It's never easy being the first team to face "Philimination" on The Amazing Race. Just ask Dennis and Erika, the formerly engaged couple from New York, who lost a nail-biting race-to-the-finish on Tuesday night's premiere. Still, for these longtime Race fans, the chance to appear on their favorite reality show outweighed their embarrassment.
TV Guide Online: It's gotta be tough being the first team out. Did you get any condolence calls from previous racers?
Erika: We did. There's a whole group of racers in New York and they all called us together. There's also a group in Las Vegas that called us. We're really big fans of the show and have seen every season, so we know we're in good company.
TVGO: Dennis, you seemed really taken aback at the airport, where one of the other racers called you a "scumbag."
Dennis: I went into this trying to be fair and just get along with everybody. Usually, I'm perceived as a nice guy, but right off the bat, I had a blow-up! I was really distraught about it because I like to get along with everybody and not form any enemies. But for the rest of the leg, I was like, "Great, everybody hates me."
Erika: And it wasn't just about being the nice guy. There's also the Yield involved this season. If you p--- people off, they might stop you in your tracks, and you're going to get eliminated just for p---ing people off. So it's strategic to be nice as well.
TVGO: You tried to make up for it in Maldonado by letting Colin and Christie take a cab in front of you. Was that your downfall?
Dennis: Yeah, that taxi stand killed us. We waited a good 20 to 25 minutes for the next cab to come after Christie and Colin left.
Erika: We were all getting the same cab. The driver would just drive back and forth. It was about two hours from the time that Kami and Karli left in the first cab to us.
TVGO: It seemed like a lot of teams were making big mistakes. Did you notice that while you were racing?
Erika: I know — we're a dumbass group of racers! [Laughs] But we never saw how anybody else was racing except for the teams that were with us. The only time we saw all the teams together was when we spent the night at that campsite on Goritti Island.
TVGO: Did you consider making partnerships with any of the teams?
Erika: Before we started, we had decided on no alliances, but it's crazy how fast you bond with these people. You're sharing this experience with them and it's difficult to not think of working together. Basically, we thought that we would work together when we needed to and then every man for himself when we're running for the finish line.
TVGO: Since you're fans of the show, what was it like to actually be racers?
Dennis: It was great. We were so giddy when we opened the first clue. We couldn't believe we had the opportunity to do it.
Erika: When you're watching it, you can sit at home and criticize everyone, but when you're doing it, there's so much adrenaline running, you can't think clearly. We had goosebumps watching it last night because it was so exciting [to watch ourselves]. We watched it with a big group of people, which was fun because they had no idea what was going to happen. We were all sitting there and clapping and laughing, but when [10th place finishers] Jim and Marsha turned the corner, everybody just looks at us in shock and it got really quiet. It's like they expected me to instantly start crying or something! [Laughs]
Dennis: We were like, "We're cool with it. It's all right."
TVGO: Knowing what you know now, what's one thing you'd do differently if you had it to do over?
Dennis: Not be so nice. As they say, nice guys usually finish last. I cared too much about what other people thought.
Erika: We always play by the rules; I would try to be a little bit more of a rule breaker and get away with more things.
TVGO: So now that you've raced together, have you decided to give the engagement another shot?
Dennis: We were definitely once engaged. We kind of rushed into it because of pressure from my family and friends. It was too fast and we were fighting all the time, so we called it off. But we're dating again and we're happy together and hopefully we'll lead up to that again. Erika has been trying to get me to Los Angeles for the longest time. She went out there and I actually moved out there also a little while ago. So we're trying that out now.