Last week, Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien — whose fate was likely sealed by Lex's recent ouster — became Boston Rob's latest victim on Survivor: All-Stars. The 50-year-old Marquesas alumna scrambled until her last minute to sway votes, but failed. Now an All-Stars jury member, Kathy tells TV Guide Online all about her strategy, Rob's backstabbing, and why she was the one who decided to keep Amber around.
TV Guide Online: You were such a power player in the beginning. What happened?
Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien: I was working it, but I guess [getting voted off] is what happens when you trust a friend. Other than that, I think I played a pretty good game.
TVGO: What made you think Rob could be trusted after he betrayed Lex?
Kathy: I helped with that Lex decision, unfortunately. I was the one that instigated that whole Amber idea. I thought it gave us more options to bring Amber over. Hindsight is 20/20, but helping Amber was a favor to a friend — it was a favor to a godfather figure. It had a lot of options that would put us in a good state with Rob, but it didn't work. We were already going into the merge down, and the bottom line is that we should have had a stronger team that was winning.
TVGO: Were you aware of Rob and Amber's romance when you decided to keep her around?
Kathy: Totally. I knew it was there. A friend was hurting because she wasn't there. I'm a mom and he's my son's age, for crying out loud. So I saw that, and it looks genuine to me. In fact, I think it is genuine. I was actually trying to help the kid out and, at the same time, I thought it would better my position. I thought it was win-win, all the way around. Also, I like Amber. Compared to Jerri, she was actually easy to hang around with. She's not diabolical at all. Even though she thinks she is, she's not. That's a mean thing to say, but she's sweet as pie. She thinks she's making deals, but you know what? She's not.
TVGO: Shii Ann is the last member of Mogo Mogo still in the game. Are you surprised?
Kathy: She'll fit in. I was teaching her a lot. I know that sounds cocky, but she admits it. She and I made up an alliance of two because she was screwing up and people didn't like her. She was grating on Colby and grating on Lex. So she said, "Just help me understand why people dislike me." So we talked for long lengths of time, and I was trying to teach her about it, and she was very helpful. So we worked together as a pretty good team. I brought her along because I really felt that I needed somebody that totally listens.
TVGO: Your son, Patrick, was so cute on the videotapes from home.
Kathy: I know. "Just bring home the million, Mom." He knew that would make me laugh.
TVGO: The Chapera tribe seemed to be having so much fun. The second you and the rest of Mogo Mogo merged with them, the fun instantly stopped. What's the deal?
Kathy: Those players, it seemed like they were bonded, but they were bonded in a sense to win challenges. Lex and I have talked about this at length. When we look at the personalities in our tribe, we are actually more deep-thinking, thought-provoking people and just care for each other. But [we're] not frivolous and not silly, not smacking each other like, "Let's go do it." Chapera had that kind of camaraderie. I don't know if they genuinely care [for] and respect each other. But when the merge occurred, and they realized that their heads would be on the chopping block, I was actually quite floored that there was no human respect there because it wasn't like that in Marquesas.
TVGO: I was shocked nobody accepted your offer to help oust the power players and bust up the alliances.
Kathy: You think you were? I was out there working it for hours and hours and hours and they didn't see it. But then again, the people that are left, they are great people, but they are not self-starters. It is really easy to become complacent and comfortable. I think I really helped people see the light though. It was too late for me, but I think there will be some switching around.
TVGO: Last week, Lex told us he wouldn't have taken the immunity idol from you. But were you serious about giving it to him?
Kathy: Yeah. I was. I was the one that decided to bring Amber; I trashed his game. I won immunity and I thought it was only right. I also thought if he went back to the beach, he'd be able to finesse it better than I would. Because right then, I was on the bottom of the list with Rob Mariano. I was not his No. 1 chick. But Lex looked at me in the eye and said, "Seriously, don't give it to me. You deserve it." I just decided there has been enough damage to friendships that I didn't want to lose this friend.
TVGO: Can you be friends with Rob?
Kathy: I think the show is over and the experience is over in my mind. But I can't have that kind of energy in my world. It really hurts. I'm not going to say it was just a game, because these feelings are real. It wasn't about getting stabbed in the back or getting voted off, it was about how I was treated. It is not right. I'm just not going to have him in my world right now, unless something changes.
TVGO: Would you ever play Survivor again?
Kathy: I would go back in a heartbeat. [Laughs] It is too funny. After doing it a second time, now I'm totally engrossed. And now, I know my mistakes this time around and they were fewer than the first time. I think if I went back a third time, I definitely would go really far.
TVGO: Going into the game, who did you perceive as your biggest threat?
Kathy: I was diagnosing everything with my friend who is a psychologist. Even though I knew Lex, I didn't get him. I knew him fairly well [in] a business relationship because we were doing a travel business together. I couldn't figure him out. Does he really have a heart? Is it in there? I was fearful of him. The other guy I was fearful of didn't come back: Brian from Thailand. So there were a few people I was fearful of, and lo and behold, my friend was the one I feared.
TVGO: That psychoanalysis is an interesting strategy...
Kathy: We were analyzing personality types. From a thinker to somebody more explosive to somebody more creative and how they react to other people of different temperaments. It helped me a lot to help figure people out.
TVGO: What's next for you?
Kathy: Back in Vermont, I'll be working with my foundation, The Real Foundation. It would be fun to get some cool high-level job at the United Nations doing deals for countries or something like that. I'd love to be swinging big deals for Donald Trump.
TVGO: You could be the next Apprentice.
Kathy: There you go. I'll just knock on the door and get a job. I'm just gonna call Don [and say], "Hello, Mr. Trump. Get a haircut."