Jon 'Jonny Fairplay' Dalton talks about 'Survivor: Micronesia'
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/11/2008
Jon Dalton said his Survivor return looked "good on paper," but intense tooth pain and a seven-month pregnant girlfriend back home quickly brought an end to Jonny Fairplay's comeback.
"Honestly on paper, I'm like, 'Hey! I can go and do this! I'm Jonny Fairplay! I don't care!' But I think there was honestly a maturation process out there," Fairplay told reporters during a Friday conference call.
"The pain -- teeth-wise -- was insane. And then you know, I did Survivor before, I made it 38 out of 39 days. When you get back, you're a mess. I mean mentally and physically, you are destroyed. You're not right for a while. I'm sitting there as a soon-to-be-parent going, 'Maybe this isn't the best idea for me to go back to an over eight-months pregnant fiancee and prepare to raise a child with this psychological stress.'... There was no way I wasn't going to take the opportunity. But through all the obstacles that have been put up against me, finally I reached a breaking point."
While he left for Palau to film Survivor's sixteenth installment a week after he suffered a shattered jaw that required 15 hours of dental surgery and four root canals due to an incident with fellow reality star Danny Bonaduce, Fairplay said he was still confident he could overcome the pain.
"Going out there, you're not allowed your medication -- even with three doctor's notes saying that I need it. [The producers were] basically like, 'Go without it or you can't go,'" explained Fairplay. "I had just finished doing [CMT's Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge], and I had beat [Dan "Nitro" Clark] from American Gladiators and [Raghib "Rocket" Ismail] from the Dallas Cowboys... You know, athletes. For me to go out and win that, I felt pretty invincible at that time. So it was like, 'This pain is horrendous, but I think I can fight through this.'"
However things quickly took a turn for the worse as Fairplay was "blind-sided" by fellow Favorite Yau-Man Chan as the two scrambled for an Individual Immunity Idol, sending Fairplay jaw-first "into the side of a boat."
"I was in a world of hurt right there," he said. "Just excruciating pain."
In addition, Fairplay also said he couldn't stop thinking about his then girlfriend Michelle Deighton, who was seven-months pregnant with the couple's first child together.
"Going into that, we made a pact -- the two of us agreed -- that if something bad were to happed with the pregnancy, for her not to tell CBS because I didn't want to know out there. I wanted to focus on Survivor. I've been waiting four-and-a-half years for this chance to show why I believe I'm the greatest player to play the game," explained Fairplay.
"So going out there -- we did make this pact 'don't tell' -- but once I got out there I felt as though I made a very poor decision in that if something bad were to happen, I'm not going to know. And all you can do when you're out there is just think the worst."
Fairplay claims that at the Tribal Council that saw his ouster Chan and Jonathan Penner "both said in all honesty, if their wives were seven-months pregnant, they would not be out there."
While he wouldn't say if he was allowed to immediately leave Palau for the States following his elimination, he didn't seem to upset to be the first castaway cut.
"All I do know is I'm very happy with the decision I made," he said. "I think it's the smartest decision I could make, and I have no regrets whatsoever. And if you have to call it a quit, I quit for love."
However because he came so close to grabbing the Individual Immunity Idol before Chan snatched it, Fairplay was also left wondering what could have been.
"If I had gotten that Immunity Idol -- that first Immunity Idol would have been mine -- I wouldn't have gone face-first into the boat afterward and then that pain wouldn't have been a factor," he said. "I could easily see me being in the game longer. Honestly, the conditions are horrific out there. Going through that much pain, it's physically not bearable."
"Going in, right off the bat, I had an immediate alliance with Yau-Man, Jonathan and Eliza," said Fairplay. "Jonathan and Yau-Man, they're all business when they go out there. They're not willing to have fun -- that's not what they're there for. So right off the bat, I'm just like, 'Ugh! Do I really want to live 39 days with these guys?' Strategically, they play the same game as I do. But at the same time, I'm not having fun with these guys... And Amy and I became very close, and Eliza and I were friends."
While Fairplay said he was initially targeting Lusth, the two "became really good friends even though I had the biggest target on him at the beginning" -- and he eventually turned his attention to Shallow.
"I was going to go after Parvati first to break-up that strong four," he explained. "Then go to Ozzy afterwards and be like, 'Look, nothing personal. You four together is just too much power in one group. Here's the deal: me, you, Amy and Eliza. Bam. Let's do this.' And I think it would have worked great."
But Fairplay eventually wanted out, and instead decided to give Lusth some strategic insight to go along with his already impressive physique.
"I like the kid. I liked him a lot," said Fairplay. "Before that Tribal Council, I pulled Ozzy aside for about 30 minutes. It's very emotional you know, we're both in tears. He's like, 'Don't do this!' I'm like, 'You know I have to.' And I was like, 'But look, here's the deal. Here's the alliances. Here's the pecking order. Here's who they're coming after, here's who you should go after in what order.' I was like, 'Ozzy I like you, but at the same time I think your social game is lacking. When you do go out and go fishing or go diving for clams and you do take out the boat, bring three people with you. That hour that you're gone doing that, those people are talking about you. If they're there with you, they're not talking about you because you're there. Number two, they see firsthand how valuable you are.'"
"So essentially I told him -- this is the exact quote, 'Here's the keys to the car kid. Don't wreck it.'"
Fairplay, however, apparently wanted no part of Malakal's tenth member Cirie Fields because her strategy reminded him too much of Pearl Islands' winner Sandra Diaz-Twine.
"Cirie is a Sandra-type player. I don't respect that type of player personally," he explained. "I like Cirie as a person, I just don't appreciate her game play. She plays the Sandra game, 'As long as it's not me, I'm here for a vote.' There's no strategy in that whatsoever. I just hate that type of competitor. Does it work? Yes. We've seen it work many, many seasons. But at the same time I think it's horrible television, so when you see two groups of four coming up to me and not Cirie, it's basically like Cirie goes, 'Hey, I'm with the majority. Just tell me who has more yeses. I'm with them.' I hate it television-wise."
In addition, Fairplay added he wasn't surprised at the blossoming romances between Lusth and Kimmel and Clement and Shallow, except for what he thought was a small snafu.
"The crazy thing was, I was under the impression both Ozzy and James had girlfriends going into the game, so I'm very curious how that's going to play out!" said Fairplay with a laugh before adding he doesn't think it will hinder their alliance but may give Fields the upper hand.
"That's a strong four alliance. Like I said, if I had stayed in the game and outted Parvati, that's a pretty weak [alliance] unless Ozzy went with me like I suggested. That's a weak group. So right now, I think there's a lot of power with Cirie now being the deciding vote. But once one person's gone, it's just going to be a majority voting thing."
Fairplay added he personally had a problem with the way producers handled having Kimmel and Clement compete considering the other Favorites were never specifically told how well the two faired during Survivor: China.
"We were only able to see the first four episodes [of China] before we left. I did read on some of the message boards about James having both idols and not using them. So I was aware of that. I read online that James finished sixth or seventh, right around that spot, and I heard Amanda was Top 3 from the message boards," he explained. "However they weren't allowed to tell us because it would have broke their confidentiality agreements, and we had to pretend as though we knew. I thought that was ridiculous."
Fairplay also revealed what doomed Malakal during Micronesia's first Immunity Challenge, giving the Fans' Airai tribe the victory.
"As soon as we hit that tree right at the beginning, we split our axle in half and the wheels wouldn't turn. It was over then," he explained. "So I don't feel [the Fans] beat us. I feel as though not being able to push the cart, you're not going to make it to the end. That's it. It was over from the beginning."
Considering the way his fellow Favorites reacted to his arrival, Fairplay said he didn't think overcoming the Fans would have ultimately been to arduous of a task had he stayed in the competition.
"I felt as though me going out there with the Favorites, most of the Favorites were from newer seasons that hadn't meant me personally yet. So with them, there was more of a, 'Oh my God. We're playing the game with the Jonny Fairplay,'" he said. "I don't want to be egotistical, but I'm one of the greatest reality TV stars ever. I have a pretty full resume. So I was signing autographs for the Favorites before we even started to game. So I'm like, 'Wow! I can't wait to meet the Fans, this is going to be cake!'"
Needless to say, Fairplay said he likes the Favorites chances over the Fans.
"Honestly, every single Favorite there has a minimum of 30 days experience in the game, and that's immeasurable. So my money is on a Favorite," he said before singling out Lusth. "I like Ozzy for the fact that I kind of told him what to do. Jonny Fairplay plays a pretty good game of Survivor -- so if he's using my blueprint -- I like his chances."
Fairplay also handicapped the odds of a few of the other Favorites who may come out on top or run into problems.
"I think Amy is one of the smarter players out there. I think game play wise, I think Amy's near the top," he said. "I think Eliza knows the game probably better than anyone. The only problem with Eliza is, all she says non-stop is, 'They're going to vote me off. They're going to vote me off. I think they're going to vote me off.' I'm like, 'Shut up or I'm going to vote you out! Good God! Say something else!' I sit there and tell her, 'If someone says anything to you, just say cool back. Anything other than I think they're going to vote me out.' So that really works against her, however [she's] a student of the game. Jonathan Penner also, he knows the game. But Jonathan is a player that he can out-Fairplay a Fairplay. So when the pressure's on and when there's a doubting time, I don't think he could talk his way out of it like I would be able to."
Fairplay claims he's made some "amazing friendships" on the various reality shows he's participated in -- because he's a "genuinely a nice guy" and "not because I'm an asshole" -- meaning he wasn't consciously trying to rehabilitate his image during Micronesia.
"I wanted to go in and have fun and all that. But if you watch the character of Jonny Fairplay on [Survivor: Pearl Islands], my interaction with the people out there is friendly. It's the confessional interviews where I go into bad-guy mode and they're not aware of it," he explained. "So with everything that transpired, I don't think it was necessarily this ploy by me to make this face change. I think it was just the maturation process of the circumstances around me. It's just like, 'Hey, you are about to have a little girl. What's the smartest thing hat you can do for you and your family?'"
It seemingly worked out for Fairplay, as he and Deighton are currently scheduled to wed on June 14 and she gave birth to their daughter Piper Addison last month. In addition, Fairplay also said had the chance to bury the hatchet with Survivor host Jeff Probst.
"Most people consider [Survivor: Pearl Islands as] the story of Jonny Fairplay vs. Rupert. But I sent Rupert home halfway through. The only constant in the show was Jonny Fairplay vs. Jeff Probst. We would go at it tooth and nail, like we weren't scared to be honest. I think it really made for great television. So this time around was Round 2. I think it's only fitting that in the final chapter of Fairplay vs. Probst, it ends in a hug. I thought it was beautiful television," he said. "I would have to say after the hug, I think officially the olive branch has been passed and accepted and I would consider Jeff a friend."
Fairplay said he's currently in the process of legally changing his name to Jonny Fairplay, which Deighton -- who plans to take on Fairplay's surname once they marry -- agreed to go along with. As for what's next for "one of the greatest reality TV stars ever?"
"I have a new gig. It's called fatherhood. I'm loving it," he said. "So I left Micronesia to give this family thing a try and I love it. Let's ride this for a while."