‘Survivor’ No Collar Nina – “Sometimes You Have to Destroy Relationships to Win”


'Survivor: Worlds Apart' (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY.com is the place to be for all of your “Survivor: Worlds Apart” scoop! I delved deep into the Nicaraguan wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily in the weeks leading up to the premiere, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

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Name: Nina Poersch
Age: 51
Current Residence: Palmdale, California
Occupation: Hearing Advocate

Gordon Holmes: You are a huge “Survivor” fan.
Nina Poersch: Huge! I used to have “Survivor” parties with my girlfriends. You bring a dish, but it has to be rice. And her dish has to be beans.
Holmes: What’s it like to sit on a beach in Nicaragua in the days before the game?
Poersch: It’s very exciting…very surreal. I still don’t believe it. I think I’ll believe it for real as soon as I get out there and start playing. But, I’ve watched every season since the first, but don’t ask me a lot of questions about it, because I can’t remember.
Holmes: I won’t, I don’t have that kind of memory either.

Holmes: And you used to live in St. Louis.
Poersch: Yes.
Holmes: But you’re not a Cardinals fan.
Poersch: I should be, but I can’t watch baseball. It’s so boring.
Holmes: Booo…
Poersch: It’s like, is someone ever going to hit the ball and not catch it?
Holmes: This interview is not going well.
Poersch: (Laughs)
Holmes: And you’re into violent, full-contact rugby.
Poersch: I know. Rugby is an awesome sport. It never has timeout. It just goes and it never stops.

Holmes: You’re hearing impaired.
Poersch: I’m deaf. I have a Cochlear Implant, so I wear these little things on my ears and they’re speech processors. They have little microphones. Your sound goes in the microphone, travels up this cord, the magnet attaches to my head that communicates with the computer chip that’s inside my head. And there’s an electrode that goes into your cochlea and that’s what shoots off all of the…I don’t know what they’re called…
Holmes: You were doing an awesome job up until there.
Poersch: (Laughs) Well, it shoots off all of that stuff so I can hear.
Holmes: That’s amazing. I read your bio last night.  I knew there was a deaf person in this cast. I picked you up at the holding tent. We talked the whole way over here. And just now I’m realizing you’re the player with the Cochlear Implant. How long have you been deaf?
Poersch: I didn’t lose my hearing until seven years ago. That’s why my speech is fine. I was only deaf for six months before I got the implant.
Holmes: And what made you lose your hearing?
Poersch: They really don’t know. They call it unexplainable hearing loss. Nobody in my family has lost their hearing. I personally think it was from taking too many over-the-counter pain meds. There was a study that came out that said prolonged use of over-the-counter pain meds in your twenties, by the time you’re  in your forties you have a 90-something-percent chance of losing your hearing. And that was me, I had rebound headaches, which no doctor ever told me that‘s what it was. But I was taking over-the-counter pain meds at least five days a week and more than two a day. So, when I run across young people, I try to educate them. Because losing your hearing is not something you want to go through.
Holmes: Can you take the Cochlear Implant into the game?
Poersch: Yes. I talked to the doctor that’s going to be seeing us before the challenges. And we’ve worked out a thing for me in case I have water challenges or anything like that. These are running off of disposable batteries, and then I have a little container that takes the moisture out of my processor at night. I take them off at night and stick them in there. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to play.
Holmes: There was a deaf contestant in “Amazon.”
Poersch: I can’t read lips. So, the only way I can understand people is to hear them.
Holmes: Are you going to let your tribemates know?
Poersch: Yes, I have to. It’s so hot I’m going to have to wear my hair in a ponytail. They’re going to see this. Before challenges, they just came up with this rubber sleeve, so it can be submerged completely in the water. So, I have to put that on. And really, it’s just too hard to hide so I might as well tell them.
Holmes: Are there any issues when many people talk at the same time?
Poersch: Yes, it’s difficult for me to hear.

Holmes: As far as the game goes, do you have any issues lying?
Poersch: I’m ready to lie. My mom said to me, “You’re going to have to lie and stuff, just don’t be nasty about it. Don’t be a nasty person.” I know I’ll have to lie, that’s not my nature. But, I want to win that million dollars. It’s lying, but really it’s gameplay. When you play poker you don’t show your hand. It’s going to be tough because people build relationships. Sometimes you have to destroy relationships to win the game. Hopefully those people will realize it’s just a game. If somebody did it to me, I would say, “It’s just a game. You got me.”

Holmes: Do the kids know about mom’s big adventure?
Poersch: They do. My older son is excited, he said, “Whatever you do, don’t let anyone beat you down.”
Holmes: What show does he think you’re going on that allows beatdowns?
Poersch: (Laughs) Verbally.
Holmes: That does happen.
Poersch: He knows me, I’m kindhearted. So, I have to make sure I have that tough skin. I was bullied as a young person. You grew up in St. Louis.
Holmes: Oh, I was definitely bullied in St. Louis.
Poersch: If you’re different than anyone else, then people made fun of you. But, I’ve always stood up for myself. I see myself being tough out there. Whether or not that happens, we’ll have to wait and see.

Holmes: Any first impressions of these folks?
Poersch: They all look like they’re probably nice. There’s one person I’m not too sure about. I don’t think I’d get along with her, but she’s a lot younger than me. So, we wouldn’t have a whole lot in common. I’ve been trying to guess what they do for a living. There might be someone who might be in the military. Just the way he carries himself. There was one guy who laid on the table and took up the entire table so nobody could sit at it. I hope he’s not on my tribe. There are some eccentric people, and those are the kinds I love. I love people who are different. The cast seems a little young. That seems a little intimidating. Hopefully they won’t do a lot of asking ages. I’m not going to lie about it.
Holmes: Doesn’t seem worth it.
Poersch: Right.
Holmes: Some lies are worth it.
Poersch: Exactly. But then I’d have to lie about how old my kids are. It’d be too much to keep track of. If I say my kid is thirty and I’ve already said I’m forty, they’ll be like. “What?!”
Holmes: I was a preteen mom.
Poersch: (Laughs) I had him when I was ten! The problem with all these young kids is that I am kind of bossy.
Holmes: That doesn’t play well.
Poersch: Yeah, and I do like things done a certain way.
Holmes: Can you pull back on that?
Poersch: I’m will probably pull back because that’s the kind of stuff that will get me voted out.

Holmes: Any experience roughing it?
Poersch: Not really. I camped when I was a little kid. But, as a young adult we camped in a tent and I’d only do it for one night because I wanted to take a shower. But, my husband and I hike.  We hike two or three weekends a month. We don’t overnight hike. I’ve hiked the six tallest peaks in Southern California. We’re trying to train for Mount Whitney. We wanted to do that this summer, but I’m here instead.

Holmes: Any worries about sun, lack of food, lack of sleep?
Poersch: It’s going to be mental. I’m not sure how I’ll do with the lack of food other than to deal with it. I looked over the list of things we can eat. Hopefully we’ll have enough coconuts and bananas. I really don’t eat a lot anyway. I’m a little freaked out over the water situation. My granddaughter told me, “You know grandma, you can eat termites.”
Holmes: She’s not wrong.
Poersch: (Laughs) She’s not. But where in the world did she learn that?
Holmes: I’d be proud of her.
Poersch: I am.
Holmes: Have you been practicing making fire?
Poersch: I can totally make fire with flint. It took me maybe two and a half weeks to finally make fire. I made it the day before I left.

Holmes: If you could align with any past Survivor, who would it be?
Poersch: You want to align with the winners because they got to the end, but then you don’t want a winner because you want to win. So, you want a second-place person…oh gosh…I wouldn’t mind aligning with Mike Skupin because I think I can beat him. And I can’t stand people who ride coattails. Like Sandra? I don’t care who you vote out as long as it isn’t me? I hated that. It drove me insane. I know she won twice, but I hated that gameplay. Although…I think if I was out there I’d think, “I don’t care who they vote out as long as it isn’t me.” (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) Hypocrite!
Poersch: (Laughs) And I hate that gameplay!
Holmes: A winning strategy isn’t necessarily a noble strategy.
Poersch: Right.

Holmes: If there is a twist, what do you think it’ll be?
Poersch: I have no guesses. I’m one of those people that doesn’t think about what a twist might be. I don’t try to figure out the end of a book. I know there’s going to be a twist…it’s season thirty.
Holmes: Maybe…who knows?
Poersch: Maybe there is no twist. Maybe it’s old school “Survivor.”

Holmes: You have a husband at home.
Poersch: I have a husband.
Holmes: Does that take flirting off the table?
Poersch: Flirting is totally not a part of my game at all. I’ve never been a flirt at any part of my life. I’ve been married for 23 years. And, we’re completely happily married. I couldn’t ask for a better husband.
Holmes: Um…he doesn’t watch “Survivor,” so I’d argue that you could ask for a slightly better husband.
Poersch: (Laughs) That’s true. He’ll start watching. But he gets up at four in the morning to go to work, so he doesn’t watch a lot of nighttime TV. But he’ll definitely watch now.
Holmes: He’d better.

Don’t miss the 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Worlds Apart” on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 8 pm ET on CBS.

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