Exclusive: Randy Bailey dishes about his 'Survivor: Gabon' experience
By John Bracchitta, 11/21/2008
If Randy Bailey, a 49-year-old videographer from Eagle Rock, MO, did nothing else, he made his exit from Survivor: Gabon a memorable one. After making it through 30 days in Gabon, Bailey had seemed to find a way to adapt his prickly personality to the game and find success.
However, with his alliance's numbers dwindling and looking likely to drop even further, Bailey's plan to put himself on the chopping block and then save himself with an Immunity Idol fell flat when he learned too late that the Idol was a fake.
On Friday, a slightly less prickly Bailey talked with Reailty TV World about what he's regretted since leaving the game, how his opinion of Matty Whitmore has changed, and when he realized that his Idol mix up had doomed him.
Reality TV World: Based on last night's show, it looked like you had no idea Bob's Idol was actually fake -- is that accurate?
Randy: Yes and no. When [Robert "Bob" Crowley] gave it to me Bob was a friend and even an ally. The Idol looked pretty real, I believed it was real.
When [Survivor: Gabon host Jeff Probst] asked if anybody had it -- and of course I had suspicions because nobody gives up and Immunity Idol that easily -- Jeff asked "If anybody's gonna play it, now's the time," and I looked down at the end of where we were sitting, and [Crystal Cox] and [Jessica "Sugar" Kiper] are laughing. Crystal even falls out of her chair and she is laying in the dirt pointing and laughing at me.
And of course, at that point I know it's 100% fake. I play[ed] it anyway, there [was] nothing to lose.
Reality TV World: Weren't you a little suspicious that Bob was so willing to give the Idol to you seeing as [his own neck] was going to be on the line too?
Randy: Yeah I know, and Bob is not a -- Bob would not make a fool out of somebody just to make a fool out of them. He's not that kind of guy. After thinking about it a few days I figured he'd been helped with that decision. Last night showed that.
Reality TV World: And you said that you saw Crystal and Sugar laughing and that opened up the thought that maybe something was up?
Randy: [Yeah], I knew for a fact it was a fake Idol.
Reality TV World: Why do you think Bob went through all the trouble of creating a fake Immunity Idol and then turned around and told Sugar about it right away?
Randy: I'm not sure that... I think they had a bond early in the game if not earlier, if you know what I mean. That's kind of tough to play against.
Reality TV World: At the beginning of last night's episode, there was a clip where you said that "[Corinne Kaplan] is still an ally, but what can you do with two people?" Does that mean you really didn't consider Bob to be a true ally at that point already?
Randy: Honestly, Bob beat me so there's really nothing I can say, the joke's on me because he lasted longer than I did.
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But yeah in my eyes and in Corinne's eyes Bob was... There were four of us: [Marcus Lehman], [Charlie Herschel], Corinne and myself. And it's funny, in Marcus' eyes Marcus and Charlie are No. 1 and No. 2. In Corinne's eyes and my eyes Corinne and I are No. 1 and No. 2.
Everybody's got a different perception of who's at the front of an alliance and who's at the back and at the end of the day it doesn't really matter what you think.
And to answer your question. Bob was there and he was part of [the alliance] while we needed his vote. If it ever got down to five or six people I could lose Bob without losing a lot of sleep.
Reality TV World: Did you have any idea before you instituted your ["crash and burn"] plan that Matty had been campaigning to send Bob home next instead of you?
Randy: Oh no, of course not, of course not. I said it earlier in one of my interviews that one of the biggest mistakes I had made in this game was misreading Matty. On Day 10 when Matty stayed with Fang and I moved over to Kota I thought he had just hooked up with Crystal and [Ken "Kenny" Hoang] to save his own butt. I thought he was right in on taking out [Ace Gordon] and I had lost a lot of respect for the way Matty had played when we got separated.
Watching the show has been really enlightening and I've gained all the respect that I lost for Matty while playing the game. I've gained it back while watching the show on TV.
Reality TV World: Do you think Matty really thought Bob was the bigger physical threat than you or do you think he had some other ulterior motive for wanting to keep you around?
Randy: He probably had an ulterior motive, but another thing I noticed he said that was funny was -- and this might have been gameplay on his part, we'll have to ask him -- he said "Randy has no chance of winning any of the challenges coming up."
There's eight of us left and anybody that watches the show knows that there's always different kinds of challenges. If the challenge is me sprinting up a hill against Matty, Matty's gonna win every time.
But if it's gonna be a challenge like getting in a boat and flipping the ball into a net or something with skill or soemthing that requires thinking outside the box. I've got as big a chance as anybody to win, if not bigger.
Reailty TV World: Your plan seemed like it was a pretty dangerous thing to try and pull off without first having talked with Bob and gotten his buy-in on [giving you the Idol]. What made you so confident that he was going to [first] find the Idol and then give it to you?
Randy: Corinne and I were talking about that. We didn't know Bob was at Exile making a fake idol. We weren't confident that he would give it to us. We thought he might because we were down in numbers and once Marcus and Charlie got voted out, Bob -- who in my eyes was a pawn in our alliance -- he became real in our alliance because we needed him. Bob's not stupid, he probably smelled that.
Reality TV World: In order for Bob to have found the [Immunity Idol], Sugar had to have not already previously found it, obviously. Why were Corinne and yourself so confident that Sugar hadn't found the Idol despite all the time she had spent out there?
Randy: One of the things was [Dan Kay] had been sent there too and didn't come close to finding it and... (Pauses) What we didn't know was Sugar had a map and Dan had not had a map, and that's why Dan looked so inept when he was trying to find the [Immunity Idol].
Sugar had a map spelling out exactly where it was. Yeah, I was wrong about that.
Reality TV World: So you didn't know about the map at the time...
Reality TV World: On last night's show, you and Corinne admitted your plan was pretty much a desperate last Hail Mary pass attempt. What made you give up trying to convince one of the five to flip and switch to the Hail Mary attempt instead?
Randy: Well we did try, you saw Corinne and I working Matty last night.
Reality TV World: Yeah, you started doing it and then shifted away from it.
Randy: I mean, I'm working Matty hard. I said "Matty you're hooked up with this side and you're not going to the finals and you should be proud of yourself. Fifth place is pretty damn good."
And you could see him thinking about it.
Reality TV World: So how come you didn't pursue that more [and] go for the "All or Nothing" play [instead]?
Randy: You're not listening to me, we did play. They shoot 300 hours of footage and they cut it down to 44 minutes.
Reality TV World: Did you really [as you told Corinne] consider [Susie Smith] to be the "worst person" in the game, given your clashes relationship with both Crystal and Sugar?
Randy: "Worst person" in terms of what?
Reality TV World: There was a quote when you were talking about your plan where you said you could keep [yourself and Corinne] in [the game] while kicking out "the worst person" and you were referring to Susie. I was wondering why you tagged her with that label given you didn't really get along with Crystal or Sugar either.
Randy: Well, Crystal and Sugar didn't flip earlier to take out Marcus. I didn't think Marcus did the greatest job when he got sent to the new Kota of five people. I thought bringing in a relationship that was outside of the game [with Crystal] was not the smartest thing to do.
I blamed Susie for flipping.
Reality TV World: During your time on the show you said few things that that some people perceived as probably being pretty nasty. After watching the show, is there anything you regret saying or felt the need to apologize for?
Randy: Why do you guys always beat around the bush? What are you specifically talking about and I'll answer it.
Reality TV World: Okay, well I guess one thing was when you were talking about Crystal and How about those Tribal Council comments where you talked about Crystal and [Danny "G.C." Brown] and you called them a "posse" and a "gang."
Randy: I knew you were talking about that. I didn't... I said Crystal was with her "posse" [and] was running the tribe like a "gang." And when I said it, you know, I meant it, and I didn't mean it in a racist way at all. What you didn't see... Well, no I'm not even gonna go there. I'm not gonna defend it.
But yeah, when I watched show I admit I cringed. I could see where that came off the wrong way. I called Crystal, I apologized. I said I did not mean it like that. She accepted it and we both moved on. Is that what you wanted?
Reality TV World: Yeah, that's fine. When I talked to Marcus a couple of weeks ago, he admitted he'd thought about trying to slip that Immunity Idol from the fake merge feast off the bottle before he threw it into the ocean. You were right there with him for a lot of that. Did you ever think about trying that too?
Randy: I thought about it a million times, [even] after the fact since I've been home. At that point there was 10 people left in the game [and] I was in a dominant alliance. I was practicing my speech at the finale. I didn't need the [Immunity Idol]. I didn't want anybody else to have it. You're right it would've been beautiful to slip it into my pocket and [have] nobody know. I was all for throwing it into ocean [at the time].
Reality TV World: Marcus said that one of the reasons he couldn't [grap the Idol and hide it as you guys waded out into the water] was because of the way it was tied there would've been no way he could've gotten off the bottle. Do you agree with that?
Randy: Yeah I do agree with that.
One thing that episode didn't show was the second we read the note, we were sitting there drinking beer and eating food and Sugar jumps up by herself and sprints to the dead log, and she's out there digging by herself for like an hour trying to find it.
I knew right where it was. I mean it was so obvious, the limb pointing down to the sand, and she was looking everywhere but there.
In hindsight I wish I had gone out there, taken the five seconds to dig it up, hid the idol, and then just continued to dig for about two hours like nobody could find it.
That's what I should've done, but those things are easy to think about when you've been at home resting and thinking about what you should've done.
Reality TV World: How far away from the tribal camps was that feast beach? Were you ever worried that someone -- like [maybe someone that went] on a hike while in Exile -- could've managed to sneak back to the beach find [the Idol] washed up on shore?
Randy: Hmm. I think there's some things there that I'm not allowed to talk about, but let me just say that there was no chance of anybody from the tribes going back to that beach and finding the Idol.
Reality TV World: We saw a lot of the backstory about why you didn't get along with Crystal during your time about Fang, but what do you think led to such bitterness between yourself and Sugar? You two weren't even in the same tribe for very long.
Randy: In one of Sugar's pre-game interviews somebody asked her who she likes and dislikes and she immediately said "I don't like the old guy that's mean-looking." She hated me before the game started. And then when we go to the "keep away" game, Jeff asked her something and she said "I just don't like that guy. He's so mean." She didn't even know my name at that point. What am I supposed to do about that?
Reality TV World: Some former castaways I've talked to have not had a very high opinion of Corinne. Setting your alliance with her aside, what was your opinion of her?
Randy: She's mean, she's selfish, she's sarcastic, and I miss the hell out of her and I can't wait to see her again.
In all seriousness Corinne is great. She's smart, funny, [and] hot.