Exclusive: Marty Piombo talks about 'Survivor: Nicaragua'
By Reality TV World staff, 11/11/2010
Marty Piombo thought he may have finally found a chance to resume playing Survivor: Nicaragua as a member of the game's dominant majority after spending several Tribal Councils fighting for survival following a tribal swap that destroyed his prior controlling alliance.
However despite his best attempts, Brenda Lowe and Matthew "Sash" Lenahan decided against teaming with Marty, Jud "Fabio" Birza, Dan Lembo, and Ben "Benry" Henry and voting his rival Jane Bright out of the game -- resulting in the 48-year-old technology executive from Mill Valley, CA becoming the tenth Survivor: Nicaragua castaway voted out instead
On Thursday, Marty talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Nicaragua experience -- including why he believes Brenda and Matthew decided not to keep him around, how he doesn't believe Jane was responsible for his downfall, whether he was jealous of Jimmy Johnson, and what he thinks about NaOnka Mixon.
Reality TV World: During your Final Words, you said you wouldn't change a thing about the way you played the game if you had a chance to do so. Did you really mean that?
Marty Piombo: Yeah, I mean, I think the only thing I would have done differently is, and it's not by the brand of game that I played, but a more specific kind of tactical thing. I think I would have tried to wedge myself in with [Holly Hoffman] once the merge happened, and that's something I neglected to do.
When you look at the game as a whole, you sort of afterwards say, well what does this game say about me as a person? And I do have a tendency to write people off after they had really wronged you or done something bad.
And unfortunately with Holly, I should have seen that despite some of her earlier blunders in the game, that she came around and she's the kind of person that I think I could have reengaged with just because she has good strong values and morals and belief system and I think I could've talked sense with her.
And that might have been enough of an opportunity to create a wedge over there and I regret not really seeing that. But other than that, no, I loved my game. I had fun with it. Sure, Marty is not going to be the guy that is quiet and live under the radar -- that just ain't gonna happen.
Reality TV World: So what about Jane? Because it seemed like you could really trace your downfall back to how Jane --and [whether she's] right or wrong I don't know -- somehow got in her head that you guys kind of treated her badly. You don't think there was anything you could have done differently with Jane?
Marty Piombo: I disagree, I think the tribal switch was the beginning of the downfall. And then they happened to bring along Jane...
Reality TV World: Well that's what I mean. The fact was that after the tribal switch happened, Jane immediately turned on you, which led to your downfall.
Marty Piombo: Okay, so I agree the numbers were not there and let's say Jane was part of our party. I still would have been on the chopping block. Even if let's say, they didn't like her, we were selected to be eliminated so [Jill Behm] and I were the first ones to be eliminated.
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It was not going to be any La Flor members and they still had the numbers -- it was 4-3 -- who knows what they would have done with [Kelly Bruno] or not. Let's say Jane was still really aligned with us, I [still] think they would have picked us off one by one.
Reality TV World: So you don't think the fact that Jane felt alienated by you is what led to your downfall? That isn't how you view the game?
Marty Piombo: No, that's not how I view the game. I view the game as the tribal switch was the biggest downfall and whether Jane was with us or against us would have still spelled the same disaster for us in the long run.
Did Jane sort of become a cancerous growth that created enough force and influence that ultimately led to the votes last night? Yeah, I would say yes, because I have.
Would I have played it differently? I would say no.
Because early on, Jill and I both tried to warm up to Jane and create a better bond with her while we were at Espada and it was never well received for her.
I think she resented -- within five minutes of this game starting, this is Jane's quote to me and Jimmy Johnson and one other person in the woods: "My husband just died. I need the money. Please don't vote me off.
And personally, I had a big problem with that because I have more human tragedy and loss in my life than [Chase Rice] and Jane combined, but I would never ever drag that kind of personal loss to a reality TV show. And that was a big red flag.
And then when she aligned with [Wendy DeSmidt-Kohloff] and [James "Jimmy T" Tarantino], it was another two red flags in terms of her judgment and her ability to play a strategic game. So I was always very pragmatic -- never said anything hateful, never said anything resentful about the woman.
Eventually, I painted a huge target on her back but the train had already left the station at that point. I had nothing to lose. I wanted to put the target on her back, take the heat off me, wake people up to the fact that if you let this woman get anywhere near to the finals, she will win the million dollars.
Reality TV World: I guess part of [the Jane situation] -- and there are other topics besides Jane I do want to get to -- is that it seemed then that you didn't really seem to envision the possibility that a tribal swap could be coming. Because if you did, that was obviously one of the big potential downfalls [that could come from] not focusing having a good relationships with the other folks in your tribe.
Marty Piombo: Listen, nobody ever has 100% percent of everybody on your tribe with them right? I mean, that never exists. I can't imagine that, and I've watched the show since the beginning, you're always going to have somebody that's either on the chopping block or is on the out -- always.
So, it just so happened that Jane was one of those. Now, did we try? Yeah, we did. Did I anticipate the tribal switch? Absolutely, otherwise I would not have had the idol in my pocket the day of a challenge, which is fairly unusual.
You take it to Tribal but you rarely take it to the challenge. So, we had anticipated that. Had we anticipated how or who would be going where? It's impossible to know.
Did we try with Jane? Yeah, we did. It was unsuccessful. We were not able to get her to cozy up with us.
Reality TV World: During your Final Words, you said the only thing that frustrated you was the fact there weren't really a lot of people playing the game out there. I'm assuming part of the reason you said that is because you felt that was kind of what resulted in your vote off, but there are some viewers who thought that comment was ironic because it really seemed like the fact that this season is full of weak players had also really played a big role in your initial success in the Espada tribe. Do you agree with that?
Marty Piombo: Anything you say in this game can go both ways, right? Everything. And everything about every player can go both ways. So let me turn it around on you, do you think -- and I think you already said it -- do you think this season was full of strategic players?
Reality TV World: [Personally], no. I think in the early part of the game you kind of seemed to be like a politician who was running unopposed out there -- you really didn't seem to have any rivals.
Marty Piombo: True, but you know how difficult that can be out there too! Because you have a bunch of knuckleheads out there and knuckleheads can form numbers and no matter how smart you are, you're still up against formidable odds.
The difference for me was that, being a lover of the game and as somebody who "studies the game" -- I never really studied the game, I just love Survivor -- but I wanted to play and I envisioned like strategy and more moves and people talking about the game. And instead there was none of that.
So the beginning of the game was frustrating for me because there was none of that and yeah, we were just picking people off, more or less, on who was weak or who just annoyed the hell out of people.
Reality TV World: The show presented yourself and Jimmy T as both being jealous of Jimmy Johnson while he was out there. Looking back at it, or [even at the time], do you think that was accurate or do you disagree with that?
Marty Piombo: Not at all. Jimmy T was for sure. [But] if Jimmy Johnson had said, "Marty let's form an alliance or let's work together" I would have in a heartbeat. I loved the guy, he's a class act.
Was there a little bit of resentment or whatever around the fact that he's a celebrity and he's instantly a leader, has respect, has trust, and everything just because he's Jimmy Johnson? Sure.
Because you know as well as I do that when you go into this game you have to work hard to buy all those things and to get them and sometimes it costs you to earn all that.
But in the end, when he decided that his strategy was going to be one of NOT having alliances and he went public with that, then theoretically that means he's not in my alliance and practically speaking that means he could be against my alliance.
And that can be threatening, for sure, and the fact that I could see Holly and Jane were definitely beginning to ally with him -- and in his interviews you could see that he confirmed that, that's who he would have gravitated towards, or possibly [Tyrone Davis] -- I could foresee that happening.
And coupled with that, I knew that we would have a tribal switch and the young people were already goo-goo gaga over him -- you see it in the first episode with [Shannon Elkins] and Chase hugging him and saying, "I wanted to play with you Coach" -- that was it!
Reality TV World: I'm paraphrasing here, but Jeff Probst called you a villain who probably didn't believe he was a villain. What's your response to that?
Marty Piombo: I don't know, I think there's villains and "villains." I mean if Boston Rob is a villain, dude, sign me up man!
I have no problem being a villain, none whatsoever. I just don't think I was one of these villains that was just full of hatred and resentment and stole and did destructive things.
I think I was a fun, funny villain that had a great time on the show and provided good entertainment for people that enjoyed watching.
Reality TV World: We're out of time, so two last questions. First one: Brenda and Sash were the ones who didn't go along with your plan. Why do you think that was? Because based on what [was shown last night] it seemed like they were onboard with keeping you.
Marty Piombo: I think it's probabilities. You know, you lay out a road map all the way to the end -- that's what you have to do at this point, those guys are smart enough that that's how they were thinking -- and you look at what they had to face.
If they had gone along with my plan, it meant a paradigm shift for them, right? They'd suddenly be with me and a cast of new characters, and I'm guessing they looked at how that was going to look all the way to the end -- and maybe even all the way to the Final 3 -- and decided, "You know what, we're going to take our shot with this other plan."
Reality TV World: Okay, last [question] -- NaOnka, she was really aggressive with you at Tribal Council and even seemed to leave Jeff speechless at one point. What are your thoughts on her and why she's still around in the game?
Marty Piombo: The young people will drag the most despicable people to the end, or the weakest people, because that's the way they would play. I would pick strong people and let the chips fall where they may, I think the older people would play that way.
They were different that way. That's the only reason they were keeping her around. She attacked me at Tribal Council, I was just defending myself. But it was mostly, I think, because she knew I was trying to flush the idol and she's a little vindictive [and] kind of evil.
She knew I was going and she wanted to have her time in front of the camera bashing me and I think I was just trying to defend myself. I didn't attack her, it was the other way around.