On the premiere of CBS' Survivor: China (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET), the Zhan Hu tribe was the first to vote off one of its members: Steve "Chicken" Morris, 48, from Marion, Virginia. The day after his onscreen dismissal, the affable farmer told TVGuide.com what went wrong, who he thinks will go far and what it was like to travel abroad for the first time in his life.
TVGuide.com: Hi there, Chicken. Should I call you Chicken?
Steve "Chicken" Morris: If I can call you Nina. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: How did you end up with that nickname, anyway?
Chicken: I grew up on a commercial poultry farm, and in the seventh grade, I got into FFA, and the nickname kind of stuck, you might say. If you come to this part of the country and look for Steve Morris, you're not gonna find him.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised to be the first one voted out?
Chicken: No, I wasn't — when I came out of the temple and I picked up the bag with my name on it, I looked at the other seven people [in my tribe] and I knew I was in trouble. Because of the generation gap. Then when we got on the boat, I basically confirmed it: We're not going to connect.
TVGuide.com: Do you think being the oldest guy out there had something to do with it?
Chicken: The first day, me and Peih-Gee were trying to accomplish things — saying we need to build a shelter, we need to do this, we need to do that — and everyone else was just standing around, talking about their colleges, where they're from, their parties, their music.... We just did not come together like the other tribe did. The other tribe really amazed me, how they congratulated each other, how they were looking out for one another. That didn't happen with us.
TVGuide.com: So what led to your downfall?
Chicken: You can say, "I could've done this" or "I could've done that" or "That could've bought me three more days, 10 more days" or whatever, but I'm not gonna kiss anybody's backside just to stay there three more days.
TVGuide.com: They were asking you for advice, and you weren't wanting to give it....
Chicken: When we got there, they were dragging the frame of this old building out of the brush — this thing was rotten — and here they are going to try to make something out of nothing. I voiced my opinion and they didn't like it. The next day they asked me for my opinion, and I said, "Whatever y'all want to do, I can do." Dave jumps in and we start doing things, and they're standing there in their huddle not doing anything, and I said, "Dave, we're beating our brains out here for nothing. When everyone helps, we'll contribute, but until then, I'm not going to build this for them." Whether it bites them in the hind end today or tomorrow, last night they voted out the strongest player, and they'll pay the price, I'm sure. I could've fed 'em, I could've taken care of 'em.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any predictions on who will make it far in the game?
Chicken: No, I do not. That's one of the greatest things about this game, it can change in so many ways. Whether you're good, bad, rich, poor, fat, pretty... it don't make no difference how big your boobs are or how wide your hind end is.
TVGuide.com: So really, no predictions?
Chicken: Well, the one person I picked to actually win this game was Leslie [the Christian-radio talk-show host]. She's smart, she's a mom... so many reasons, based on personality.
TVGuide.com: It sounds like you're a big fan of Survivor.
Chicken: I don't watch a lot of TV — I don't watch sports, and I couldn't even tell you what the headline on the news was yesterday — but on Thursday nights, I watch Survivor. My ultimate favorite Survivor, without a doubt, is Rupert: He was a straight shooter, he worked hard, and he didn't bend.
TVGuide.com: Do you think you could have been like a Rupert if you'd stayed around?
Chicken: Yes, but I'll tell you something — the people that I like and the people who deserve to win never do win, but when they gave Rupert the million dollars in All-Stars, that was the first person I thought deserved the money that got the money.
TV.Guide.com: How was it taking part in the Buddhist ceremony at that 400-year-old temple when you first got to China?
Chicken: Oh, the temple — it definitely marked me for life. I'll never forget that temple, and the reason we were there, and the culture. These people welcomed us in to a short part of their lives. It's like history. We just don't study Asia in school, and now, I can actually stand and tell someone, "I've seen it, I've been there." Another thing about this for me is that when a neighbor or friend used to say, "Hey, I'm going to Scotland next week," it kind of went in one ear and out the other. After you've traveled one time and you hear people tell about their trip, now I've got my ear cocked: I want to hear about it.
TVGuide.com: Had you traveled at all before?
Chicken: I hadn't been nowhere. I hadn't even been across country. I hadn't been but to just a few neighboring states. [Laughs] I hadn't ever flown before. This was all new territory for me. When I got to the airport in L.A., I was there for about an hour, just watching people. I couldn't believe it. If you've never traveled before, you really don't realize how big this United States is! That may sound corny to some people, but there is a lot to see.
TVGuide.com: Did you read The Art of War, which all the Survivors got at the start of the show?
Chicken: I read the book, and I'll tell you, it was really confusing for me. What I had to do was read 10 pages and go back and read those 10 pages again. It's pretty intense. But I did read the whole entire book, and that's the first book I've read since early high school. After you read it, it's just a lot of really good common sense, really good hard thinking.
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