Exclusive: Louis Stravato and Michael Naylor talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/04/2010
After finishing last in The Amazing Race's prior non-elimination leg, the odds were against the "Detectives" team of Louis Stravato and Michael Naylor surviving the sixteenth season's next penultimate leg.
And that's exactly what ended up happening, as they became the eighth team eliminated from The Amazing Race's sixteenth edition during Sunday night's penultimate broadcast.
On Monday, Louis and Michael talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including whether they really thought they had a chance of overcoming their prior last-place finish, if they were surprised how easy their penalty Speed Bump task was, whether they actually believed the "Dating Couple" team of Carol Rosenfeld and Brandy Snow were negative people, and if they share Brandy's belief that homophobia was behind Caite Upton's dislike of the lesbian women.
Reality TV World: You guys said all the right things before the leg began, but what were you thinking your chances of not finishing last realistically were once you found out the next leg wouldn't have any type of bunching point [like a plane flight, bus ride, etc.] that would let you catch back up to everybody else?
Michael Naylor: I didn't think we were leaving the continent, I really didn't. I figured it's a smack in the face, we have a lot of ground to make up and we'll do the best that we can.
We weren't five minutes into it when walking up the top of the stairs we saw ["Brothers" Dan and Jordan Pious]. So that changed our whole mode, to see another team still there.
Reality TV World: Yeah, what was your reaction when you saw them coming back? Did you buy their explanation that they wanted to race with you?
Louis Stravato: We were excited first. I mean me personally, I was excited at first. But then, I didn't want to be [with them], I wanted to be [just] us. I didn't want to do it with another team because I just wanted us to be the ones -- if we made a mistake, I wanted it to be our mistake, not with another team.
Michael Naylor: The way I thought about it is we just made up ground, we made up two hours. I was ecstatic and I wanted to keep our competition with us, so we differed on that. That was probably the only thing we differed on in probably the entire race. Because I really felt keeping the competition with us [made sense because] we have a small Speed Bump ahead of us and I think we'll be able to conquer it and go from there.
I just didn't like being in Argentina when we were alone, thinking we were last. That's a tough feeling when you're racing and you're not knowing where the other teams are. Now we got our competition right next to us.
Reality TV World: About how long did it actually take you guys to find that Garden Bridge with them once you were working together?
Michael Naylor: Months, it felt like.
Louis Stravato: A couple of hours.
Reality TV World: A couple of hours?
Louis Stravato: Yeah, at least.
Michael Naylor: They were there two hours [before us], so they had done a lot of the research. We had asked them what they had done [and] they'd done research. When we were at the top of that bridge that we thought was the Garden Bridge, there was a whole garden to the right, like a park, with like four other bridges.
So they had already searched that area, they had searched the Internet -- they had searched a lot of other things -- so we were pretty confident when we saw them. We probably stayed with them about another hour there, and it seemed like forever because it was freezing cold [and we were] checking areas and walking all around.
Louie had originally asked them, "You guys are sure you called the translation service? The Shanghai translation service?" And they originally said yes, and then we realized later on that they hadn't, that's when we called and they gave us the right thing.
Louis Stravato: I had drilled Danny with numerous questions just so we could cancel out certain things. I said, "you checked that museum," "you went down over there," "you called the translation service," and he was like "yes, yes, yes." So I was like alright, this is good, we're knocking out a lot of clues to finding this garden. And they didn't check that translation service.
This is where I dwell back to if me and Michael had been by ourselves, I guarantee we would have went to a taxi and called that translation service and asked where's the garden.
Reality TV World: So you think they being with them was a hindrance, in hindsight?
Louis Stravato: In my personal opinion.
Michael Naylor: That's his personal opinion, my personal opinion is that after we had walked by that fashion house that was right under our nose, I still would have checked inside that museum -- which was huge -- [and] I would have checked probably the garden. So it would have taken me just about as long, I think, to do that. So I'm not going to go back, and like I said, hindsight's 20/20.
I still feel it was the right move keeping them with us the whole way, competition-wise, and duking it out in the end. I mean in the end, it was probably a 10-15 minute difference between us and a cab ride was the difference.
Reality TV World: Were you guys surprised how easy that Speed Bump ended up being?
Michael Naylor: (laughs)
Louis Stravato: Oh my god, that Speed Bump was so easy. We were psyched, we were pumped about it, and I guess Jordan was making comments to Michael. What'd he say to you Mike?
Michael Naylor: Oh, he was really, really heated at one point -- [he said] "that Speed Bump wasn't even a Speed Bump!"
Because their goal was to stay with us and the Speed Bump would slow us down and that would be their edge. And when Louie went right in [to the statue-counting Roadblock task], Louie was in there a minute behind Daniel. Because that was right next to it, we didn't even have to go far, [the Speed Bump] right outside the doors of the [Roadblock] temple.
So we didn't go far, we popped it in there. Louie got it on four [coins] and I think I got it on eight or nine coins. The toughest thing was that our fingers were numb [from the cold weather]. It was easy.
Reality TV World: what was it that made you guys decide to do the "Pork Chops" Detour instead of the "Pork Dumplings," did you just want to keep [Dan and Jordan] right next to you?
Michael Naylor: On one of the past episodes they'd had that task where you had to order the Chinese food and they had to do it in their language, so I kept thinking it was going to be like that. When I ever saw it was just a matter of picking up the things and delivering them -- I didn't find that out until just now, because nobody had obviously done that one -- I wanted to shoot myself.
Louis Stravato: Yeah, but you don't know what the Detours are going to be. Just like if we knew that all [that earlier Detour task] was was bouncing a flag on your head instead of carrying huge incense up steps, we totally would have did that, but you don't know. You roll the dice and that's what you do.
Reality TV World: About how long were you actually there with the stamps trying to do the "Pork Chops" task, any idea?
Michael Naylor: Maybe a half hour, 45 minutes. Again, when you're doing it it seems like forever but it wasn't that long.
Reality TV World: Michael, we didn't actually see you have any problems with the wind at the stadium during the second Roadblock task on last week's episode, was that the case or did they just not show it?
Michael Naylor: No, no, we had no wind on our side. What happened was they picked the side with the sun, where they had the warmth. We were cold on the other side [but[ they were the first ones so we went over there. We never had any wind so my puzzle never blew. And Louie was screaming at me at one point, "Hey, be careful, be careful!" So I was getting a little nervous, but mine never blew at all.
Reality TV World: Phil really seemed to get you guys with his "out in the cold" trick at the non-elimination Pit Stop, was that actually the case?
Michael Naylor: Oh yeah, he got us. Louie was praying on the train ride in, maybe it's not an elimination. I was 100% it was an elimination, we're done, "We're done Louie, that's it." Because you've been racing for so long at this point you can't see that there's even going to be another leg, so when he ever said that he totally got us.
Louis Stravato: We were humbled at that point. We had no regrets and even [after being eliminated] on last night's show, we had no regrets. I mean we traveled all the way around the world. We got to the Top 4. I mean we did what other teams couldn't do. And I did it with my buddy. I can't say anything more.
Reality TV World: Your criticism of Carol and Brandy was a pretty big part of your storyline on the season and seemed to play a role in fueling Caite's own dislike of them. Can you explain what that was all about -- did you really feel they were negative people? After they got eliminated you seemed to suggest you might not have really thought they were negative but you were trying to make them a target for the U-Turns.
Michael Naylor: Well I always felt that they were a strong team. When Brandy said that we were good friends and thought we were friends, I never -- I got really close with ["Father/Daughter" Steve Smith and Allie Smith], ["Brothers/Cowboys" Jet McCoy and Cord McCoy], Daniel and Jordan, and ["Moms/Attorneys" Monique Pryor and Shawne Morgan], and [Brent Horne] and Caite to some degree, so those are our friends.
I never really had these great conversations, we never really bonded [with Carol and Brandy]. They were nice people, I had no problem with them, but there was no big friendship built up there. So it was kind of baffling when they were "shocked."
When they came up to us at one point on the chain [counting Roadblock task] and [said], "Can you believe it?" I was like it's a game for a million dollars, what don't you believe about it?
To fuel that thing, I don't really think we fueled it that much. We wanted them eliminated so we did kind of pump it up a little bit towards the U-Turn. I mean they really were well-traveled and if they got back to the [Race's] end-city I think they would have been a good factor in the end-city.
With them, it was nothing, nothing personal. And being a little bit negative that they were, they were no more negative than anyone I deal with on a daily basis, they weren't super-negative. They were mean towards Caite, but that was their own personal choice.
Louis Stravato: You know going back a little bit, going back to ["Married Couple" Joe Wang and Heidi Wang] and then Carol and Brandy, my whole thing was at what point is this not a game for a million dollars?
You know you've got to play the game. Like Mike says, I came with a friend and I'm leaving with my friend. I didn't come there to make friends but we did happen to make friends. But I mean it's a game for a million dollars! You've got to play the game, strategy has got to be involved.
Michael Naylor: I have to say that Jet and Cord were probably closer to us than almost any other team...
Louis Stravato: Yep, I agree.
Michael Naylor: We had gotten friendly with them [and] Jet said to me at one point, "If I get to the U-Turn before you I'm going to U-Turn you." So I had no problem with that. It's a race for a million dollars and he's man enough to say if I get there before you I'm going to U-turn you, and that's a compliment to me! We're taking it as a compliment and some people are taking it as a negative.
Caite had her own reasons for doing it and that's between her, but we definitely wanted her to do it so I'm not going to deny it.
Reality TV World: so you guys didn't really believe "everybody" wanted them out of the game when you were making comments like that, right?
Michael Naylor: No, yeah, Jet and Cord wanted them out of the game. They were rude to Jet and Cord early on.
Reality TV World: Well when I talked to Steve and Allie they flat-out said that wasn't the case, that's why I'm asking.
Michael Naylor: Oh, they weren't rude to Steve and Allie. They were rude to Jet and Cord and I don't know who else they were rude to. To me they weren't rude, I never thought they were rude.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Carol and Brandy, Brandy said she thought you guys had played a "smart" game but she was a bit disappointed because you guys seemed kind of "dirty" and made things "personal."
Michael Naylor: Yeah, but I don't see how anything can be personal. It's a tool in the game and people get upset because they get taken out of the game. It's a tool in the game. You've got to be prepared that someone's going to U-Turn you at one point and do something.
Reality TV World: When I talked to them they had also denied saying any significant "mean things" to Caite and Brandy said that given the way Caite always seemed to call them "The Lesbians" and the derisive way she seemed to say it, she believes Caite is homophobic or has some problem with lesbians.
Michael Naylor: Yeah. If you don't get to know the teams and you don't get to know their names, it's real hard when you're racing and you don't get to talk to them. Louie was having a tough time with some of the names halfway through. It was probably until France when we were getting the names right, because you don't spend a lot of time with them, you know what I mean? If you're racing you're not with them, you're not spending a ton of time with them.
Louis Stravato: It was just easier to identify them as "The Lesbians."
Michael Naylor: Right.
Louis Stravato: It's not politically correct, we understand that...
Michael Naylor: ...but that's how Brent and Caite did it. And that's their only reasoning for doing it, I mean from when I talked to her it wasn't a homophobic thing at all.
Louis Stravato: I don't think she's a homophobe at all, I don't think she's homophobic at all.
Michael Naylor: Some people just can't take that they weren't liked, they have to take it to a reason. There was no reason, they just didn't like you and that was it.
They did make comments. I mean they -- you can make it, you might not say it -- you know it's funny because Brandy told me later on and in the end Brandy actually apologized to Caite at one point. So when she said that she's incorrect. But it's her memory against mine, so what are you going to do?
Reality TV World: You guys really seemed to start getting confident during those European legs when you finished in first place three times in a row.
Michael Naylor: Oh yeah...
Reality TV World: In hindsight, do you think that maybe you weren't doing that much better than the other teams and [you kept your lead because] it was just kind of a situation like what you went through on last night's leg where nobody had a chance to bunch back [together] with a plane or closed location or such?
Michael Naylor: We really felt that no team was better than the other. I never thought that we were better than any of the other teams, at all. In this race it comes down to how well you run on that leg of the race. I never felt we were better than anyone. I felt the Final 4 were all evenly paired up. Everyone had their strengths, everyone had their weaknesses. So I never felt in this race that we were better than any team.
From start-city to end-city, I knew that any team could win it. I still feel it to this day. I mean if you get a break -- Monique and Shawne to me, were super-strong. Steve and Allie were super-strong.
Louis Stravato: Yep.
Michael Naylor: So it's like when you get those teams and they're out -- look at ["Married High School Sweethearts" Adrian Davis and Dana Davis]. I mean the first leg, who would have assumed he'd be out [first]? When we were at the starting line I was like, "This guy is going to be great during challenges!"
You really don't know. I never, ever underestimated one person on that race at all.
Reality TV World: Last week's episode had shown Jordan saying he felt using the U-Turn on Carol and Brandy instead of Jet and Cord was kind of a dumb move...
Louis Stravato: You can call it whatever you want. We didn't call it a dumb move, we called it a strategic move. We called it getting rid of negative energy.
Reality TV World: Well, what I was going to ask was did you sincerely believe Carol and Brandy were a stronger team than Jet and Cord?
Louis Stravato: No. No, I'm not saying that.
Michael Naylor: My personal opinion on that is I differ. I thought in the end-city -- now Carol build malls and does all these things, is very super world traveled, Brandy was very well traveled. Were they going to be a big threat here -- and I said this originally, I said this to everybody -- in the end-city they will be a threat.
Whatever city we go to they're going to know it and they're going to be able to travel. They knew somebody in every city that we went. They knew who spoke French, who spoke Spanish. So in my personal opinion I definitely thought that they were more of a threat, to a degree, than Jet and Cord.
Louis Stravato: They even knew different dialects of Spanish for Latin and South America.
Reality TV World: How were you cast, [and given the state's small size,] were you surprised to find out there was also another Rhode Island team?
Michael Naylor: We were shocked to find out there was another Rhode Island team. We kept saying, "Long Island, you can't mean Rhode Island." It was crazy.
Louis Stravato: I applied for The Amazing Race and I chose Mike to do it with me.