On last week's Survivor: Cook Islands (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET on CBS), J.P. Calderon became the third straight member of the original Latino group to be snuffed out at tribal council. Some of his tribe mates said he was lazy, others found him too bossy, and some just pegged him as a threat, so they all banded together and voted him off, all the while letting him think they were going after Stephannie, the sacrificial lamb. TVGuide.com caught up with J.P. a professional volleyball player who volunteers with many youth teams to find out what he thought of the episode and the season so far.
TVGuide.com: Good morning! It sounds like you are over being blindsided by your tribe.
J.P. Calderon: I was over it. I'm an athlete. I really didn't play this game in the conniving, sneaky way it looked like I did. It was a game, but I looked at it as sport. When you are done, you're done. I just wanted to know the how, the when, the where and the why.
TVGuide.com: Did you have to wait until Thursday night to get that answer?
J.P.: Yeah. I thought it was really kind of stupid. I'm not really good at hiding my emotions. Strategically, it was really stupid, and I don't understand why that would benefit them in any way. My mode of thought was strictly efficiency. I forgot that it was an individual game, and instead looked at it as a team thing. I really wanted the best team to go into the merge. I was approached, but I didn't start any of these alliances. They made it seem like I was the diabolical schemer and that I was running the show. The whole Billy thing was Ozzy's [idea]. My whole goal, since it was divided ethnically, was to keep an original alliance with Ozzy, Cecilia and Cristina. I told Cristina that I would take her all the way if I could. They made it a gender thing last night, [presenting me as] "ruling the nest."
TVGuide.com: There were a lot of camera shots of you sitting around giving orders.
J.P.: That kind of bums me out because I worked really hard. That little perch where I was lying down, I only laid there like two or three times. Every time I laid on it they showed it.
TVGuide.com: You said it was a hard decision to vote Stephannie off. Why?
J.P.: Because I didn't want to vote her off. It was that she said, "I don't want to be here, I'm the weakest link." How do you argue with that? It was a group consensus. That is a legitimate reason for voting someone off.
TVGuide.com: I wasn't so surprised that the girls got together.
J.P.: I know this is going to sound bad, but this is where I think it is really stupid. Rebecca and Jenny really did this on an insecurity level, and I don't see where it is going to benefit them. I thought [the male alliance members] were stronger, not because of size and strength, but because they were presences.
TVGuide.com: Were you shocked that Adam and Brad voted against you?
J.P.: I was really sad that Brad and Adam and Cristina did not keep their word. I do have to apologize to Nate, because up until this [episode aired], I really thought it was him and Pavarti that constructed this, and Nate really kept his word and that was really cool. I'm intense and I have a presence and I think that is what makes me look like this diabolical Latin "Mwa-ha-ha-ha" kind of person. I don't back down and I don't lie and I'm kind of candid so I think that is what comes across as maybe being a leader. I draw attention to myself and I think that was maybe my downfall. In my [outside] world of athletes, men and women do not have a problem with calling you out and being in your face, and it is not taken in an offensive way. It is a pretty brutal group of friends that I have. I wasn't scared one bit how the media or the public was going to see me, I was more afraid of what my friends were going to do when I got home. I didn't realize until after the show that when you integrate with different groups of people not races, but different people who don't live in your world they might look at you as this mean person. In my world, I'm one of the nicest people.
TVGuide.com: There was a lot of speculation about why your tribe sent Candice to Exile island, thus saving her from tribal council.
J.P.: I was kind of involved in [the decision]. I thought Candice wasn't a presence, she was just a weak player and it would make the stronger players vote each other out.
TVGuide.com: If you had sent Cecilia, she'd still be around and aligning with you, instead of evicted.
J.P.: I didn't even think about it. I wish I had. It ended up backfiring. But if I had fought to send her, then everybody would know there was this Latin-Hispanic alliance.
TVGuide.com: What was your reaction to the way the tribes were originally divided?
J.P.: I loved it! For me it was an opportunity to represent this Hispanic-Latin community and culture. It was personal because, other than for my name, by judgment no one thinks that I'm Hispanic, [and I lived] my whole life where people would judge my ethnicity. When you are who you are, you want to be recognized for that. Living in Venice by the beach and playing volleyball doesn't help out. I thought our whole group was a way to show that we are not stereotypical: Billy is a heavy-metal guy, and no Hispanic is supposed to listen to heavy metal; Cecilia is a computer consultant, and we're not supposed to be doing that, we should be doing more blue-collar work; Ozzy surfs and I play volleyball, when we "should" be playing soccer; Cristina is "supposed " to be the one behind bars, and not enforcing law. I thought it was a great way to show that we can be successful in many other ways.
TVGuide.com: So what did your friends think of the show?
J.P.: They just made fun of me. They were all behind what I did, like the Billy incident. I never attacked him I think Billy is a great guy, but I didn't like Billy the player. And if I had it to do over again, I'd do it again. I own up to what I do and I hate people that back down. The show touched on him being lazy, and me being lazy, and that was one stereotype that I wanted to break. We felt as a group that when we merged, he was going to defect because he made an alliance with all four of us. That's what bugged me. And the fact that he was such an avid Survivor fan, and knew all the strategies and techniques, that had me really nervous. I was like, "We've got to get him out," but I didn't want to be the jerk to bring it up. That was why we threw the challenge. I would have carried his workload all day long if I knew that he was trustworthy, because that is a vote. I couldn't care less if I have to work harder for everybody. I didn't look at this game as popularity, but how can I stay in it longer and get a strong group behind me.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
J.P.: I don't know. Mark Burnett told the whole group, "This will change your life and you'll find time to examine and see who you are and where you are in your life." I just let it go in one ear and out the other because I thought it was just crap. But he was right. I want to do something different now. I love volleyball and dedicating my life to kids and children. That was another reason I was bummed out that they made it such a gender thing, because I've dedicated the last six or seven years of my life to volunteering with young girls, so it is kind of ironic. But I want to do something different and where I can help people. I want to use my energy to do that.
For more reality-TV chatter, pick up the new issue of TV Guide magazine.
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.