Exclusive: Greg "Tarzan" Smith talks about 'Survivor: One World'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/10/2012
Greg "Tarzan" Smith, a 64-year-old plastic surgeon from Houston, TX, was eliminated from Survivor: One World's merged Tikiano tribe during Wednesday night's thirteenth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.
Tarzan was voted out of his tribe at the season's thirteenth Tribal Council session, the seventh session for the tribe since the merge, after the members of his alliance began questioning his loyalty and wondered whether they could trust him at all.
On Thursday, Tarzan talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World experience.
Reality TV World: Did you go into Tribal Council expecting to be voted off or did you think it was going to be Chelsea?
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: Well, when I went to Tribal Council, the imprint from various discussions was I was a bit concerned that [Alicia Rosa] didn't follow the logic of how she could make it further and that she might betray the existing plan, but I had told the tribe -- they were all ready that the boys would vote for me -- at that point, the Tribal Council was heavily weighted with men and all the men had been betrayed by the girls.
But what they did not know is that mid-point, I had ingratiated myself with the women and had promised to help their demise. They didn't know that. They didn't know that I was actually helping them plot against the boys. And I told the girls, "Look, if you're worried that if I make it to the Top 3 that the boys are going to vote for me just because, I can help you. When I got to Tribal Council..."
First of all, I told them, "I don't need to be Top 3 and that's the truth. I went for the adventure and to lose weight and I went out of pride and just wanting to win as everyone does. I wouldn't mind to get further than sixth. I wouldn't mind to be five or four, but I didn't have to be the Top 3, and I'll prove it to you. I'll tell the boys at Tribal Council the truth. I'll tell them that I helped plot against them. I'll say something that everybody hates to hear. I'll say I'm a millionaire and that'll make them think I don't deserve."
They already know I'm a plastic surgeon, so right off the bat, they think I'm privileged even though it's not true. I came up impoverished and had five fathers growing up, so I became a plastic surgeon basically just from the grace of God. Chances were very little but they didn't know that, so they just think maybe I'm a privileged guy.
And I truly, truly had developed an appetence for Alicia. I wanted her to go as far as possible. It didn't need to be me and I told her so. She said that I was like a father to her, and indeed after 15 or 16 days of helping her with her plots -- you know, I mean I am 64, so I've had some life experiences (laughs) that would make me maybe know a little bit more than the 30-year-olds or under.
I told her and another girl that I really wanted to see them go the furthest and I would help them and, "Here's how to do it!" But [Kim Spradlin] basically lied to Alicia. They also know that some of the ways we won things was by doing reconnaissance. You have to fake out the other members that aren't part of the coterie.
And so, some of the things I would say to -- and of course, if you saw more than 42 minutes and you saw the whole thing, you'd understand that more was going on than what was seen on TV. But part of the thing is maybe telling Kim that it's really her I wanted to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, when actually, Alicia should've known.
After all those days that I never betrayed her -- and what I was telling her was correct -- but she was faked out by Kim, which is what I worried about. And she was faked out -- she told me that [Sabrina Thompson] lied to her too. I don't know if that's true or not, but I think it may have been.
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I think she's only 24 and despite what I did during Tribal Council, which would have revealed that people probably wouldn't vote for me, and what I did prior to Tribal Council -- which would make it seem, "Well, they're not going to vote for that guy," -- that they would not have fear if we voted out another woman instead of the last man standing. However, it didn't work that way. I hope you notice that I wasn't surprised by it.
I pretty much -- you know, they're young. It doesn't seem that they really believed me, although it was true. I was being honest and I would've done what I said I did, and I think they should've seen that I betrayed myself at that Tribal Council by telling the guys what I told them -- by saying that I had enough money, but it was over by that day and so I left. I expected to go. I was shocked that my tactics got me down to number six.
Reality TV World: What part of what Kim said did you believe was a lie when she outfoxed Alicia, because you were shown telling Kim the same thing about wanting to [convince the jury to vote for her]. You might've been lying to Kim...
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: That's a reconnaissance type of thing. "Oh my God! Tarzan said the same thing to me! hahahahaha." And Alicia falling for it, which she should not have done -- I mean, we had played this scenario before.
We had lied to J-Bird [Christina Cha] -- lied about J-Bird to get [Troy "Troyzan" Robertson], who believed her, to help knock off J-Bird. This was a tactic of Kim and Alicia was in on it. So if Alicia had thought about it a bit, she would see that she was being played.
Reality TV World: Why did you decide to turn on the guys to help the women advance in the game? What did that come down to?
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: I didn't turn on the guys. I was betrayed. We started out in the beginning and I developed a coterie of five guys. I took in [Colton Cumbie] -- who, as you might have realized -- was destined to be voted off really quick. The girls didn't like him; The boys didn't like him. I'm a doctor.
I understand the psychology of his epicene nature, so I explained that to him and I said, "Look Colton. If you come with us, we'll protect you. We'll at least make it down to five, and as it is, you're going to go within the next couple Tribal Councils." He was smart enough to understand that was subtle, and so he joined us.
Okay, and then we go co-ed and we joined together. When I came back as the Tikiano tribe, I discovered the guys had lost their compass and Troyzan wasn't certain anymore. He wasn't solid anymore, and we had been the nucleus of the atom of the coterie of five. He was uncertain.
I lost my queen, and in the beginning -- if this were a chess game, if you lose your queen and you're in chess, you understand that you're in deep trouble, especially if it occurs early. So I knew that the boys had been a bit hebetudinous, benighted, not bright -- probably influenced by the pheromones -- and they actually thought the girls weren't united, which I believed they were.
So then, I hadn't ingratiated myself with the women, out of respect for my wife, at all. But then I decided, "You know what? I've been, in a sense, I've been betrayed by the guys. They're no longer a unit. This is going to go down bad. They're being stupid.
So, I'm going to ingratiate myself with the women -- and I had already ingratiated myself with Alicia in order to get rid of [Monica Culpepper]. So Alicia was my go-to-for in regards to my allegiance to the girls, and that wouldn't have started and I would've stayed with the guys if they could keep their compass.
Reality TV World: It seemed like they did try to realign there though at the end, with Leif Manson and Troyzan trying to approach you and one other person -- Christina or Alicia or something -- at that Tribal Council before Leif got voted out.
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: From there, I knew that -- see, this is way deeper. It's an 18-tier chess game with 18 brains playing it. So, it's much more complicated than one might [assume]. So at that point, my goal...
Reality TV World: Well what I was trying to understand is did you seriously consider changing your mind and realigning at that point or were you committed to where you were?
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: I understood the dynamics. Why would I change my mind and realign when Leif is wishy-washy? I would be certain about Troyzan, but Leif, he's wishy-washy and Christina, wishy-washy. If I lasted just a little bit longer, I knew that I'd be able to see my wife on that island. It was way more important than taking a risky move.
I knew that if I had kept my compass towards ingratiating with the women, that I had the best chance of seeing my wife. That was true -- the statistical analysis of the social situation. That's why I did that.
Reality TV World: What was your overall impression of Kim while you were out there? She seemed to be running the show throughout most of the season, and it seems like everyone knows that yet no one is willing to do anything about it.
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: Well the reason is, if you watch the show closely, she was much more mercurial in her decisions than one would think. I mean, I thought the nidus of the atom was Kim and [Chelsea Meissner]. I thought they were bonded, which is a smart thing to do. And I thought Troyzan and I were bonded, except when we united as Tikiano.
But even at the end, had I been able to sway Alicia and a couple others to trusting me, Kim mentioned she would join us and she would knock out Chelsea. And I think she meant that if she thought she was threatened.
But the reality is -- see this is why it's so smart to have a bonded pair -- people know it, or they should know it if they're smart enough, and trying to break up a bonded pair is risky with regards to being knocked out of the game at certain points in the game.
But see, (laughs) and admittedly, Kim was played favorably throughout the 42 minutes of each episode, so look, you're not seeing 24/7 filming as actually occurred and the essence of the story to be told.
Reality TV World: You were shown telling Alicia that you thought she could beat Kim in the final vote if she got to the end. Did you actually believe that?
Greg "Tarzan" Smith: Yes, I believed it, because the gang of guys hated Kim at that point. But they did not know. They thought it was Kim and Chelsea that had betrayed them. They didn't like Chelsea; They didn't like Kim. At that point, there were five guys and only a total of nine jury members to compliment the five.
So at the moment, the guys had the sway vote and the girls were convinced the guys would all vote for me if I made it. And if Alicia made it, she had been the most feminine one on the entire show -- and to be honest, they didn't think Christina deserved it.
And (laughs) so, the probability is, had it gone down a certain way, I believe -- I don't know if it's true or not -- but I believe that depending on how stacked up, Alicia had a very good chance at being number one because of what I just told you.