Exclusive: 'Amazing' racers Anthony Marotta, Stephanie Kacandes talk
By John Bracchitta, 10/06/2008
Anthony Marotta and Stephanie Kacandes had hoped for their experiences in The Amazing Race to last longer.
"The Dating Couple" began The Amazing Race 13 along with the promise that if the couple emerged victorious, Anthony would also propose to his on-again-off-again girlfriend. However, after struggling with Brazil's taxis and failing to make up ground in between tasks, Anthony and Stephanie became the second team to be eliminated from the show in last night's broadcast on CBS.
On Monday Anthony and Stephanie spoke to Reality TV World about why they lagged so far behind in the race's second leg, how traveling through Brazil made them more grateful for the lives they lead, and what their time together on The Amazing Race has done for their relationship.
Reality TV World: How'd you both end up on the show? Whose idea was it?
Stephanie: Well I've always been a big fan of the show. I've always loved the show and I've always said "Oh my gosh we'd be great on [the show]."
We're both athletic and everything else. And all of our friends kept on telling us "Oh my gosh you guys should go on The Amazing Race!" So that's how it came into play and we started applying and all that.
Anthony: I took the initiative to get the tape done that we had to send it so I give myself credit for that (laughs).
Reality TV World: Was this the first time you have applied for [the show] or had you done it before?
Stephanie: No [this was] the first time.
Anthony: We were lucky for sure.
Reality TV World: What was your game plan going into the race?
Anthony: When we first got to the beginning of the race we were looking at the rest of the couples and sizing them up and we thought that we had a really good shot because we seemed to be a little more athletic than most of them.
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So we were trying to, basically, use our athletic ability in the challenges to push us further and faster, but it turned out that that really wasn't an opportunity for us in the first two legs of the race. I mean the whole race was won on the in-between things: you know the cabs rides, the airplanes, the running to this and there. The challenges weren't really it.
Reality TV World: Yeah, we hear a lot that it's usually the taxis that get you and not the challenges.
Anthony and Stephanie: Right.
Reality TV World: When we talked with Bertram van Munster [the producer of The Amazing Race] noted that [teams] could bring whatever they wanted with them for the race. Did you guys bring anything unique that you thought would help during the race?
Anthony: Too much. That's what we brought.
Stephanie: Yeah we brought too much. We over packed without a doubt. I mean we definitely had a watch that had an alarm on it to wake us up in the morning and that kind of stuff. We just overpacked. We should have packed completely lighter. Our bags were way too heavy.
Anthony: Yeah, [there was] nothing really unique that we packed. [Ken Greene] had a whistle that he used to hail down cabs -- which was a great idea -- I wish we had thought of something like that. But no, nothing really unique.
Reality TV World: Last week's premiere episode didn't really show a lot of you guys. How did you end up on the wrong ticket purchase line during the first flight out of LAX?
Anthony: We actually got to the airport in really good time. We were, like, the third team to make it to the ticket counter but we went to the wrong ticket counter and when somebody figured it out -- that we were at the wrong ticket counter -- everybody darted over to the right ticket counter and we ended up being one of the last teams.
So, you know, we unfortunately we did not make... we knew right away when we got in that line that we were not going to make that flight, so that was our downfall in the first episode: being one of the last teams.
Reality TV World: Also, it was a little hard to tell but it also looked like you guys were the last team out of the airport when you arrived in Salvador. What happened there, was that the start of your taxi problems or was it something else?
Stephanie: Yeah that was the start of the taxi problems that we had. And then we actually got into another taxi, which they didn't show, that got us lost. So we had two double-whammies with the taxis.
Reality TV World: Wow.
Anthony: Wait, you're talking about Salvador? For the first episode?
Reality TV World: Yeah.
Stephanie: Oh, the first episode...
Anthony: Yeah in the first episode... the taxi, nah. Well we were in the last group of people so I don't really think that our taxis -- in that episode -- were really that big of a deal. We were just a couple hours behind the first five teams, which caused us to be in the last group.
Reality TV World: Ok. And were you surprised to finish so low in the first leg? Did that serve as a "wake up call?"
Stephanie: Oh yeah, without a doubt! I mean, there was such anxiety you wouldn't believe it! We were just like "Wow! We really need to get [more] organized," and we did and I mean... We were on a plane and [we were asking other people on the plane] if they spoke English and Portuguese. And we got some guy who sat next to us to give us all of these [tips] on how to speak Portuguese, like "How to say this and how to say that."
We were getting super organized and we were closer to the front of the plane to get off. We just got out of that airport and just, bam! We just got killed by the taxis.
Anthony: Yeah I mean... at the end of the first leg we were kind of like "Wow. If we don't get our act together... we better step it up and make something happen quick because you don't realize how fast it goes by. So after the first leg we were definitely shocked at our position. We knew we were going to be in the last five because of the plane ride obviously, but when we got there in ninth place we were like "man that was a relief."
Reality TV World: When we talked to Anita and Arthur Jones last week they said that your flight during the first week had a holdover and that there had been some bonding of the teams. Did you make any friends or alliances during that layover?
Stephanie: Yeah. We made good friends with pretty much everybody. I mean everybody that was in the bottom half of us. Yeah, so we were friends with pretty much everyone.
Anthony: Yeah they didn't really show us communicating very much with the other teams. As we were saying earlier, a lot of the teams were really class acts. I kind of bonded with [Dallas Imbimbo] a little bit, and [his mother] Toni. Yeah we got along with everybody. We had some really great conversations that really weren't part of the show, which was unfortunate.
Reality TV World: Was there anybody that you didn't get along with?
Stephanie. Um yea I mean. I guess Marisa and Brooke, you know... we were on the [cargo] net with them during the first episode and yeah, we...
Anthony: (interrupting, to Stephanie) Hun! He asked if we DIDN'T get along with anybody.
Stephanie: Oh! "didn't"?!
Reality TV World: Yeah. "Did not" get along with anybody...
Stephanie: Oh. I'm sorry about that! No, no we didn't NOT get along with anyone.
Reality TV World: Ok. During the second leg it seemed like you couldn't get a [working] taxi no matter what [you tried.] Was that the main reason why you [finished last?]
Stephanie: Yeah because we were just 20-25 minutes, or a half-hour, behind everybody by the time we got those two bum taxis. And then you see us at the Spanish wall and, you know, there are still other teams there but what you don't realize because of the editing and the way the time framing is [that] they already had 20-25 minutes to figure it out.
Well when we get there and there are already [just] three teams there, well now we gotta try to figure out what the heck we're doing. It was just like, we couldn't really catch up.
Reality TV World: Yeah, well I was gonna say, for the second leg it seemed like you were in [last place] for the better part of it. Was that just because the taxis knocked you back and you just couldn't...
Anthony: ...there's a specific clip online of us behind-the-scenes and you'll see our conversation when we got in the cab that finally started up -- we were behind everybody -- and it really emphasized how frustrated we were about getting into the wrong cab in the beginning or Fortaleza so, yeah. That was the question, we answered it right?
Reality TV World: Yeah just that and if anything else had knocked you back besides the taxis?
Stephanie: That was it, yeah.
Reality TV World: And actually going off of that... how long did you two spend with the taxi trying to get it to kick over before you gave up on it?
Stephanie: I don't know. It was probably somewhere in between seven and ten minutes. And then our bags were locked in the trunk, so it was probably more like ten [minutes]. The guy couldn't get our bags out of the trunk and so that was time consuming. Then we got into another taxi and that guy got lost! It was... yeah... it was time consuming on the taxis.
Reality TV World: And were you aware that you were in last place [at that point] or did you not know where you were?
Anthony: We knew.
Stephanie: We had a feeling. We were hoping maybe somebody else's taxi broke down or somebody else got lost. I mean you never know absolutely, positively for sure ever. You're just having a bad feeling of "Uh oh, this isn't good."
Reality TV World: Going back to the Fortaleza flight, how did you feel about [Tina Greene] when she was taking credit for getting the larger [plane for the flight] and then cutting the line. That seemed to create a scene.
Anthony: We were grateful for that. We got the airport last, mostly because we were one of the last teams to leave, and when we got there we found out that we were going to be on the same flight as everybody so we were relieved. And then the word spread that Tina had actually gotten them to open up a new flight for pretty much all of us. So we were thankful for it for sure.
Reality TV World: During that Roadblock challenge, it looked like there were times people were cooperating each other and other times where they were keeping to themselves. Were people cooperating, and did you get any help from anybody?
Anthony: No um... everybody was so clueless as to what we really needed to do to get the thing done. I was kinda trying to take any kind of hint from anyone that I could. And there were a couple of people like [Nick Spangler] who came up and said something to me, and it was an obvious bluff. He was trying to tell me to look for the colors and the first letters of the words and the colors and I'm like "What is he talking about?" He was trying to slow us down, which is ridiculous because I pretty much figured it out in the same amount of time as everybody.
It's just that I got there 20 minutes or a half-hour after everybody. The solution to the problem was just to write everything down and to recite it to the guy, one of the words on the wall was the answer so... yeah.
But I talked to [Marisa Axelrod] a little bit. She was trying to help me and I was trying to help her. But, like I said no one even knew what we were trying to look for that, there was no help for anybody because they figured it out.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised it took Kelly and Christy so long to go check inside the yard for their taxi?
Anthony: I was doing the challenge while they were getting their taxi to go back to the Pit Stop and I didn't see at all what was going on so I didn't know how long it actually took them to get a cab. So I wasn't surprised because I wasn't even really aware. I was still doing what we were focusing on.
Reality TV World: About how far behind Marisa and [Brooke Jackson] do you think you were when you arrived at the Pit Stop?
Anthony: Well I saw them finish the last challenge and I was like "I hope that there's something left for us to do before we get to the Pit Stop because if there isn't they're gonna beat us." I mean they got in [their] cab and I was still trying to figure out the challenge. And so when I figured it out I knew we were either going to be eliminated or it was going to have to be some kind of non-elimination round.
Stephanie: Yeah we were probably about twenty minutes behind them.
Anthony: It was a lot closer than it [looked] on the show. [But] I mean we were pretty much crying on the car ride to the Pit Stop.
Reality TV World: Did the going on the show teach you anything about each other? Has it affected your relationship since?
Anthony: I think it's improved our relationship. We set out on this adventure to boost our relationship and to have an experience together that is going to strengthen us and get us out of our everyday routine, and that's exactly what it did. I mean, we didn't go as far as we wanted to, but at the same time we got a month's vacation in Acapulco [in sequester].
So I definitely think it gave us a little spark in our relationship. We're looking to do more things like that in the future.
Reality TV World: Stephanie, you said before going on the race that you wanted to get married soon or you two were probably going to have to go [your] separate ways. Whatâ€™s the current status of your relationship, are you two engaged?
Stephanie: No not yet but it's definitely a possibility for our future.
Anthony: I mean they ran with that. I mentioned on the tape that I mailed in to get on [The Amazing Race] that if we won I would propose. They ran with that and made it seem like our whole story. I mean, yeah when the time is right we'll get engaged and get married. Because we didn't win the race right away they're assuming that we won't get engaged and get married. But that's not the case.
I think that we definitely have plans together for our future.
Reality TV World: What was your best experience on the show?
Stephanie: I think the dune buggies was the most fun. That was just a blast, that was so much fun. And just the high anxiety of the first leg. [We were] the second to last... at the back of the pack there so we were just relieved.
Anthony: So much of it was just a good experience. We can name probably 10 different things that we thought were a good experience because it was all so out of the ordinary. Like sleeping in the Amazon jungle for a night. That was rough but it was definitely a great experience.
Stephanie: And seeing the different cultures and the different people. It's just... that was fantastic.
Reality TV World: Is there any particular team you're rooting for to win?
Anthony: Well, we got along with everybody so well that when we got eliminated we were like "God bless the team that wins and hats off to them. They deserve it if they can make it through all the way." So we didn't really have one team we were pulling for or anything so...
Stephanie: Yeah I'd say [ I'd root more] for [Mark Yturralde] and [Bill Hahler] or [Ken Greene] and Tina
Anthony: I'd like to see Marisa and Brooke get as far as possible...
Stephanie: Yeah, [Marisa] and Brooke, we loved them.
Reality TV World: Were you aware that [Terrence Gerchberg] was upset that [Sarah Leshner] was talking to the other teams? Could I just get your opinion on what you saw there [between them] and what they did or didn't show on TV?
Stephanie: We didn't even notice that actually. I mean, I didn't.
Anthony: Yeah and when we saw it on TV. I mean, I told you earlier I can't even relate to how he was feeling because -- to me -- I think it would be an advantage to get to know everybody and to talk to everybody and he obviously didn't feel that way. So we just thought that was a little bit weird that he didn't want to talk to anybody or didn't want her to talk to anybody.
Reality TV World: Oh, and could you elaborate on the eye opening experiences you both had while looking at the Brazilian villages and their quality of life?
Stephanie: Yeah, I mean driving through those towns and seeing how some of those people live. I mean some of [the people] didn't even have shoes and no windows and no screens... their houses looked like it's gonna cave in any second. And the clothes line were down...
It was just heart wrenching for me and just puts things in perspective when I complain that we live in an apartment or that we don't have great clothes or we don't have this, or we're struggling and this and that. And it's like "Wow, at least we've got clothes and at least we've got a roof over our head." It just makes you grateful for what you do have instead of complaining about what you don't have.
Anthony: Yeah, it was definitely an eye opener. I had a good idea that's what it was like down there but when you're actually in the midst of it and actually experiencing it first hand, it makes you appreciate what you do have. And of course [because] we were on [The Amazing Race] we felt like celebrities because we had cameramen running around and stuff.
Stephanie: It was definitely a different experience from when you see it on TV and you're like "Oh," You know, [the commercials say] "feed these people" and "donate to this." But we were actually there and when you actually see it, it's a whole different mind set.
Reality TV World: What are you both up to now? Are you still in L. A.?
Stephanie: Yeah we're both still in L. A. I'm waitressing at the moment. My mortgage company that I work for went under -- of course -- and I'm waitressing and in between agents right now, and.. that's about it. I'm looking for a real job.
Anthony: We're trying to get back into the normal routine but unfortunately my career is slow right now [as well]. I'm a mortgage broker so, it's kind of like "What's next?" and either try to do something different or keep going with it. So, we'll see.