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Plus: What was it like meeting Grumpy Cat?
If there is a superfan Amazing Race curse, New Kids on the Block's Jonathan Knight and his longtime boyfriend Harley Rodriguez fell victim to it on Friday. After failing to get earlier plane tickets to Phuket, Thailand, on the previous leg, the couple of seven years made up a little bit of ground in Bangkok, but still didn't see any other teams for the second straight leg. "I think if we had gone to another country, we would've been able to [catch up]," Jonathan tells TVGuide.com. How far behind were they? What was it like meeting Grumpy Cat at Caturday Café? And how did they use the selfie camera to their advantage? Find out below.
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As a New Kids and Race fan, I was bummed to see you guys go. How far behind were you?
Jonathan: [Laughs] We were too! I think it was an hour and a half behind.
Harley: Yeah, when we finally caught up, we were only an hour and a half [instead of three].
Did you think you ever had a chance to catch up?
Jonathan: I thought we would've been able to catch up a little bit. You really never know. I think if we had gone to another country, we would've been able to. The whole leg before that, we didn't see anybody. There was no indicator of where we were in the order.
You basically didn't see anybody for two legs.
Harley: Yeah, the whole time it was just not knowing if you'll see someone, hoping you'll see someone. But we just kept saying, "Maybe someone's stuck in a challenge." We've seen it happen before on the show when someone came from behind out of nowhere and passes another team. We kept our hopes up.
What happened with the flights last week?
Jonathan: They couldn't show it because it would've taken too long, but we had been in the Tokyo airport and there are two terminals and you had to take a bus to go to each one. So each airline would say, "We don't have any room here," so it was hours and hours of going back and forth between the terminals. And then finally one came up and we said, "Let's take it." And then the connection flight, there was more trouble there. There was more stuff that went on, but it would've taken too long to air. But when we finally got to Thailand, we saw that everyone was starting at a good time and we had an opportunity to catch up. We were going through the challenges really quickly, so that was great. We were zipping through those.
Yeah, you never made a mistake on any challenge.
Jonathan: Maybe two times max we'd have to do a task. Time was not on our side. The airport stuff screwed us obviously. That was our meltdown.
I loved your demeanor throughout the race. Jon, you always acknowledged your phobias and anxiety and your allergy to cats, but you just got on with the task and never complained. What was your approach for the show?
Jonathan: We knew going into it that there'd be stressful situations, but we're not really the type of people who get stressed out about things. A lot of the things on the race are just things that happen in everyday life. You can't really control it. Having a temper tantrum isn't going to change the outcome. You just gotta keep a level head and just keep moving forward.
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How long did the Speed Bump take?
Jonathan: It was pretty quick. Half of the grasshopper was already built and we had to add the legs and part of the body, so it wasn't completely from scratch. It seemed like was from scratch, but some of it was built. We just had to make it look exactly like it was. ... I think if we had not done the Speed Bump, we probably could've caught up. For like 15 minutes, we were looking in one of the temples and it wasn't the right one, so we had to go out and look again.
Harley: That does cut into our time and every minute counts. I think if we didn't have to do it, it would've shaved off 30 minutes.
Did you have trouble finding the Pit Stop like other teams did?
Harley: No, we knew exactly where to go. We didn't have too much trouble [getting places] because we'd show the cabbie a picture.
Jonathan: We had asked someone and we borrowed their phone. We looked it up. With our selfie camera, I would take a picture of that and then zoom it in and show our cab driver: "This is where we're going." I was like, "We're not just gonna take selfie pictures. We're gonna take pictures of maps on other people's phones and then show people because we don't speak Thai."
Now future racers will do that.
Harley: [Laughs] It was definitely a smart move and helped us a lot.
I don't think producers were thinking when they gave you those cameras. Or maybe there'll be a rule next season that you can't use them to get directions.
Jonathan: Yeah, who knows? They just tried it this season. It's fun watching the show now because you know what you went through, but to be able to see what the other teams went through is cool. But it was funny seeing how many selfies the other teams took. The whole time, they kept telling us, "Make sure you take selfies!" We were like, "We don't have time for this. We're not gonna stop and snap a picture." But then some of the teams just had so many selfies. It was so funny seeing them. For us, it was race or take selfies. I don't wanna miss the train!
What was it like meeting Grumpy Cat?
Jonathan: Oh, my goodness! The cats in that place were so awesome! I never even knew half those breeds existed. They had some weird ones too with weird legs. It looked like they were inbred a little and I felt bad for them. ... There's one of those cafes here in New York City. Maybe I'll take a couple Benadryl and go in there one day and be prepared!
In the past, some racers haven't liked celebrity racers on the show. What was your relationship like with the other teams?
Jonathan: We all got along really well. When we were all together at the beginning of the race, everybody was nice. I was a little bit like, "When is the tide gonna change and people will pull out their claws?" We had a good time. Who knows, when push comes to shove as the race went on, maybe people would be a little more nasty.
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Do you think there's a superfan curse? A lot of superfans get eliminated early on the show.
Harley: [Laughs] Well, that's one thing to blame it on!
Jonathan: I don't know. I'll take it though. It sounds better than missing a plane flight!
Are you gunning for a future all-stars spot?
Harley: That would be nice. I'm still taking it all in. It'd be nice because the stuff we know now that we didn't know then, especially with the airports, we'd be a lot smarter with situations like that.
Jonathan: I think it'd be fun to do all-stars just for those reasons. Those reasons and more, but just to have a second chance and come in with more insight.
What are you up to now? Back on tour?
Jonathan: I'm getting ready to go back on tour. I have like two weeks and then rehearsals start. I'm gonna head up to New Hampshire as well to check out my real estate properties before I head out for rehearsals.
Harley: Right now I'm in California visiting family and then just going back to New York and getting back in the grind. And just watching the rest of the race to see what else they did.
The Amazing Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)
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