Exclusive: Michelle Chase talks about her brief 'Survivor: Gabon' stay
By Reality TV World staff, 09/26/2008
Michelle Chase, 24-year-old Los Angeles, CA music production assistant, got off to a poor Survivor: Gabon start when she became the last castaway picked during the opening pick 'em that determined the show's tribes and she never seemed to get over it.
After spending three days dealing with her poor attitude, her fellow Fang members unanimously voted her out of their tribe despite the fact she was far from the struggling group's physically weakest member.
On Friday, Michelle talked to Reality TV World about why she thinks she was picked last, how she didn't feel she was an outsider, when she realized her tribe had decided to vote her out, why she thinks she was voted off, what her strategy was, and how she considered her critical Tribal Council comments to be helpful constructive criticism.
Reality TV World: Let's start right at the beginning. What happened at the pick 'em?
Michelle: What do you mean "what happened?"
Reality TV World: Well, at Tribal Council you told [host Jeff Probst] that you kind of weren't surprised that you were the last person picked. Why was that?
Michelle: Because I'm small, I guess. I was actually really surprised that I was the last person picked. It seemed like very dumb decisions where made when people were picking tribes.
Reality TV World: Who did you think would be picked last?
Reality TV World: After you guys got divided up into tribes, you participated in that first challenge where there was individual immunity up for grabs. Given you the last one picked, was there some reason why you didn't turn around and decide to help the rest of your team after you already saw that [Danny "G.C." Brown] had gotten the idol?
Michelle: You just answered that question for yourself! I was the last one picked so of course I didn't care about them.
Reality TV World: So rather than try and turn that into a positive and show that you had some worth to your team, you just kind gave up at that point? Is that what you're saying?
Michelle: Um, I don't call running up a hill "giving up." I call it proving myself worthy.
Reality TV World: OK.. based on the editing it looks like you were an outsider from pretty much the time your tribe arrived at camp. Would you say that's accurate?
Michelle: No I don't think I was an outsider. I mean, I definitely didn't have any peers. I didn't have any girls my age to click with. But, I mean, I don't think I was an outcast.
Reality TV World: We only saw you basically hanging out with [Ken Hoang] last night. You're saying you did hang out with the others and it just wasn't shown?
Michelle: Yeah, I mean G.C.'s a recording artist and I'm a musician as well [so] of course we hung out and talked. And I cuddled with [Dan Kay] every night. They didn't show that either.
They didn't show a lot of stuff. It was only a 40-minute show. If I was on the show longer than you would've seen more. They didn't have much to work with [and] they had to squeeze in what they could.
Reality TV World: So do you agree with the way that it was presented last night that Ken was...
Michelle: Me and Ken definitely got along and we definitely were friends. I talked to him probably the most and that's probably why it was shown that way because we did talk he most. But it's not like I was a snob to everybody else and didn't talk to everyone. I knew I was playing a game so of course I tried to make nice with everybody.
Reality TV World: OK, because from the edit of the show, it really seemed like you had just basically been hanging out with Ken and the only other time viewers saw you talking about the other folks you were calling them "dorks" or the "worst people on the Earth" or other less than complimentary things.
Michelle: Right... I definitely don't remember saying "the worst people on Earth."
Reality TV World: OK, what made you say those things?
Michelle: I didn't say that!
Reality TV World - You didn't say what?
Michelle: I didn't call them "the worst people on Earth."
Reality TV World: You're saying you didn't call them "the dumbest people on Earth?"
Michelle: You said that I called them the "WORST people on Earth."
Reality TV World: OK, I'm sorry [it was] "the dumbest people on Earth"...
Michelle: I didn't say that because that would be really mean. The fact that they were older and out of shape was apparent and yes I did bring that up and use that a lot and I was disappointed that I was on the tribe that consisted of out of shape people. Mainly consisted of out of shape people.
[Editor's Note: Last night's Survivor: Gabon broadcast did show Michelle saying she believed her tribe was "the dumbest people on Earth." In addition, also showed her calling them "dorks," "retarded," and not "the brightest bunch." But not "the WORST people on Earth," because that would be really mean.]
Reality TV World: OK, so from your standpoint then you thought the major issue was really the physical preparedness of specifically who, [Gillian Larson] and [Randy Bailey]?
Michelle: Um yeah, [Susie Smith] too! And [Crystal Cox] may have won a gold medal but she's very slow [and] very big. I didn't think she was an athlete. I was like "there's no way." The girl's way too goofy to be an athlete.
Reality TV World: So you're saying that you bought her [normal] pre-school teacher story?
Michelle: Yeah, I did. And she's yet to prove to me that she's an athlete, or at least show me that she has it in her to be an athlete. I mean, you saw it in the first challenge: She was just dragging. She didn't even make it up that hill!
Reality TV World: No I understand that. That's just why it seemed a little surprising that after immunity was already taken by G.C., it would have seemed a more likely way to prove your worth to the tribe would've been to turn around and help them get up the hill -- but there's two sides to that I guess.
Michelle: I guess you should apply for Survivor then.
Reality TV World: When you were out there you said you were uncomfortable given how "bony" you are. Did you try and put on any weight before going on the show? What did you do to prepare before leaving?
Michelle: I actually lost weight to prepare. My strategy was to practice starving and living on less calories day-to-day, and I think that was a good strategy because I wasn't hungry at all. I didn't eat for --well, I ate a termite -- in three days.
I came off the show and they had all of these snacks for me and I wasn't the least bit hungry. I think that was a very good way to prepare for the show because there were a lot of people who were like "Well you have to put on some weight!" and I'm like "Why? So my body will need more calories to function?"
Reality TV World: Was there a reason you were sleeping right on the wood when you were having a hard time? Wasn't there something that you could've used as some type of bedding -- like grass or palms or something?
Michelle: Yeah, yeah... they didn't show it, but we spent all day gathering leaves to try to cushion it as much as we [could]. And even after spending hours upon hours collecting leaves it really didn't do anything. [Looking] back, I probably would have just slept on the grass, [but] you take that risk of all the bugs and everything.
Reality TV World: Before you guys left for Tribal Council it seemed like the rest of your tribe had become convinced that you were really having "too hard a time" and didn't "really want to be out there." But other than your issue regarding warmth, we really didn't see anything like that so do you have any idea what they were talking about or what they were basing it on?
Michelle: Yeah... I mean at night... It was the first three nights out there and at night it was really, really, really cold. And I'm really in shape so my blood pressure is really low and I get cold really easily.
Despite that, I had the least amount of clothing of anyone on the whole entire show. I got stuck with the least amount of clothing, and given all those [factors] I was just freezing cold and so when night came around I wasn't the most happiest person in the world.
I mean I wasn't a bitch, but I wasn't super stoked. I wasn't my "go-giddy self" because I was freezing cold! None of [my tribemates] felt what I felt because they all had suits and jackets and lots of fat to keep them warm. I think that they just played that up a lot -- the fact that I was miserable at night.
Reality TV World: Is it safe to say then that you went into that Tribal Council expecting to be going home?
Michelle: Um, yeah. But not until we were literally walking into it.
Reality TV World: What did you think prior to that point was going to happen?
Michelle: I didn't think for a second that I would be the first to go out of these people that weren't useful for anything.
Reality TV World: But did you think that it was going to be Gillian...
Michelle: Randy through the end, and Gillian, were both up to that point completely useless. I didn't think for a second that I would be the first to go. I was completely confident up until the point we were walking into Tribal Council.
Reality TV World: So right up until the vote happened? Or did someone call you aside as you were walking in? Is that what you're saying?
Michelle: No, it [was] just... people start not looking at you and not talking to you.
Reality TV World: Why do you think that they decided to keep Gillian instead of you?
Michelle: I think that they were just scared themselves, seeing that everyone was playing it safe and just wanted to do what the group was doing. You know, like Jeff said they were in denial about being a really sucky tribe, and they didn't realize it until the next Tribal Council and they were like "Yeah we need to get our shit together." It's like, "Oh, well you should've thought about that while I was still around."
Reality TV World: You were critical of the [tribe's] challenge performance during that Tribal Council. By that point did you already know that you were going home and you were basically just saying "Hey, I'm gonna go anyways so I'm not hold back at this point?"
Michelle: Well I definitely wanted them to feel and look like they were doing something wrong.
Reality TV World: It seemed a little odd that you attacked G.C. and he had immunity, so there wasn't much that was going to come out of that. And then Ken seemed to be the other person you singled out and he was obviously...
Michelle: They were the people that I remember not doing shit during our losing challenge!
Reality TV World: But one guy had immunity, and the other guy was your closest ally, basically. So, were you thinking that maybe they were gonna vote Ken out instead...
Michelle: Yes, but if my friend has something in their teeth I'm gonna tell them, and if you're not stepping up to the plate I'll tell you.
Reality TV World: So that had nothing to do with trying to save your own skin then?
Reality TV World: By that point you had kind of figured out that you were definitely going home?
Michelle: Yeah, [it was more like] "If you guys yourselves want to stay in this game you better step up."
Reality TV World: Why did you suddenly turn around after that then and voice your agreement that G.C. would be a great leader?
Michelle: Just because out of everyone he seemed to be the most neutral.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised at how that whole leader discussion unfolded and how much Jeff pushed and interjected himself into it?
Michelle: Um... no. No.
Reality TV World: Based on his comments and body language during that whole thing it really seemed obvious that G.C. really didn't want to be the leader and was just trying to make himself look good. Was that your read on it at the time as well?
Michelle: You know... no. I was actually really surprised by his work ethic and everything despite the fact that he had immunity and he didn't really need to do anything. He really surprised me. I think that is one of the reasons I thought he would be a really good leader.
I mean he didn't need to and he spent hours trying to make a fire with a stick and a string. Even though I knew from the beginning that it wasn't gonna work, it still impressed me that he tried.
Reality TV World: So your take on it is that he was sincere then?
Reality TV World: How were you cast on the show?
Michelle: I was working out and I was asked if I would be interested in applying.
Reality TV World: I saw that you and Parvati Shallow had some type of boxing charity connection. Did she have anything to do with your casting?
Michelle: No... no.
Reality TV World: Had you seen a lot of the show before you participated?
Michelle: I'd seen bits and pieces. Once I found out I was going to definitely be on then I starting watching religiously.
Reality TV World: What was your strategy going into the game?
Michelle: It was pretty much just to keep my mouth shut and really not say anything that I [didn't] need to. I didn't really want anyone to know that I was a boxer and that I founded a charity. All of these things, to me, would've been threats. Of course if I could go back and change that I probably would've been more vocal about my athleticism and still would have downplayed the fact that I founded a charity.
Reality TV World: During Tribal Council when everybody was looking for a leader, did you ever consider throwing your name out as a last ditch effort to try and save yourself?
Michelle: You know, I do actually faintly remember that faintly crossing my mind. I was just in so much of a trance and I didn't know what was gonna happen next. I do remember it flashing in my head though.
Reality TV World: Is there anyone you would like to see win?
Michelle: I would really like to see... I mean [last night] was the first time I got to anything happen at the Kota tribe and [Paloma Soto-Castillo] was cracking me up. That girl was hilarious, and so I'd like to see her go far.
Reality TV World: What's next for you? What are you doing now?
Michelle: I'm currently training for a pay-per-view fight that will be on during Super Bowl weekend, and I'm working on putting out podcasts of my DJ-ing, recording and stuff like that.