Exclusive: Joe Wang and Heidi Wang talk about 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 03/16/2010
After finishing in fourth place or better during The Amazing Race's three previous legs, things appeared to be going very well for "Married Couple" racers Joe Wang and Heidi Wang.
However things quickly derailed when "Detectives" Louis Stravato and Michael Naylor opted to use the fifth leg's U-Turn twist to force Joe and Heidi to do an additional Detour task they were unable to complete, resulting in the couple becoming the fourth team eliminated from The Amazing Race's sixteenth season during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality competition.
On Monday, Joe and Heidi (but mostly Joe) talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including whether Joe was aware how Louis and Michael seemed to interpret some of his comments, what happened when they were "saving spots" in line during the Race's second leg, how bad Joe's knee really was, and whether they had really never imagined someone would U-Turn them.
Reality TV World: Joe, were you aware how your comments were coming across as trash-talking to some of the other teams or had you just not realized it?
Joe Wang: So that question, I was trash-talking?
Reality TV World: Yeah, the comments you were making. Were you not aware that was how some of the other teams were taking them?
Joe Wang: No, no, I never took it as -- I can only see what I saw on the video, and I don't think it had anything to do with trash-talking. It had a lot to do with me being very overly confident and me being a competitor, and being a threat. I didn't hear anything about trash-talking, You'll have to elaborate a little bit more on that.
Reality TV World: When you were talking about how you weren't worried about any of the other teams. It seemed like that's how it came across to at least Louie and Michael.
Joe Wang: I didn't see a video about that, me saying that. I remember them asking me and I said all the teams are competitive and that my knee is giving me a lot of problems but we're still going to push this through, when we were on the bus.
Reality TV World: I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not saying you were trash-talking, I'm saying that seemed to be how Louis and Michael took it.
Joe Wang: Right. On watching some of these "Secret Scene" videos [on cbs.com], all of the teams were, you know, kind of strategizing against us. For whatever reason they chose.
We always ran the Race as Joe and Heidi running and we treated all the teams with great respect. And if you looked at any of our videos, we never talked about any other teams in a negative manner.
Reality TV World: So what happened during that ticket line incident, where you were holding spots in line?
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Joe Wang: Oh yeah, no, no. That was not "holding a spot," if you want to call it that. We were at the bus station and Brandy and Carol went with us. And then they ended up going to another station to make sure we had the best bus route. So for us we had to stick together as a team, and so I was in the front of the line and then Brandy and Carol ended up coming back and said "This is the best bus route."
So because they were researching information for us, and we'd agreed prior to getting into line, that's what ended up happening. So the cops were not understanding the situation. We weren't holding any spots, they were already in line with us but they had to go and research for us too.
Reality TV World: You just weren't able to explain that to them? It seemed like it was more than just "the cops" that had an issue, I remember it looking like some other teams also made some comments.
Joe Wang: Yeah, I mean I think those things appear because that's also probably, possibly some editing. But everybody's in line, the same line, and we were just ahead of the line.
Of course people in the back of the line are always going to be upset with people in the front of the front of the line. Because we were all on the same bus, they had the same opportunity to be in the front of the line just like I did.
They followed me into the line, because I was in the front of the line. We were all on the bus all together at the same time, there was no advantage in there.
Reality TV World: After the U-Turn, you said that had "never imagined" that anybody would use it on you. So you're saying despite these squabbles and things, it had really never entered your mind that someone might be upset with you guys?
Joe Wang: Well you know what's interesting is you mention these "squabbles."
Reality TV World: Well, are you saying you didn't hear Louis and Michael shouting from their seats on the bus when you were making your comments or anything like that?
Joe Wang: Yeah, [but] it was all in good fun. Entertainment. So being U-Turned, I don't think I ever said I was surprised. I was surprised that they used it that early, because typically if you're in the front of the Race you're going to continue to go and why burn bridges?
Reality TV World: The direct quote I have -- and I'm not certain if it was actually yourself or Heidi that said it -- but one of you said you "never even imagined" somebody would use it on you.
Joe Wang: Oh no, then that was just out of context. I mean of course, anyone can get U-Turned. That's what the game is about.
Reality TV World: I believe it was Heidi that was also shown saying that you guys thought you had a "good rapport" with [Louis and Michael]. Was that your actual belief then, or was that out of context as well?
Heidi Wang: You know what's interesting is there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that obviously doesn't make the show, so when we were in the long mandatory rest period after the Argentinean leg at that sheep ranch, we all spent a good 30 hours together And that was the only time we were not in a sequester mode where we could actually have meals together and have some conversations with the other teams.
And yeah, we were all in very good spirits and we were trying to make the best of the situation, camping in Argentina and not having showers and things like that. It was a good time. So, yeah, like I said it did come out of left field.
Reality TV World: When you first found out you had been U-Turn'd, did you think the "In the Trenches" Detour task was just going to be a minor inconvenience of sorts or were you immediately concerned that it had the potential to cost you the entire Race?
Joe Wang: Well, when we first had the choice initially, if you remember what they showed -- we looked at the Morse Code and my knee was bad and I still said "Hey, I want to go crawl" because I told my wife, "We never had training in Morse Code." We knew it was going to be difficult because some of those "mind" tasks typically are.
And if you looked at all the teams, no matter who they were they picked the crawl. Because sometimes you think the more physical challenge is going to be something you can do.
Reality TV World: So you were immediately concerned that it had the potential to cost you the entire Race?
Joe Wang: Absolutely. Immediately concerned with the Morse Code.
Reality TV World: Do you guys think Louis and Michael thought it was actually going to eliminate you or do you think they just thought it was going to slow you down?
Joe Wang: You know at that point I think it was whatever the U-Turn could have done. I mean I think the U-Turn typically slows teams down dramatically -- puts them in the "back of the bus," if you want to call it that. And I think there's also opportunities where, you know, it got us eliminated at this point.
I mean we felt like it was our destiny. If we were able to finish the Morse Code, then that was on us. And if we didn't finish it, it was on us too.
Reality TV World: Did you take any solace out of hearing them say you guys were "good competition and this is a competition" on last night's episode?
Joe Wang: Well in their interview, they talked about how we were strong competitors and we were a threat. I think a lot of teams said that, even some of the other interviews I saw with Steve and Allie that was published [on cbs.com].
You know, they used it and we had to deal with the consequences.
Reality TV World: Exactly what was your knee issue? We'd seen you talking about it before the bungee jump, but it hadn't stopped you from initially picking the soccer task in Hamburg after that and then last night's episode suddenly showed you keeping it elevated and iced-up during the bus trip. Was it a [minor issue] that just progressively got worse as the Race went or was the bungee jump the main cause of the problem?
Heidi Wang: Actually, Joe's knee basically bothered him from Day 1 and it just amplified as the Race progressed. It was actually the size of a grapefruit, he had to see the medics every day. And that was actually the first thing we did after we were eliminated, is we went to the emergency room in France and he had to get X-rays and have it looked it.
He can talk more, but basically every leg of the Race we were challenged by the knee.
Reality TV World: Right from the start?
Joe Wang: Yeah, one of the parts of the Race that I think most people don't know is all of the running and the pounding your body gets. I thought I was prepared for it, I did a lot of training, but the running kind of beat me up a little bit more than I thought it would.
Reality TV World: So was that a pre-existing injury that you re-aggravated?
Joe Wang: No, I played a lot of sports so I trained prior to it not knowing it was going to give me this many problems.
Reality TV World: When you finished the "Under Fire" Detour task, it looked like you were actually using the rifle as a cane.
Joe Wang: You are absolutely correct (laughs)
If you saw me, I was hustling through the crawl and I felt very good because it was some physical task that I was able to make some ground on. And of course, running off-balance and on non-level land, I was using it as a cane, of course.
Reality TV World: So if you hadn't been eliminated, how big an issue do you think your knee would have been going forward?
Joe Wang: Absolutely, the knee wasn't going to get better and actually probably would have gotten worse. But with my competitiveness and nature, I would have pushed it through and most teams looked at that, I think, as something that would have happened anyways.
They said, "I know the knee is bothering Joe, but I think his determination is going to push through that."
Heidi Wang: Yeah, we even said we think it would have been a hindrance but I still think we would have placed in the Top 3. If it was [just] a footrace, I give it to any other team, they probably would have beat us.
But if you take into consideration everything else, like our history together, our good communication -- we never had a fight on the Race -- then I think those are issues that would have propelled us to have been frontrunners.
Reality TV World: At the end of the Detour, they cut to a brief shot where they showed you in the trench consoling each other and kind of lamenting why you were U-Turn'd and then the next thing we saw was [The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan] coming out after sunset to see you guys. What happened in between there, were you still trying to get the code all that time?
Joe Wang: We were trying our very best. I mean we were there for close to six hours and then it got dark and the weather changed dramatically, it started to rain. So I was giving Heidi a lot of shelter, her whole body was shivering. And if you remember, when we left we didn't have anything to eat or drink since 8:30AM. That was close to almost 12 hours.
Reality TV World: After Phil told you guys the correct code message, Heidi, I believe it was you that said you would never have gotten "Vive France." How close did you actually come, was "Vive La Liberate" the closest?
Heidi Wang: No, it didn't show it but we obviously knew what the message was on the first Detour task, so we used that as our first message, and it was wrong. We knew it would be some variation, something to do with the war.
So although we couldn't decipher the Morse Code -- because if you were in that position with the bombs exploding, the airplanes flying overhead. It was freezing and it was so fast, the tape of the Morse Code was so quick, and you could not decipher between a dot, a dash and a space. You could only imagine.
But anyways, when we knew we couldn't actually decipher it, we just went and we kind of put our heads together and we went back with like 20 different messages, like what could it possibly be. And obviously we were so close but we just obviously did not get it.
Joe Wang: At one point [the Morse Code message] almost sounded like rambling to us, it was just noise.
Reality TV World: How realistic was that battlefield reenactment? It seemed pretty realistic on TV.
Joe Wang: Yeah, absolutely. They were the real trenches, I mean you could see how they were reinforced with barricades and stuff. I know they weren't real bombs, but they were throwing something that created a lot of sulfur and had dirt flying in the air. I was constantly in tears because of the smoke and the dust and the dirt.
Heidi Wang: And obviously you saw it last night, it was an emotional episode to begin with, being eliminated. But when you throw in the emotions of World War I and the soldiers -- I mean the whole show just embraced so much emotional aspects to it.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying?
Heidi Wang:(to Joe) Um, how do you want to put this?
Joe Wang: You mean how were we cast?
Reality TV World: How did you end up on the Race -- was it something one of you wanted to do and asked the other? Had it been your first time trying to get on the show? What's the backstory?
Joe Wang: One time. We applied just like some of the other teams.
Reality TV World: Was there one of you that wanted to be on it more than the other that had suggested it first?
Joe Wang: Originally we were brought -- we had an opportunity to get on the Race. So we both said that's something interesting and we both agreed to go on it together. And it was a challenge for us because I like the competitive fun in team sports and we liked the show itself. So we pursued it together.