Survivor's Ami Sounds Off
By Bryan Buss
Out lesbian Ami Cusack was the queen bee of the women's tribe for most of Survivor: Vanuatu. Unfortunately, that made her a threat and a target, so some of her minions plotted to overthrow the coffee barista and sent her to the jury. Here Cusack, who lives in Colorado with her girlfriend, Crissy, tells us about parties at the Playboy mansion, her aim of having an all-female final four, and how thrilled she was to learn she was in an all-woman tribe.
Congratulations on making it so far.
Thank you. Too bad it wasn't further, but thank you.
You rallied everyone together. Are you a little bitter that some of your tribemates turned on you, or are you a little honored that you were perceived as the biggest threat to win?
I'd have to say I'm more honored that I was perceived as the biggest threat to win. I'm not bitter, you know, it's just a game, and you're supposed to be sneaky and tricky and all that good stuff. So yeah, I'm totally honored that I was such a big threat.
Working with the women obviously worked to your advantage, as you seemed to have sway over them.
Well, exactly. I was really excited once I knew that it was all women, because I'm like, God, I spend 99% of my time around all women anyway, so this will be perfect. [Laughs]
Do you think you would have dominated so well if the teams had been mixed?
I don't know about that. I just think it would have been a completely different game. I don't know how well I would have done. I think I'd have been a little bit more under the radar than I was this way. But you know, it worked out.
Did the other players know you were a lesbian going in?
Uh, no, I told everybody the second day that I was there. All the girls were lying on the bamboo talking about their boyfriends and this and that. And they asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said no. The next day they were like, 'Ami, you're one of the single girls.' I'm like, 'No, I'm not single, I actually have a girlfriend that I've had for 3-1/2 years.' So I told them the second day.
And everyone was cool with it.
Yeah, well, they didn't really have much choice. What are they gonna do? They could be mean to me, but that's not going to help anything.
Did you think ahead of time about revealing or not revealing your sexuality as part of your strategy, that it could help you or hinder you?
I didn't know how I could use it for strategy. I didn't really think about it. It was natural being myself.
You didn't seem so interested in keeping the men around once the tribes started merging. Was that a personal thing or just strategy because they were the outsiders still at that point?
Well, really my mission was to get four women to the final four, and whoever was willing to support that'men or women'didn't really matter to me. I mean, Chris is still in the game, and we had a chance to vote him out and we didn't. It wasn't really, 'Oh, just because he's a man, get rid of him.' It was, 'Whoever's not supporting the women's alliance till the end, get rid of them.' So, definitely not a personal thing.
How shocked were you when Leann was voted off? Did you have any idea it might go that way at all?
I didn't really have any idea until right before tribal council, and it was too late by then.
What do you think your most brilliant move was?
I don't know about brilliant. Well, no, you know what? My most brilliant move was sticking to my women's alliance. And I think being honest with every person I voted out. That was the brilliance. I guess the ignorance is almost the same thing. I didn't tell Eliza that they were going to vote for her. And we talked about voting out Eliza over Chris. That was an ignorant move.
Is Eliza really so annoying?
You know what, at the very beginning Eliza was very annoying. But she's really educated. She knows so much about Survivor. And the more you get to know her, you realize she's a really smart girl and she's really nice to be around. You take the good with the bad. She just talks a lot. You just have to get used to it.
What twist of the game surprised you the most?
Definitely when Leann got voted out.
How's your life changed since the show started? Are you being recognized on the street?
Yeah, people definitely recognize you. People are great, because they're just like, 'Oh, I was rooting for you' or 'I'm rooting for you, good luck.' People are really awesome. I've met a lot of really good people.
Any opportunities you're hoping will come your way? Or do you think you want to maintain a low profile?
I like my life just the way it is. If something amazing came up, that would be great, but if not, I'm really ecstatic with the way things are going right now.
Do you think you would do another Playboy spread?
No. My Playboy days are over. That's for the girls in their 20s. I'm through with that one. I did that when I was, like, 21 or 22, so I had my Playboy days.
Any interesting stories of parties at the Playboy mansion?
Gosh, no, I didn't really have anything exciting happen at the Playboy mansion. Lots of dirty old men there, though, that's for sure. It seems like a bunch of hot, beautiful women and a handful of dirty old men and that's really all that shows up to the Playboy mansion during any party. But I was there for the pretty young ladies. [Laughs]
So you were happy!
I was in heaven, yeah!
You've been seeing Crissy for 3-1/2 years. How did you meet her?
My best friend introduced us.
What's Jeff Probst like?
I didn't know who he was when we first got onto the island and when we did interviews. And once I found out who he was, I didn't want to like him because he's probably some pompous guy, he's got his show. And I got to know him, and he is the funniest, nicest guy ever. Just a down-to-earth, funny guy. In the middle of tribal council, he'd just break out singing just to make us all laugh, lighten the mood. He is a really good guy.
Any people you'll remain friends with from the show?
Yeah, I'm sure I'll be friends with pretty much everyone from the show. Be really close friends with a few people, but I'll be friends with everybody from the show.