Exclusive: Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew talk 'Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/13/2011
Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew were the last team to depart The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business' penultimate leg in Brazil, which foreshadowed their failure to become of the final three teams to compete to win the competition's million dollar grand prize.
The fourteenth-season "Friends" fell behind and were ever able to catch up to the other teams after Zev struggled in a samba dancing Roadblock task -- leaving them behind winners Jennifer Hoffman and LaKisha Hoffman, runner-ups Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton and Herbert "Flight Time" Lang, and third place Racers Gary Ervin and Mallory Ervin during Sunday night's finale broadcast of the all-stars edition of the long-running CBS reality competition.
On Monday, Zev and Justin talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business experience -- including how long it actually took for Zev to accomplish his samba routine, what additional incident contributed to their last place finish, how painful they thought the Brazilian waxing session really was, why they initially opted to take on the "On the Beach" Detour task, and how much they had been anticipating and preparing for a final memory Roadblock task.
Reality TV World: Congratulations on almost making it to the end.
Reality TV World: (Laughs) You guys won more legs than everyone on the Race but obviously still didn't make it to the finale, unfortunately. There's not some special secret consolation prize for that that they didn't show on the show was there?
Justin Kanew: Nope. No, no. But the double episode at the end was its own kind of prize because we got to sort of experience it with the final three, which was awesome. So, we didn't get any special prizes, no.
Reality TV World: Going back to that last leg, were you guys a little frustrated that Big Easy basically gave away the flight that you guys had found that would have gotten you into Miami a lot earlier than Kisha and Jen and Gary and Mallory?
Justin Kanew: We didn't know that that had happened until we watched it with you guys last night. Yeah. The way that went down from our perspective, Big Easy and Flight, I don't think knew -- how did that go? I don't know. There was something that happened. It was like, there was a flight that Big Easy and Flight did know about, but then everybody ended up on the same flight.
Reality TV World: Yeah, I guess Kisha and Jen and Gary and Mallory booked tickets on a flight that arrived in Rio at 5:40PM flight and then asked Big Easy and Flight Time to confirm if that was the earliest flight they had found. When I talked to Big Easy, he said he kind of refused to lie and just had a really bad poker face about the flight that arrived at 7:30AM and they figured him out.
Justin Kanew: Right. I think we just sort of assumed when it comes down to those last legs that everybody's going to be there anyway. So we didn't really expect to get any kind of advantage there. There's only four teams. There's going to be enough seats. We're all going to be on the same flight. We gotta beat them while we're on the ground, you know?
Reality TV World: Zev, you seemed to struggle with the samba Roadblock, what happened?
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Reality TV World: How many times did you end up having to try the samba Roadblock before you got it?
Zev Glassenberg: Ten, 11 or 12 -- a lot, a lot of times. We were there for a long time.
Reality TV World: Justin, what were you doing that entire time?
Justin Kanew: I was begging, you saw it. I was over there on my knees, because there was a lady judge. She was the judge and I was off to the side and I was trying to dance for him and do everything I could. I was trying to get him into the swing of things.
It was very subjective. It was just one of those things where we weren't really sure what she was looking for. That's what made it so hard. So, he would do the same thing over and over again, and eventually he got enough of the hang of it that she was okay with it.
But I was just begging, and we were there a long time before any other team even got there, and we had to watch them come through it, get it right away and leave. We just felt the whole thing slipping away from us. So, it was tough to watch and to have to go through that, because he was struggling. It was probably harder for me to watch him struggle than it is for me to struggle.
Reality TV World: Zev, do you think your sense of humor is underrated?
Justin Kanew: (Laughs) That is an amazing question! Yeah, what do you think about that, Zev?
Reality TV World: I don't know. I thought it was pretty funny at some points.
Justin Kanew: I think people pretty much think this guy is as funny as he can be. So, I don't know if it's underrated, but however funny you think he is -- let me tell you -- he's funnier.
Reality TV World: You guys fell behind the Globetrotters into last place on your way to the waxing place -- what happened, your taxi just had no idea where he was going?
Zev Glassenberg: Uh, yeah. He didn't know where he was going and we got out and asked people, and they didn't know. You know, we didn't think -- we kind of knew [unintelligible]... but we didn't think we were going to have to get waxed or anything because we're boys, and that doesn't happen to us.
So, we weren't really thinking anything. We were still a little frustrated from the dancing that we really didn't have clear minds about it.
Zev Glassenberg: And then the taxi didn't know where to go, and then we actually ran into somebody on the street who had told the Globetrotters like 10 minutes before where to go. So...
Justin Kanew: I actually speak Spanish on a certain level, and I know "pelo" means "hair" and "menos" means "less," but I didn't put it together that we were going to get a Brazilian wax.
Reality TV World: But you were in Brazil, which is Portuguese, right? (Laughs)
Justin Kanew: Yeah, well I think Zev's right. I think would it just happen with the samba thing, and you know, I don't think we were on clear minds. I wasn't for sure. I think we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves at that moment and that came back and bit us.
Reality TV World: It almost seemed like you were on an episode of America's Next Top Model or something for awhile, because it seemed like between the samba and the Brazilian wax, the leg really seemed to be favor the teams with women. Do you guys feel that way?
Justin Kanew: I'd say it was more like "Bottom Model." If we were on Top Model, that's where we would be.
Justin Kanew: Yeah, no. It was definitely a unique episode, not a doubt about it.
Reality TV World: How much of your waxing session shouts and screams were actually genuine? Because it seemed pretty clear that you guys were having at least some fun with it when you started quoting The 40-Year-Old Virgin and shouting "Kelly Clarkson."
Justin Kanew: In the first 10 minutes, we were sort of a little bit tickled by what was going on, but then the second 10 minutes, it was not funny at all anymore. It was really painful. Those shouts were definitely completely legitimate. We were not hamming it up in any way. I really did want to punch that woman.
Reality TV World: So you're saying yours actually lasted longer than the [required] 15 minutes then?
Justin Kanew: I think so! No, I don't know. We had no sense of time. It felt like hours.
Reality TV World: Justin, Zev seemed to get a lot more waxing done is his 15 minutes, what happened to you? (Laughs)
Reality TV World: So did you end up keeping that "chest mohawk" you were left with or did you clean that up afterwards?
Justin Kanew: No, I left that. I left that. I thought maybe it would get something like that started. I was trying to start a trend.
Reality TV World: Justin, there was one point in that waxing task where things didn't seem that funny to some viewers and that was when you got upset and began threatening to knock out the woman who was waxing you. What happened there, and do you regret any of that?
Justin Kanew: I think in general, when someone is physically harming you and you're not allowed to fight back, you tend to think horrible things about that person. I was thinking horrible things about that woman. She was not sympathetic to what was going on at all. You saw her.
One woman pushed Zev's head back down and it felt like we might have been in a training seminar. These women weren't the most professional at what they were -- like they were learning on the fly or something.
Reality TV World: Like you went to a [waxing] training school maybe?
Justin Kanew: It's either our hair's fault or their fault, but there were some rips that weren't clean rips. I mean, they were like tugging and ripping and pulling. It just wasn't -- it didn't feel like the most professional situation. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: What made you guys decide to do the "On The Beach" Detour task instead of the drink-making task? Did you guys just hear the word "bikinis" and decide that was the one for you, or was there some actual strategy involved in that decision?
Zev Glassenberg: We went to the drinks first and Gary and Mal Mal were getting cleaned up, so we knew we obviously weren't going to beat them because they finished first. And then, Kisha and Jen were in the middle and they were both 25-30 drinks in.
We didn't think we could make up that time because we had to do so many, so our only option to stay in the top three that day was to just go and try our luck at the other Detour. We actually did go to the drinks first, but they didn't show that.
Justin Kanew: Yeah, we went to the drinks first. We saw that we were in trouble and we thought our only chance was to go to the other side. So, that's what we did and it just turned out that the other side was not something we were capable of doing.
Reality TV World: Yeah, it didn't look like you had a lot of success. About how long did you think you stuck with the "On the Beach" task before you ended up giving up on it?
Justin Kanew: We were out there, yes, I'd say 15-20 minutes before we realized that -- it wasn't so much the selling. The selling we could have done, but nobody was going to get inside that tube and model bikinis for two dudes walking around with cameras.
It wasn't going to happen, so once we realized that there was no hope, we kind of gave up and started walking back down the beach to where the drinks were. We couldn't get a cab, and by the time we got there -- by the time we got back -- the Globetrotters were the only guys left. So, we knew we were done.
Reality TV World: So do you think the time you lost on the bikini task initially was the difference between yourself and the Globetrotters, or do you think you still would have probably finished behind them?
Zev Glassenberg: Our only chance was -- they still would have finished the drinks before us -- for all we knew, the Pit Stop was two minutes away. So, we didn't know what the next stop was, but we knew they got lost going to the Pit Stop.
Justin Kanew: We don't regret it. The choice we made was the right choice and we would make it again.
Reality TV World: It sounds like it, yes. I was just wondering in hindsight it turned out that when they got lost, you guys would have actually been better off just going straight through with it. But it sounds like you don't know necessarily?
Reality TV World: You guys seemed to get really upset when the Globetrotters started shouting and singing when they were completing the "On The Rocks" Detour task. Do you think that was bad sportsmanship on their part, or what was it that upset you guys about that?
Zev Glassenberg: I think we were more upset that this was going to be our last challenge of the Race and they were celebrating because they were going to the finale.
Justin Kanew: I don't think it was anything -- we would never say a bad word about those guys. They are the greatest guys ever. In that moment, they were getting happy because they knew they were moving on and it was at our expense. It just felt a little bit like they were dancing on our graves, but again, it's not a personal thing. They were happy. They were showing it in the moment and there was music playing.
Zev Glassenberg: We just happened to be that team. They would have done that in front of everybody.
Reality TV World: When I talked to twelfth-season Racers Kent Kaliber and Vyxsin Fiala last week, they said they felt the Globetrotters basically become bullies when things don't go their way, but sounds like based upon what you're saying that you wouldn't agree with that?
Justin Kanew: I would completely 100% percent disagree with everything they said about the Globetrotters.
Justin Kanew: I think there was little to no basis for what they said. I was not happy to read that.
Reality TV World:A lot of The Amazing Race seasons have ended with a Roadblock that involved remembering the earlier legs, but this season didn't feature that. You two didn't make it to the final leg obviously, but had you been taking notes and studying in anticipation of a memory task?
Zev Glassenberg: Yeah, actually both our seasons -- our first season, the teams didn't have the memory challenge either. But yeah, we were taking notes and...
Justin Kanew: Zev was going to take that. Every night we would sit down and I had a notepad and I would write down everything that happened, and every night, I would have Zev take me through every single moment of the Race up to that point over and over and over again. So, Zev would have definitely been our machine for that challenge, but it never came up... He has an amazing memory, this guy.
Reality TV World: Last week's episode featured the chocolate gnome controversy in which Flight Time's mold seemed to disappear from the freezer and Big Easy accused Vyxsin of taking it. What was your take on that incident?
Reality TV World: What do you think happened to the mold? Do you think Vyxsin took it or do you think Big East overreacted?
Justin Kanew: Yeah, I don't think we had a really good -- we know as much as you do from watching it. We weren't looking at what was going on with them, we were too busy trying not to get eliminated and trying to catch up.
Reality TV World: Back in the Liechtenstein leg, you guys helped the Globetrotters complete the bike ride Roadblock but seemed to be shown suggesting you wouldn't have helped any of the other teams, including the Cowboys. Why was that -- was that just because you considered the Globetrotters to be friends, or was there also some part of you that didn't consider them as big a threat as the other teams?
Justin Kanew: We didn't say that. We asked Jen and Kisha what they would have done and they said it. We actually got along really well with the "Cowboys" and in that same situation, we may have very well helped them. Flight just happened to come along.
Yeah it happened to be that he's our buddy and we helped him, and I don't regret doing that. We were far enough ahead. We won the leg. It could have very easily been any other team in the final three. I don't think it came back to bite us. We don't look at it like that.
Reality TV World: You guys switched Detour tasks a couple times, as you went from the "On the Beach" task to the "On the Rocks" one, and previously opted out of the "Quick and Easy Meal" ferris wheel task to do "Long Hard Walk" instead. Do you think strategy was involved in those switches, like the one you just talked about, or what was going on when you were debating that?
Zev Glassenberg: When we chose the "Quick and Easy Meal," in past seasons, all I've ever seen was like, "Oh, just eat a little amount of food in this time." We hadn't eaten at all that day, so I thought it was just going to be a quick and easy meal. That was just too much food to eat. So, it was good food, there was just too much of it. So, and then, we couldn't do it so we had no choice. We had to go to the couch task.
Justin Kanew: Every choice we made, there was a reason in our head. In general, Zev's the one who decides what we're doing in terms of the Roadblocks or the Detours because Zev has watched every episode of the Race. He's really good about knowing the game. So, I kind of left that stuff up to him and in general, he chose really well every time. I felt he managed the game really well.
Reality TV World: What made you guys stick with the "Cheese" Detour task over the "Wheeze" one where you had to carry luggage? Because Kisha and Jen were in the same boat as you and they gave up on the "Cheese" and went over to the luggage after a little bit.
Justin Kanew: Yeah. Zev was very determined to eat that cheese.
Zev Glassenberg: Yeah, I hadn't eaten. I hadn't had any food in my body in a whole day. I knew we were far ahead enough of the other teams to finish first or second, and we came first. So, yeah. Take that!
Justin Kanew: I think the moral of the story is, "Don't choose the Detour on an empty stomach."
Reality TV World: In the task where you guys had to dig your dummy out of the snow, you really struggled and had to watch Gary and Mallory succeed right before your eyes nearby. How difficult was that task and how would you describe the conditions? Did you ever really consider quitting the task and accepting a time penalty instead?
Justin Kanew: Gary's a beast for what he did out there. We were really close to quitting. That was by far the hardest thing we had to do. We actually didn't really think that they had accomplished that. I convinced myself that they were just switching sides of the Detour, because I just couldn't imagine that they had done it. That was a really hard thing. We were freezing our butts off with snot everywhere...
Zev Glassenberg: And then like every 10 minutes, a 30mph gust of snow would come and hit us in the face and pretty much dump everything we took out of the hole into the hole. Our problem was that we dug the hole too small in the beginning and we're LA boys, we don't deal with the snow, so we didn't know what to do.
Zev Glassenberg: If we weren't the first team out that day, we would have been eliminated.
Reality TV World: The one benefit of finishing first in as many legs as you did is that you guys still walked away with a few prizes. Have you gotten those new cars you won yet and when do you plan on taking advantage of your two trips?
Justin Kanew: We don't have the cars yet. We're very excited to get them, but the sooner the better.
Justin Kanew: We don't have the trips yet, but what we'll probably do, I imagine, is take one together and then take one separately each, or we'll take all three together. I don't think we've figured that out yet.