Exclusive: James LoMenzo and Mark "Abba" Abbattista talk 'The Amazing Race' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/20/2012
James LoMenzo and Mark "Abba" Abbattista were eliminated from The Amazing Race during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality competition's 21st season.
The "Friends" team became the sixth team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's eighth Pit Stop at Sokolniki Park's public performance pavilion in Moscow, Russia in last place. The pair's primary reason for finishing in last place appeared to be because they were forced to waste most of their time during the leg trying to find their stolen bags and retrieve Abba's passport in order to continue on, but they failed to get their hands on both of them.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, James and Abba talked about their The Amazing Race experience.
Below is the concluding portion of James' and Abba's interview. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: Referring to how Natalie Anderson and Nadiya Anderson had stolen your $100 cash when they found it, what would you have done if you were in their shoes and discovered another team's lost money? Would you have returned it?
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: Yeah, I think that, again, if you found money on the street somewhere and it was local money, I think that the answer would be different. But we were in a room, in a travel agency, and we were the only ones there and it was really an exorbitant amount of U.S. dollars in that society.
So you knew it was somebody's, and I just kind of think that the decision they made -- again, I can try to understand it, but I think they made a bad one, you know? It's not, I don't think, something we would've done. I hope not anyway, because again, you are on-camera and people are watching you.
Not that that makes it any different. I just think the camera, if you're a good person, it magnifies it. Well, I shouldn't say that. When you do a good thing, it's magnified. And when you do a bad thing, it's also magnified.
Reality TV World: Obviously you guys got kind of lucky because you were right near the financial district when you lost the $100, but were you still shocked you were able to gather all that money back, especially as quickly as you managed to?
James LoMenzo: We were floored. Floored. We didn't expect it was going to be -- it wasn't incredibly easy, but we didn't expect it to come to us like it did. It was merely, we were just kind of reaching out to people and asking them... One of the fellas, it almost looked like he was giving us the money, but what he had actually done was he held a cab for us.
It was actually a very funny moment because the cab he held for us, the guy refused to take us. So he made this big speech the guy, he was like, "These are guests in our country! We have to show them that we treat them as guests." And then the guy goes, "But my cab is broken." And he goes, "I don't believe you." So then the guy got out of the car and in fact, his back bumper practically fell off. (Laughs)
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: There was no floor in the backseat either. (Laughs) He said, "I'd take them but my car is broken!" And the guy was like, "I don't believe it!" I thought they were like going to get in a fight, you know? And he was like, "There's no floor!" And I was like, "Thanks anyway. We'll take the next one."
James LoMenzo: But then the guy found us a good cab and he was really representing on behalf of everyone in Bangladesh. It was beautiful. We had a great time trying to find our way out of that problem.
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: That was also a great time in retrospect, because that was happening and it was 110 degrees and life was pretty miserable, you know? But it was one of those things where you're like, "Okay, you know what? Today is maybe not going our way, but it's not over yet."
And I think that that was just sort of -- we really did try to make the best out of whatever little we had. And it was pretty unbelievable that the people there were as generous as they were with the little that they had.
Reality TV World: During last night's episode, we saw you had to complete a Speed Bump task but viewers didn't get to see anything between that moment and when you got eliminated. What was the Speed Bump task and how long did it take you to complete it?
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: James had to drink a milkshake through a straw in his nose.
James LoMenzo: It was pretty hard to do.
Reality TV World: What?! (Laughs)
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: (Laughs)
James LoMenzo: No, we had to find the church. We were sitting in a limo and we had to direct the guy -- obviously in an English, Russian translation -- where to go directly to this church and not make too many wrong turns because there were a lot of one-way streets.
It was around the university, so it could've gone really badly. We were kind of hoping when we showed up to the church that the guy would like pull our passport out of the contribution box or something.
What you didn't see was we got back and we did actually complete one more task. Abba took on the "time zone" challenge. He just whizzed through it. It was shocking. I wish they had -- were able to show that last night, because I mean, he was probably quicker than [Brent Ridge], I believe.
We sat there for maybe -- I think we went through five tries and then we were on our way. So we were hell-bent on completing the course whether we were winning or losing -- passports or not. We thought it was very important to finish up while we were there.
Reality TV World: So did you also do the Detour task as well or just the "time zone" Roadblock you just mentioned?
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: No, the Detour -- by that time, because this was well into the second day, I don't think that those tasks were available to us anymore. Because we had spent most of the day running all over town to the police station and all that.
James LoMenzo: Yeah, we never did the Detour.
Reality TV World: While you guys were on the show, which teams did you believe were your toughest competition and why?
James LoMenzo: That kept changing week by week, so it's really hard to call that one. You know, we kind of didn't feel like -- some of the teams we didn't feel like were our biggest competition, like the monster truck guy. We thought he was kind of weighing himself down with the bags they were carrying and stuff like that -- and maybe that isn't the best decision.
There were a couple teams like that where you kind of look at them and go, "Well, I don't think they're really going to keep up with us." But at the same time, we didn't underestimate anybody just because that would make us weaker, actually. So we kind of gave everybody the best props.
Reality TV World: Abbie Ginsberg and Ryan Danz have obviously been coming across as an extremely competitive team this season. So considering the last two legs, were you guys surprised they actually stay with Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent and wanted to race with them and wait for them in certain tasks? What was your reaction to all that?
James LoMenzo: They're just beautiful, lovely people, and we'd expect no less from them. (Laughs) I wonder how much of that was purely out of necessity and I wonder how much of that might have been because of just Josh and Brent.
I don't know. I guess what happens when you're in those situations, it's best to keep people close to you, you know? I think that's the old mafia rule, right? Keep your enemies closer.
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: I think Josh and Brent, they played everything with, again, a certain maturity and class to them. They were very kind of open with people. Abbie and Ryan came at this thing from a whole different kind of way -- not just what you see on TV. That's what was really happening there. So yeah, I was actually a little bit surprised that they held out and waited for them.
I wasn't sure when I first saw it if it was just kind of some ploy to kind of go, "Well, we don't want them" -- like look, you're the last two teams. What are you going to do? You're going to race each other? Somewhere along the way, you're going to have to break that.
So you know, I mean, in a foot race, I think I would take, again, Abbie and Ryan over the other two. And I think they would probably say that too. So I was kind of expecting sort of some little kind of last minute race to the mat kind of thing. So I was a little surprised by it, but you know, I don't think surprises mean too much in this Race because it changes everyday.
Reality TV World: Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew ended up making it on an All-stars edition after being eliminated in their first The Amazing Race season for a similar passport issue as you guys had? Would you guys ever be interested in doing something like that?
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: Right now, I wouldn't even change. I'd grab my passport. That's the one thing I would do. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: And keep it on you at all times? (Laughs)
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: You know, I've kept it on me my entire life up until now! -- at all times. I think it would be an honor if we were asked. I think that the response we received back from people watching -- the fans of the show -- has been wonderful for us. It's nice to feel appreciated and supported like that. Obviously we think this is the best show on television.
It's got the hardware -- the Emmys -- to prove it. After being there and watching the way that it's put together, it's really an honor. It's really a top-shelf unbelievable production with how this television show comes about. To be asked back, I think it would certainly provide us an opportunity to try and kind of write something that kind of happened to us.
And also, I think the fact that we didn't feel like we were beaten by another team sort of leaves a little bit of unfinished business that I think we might have that the other teams may not. So again, if it happens, we'd love to do that. And yeah, go knock on CBS and keep telling them you want us. (Laughs)
James LoMenzo: We definitely didn't go out on a positive in this case, so we'd definitely like to get back to where we were. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: How were you guys cast on The Amazing Race? How did you end up on the show?
James LoMenzo: We did it like everyone else. We submitted a video tape and some information and it was that simple. We just decided to do it. It's that simple -- just like everybody else gets.
Mark "Abba" Abbattista: We supplied the online application. I live in Colorado, and in Denver, there was apparently an open casting call here -- which I didn't even know about. But you know what? Yeah, we just -- we went through the application process like everybody else and for all the people that always sort of say, "How do we get on?" It's one word -- apply!
I think that probably the fact of our occupations are somewhat kind of a novelty, the way that we look with the long hair, things like that -- again, I think we made a nice team. We were something different obviously to look at.
I think our stories of how we got to this point in life hopefully are kind of interesting to people, and I think our friendship is real. And I think everyone saw that. I think we've lived pretty adventurous, interesting lives up to this point. And I don't see that changing. It's only going to get better.
Above is the concluding portion of James' and Abba's interview. Click here to read the first half.
(Photo credit CBS)
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