Exclusive: Monica Culpepper talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 03/15/2012
Monica Culpepper was voted out of her newly-shuffled mixed-gender Manono tribe at the fifth Tribal Council session of Survivor: One World during Wednesday night's fifth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.
On Thursday, Monica, a 41-year-old ex-NFL football player's wife from Tampa, FL, talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: One World experience -- including whether she was really blindsided by her elimination, how she thought Tribal Council was going to play out going into it, what her surprising relationship was with fellow castaway Colton Cumbie while she was on the show, and how the women discovered the men's decision to give up their idol and vote off one of their own tribemates during last week's Tribal session was not a joke.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Monica. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second portion.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed [Alicia Rosa] boasting that she and Colton were going to pull off an "Oscar performance" and blindside you with the "best blindside ever played." So for the record, were you actually blindsided or not?
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you really did believe that Colton and the men were going to vote off one of their own then? How were you expecting Tribal Council to play out?
Monica Culpepper: Let me explain. First off, we had a tribal swap and obviously you want to stay strong. I don't see myself on that tribe as being the weakest woman, much less the weakest person, on the tribe. And what the viewers did not see is that I had a relationship with Colton that went back to Day 2 or Day 3 of the game.
Colton was very homesick and came to me and actually called me his "Momica" out on Survivor and came to me and said, "I'm really struggling out here. The worst thing in the world for me is men versus women. I'm on a tribe with men. I'm gay. I'm more comfortable with women and I'm really having a hard time here."
I spent a lot of time with him saying, "Listen Colton, you can't quit. You gotta dig deep. You gotta stick to it. This is an opportunity you've wanted your whole life. You can't jeopardize your integrity. One day you're going to be a parent. Your kids are going to want to see their dad do something amazing. Stay. You can do this."
I spent a lot of time with him and so, I had a relationship with Colton that was much more than just, "We tribe swapped and now I can get to know him."
I really did believe that Colton was with the girls and based on the Tribal Council, anybody could see what was just based on the show, it was not unusual for somebody to think that [Greg "Tarzan" Smith] really and truly was the weakest link on our tribe and that he should go.
Reality TV World: You had been on the outside of the women's tribe's majority alliance before the shuffle. So it sounds like you're saying when the tribe-shuffling happened, you kind of viewed it as a good thing then, and thought you had ended up in a better place in the game?
Monica Culpepper: Correct, and as the viewers would see, yes. I was on the outside very quickly of the women's alliance -- but I don't know if you saw in Tribal Council too -- immediately when I realized what was happening, I said, "Okay. I've got to out-work all these women here. I've got to make this camp and camp life the best it can be and use my skills and work my way into that alliance.
Being the only woman fortunate enough to get across the balance beam, I gained a lot of respect from ["Sab" Sabrina Thompson], [Chelsea Meissner] and Kim, and I had moved my way into that alliance and we were not four. And even when [Survivor host Jeff Probst] asked in Tribal Council in Episode 2 to each one of those women, "If you could change your alliance right now, would you?"
And every single one of them said, "Yes." I spent an exorbitant amount of time spear-fishing with Kim and with Chelsea, and I felt like we were going to go after [Kat Edorsson] and Alicia and they weren't going to know. So when the tribal swap came along, the switching up, I'm just an optimistic person.
Immediately I thought, "Let me try to make lemonade out of lemons here" and felt like Colton would be with us. And based upon my relationship with him, if that was the case, we're still four to three, and Tarzan was the weakest link.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you found out the men wanted to give up their immunity idol and go to Tribal Council during last week's episode? Did you believe it, or did you think it was some kind of weird trick?
Monica Culpepper: No, I believed it and then when Jeff Probst ran out to camp and announced it, it was certainly believable. The hardest part for me was watching that entire Tribal Council. I thought, "No. 1, that's a bonehead move, because the rules of Survivor are such that every single person on the men's tribe had to agree to do it [and] well if you were the least bit on the rocks, you would think that they might not agree."
But they decided to go for some code of honor, and it was actually fortunate for the women, because it's a numbers game. The part for me that was so difficult there was just watching the whole Tribal. I had no idea that Colton was the person that he showed there.
I felt terrible for [Leif Manson]. He's such a kind person, and calling him an "Oompa-Loompa" and [saying] "go back to Oz and Munchkin Land or wherever you're from" was hard. I felt for him and his family and all little people.
And then the roasting that [Bill Posley] got was just very uncomfortable to watch and had I known that Colton was like that, my first thing that would have happened on that tribal switch would have been to go after him. But unfortunately, the women, we just didn't know what happened there.
Reality TV World: Like you just referenced, [the rule was that] the decision had to be unanimous on the men's side. Did it also have to be unanimous on the women's side, and if so, was there anyone that wanted to go to Tribal Council and had to be convinced to accept immunity?
Monica Culpepper: No, no. It was all up to the men. We just got notice of, "Ladies, you're not walking down the beach and going to Tribal tonight. The men had elected to do so." And then there was this huge sense of relief. At that point, we decided, "Let's kill a chicken."
I plucked, killed and cooked a chicken, and we had a little celebratory dinner. At that point, we had four chickens, and we decided to have dinner and celebrate and enjoy that one of ours wasn't going home.
Reality TV World: So you're saying that even though it didn't get shown on last week's episode, if I'm understanding you right, there was an event in which Jeff came to the beach and notified the women that you wouldn't be going to Tribal and the men would be going instead and that was when you found out for sure that it was happening?
Monica Culpepper: Correct.
Reality TV World: So what are your thoughts on Colton, because it sounds like they've changed a lot. From what you've said, you had a pretty good relationship with him out there and then after watching him on TV, your opinion of him changed and he's not the person that you thought he was out there?
Monica Culpepper: It was so not the case, and obviously Survivor is not a game of loyalty and anyone who signs up to play realizes that. I guess what I take away what I thought of Colton is I was very saddened with what happened during the last Tribal Council. It was very uncomfortable to watch. I don't conduct myself that way.
I just thought there were a lot of bigoted comments and some racial lines that were played -- that was uncomfortable to see. And I think the hardest part for me was watching the men in that Tribal and then turn around when we swapped -- and had seen that information that the women were not privy to -- and see that Tarzan, Leif and [Jonas Otsuji] wanted to continue to be led by him.
It was actually disappointing. I feel like it was disappointing that Jonas didn't come to me and say, "Hey this is what happened and really, [Christina Cha], me, you, and Leif can make the biggest blindside of all time and send home the biggest villain in the game with his idol." Colton would've had no idea.
And I know, all game aside, if that were happening in my tribe with Sab, I would have said, "Hang on ladies. I really don't want to be led by the person that is leading me right now. This isn't the way I conduct myself." I would have tried to go after that person that was just being so unfair.
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second half of our exclusive interview with Monica.