‘Survivor’ Castaway Joe: ‘I Had No Idea that the Three Stooges Allowed (Ben) to Be That Sleeper Cell’

‘Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers’ (CBS)

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You never want to see your torch get the ol’ snuffer treatment from Probst. But if you do, you hope you go out guns blazing and heck raising!

Not having been totally deceived by your biggest rival in the game.

I spoke with Joe, the victim of the Reduced Round Table’s “Survivor” sleeper strategy the morning after his elimination. We had a chance to talk about the big deception, the controversial Desi vote, and his Twitter feuds…

Gordon Holmes: Oh man, the “Survivor” sleeper gotcha! Ben pretending to be on the outs! What was it like watching that at home knowing it was coming?
Joe Mena: In the game I knew I was next in line. But I had no idea that the Three Stooges allowed him to be that sleeper cell and to maneuver between both alliances. I didn’t see it coming on the island. And watching it, it made no sense. These guys are true fools.
Holmes: When you said you knew you were next, did you think you would be going home at that Tribal?
Mena: What happened…the first JP vote made no sense to me at all.
Holmes: Agreed.
Mena: I wanted Chrissy or Ben out initially. But then again, I’m at the bottom of that alliance and the “Survivor” gods gave me an opportunity to stay in the game. So, I didn’t have much power or say with the JP vote. So, I thought they were going to use me for the JP vote, then get me out in the next round. But the way they convinced me was, they’ll take Ben out, the idol will be flushed, and the advantage will be used. At that point, I’m thinking I might as well take my chances because I’m getting Ben out and the idol will be replaced. I knew it was coming, but maybe there was a chance I’d stay around because Ben was the biggest threat in the game at that point.

Holmes: I like it when people play “Survivor” hard, then tip their cap when their torch is snuffed. That seems like the approach you took. Were there any hard feelings outside of the game?
Mena: No, that’s the funny thing. What they didn’t show was that I had a blast. I was legit laughing 24/7. Even when I was causing chaos and conflict, internally I was laughing. The conversation with Ben, the conversation with Ashley. There was conflict and animosity between me and Chrissy. I rubbed her the wrong way, she rubbed me the wrong way. I think Ben and Chrissy weren’t big fans of me and it was a little bit personal for them. But for me it was all game.

Holmes: I was surprised by the tie vote between you and Desi. It made sense to me to get you out because you were a threat to find idols. Why do you think Desi went home?
Mena: The Desi vote out…there’s been a lot of confusion. I was aware that Mike and Cole were going to flip. Desi was never going to write my name down and I had informed her that I’d never vote her out. I was extremely loyal in the game. I wasn’t surprised with the Desi vote out because Lauren and Devon had come to me prior and said, “I don’t trust Desi.” Desi didn’t talk strategy with everybody. She kept that close to her. She spoke strategy with me. So, I knew they didn’t trust her on that end and she was a physical threat.

Holmes: You’re out there upsetting Ben, Chrissy, Ashley, I was wondering if the reason they voted for Desi was because someone was hoping to take you to the end against a hostile jury.
Mena: Absolutely not. They were terrified of me in the final three. Devon and Ryan told me that they’d never take me to the final three because I’d win. People would eventually respect my game. In the edit they didn’t show my social game. I’m pretty self-aware. My connections were genuine connections. They weren’t just strategy and game. I think Jeremy said it once when he played with Spencer that Spencer was engaged in many conversations, but they didn’t feel genuine, he was just there. That’s like the conversations I had with Chrissy. It wasn’t genuine. Chrissy was just playing the game. And my social game was Joe being honest. And people felt comfortable talking to me because they knew it wasn’t just game. If that answers the question.
Holmes: No, it does. I interview everyone after their elimination and the sentiment towards you has been very positive. It feels like you’re brash, but you’re honest.
Mena: I love my edit, because I’m human. I’m imperfect. I’m going to make mistakes. And the edit gave that. Chrissy in reality is like Chaos Kass. You don’t get that in the edit. The perfect person to keep in the game is Chrissy because nobody is going to vote for her. Everyone hates her. She’s the true villain.

Holmes: Alright word association time. Let’s start with Mike.
Mena: Nuts.
Holmes: Alan?
Mena: Puppet.
Holmes: Ben?
Mena: King.
Holmes: Roark?
Mena: Miss Google. She’s extremely intelligent.
Holmes: JP?
Mena: Dilligent.
Holmes: Desi?
Mena: Gorgeous.
Holmes: Devon?
Mena: Gnarly.
Holmes: Lauren?
Mena: Sweetheart.
Holmes: Jessica?
Mena: Southern belle.
Holmes: Ryan?
Mena: Witty.
Holmes: Ashley?
Mena: I’d say complacent.
Holmes: Cole?
Mena: Adventurous.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Chrissy.
Mena: Condescending.

Holmes: You played your first idol perfectly by reading Ashley at Tribal. What exactly happened there?
Mena: When I went up to play the idol, I stalled. And I mean I stalled. I asked Jeff’s questions. “Wait a minute, Jeff, can I play this idol for someone else.” I’m a fan of the show. I’ve seen every episode ever. I knew I could play it for someone else. And I stalled for several minutes. I kept looking back. And Ashley never smiled. She was either laughing or she had what we called “resting bitch face” out there. And she was just smiling from ear to ear. It was obvious to me that once I told Jeff I was going to play the idol for Desi, she smiled. I knew the votes were coming my way.

Holmes: Was there anything we missed that you wish we had seen?
Mena: I did all my stuff at night. I found the idol at night. I enjoyed looking for things at night. I think they didn’t show the fun I had out there. I really enjoyed my time. Me and Mike had a blast out there.

Holmes: I’m interviewing JP later this afternoon and I have no idea what to ask him because I didn’t see much of him out there. What should I be asking him about?
Mena: (Laughs) Yeah, I think we were all confused about JP out there. But, JP actually had a strategy. Ask him about how he would talk to all of us about strategy, but he’d only do it individually. They didn’t show that because…it really wasn’t a strategy. The conversations didn’t ever go anywhere.

Holmes: You know, for someone who’s a healer, you’ve been causing some trouble online with your Twitter feuds.
Mena: (Laughs) I’m a healer, I’m a hustler, I’m a hero, I’m whatever you want. I don’t take things seriously. I’m not a serious dude. I love trolling on Twitter. I don’t initiate most of the conflict. Chaos Kass made some comments, I responded. Jonny Fairplay made a comment about punching me everytime I came up on the television. It’s just me reacting and having fun. Unfortunately, Chaos Kass takes it serious, she blocked me on Twitter. Jonny…I’d love to body slam him. But it’s all in fun.

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

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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