watch it. I study the game. One of my things is; if I lose to you, I figure out why I lost to you so I never lose to you again. I become a student. I’ve seen how people play this game, and like you said, it’s a fast game now. I’m going to slow it up. If I’m playing basketball and I’m playing a fastbreak team? I’m going to slow the game up. It’s going to frustrate you. That’s my strategy out here. I know people want to do things right away. “Hey, who do you want to get rid of?” I’ll say, “Why are we even talking about that? We didn’t even lose a challenge yet. Slow down. Pump your brakes. If we never lose immunity, we don’t have to worry about that.“ Then I’ll call you out, “You think we’re going to lose already? That’s not good, buddy. Let’s lose first.”

Gordon: I’ve noticed you’ve got an awesome Pagong tattoo on your left arm. Is there room on the right for your next tribe?
Gervase: This is going to be whatever my tribe’s name is this season.
Gordon: What if it’s too long and you end up with a full sleeve?
Marissa: Two or three syllables is good. That’s what they typically are.
Gervase: It keeps me in touch with everything we did that season. I always say, you talk about season one, you put it over here and all the other seasons over there. You can’t compare them.
Gordon: It’s almost like watching a documentary.
Gervase: They were making movies as they want along. It’s funny because the game seems easier now.
Marissa: That’s what he thinks.
Gervase: They eat! They win a reward and Jeff gives them a buffet! They had like four barbecues this season. They had a food auction. You know what we got? Pillows, fishing hooks, waterproof matches. The first food we got was a slice of pizza that they flew in from Malaysia for a challenge I won. That was about 24 days into the game. They definitely eat more now.
Gordon: Contestants who are starving are boring.
Gervase: Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, they’re eating more, but they’re still starving. Look at Erik (Reichenbach) from this past season. That dude looked like a skeleton. But, I’m not dissing it. I want to eat. I want my barbecue. So, that aspect of the game is easier. Hidden immunity idols? Easier. Redemption Island? I can get voted off and come back? That’s easier.
Marissa: Immunity idols? That’s like a monkey wrench. Like last season Malcolm is coming up with idol after idol after idol. That’s not easier.

Gordon: Speaking of twists, what do you think they have in store for you?
Marissa: We’ve been talking about it.
Gervase: At first I thought we’d get a team of all favorites and all family members so you’re competing against your loved one every time. But then, I thought that’s less drama.
Marissa: Yeah, it’s more drama to have to vote your loved one out.
Gervase: That’s going to be tough. Your loved one is gone, you’re hurting, you have no power. And power is in the couples here.

Gordon: Is there anyone in the cast you want to align with?
Gervase: I think it’s a no-brainer for me, Rupert, and Tina to align together because I know them personally.
Marissa: And Rupert’s well-liked. How can you not like that beard and tie-dye? There’s something wrong with you if you don’t like him.
Gervase: Those two right there are all that matter. The others I don’t know. There are a few couples, I have no idea who they are. I saw Tyson, he wasn’t very well liked on his season.

Gordon: Anyone you’re wary of?
Gervase: Honestly, I’m worried about everyone because the game is so cutthroat. I think the newbies think that’s the only way to play the game. I’m very wary of people I don’t know. But also, the people I do know.

Gordon: What strategies have you discussed so far?
Gervase: I think it’s hard to have a strategy because every second effects the game out here. But our strategy is to break up couples. We’re at a great advantage here because we’re niece and uncle.
Marissa: It’s not husband and wife or mother and daughter.
Gervase: When it comes down to it, if you have to vote your daughter off you’ll stress out about it.
Gordon: But you’ll cut her loose like it’s nothing.
Marissa: (Laughs) Yes. And I’ll do the same.
Gervase: You might get divorced when you get back home because of what you did out here. Think about it, if I brought my daughter and she didn’t do what I wanted her to do, “I’m your father, damnit. You do what the hell I tell you.” That’s what I’m thinking as a parent. I don’t have that authority over Marissa.
Marissa: We understand that we’re playing a game. We’re a couple, but we’re individuals. I’m not going to lose any sleep if I have to vote him off. I’ll write down “Gervase” and then I’ll smile to the camera and say, “Sorry, you knew it was coming. Bye.”
Gordon: This is going to make for some awkward Thanksgivings.
Marissa: (Laughs) No, once I vote him out he’s just going to laugh.
Gordon: That’s what gameplayers do. If you get beat, you get beat. Tip your cap and call it a day.

Gordon: Your uncle is 43, still good looking, still in good shape.
Gervase: I date 21 year olds, by the way. (Laughs)
Marissa: Oh my gosh…
Gordon: That was actually my follow-up question; how does he relate to young people?
Marissa: If I did not know he was 43, I’d think he was 30, mid-30s. I feel like he’s more like an older brother than an uncle. We can laugh and joke about anything. We have yet to party together because I just turned 21.
Gervase: After I win this million dollars I’m going to take you out.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

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