March 13, 2009 03:07 PM by Ryan Haidet
The youngest person to ever play the game became the fifth person voted off of Survivor: Toncatins — The Brazilian Highlands. 19-year-old Spencer Duhm, a major Survivor fan, revealed many things about his experience in Brazil during a conference call with reporters. He discussed the moment he learned he had been picked for the show, what it was like to be dirty all the time and why he kept his homosexuality to himself.
The Alternate Gets Selected
This excited Survivor fan was actually not a first-round pick to be a contestant. In fact, he was an alternate and brought all the way to Brazil just in case. Just hours prior to the start of the game, the producers decided to include him in the competition and he couldn’t have been more happy. “One of the people there said it was the loudest silent scream they had ever heard because I was still in the area where the other cast members were — they couldn’t see me, but they could’ve heard me if I would have made a huge scream or big scene — so I couldn’t say anything. Jeff Probst is the one who told me and I flipped out. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were kidding. I was in shock because I had prepared myself going down there for being disappointed and not getting to play and just going for that experience of the pre-game stuff. So when I found out, I basically lost it, adrenaline was pumping and all that fun stuff. It was amazing.”
Some might say that being a teenager and taking on Survivor could be a detriment. But Spencer said that was definitely not the case. “No it wasn’t a factor in the game at all, but it was an incredible honor. Still to this day, I still can’t believe that I was the one chosen to be the first teenager ever and I never thought that would happen. I applied just for the thrill of applying. It was just a complete whirlwind. I was in like a fantasy world. It was surreal, it really was.”
Spencer’s Survivor Secret
This youngster didn’t hide that he was a super Survivor fan, but did keep a big secret — that he is gay. “I thought, ‘You know, I’m not going to bring it up, I’m not even going to make it an issue. If they ask me, I’ll totally tell them, but if not, I’m not even going to worry about it.’ It never became an issue and I was surprised they even showed the interview where I talked about it.”
Many rumors have surfaced online that say Spencer is in a relationship with a past Survivor winner — Todd Herzog of the China season. When asked about it, Spencer (understandably) was reluctant to discuss the topic. “I would rather not (talk about it), actually. I understand that you have to ask about that, but I’d rather not.”
A Tough Challenge
In the most recent Immunity Challenge, the tribes were tasked with catching balls that shot from a giant slingshot. The first tribe to snag five would win the contest — and Spencer didn’t really do very well. “I just couldn’t get the hang of it,” he said. “I played baseball when I was a kid. I was a terrible outfielder — I don’t catch flyballs very well. It was just really bad.”
And his poor performance in guarding Tyson was noticed by his tribemates as JT yelled at him to step it up. “The weird thing is, JT scored all of our points and Brendan scored just as many points on Taj as Tyson scored on me. And Joe didn’t score any points either. I thought it was a little unfair that I was targeted just because of the challenge — I was the only one held responsible. But people look for anything, for whatever reason, to vote you out or to target you and they felt like, for some reason, that I was more responsible than anybody else. JT scored every point for us and none of the other people on my tribe did anything, but again, I was the one singled out and blamed for it, which I thought was unfair. Sydney and Stephen — again I like everybody on my tribe so I’m not trying to throw them under the bus — they were launching the balls so they weren’t at risk at all for performing poorly. It was a little unfair, but that’s OK.”
Even though it didn’t seem to be the case, Spencer revealed that there were loads of alliances going on at Jalapao. “I had an alliance with Joe and Sydney and I had an all-guys alliance. And once I went down to the water and I talked to JT and we got over the whole challenge thing, all four guys talked about keeping all the guys and voting off Taj or Sydney. Taj was mainly the one we were talking about ’cause she had been the plan after Sandy. That’s why I ended up voting for her. Sydney, her name was brought up, and Joe went to Sydney and said, ‘Hey it could be either you or Spencer tonight and if you don’t turn on Spencer then it could be you.’ So that’s why they turned on me. They went back to JT and Stephen and they were like, ‘Fine we can switch it back to Spencer.’”
He said that his main alliance formed very early on. “I made my alliance with Joe and Sydney on Day 2. That was my primary one — the one I was loyal to. But all of us (guys) pushed an all-guys alliance, too. But I felt like that was too obvious, so I made the other alliance to keep me safe a little bit longer. I didn’t form the guys’ alliance, I was just a part of it. I did go and form the one with Joe and Sydney.”
Dealing With Boredom, Loving Strategy
He said boredom was the toughest part of the game. “There were days when we didn’t have challenges or council or anything like that. They don’t show that on TV because nothing goes on. You just conserve your energy, but still be helpful and be social. Man, those were the longest days.”
But on days when there was Tribal Council, Spencer was psyched. “I think the strategizing was the easiest part, that was fun. I really really enjoyed that. Honestly, I enjoyed going to Tribal Council when I felt like we knew who was going home. It was fun. We’d come back from Tribal Council and people would be really upset and disappointed and like, ‘Oh that was so hard.’ I’m thinking, ‘Hours ago we were so ready to get rid of that person and now we’re all bummed? Get over it, this is a game.’ That’s part of the reason why it was so easy for me to handle being voted off — ’cause it was a game.”
And after he was voted out of the game unanimously, Spencer said he realized that he hadn’t really learned anything about life like some contestants say they do. “I felt really bad when I got voted off when I thought about that I’m thinking, ‘There’s nothing about life that I’ve discovered.’ I had no epiphany or anything like that. I did learn that I’m so competitive that it can take a toll sometimes on other people. In challenges I would get a little freaked out and stressed and kind of overreact, but they didn’t really show too much of that.”
What To Do If You’re On The Next Survivor
Spencer, who says the Amazon was his favorite season, has some advice for anybody who may end up as a player of the game. “Just be very cautious of what everybody is telling you. This is kind of obvious — you just can’t trust what people say even if they come across as an extremely genuine, very honest person. They’re still playing the game for themselves, everybody is. They wouldn’t go do this adventure just to be out there and suffer through hunger and stuff to just be a pawn. So just be aware of that at all times. Also know that things can change at any moment like I found out. They change at the last second and I ended up going home.”
Ah, To Be Dirty
One other aspect of the game he particularly enjoyed was getting dirty. “I loved it. I loved it because it’s part of the show,” Spencer said of that aspect of the game. “Not because I go out and want to roll in dirt and be filthy for 15 days. It was part of the experience and I thought, ‘Hey, if I’m not dirty I’m not on Survivor.’ It was really disgusting as far as always looking at your nails and having them be filthy and not being able to wash your hair. You feel disgusting, but you get used to it really quick.”
Images courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS.
Remember that Survivor takes a week off as CBS is airing the NCAA championship. On Wednesday, March 25, a special recap episode featuring never-before-seen footage will air. Then an all-new episode returns on Thursday, April 2.
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