Exclusive: Dan Kay dishes about his 'Survival: Gabon' experience
By John Bracchitta, 10/31/2008
Dan Kay, a 32-year-old lawyer from Walpole, MA, was seemingly living the high life when a tribal shuffle left him as a well-feed member of the Kota tribe that had been consistantly demolishing his former Fang tribemates in Survivor: Gabon's challenges.
However, 21 days into his stay on Survivor: Gabon, Kay's inability to bond with his new Kota tribemates and the rift it caused caused him to become one of two castaways -- and the eighth overall -- to be eliminated from Survivor: Gabon during Thursday's broadcast of the show on CBS.
On Friday, Dan talked with Reality TV World about why he didn't believe tribemates assurances that he wasn't about to be voted out, what had led him to become so worried about his survival on the Kota tribe, and why he ultimately preferred his losing tribemates on Fang.
Reality TV World: Given that [Marcus Lehman] had come right out and told you that you weren't going home before last night's Tribal Council session, were you surprised that you were the one voted off?
Dan: No, absolutely not! I did not believe him for a second. Part of what led to me being voted off is that I never trusted Marcus.
There was a point in the show prior where I made a speech. I said "We can have a big alliance." Well that was more Marcus talking through me.
When we first switched up tribes, Marcus was really concerned that the old Fang members were going to be loyal to old Fang and -- being [that there were] four Kota [tribe members] -- why wouldn't they just take us out? We spent hours upon hours making him feel comfortable, addressing his needs. Then I would say "Well how can I trust you? There's four of you," and he would say "I don't know what to tell you," and that was the end of it.
Marcus made me nervous from the beginning and I never trusted him, so even though he told me that he was going to vote for [Susie Smith], there was no way I believed that. I did not believe that at all. I didn't fully fight because I wanted to remain political in case there was a chance he was being truthful, but I didn't believe him.
Reality TV World: How did you react [when you heard] the comment he made where he called you a "bumbling idiot" after his conversation with you on last night's show?
Dan: Well I think that goes to Marcus. I think it shows a level of maturity that is nonexistent, and it shows a level of arrogance and, you know, he's been hanging out with [Corinne Kaplan] too long and talking like that. So, whatever, it's fine. He's younger than I am so I'm okay with that.
If there's people I identify as bad people, and those bad people like me, well then I'm doing something wrong. I'm not saying they're bad, but I'm just saying in my opinion that people I identify that I don't like.
Reality TV World: Speaking of Corinne, were you aware that she and her alliance were worried that you had found the Immunity Idol?
Dan: No. That I was not aware of actually, so that was surprising to me. I thought that was a dead issue at that point.
Reality TV World: After you were voted out, Jeff made a comment that seemed to imply that the split 4-3 vote meant your tribe was divided about who to send home, but from watching at home it seemed like they just decided to split the vote so that Susie would still be going home even if you did have the idol and played it. Why do you think it was a 4-3 vote?
Dan: (Laughs) I'm gonna make you watch.
Do I think the tribe is divided? Remember there was a clip last week where they were saying "I think it's gonna be Dan. I was gonna vote for you," and [Randy Bailey] says that Susie's "gone too far in this game?" That should tell you my answer, because I do. I think at this point everybody's sort of getting on each others nerves.
And it's sort of like when you just asked [Ace Gordon] something about [if he was] aware that he had a conflicting personality with some of the other members, and it's like, I've heard everybody talk poorly about someone else. I've heard [Charlie Herschel's] name come up, I've hear [Robert "Bob" Crowley's] name come up, and you know Corinne was always coming over to me saying "I can't take Bob anymore" or "I can't take Susie anymore."
So, yeah. It doesn't matter your personality, no one is liked by everybody, and no one is probably liked by more than five people (Laughs). It's just the way it works.
And even if you are, you're there isolated with them 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, so you're gonna get on each others nerves.
Reality TV World: Last night, Randy and the rest of his new Kota allies said they didn't think they could trust you to remain loyal to them after the tribes merged. Was that accurate -- had you planned on flipping over to the Fang side once the merge occurred?
Dan: I was hoping that Marcus would have a conversation with me addressing my needs and addressing my concerns. Had he done that than I would have respected him a lot more and I would have trusted and been loyal to him. But I felt he was a little bit selfish in that respect and so I absolutely would have, at the very least, voted out Corinne because I was sick of listening to her.
Reality TV World: All viewers had seen for the first six episodes was what a great guy Bob was then suddenly last night we saw Marcus and the rest of his "onion alliance" talking about how Randy had managed to replace him as the fourth member of their core alliance. Do you have any idea how that happened?
Dan: Yeah I think it's sort of what I just said. Bob tells these long, drawn out stories and they can be boring. He can at times -- and listen I like Bob and I think we all have our faults on this show, I am by no means better than anyone on this show -- but Bob can talk down to you. And because he's a teacher and has been a teacher for a very long time, that can be difficult to deal with when, again, you're with them constantly. And so I think they haven't necessarily had times in the episodes to show that.
And as much as Randy might be a mean guy, where people are saying "Oh, Corinne's making fun of people but Randy is too. What make's Corinne's mean and Randy not?" Randy's just the kind of guy that, you know, you wanna give a hug to the guy. He wasn't loved enough or something. He means it in good fun, where Corinne comes across as more genuine in her insults.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Randy was able to work his way into Marcus, Charlie, and Corinne's alliance?
Dan: A little bit, to be honest with you, because when I first met him -- and he laughed about this, I've told him this -- I said that he was the type of guy that I'd see on [NBC's] Dateline because he's a little bit off. So I definitely thought that he wouldn't necessarily get in that group.
But now that I think about it, and I use this analogy and I hate to use this analogy, you know how alcoholics have to have another alcoholic with them and are always like "Come on, let's go get a beer and skip this and skip that" -- that's sort of like Corinne, she needs to feel better by having someone else [who's] mean along with her.
So I saw Randy being brought down to her level. But what it ultimately did was create an ally, and that's something that I had a difficult time doing.
Reality TV World: Last night, there were even some people on the other tribe who mentioned that your Kota tribemates had been finding you irritating. Had you really not noticed that was happening?
Dan: I feel that I'm a pretty intuitive person, and yeah I could kind of tell. And that's fine.
I feel like I took myself out of that mix -- like Corinne and Marcus -- I think I could have made more of an effort to relate to them where they would have found me less irritating. But I was so taken back by their personalities that I just couldn't do it anymore.
Reality TV World: Is that what that "I'm a really sensitive person" conversation with Corinne and Marcus was trying to address or were you trying to accomplish something else with that?
Dan: Yeah. Well.... At that point... At that point was when Marcus wasn't addressing, he was saying "You guys make me nervous" and we would try and make him feel relaxed and good so that he wouldn't be panicked every day, and yet he wouldn't make any of us feel comfortable and that made me more increasingly nervous. So I was trying to address my concern by saying "Hey, you guys aren't the only ones here. We have concerns too. I have concerns about trusting you guys." So that's really what I was doing, but after a while listening to Corinne I was done with it. I just wanted to get to the merge and talk to the people that I related to better.
Dan: I was found while watching a Red Sox-Yankees game. It was the very last week of April or the first week of May and I was in a bar having lunch with my best friend and they just came up to me and said "Hey, have you heard of Survivor?" and they sort of talked to me and said "I like your story, would you like to come out to California?"
So I went out to California and then a few weeks later I was on a plane going out to Africa. It's kind of a neat story.