October 12, 2011 07:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Mark Caruso, aka “Papa Bear,” went into early hibernation this season on Survivor: South Pacific when he became the second person eliminated from the show. Although his time on the shores of Samoa was short, his personality is one that is definitely larger than life. It’s grizzly. OK, I know. My attempt at a joke was just as bad as calling yourself Papa Bear. And yes, during a recent conference call with reporters, Mark requested being called “Papa Bear.” What all did he have to say about his experience on Survivor? Read on to find out!
Question: What are your thoughts on Ozzy and how he’s running the Savaii tribe?
Papa Bear: With Ozzy, at first I connected with him. He’s a nice person, but I don’t think he’s focused enough. Obviously, he’s more focused than I am. I think Coach is doing a way better job than Ozzy is. That’s how I feel. That’s why I would have been better on Coach’s team. I feel like Ozzy showboats. Like, “Look at me. Look at me. I found a fish. Look at me, I can climb a tree.” That’s the type of guy he is. Not that he’s a bad guy. He shares his food, he shares everything. I share everything. I expect people to share back and he does. So, he has a good heart as far as I know of the man. I lived with him for those days, but I don’t think he’s a good leader. I don’t.
Question: It did seem like you, Dawn and Cochran were ostracized by the rest of Savaii. Is that how it felt?
Papa Bear: They didn’t show a lot. There was a lot of bonding while building the shelter. Me and Jim, in the very beginning, were tight. And me and Ozzy. They even stated, basically, they went after me because I was friends with Ozzy. Which I didn’t really know at the beginning. I thought it was because I was older. …
Question: We watched you create a fake Immunity Idol before you were voted off. What was it like watching the episodes at home to find out Ozzy had already found the Idol at Savaii?
Papa Bear: What you guys didn’t know is I found the clue. I found the clue where we retrieved water. The water was away from the tribe. You had to walk to it. So the second we won the second challenge I went to get water and I said, “Oh my God, there’s a clue.” I searched and searched. I actually ran for it. Ozzy, obviously, already found the Idol. I’ve come to the acceptance of it was a game and it was fun, and I had a life experience. But I don’t hold it against anyone. He found the Idol, good for him. I’m glad for him.
Question: Looking back, is there anything you could have done to assimilate with the younger people?
Papa Bear: I did my best to try to reach out to the inner core of them. Their parent, basically. Nobody wants to vote out their mother or their father — well, apparently they did. Who would want to vote out a Papa Bear? I’m like a big, fuzzy thing. Why would you want to vote me out? You don’t know what’s right with each group of people. If I go tomorrow with another nine people, it might be my perfect tribe. It might be people who are older. It might be people who are more regional to me; they experience the same things as me. For example, the other tribe, I think I would have done a lot better with them because they were more diverse. There was people from New York. There was older people. You never really know. Every show, every group, every person is so different and diverse that it’s always a new game. That’s why there’s 23 seasons going on 24. It’s always a new game. You don’t know who’s the winner. You can’t just pick the person because you never know!
Question: Would you ever play again?
Papa Bear: I am truly blessed to be chosen to be on the show by Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst. I would leave tomorrow with my knapsack in hand to play this game again. It’s an awesome experience. I was chosen out of thousands of people. I have respect for the game. I have respect for those men. I have respect for everyone involved in this game. It’s a real game. It’s a real, live game with people. What better experience to have to be in a tropical paradise after working your whole life in a box, going to work in the police department, going home, going to school, becoming a nurse. Always doing the right thing. To step out of that lifestyle and to go and be wild and compete with these young folks. I’m bigger and I’m actually stronger now because I got my muscles back. I’ve been working out like a monster. Absolutely. I would do it in a heartbeat.
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Photos courtesy: CBS