Mark Caruso could very well be the most loveable Survivor contestant in history. Between his gentle, kind-hearted nature and his nickname "Papa Bear," you can't help wanting to give him a hug. But that didn't get him very far in the game. The former NYPD detective was ousted and sent to Redemption Island, where he ultimately lost to Christine and was sent packing. We spoke to Caruso about his experience on the show and found out the native New Yorker is even more lively than we anticipated.
TVGuide.com: You live in the city — you must get recognized all the time. Is that weird for you?
Mark Caruso: It's funny! I walked into a Barnes & Noble and people said, "Oh! There's Papa Bear!" Nobody knows me as Mark Anthony. Heterosexual people and gay people — I wasn't sure they would get the whole "Papa Bear" thing. But a lot of people really do! I even went into a car dealership and all the mechanics came up to me and wanted pictures. It's a little strange because I'm a normal person off the street, but if I'm gonna make someone happy by posing for a photo, who am I to stop them?
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Any plans of turning your newfound fame into a career?
Mark: Hopefully I'll move on to something else. I'm never going to win an Oscar obviously ... well actually, I won't say never. I can't sing or dance, but you never know! You're gonna see me in a nice commercial, I'm tellin' ya ... some kind of commercial's gonna find me.
What was the one thing that surprised you the most when you got to the island?
Mark: I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm a very popular person. To go into a situation where I'm not popular? I was like ... when did I become the old person? Look at the tribe I was with — I was with Barbie Doll and Ken! There were no bears for Papa Bear to have.
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Could you have seen yourself getting involved in a showmance?
Mark: No, I'm pretty loyal to my guy. I care about him a lot. He supported me through this whole process. He held my hand when we watched the episode and said, "I'm proud of what you did. You were a gentleman."
Who was your favorite person out there?
Mark: I like Dawn. Dawn is similar to me. You judge people by their lives and by their work. Dawn has adopted six children. She's a good woman.
What do you think was your tribe's biggest weakness?
Mark: Everybody was so all over the place. My tribe was so scattered. Nobody was focused. It seemed like the other tribe was more focused.
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What was the first thing you did when you got back?
Mark: [Laughs] I went on a nice vacation with my boyfriend. We went to Bear Week in Provincetown.