Billy Garcia, <EM>Survivor: Cook Islands</EM> Billy Garcia, Survivor: Cook Islands

When Jeff Probst promised one of the strangest romances in reality-TV history on Survivor: Cook Islands, he wasn't lying. During last Thursday's tribal council, Aitu team member Billy Garcia told Probst out of the blue that he'd fallen in love at first sight with Candice (from the Raro tribe), and that during the immunity competition they'd mouthed the words "I love you" to each other. Strange. This, compounded by the fact that Billy's team banded together to throw the challenge in order to vote him out, made for a bizarre evening all around. No wonder Probst was flabbergasted. spoke with Billy the morning after his eviction to find out more about, well, everything. Being on a deserted island is a lot different than being in New York.
Billy Garcia: It always looks easier on TV, then when you get out there you have no tools to work with.... That's always a tough thing to overcome, and it's a lot of trial and error if you have no experience. I made the assumption that we were all in that situation, like on any other season of Survivor, where you'd have a lot of urban people. It just so happened that we had someone with an unprecedented amount of outdoor skills in Ozzy, so it was really easy for him to single me out and make me look like a fool. What was your first reaction when you saw the way the teams were split up?
Billy: Immediately, and to this day I still have the same reaction: great for Survivor, terrible for me as a player. I still have that reaction, to where I knew I was gonna be the outcast in my tribe, that I wasn't, like, a traditional Latino. I chose heavy metal to be my culture and knew that people would perceive that as white music, not Latino music, and be [worried] that I would switch sides or whatever. I knew that was going to happen, but there was nothing I could do. Was that why Ozzy was out to get you?
Billy: I think that, because he knew that he had painted me in a corner, I'm pretty sure he felt, "OK, he has no other move but that." I don't think he realized that I was trying to work it with the ladies on the tribe. But you didn't make any comments like, "Oh, I'm going to jump sides as soon as I get a chance" or anything like that.
Billy: No, that would be even dumber than throwing a challenge. No, I never made a comment to any of the players at all. For a minute there it looked like the Aitu gals were going to switch and vote out Ozzy.
Billy: I really worked Cristina well, but Cecilia was the key. Cecilia actually blew an opportunity to take over that tribe; if she had voted Ozzy out, she and Cristina had control of our end of the game. I'd have been at their mercy as well. But they saved my butt. I'd have gone along with anything they wanted. I'd be happy to do it. You had a great parting line when you mentioned how cool it was that a heavy-metal guy got voted out by a guy named Ozzy.
Billy: Well, even though Metallica's the master of puppets, Ozzy's like the master of puppets on Survivor: Cook Islands. I'm the very happy-go-lucky guy, even though in this particular game I hit the lowest point in my life when I was, like, stabbed in the back by everybody. Despite that, I just can't help, in my happy-go-lucky nature, to find some silver lining. I don't think this Ozzy's going to bite the head off a bat or anything, though unless he gets really hungry.
Billy: No, we caught a lot of food out there. Maybe a little too much. It really does seem like there was a surprising amount of food this season, with the chickens and the fish....
Billy: Absolutely, which hurt my strategy completely. I found out that first day that Ozzy had all these [outdoor] skills, and I [couldn't] play with him in that area, so my next strategy was to make do with what I had. Did you eat a lot before you went?
Billy: I ate a lot leading up to Survivor, but on the day we had to leave I did not eat a lot. That was on purpose because I knew we were going to be boated out there, and I'm glad I didn't because, of the 20, 12 were hurling chunks the entire trip. I did the smart thing and did not have a big breakfast. So was that  your only time with Candice when your love connection began?
Billy: That's where I started thinking to myself, "If there's ever a merge, outside of the game I'd like to get to know her, just as her. I like to relate this to when somebody is starving for food: You give them some crumbs, it's like the best crumbs they've ever had. Well, I was starving for affection and she gave me some affection, ya know, the best affection I've ever had. So what would have been maybe a little crush or maybe not even that like maybe a, "Hey let's get some coffee in the real world" turned into this whole big, "OK, I love you." So are you waiting for her to get kicked off to, you know, see what happens?
Billy: I don't want anybody that I care about to get kicked off. I hope either she goes to the end, or Yul or Cristina. But the finale, I'm definitely going to go talk to her. I understand it was really goofy the way it all came off, but we'll laugh about it and from there, who knows? What did you think of Jeff's shocked reaction? I mean he's been saying, prior to the show, this Survivor had one of the oddest romances
Billy: [Laughs] In reality-TV history? Well, his reaction had two effects. One, it provided me one of my favorite memories of being out there, and two, it woke me up to how goofy it really was. I enjoyed Jeff's reaction. He was respectful of it. He ended up winning beaucoup points with me. So when did you realize that your tribe threw the challenge on purpose?
Billy: Before the challenge I had suspicions just because of their body language and stuff, but I thought I was being paranoid because in Survivor you tend to get paranoid, but then during the challenge it became extremely evident. I mean, we were down to a snail's pace  I'd literally go up to untie something and I'd get pulled down  so it got to where I didn't want to climb up again so I didn't get pulled down and break my neck. And the whole move with Yul was brilliant, that I got to send the smartest guy, the most likely guy to find the immunity idol [to Exile Island]. And then it turns out he did find the immunity idol. I'm like, "This is like sweet revenge." You know that's gonna come bite [Aitu] in the butt.

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