Exclusive: Eric and Lisa Paskel dish on quick 'The Amazing Race' exit
By Christopher Rocchio, 09/30/2009
Eric and Lisa Paskel aren't happy with being booted at The Amazing Race's starting line, however they continue to have a positive outlook on life.
The yoga studio owners and instructors from Encino, CA were eliminated during The Amazing Race's fifteenth-season premiere after they were the last team to finish a challenge at the starting line in the Los Angeles River basin.
On Monday, Eric and Lisa talked to Reality TV World about how they reacted to the twist that eventually ousted them at the starting line; why they have no hard feelings against the team that secured the last spot on the show after allegedly stealing the clue from them; how they felt they would have been ready to run the race; and why they continue to stay positive.
Reality TV World: What was your first thought when host Phil Keoghan told the teams somebody would be eliminated at the starting line?
Lisa: I thought, "Wow. This is really so mean. How could they do this to somebody? There's somebody here who's going to be crushed their whole life from of this." Eric?
Eric: I thought, "Man, I need to do something here. I need to cross the starting line right now and turn and tell everybody that this is bulls--t and we're not going to do this. It's not fair and nobody move."
Reality TV World: It did seem kind of unfair that you would be eliminated before even having an opportunity to leave the starting line. So that was your reaction too?
Lisa: It's not what we signed on for.
Eric: There's so much drama that this show can produce -- literally -- unexpectedly, why do we need to go here to sell tickets? Why do we need to do this? The race speaks for itself. It's got fans. There's got to be another hook. But that was it.
The truth is that I think every contestant is either completely ignorant or has giant balls to be on a show like that because you're exposing yourself and you don't know what the show is going to throw at you. Kudos to the producers. They had no idea who the hell was going to be thrown off the show. They had to say to themselves, "Man, we might lose somebody really good."
I think they feel that way. I think they're going to rethink what they did and why they did it, and I don't think we'll be seeing that anytime soon again. Lisa: We got literally thousands of Facebook [messages] and emails from people saying we took the fall -- not just for the people on the race -- but for so many people who felt like they've fallen down in life. When they saw us get up with so much grace, they were just so blown away that we handled things the way we did. We've already helped so many people just by losing the race. It's unbelievable.
Reality TV World: Did you have any conversations with producers after this all happened?
Lisa: We just said, "Thank you. We're not going to go to Vietnam with you to [Elimination Station]. We're taking off and going off to study with our guru in India. Have a great day."
Reality TV World: So you never made it to Elimination Station?
Eric: Nope. We were the first team to get eliminated at the starting line and we were the first team to disappear from the show completely [after that].
Reality TV World: What was the major problem you two encountered during that first challenge?
Lisa: Eric actually saw the [symbol at the top of the clue] at the end. Everybody else grabbed the license plates by luck. Every other team except one other.
At the very end when it was us with ["Engaged Couple" Lance Layne and Keri Morrione] that was left at the wall of license plates, Eric showed me the clue. He said, "Oh my god! There's a clue on the paper!" [Keri] saw him show it to me, so we went to the right and they went to the left. It was pretty much that simple.
Reality TV World: So you guys were able to keep your cool during the challenge?
Eric: I read the clue and I just kept staying calm and was like, "Alright, we've got to find this thing." We just kept looking and looking. Panic would have done us no good.
Lisa: We don't live our life in panic anyway. This is another... We get up every morning, we study, we have a yoga practice, we reflect on our life. We did the same thing that morning. We just get up and face the day's challenges. That was the challenge that we met. There's nothing to panic about. It totally sucked, but panic? Is there a person with a hatchet chasing me down the street right now? (laughing)
Reality TV World: About how long did the entire challenge take?
Lisa: I think it was a good 20 minutes we were running around. Everyone was running around...
Eric: At first, no one got anything. It was a while before people started...
Lisa: There were a lot of license plates.
Eric: There were a lot of license plates and only 11 good ones because no one knew what they were grabbing for. Probably maybe 20 minutes altogether. It was certainly awfully hot. Of course when you're watching other teams get it and you're not, it's starting to fell like it's an awful long time that's going by.
Reality TV World: During your introduction, you said you were "yoga in the hood" and weren't the "zen yoga teachers" people would expect by looking at you. Can you explain that a little more?
Lisa: Eric and I, we really put ourselves out there in the world. We work really hard on ourselves so we don't place ourselves on a pedestal and pretend to be something we're not.
We've been through a lot of challenges in our lives -- from drug and alcohol addiction to the recovery, to being divorced and remarried to each other. We are not afraid to share who we are. People are kind of like we're the yoga Osbournes.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Eric: I have a student who really is interested in reality shows. She kept telling me that I would be perfect for The Amazing Race and one day took it upon herself to submit us to the show. She called me up and said, "I've got to tell you something man. I just submitted you to this show. I don't know if you're going to hear back."
Literally within an hour we heard back from the producers and they said, "Hey, we love you guys. Can you make it down to Santa Monica?" We went there and as soon as we met them we knew it was on. It went that quickly. They said, "You're great, we love you."
Lisa: We had never even seen the show prior to that call either. So it was kind of exciting to say, "What's this about?" It's a race around the world, right up our alley -- we take people on adventures ourselves.
We thought, "Wow, what a great opportunity for us." I needed a honeymoon with my husband. That's really what it is. (laughing) I needed a trip. We spend a long time taking other people on adventures, I needed one with him alone and the whole world watching. (laughing)
Reality TV World: I know you didn't get to spend much time with them, but did you form any initial impressions about any of the other teams -- if so what were they?
Lisa: Yeah, they were all fantastic people.
Eric: We really did feel like just about everybody there we would have been able to connect to. We felt like -- obviously just upon sight -- it was probably the most in-shape group I've ever seen on a TV show. Just physically fit. We really liked ["Professional Poker Players" Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle] and ["Teammates" Herbert "Flight Time" Lang and Nathaniel "The Big Easy" Lofton] and...
Eric: Everyone seemed pretty nice and friendly and out to get the $1 million but not out to get anybody.
Reality TV World: What was your opinion about Lance? He seemed to come across as a pretty aggressive guy during that challenge.
Lisa: Listen, they heard Eric say what the clue was and they took it. I can't blame them. I'm happy for them.
Eric: I would have done the same thing.
Reality TV World: Did you guys have a strategy you would have used if you had made it farther in the competition?
Lisa: Just take it one experience at a time and suit up and show up. Have a great time on the race.
Eric: We figured that we could draw upon our skills of befriending people and that we really could draw on our skills out in the world to ask people for help and extract whatever we needed. We were just going to rely upon our people skills to let things ride when we needed to get clues and needed to be taken in taxis or whatever it was, if we needed to get money.
Then we were going to rely on our physical prowess because -- as great as shape as I think a lot of people were on that show -- I still don't think even at our age...
Lisa: We were some of the oldest people there...
Eric: ... that they would be a match for Lisa and I. We were really, really race-ready physically.
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you think your brief The Amazing Race experience was worth it? Why or why not?
Lisa: Eric take that one.
Eric: That's what life is. Life is a series of experiences. Our job is to make them as best as they can be. I think that we still have not seen what fruits this experience will bear. We are yet to see where it's going to take it or how we can use this in our lives. We know this much: Life is what you live, you only die once. We're going to keep living everyday to its fullest.
Lisa: The real experience of life has nothing to do with running a race. Eric and I are just grateful for all the blessing that come our way. We just really, really feel like really blessed. We're just grateful for everything.