Coby Archa, an out 32-year-old hairstylist from Athens, Texas, was a valuable member of the unstoppable Koror tribe on Survivor: Palau, but after destroying their opposing team, Ulong, Cobys teammates quickly dispatched him to the jury. Outspoken, bitchy, but ultimately vulnerable and accessible, Coby found a way to put his past as an outsider behind him as he made a place for himself within his tribe.
Im sure youve been asked this a thousand times, but do you regret bailing on that immunity challenge so early on just for a couple of doughnutsespecially when it ended up leading to your being voted off?
I really dont, and Im tired of defending it. It was my plan before we even went to that challenge to jump first. It really wasnt about the doughnuts, it was about a fuck you to my teammates. Cause I had been trying so hard to shake those numbers up. I was like, Were gonna shake this up, or were not. Im not going to stand here all damn day, you know, begging for immunity just to stay in the game. But really for me, it was kind of an F-you to them. Whether or not they got that, I dont know.
You said in your exit interview that every single other player got rid of you because you were a threat. Did you know you were going? Had they told you something beforehand?
Well, you know, tribal councils last like two hours. And so a lot of stuff gets said at tribal council. Now, right before I got the vote, they all started saying really nice things about me, about me being a threat, and thats when it first hit me: Oh, God, I think it might be me. And once I got voted out, what they didnt show on the show, is that as I was walking out, they handed me an oar from Koror as a sign of respect for voting me out. And so thats when I turned around and said, Thanks for the compliment. It wasnt just a self-delusional state of thinking I was fabulous. Even though I was the worlds biggest bitch at that point. Dont get me wrong. I am delusional and I do think Im fabulous.
You are fabulous.
I wish they would have showed just that one little second of them handing me the paddle because I look like a total delusional bitch.
All right, going way back to the beginning, do you think Jonathan did not get chosen when the two tribes were originally formed because you had suggested to so many people that he should be booted?
Im glad youre addressing this, because in the gay community theres been a lot of confusion. I actually read an article saying I had it in for the jocks for being mean to me when I was a kid and was taking it out on Jonathan. But really, when we stepped on that beach, and six of the 10 guys were all like 25 and built like a brick house, I thought we better get rid of some of these young studs or theyre gonna overpower us. And so Jonathan was just the easiest target, because Jonathan was not working the social aspects of the game at that point. So I knew I could make him a target.
It never occurred to me that it might be a straight-hating thing
Well, I was surprised too, but Ive read that a lot on the Internet, actually. A lot of people thought I was getting rid of the young, best-looking guy cause I had some kind of vengeance against guys like him at school, but that wasnt it at all. He just wasnt working it socially the first three days. I knew I could aim at him.
Well, it worked! So how was Wanda? Her singing was sorta overwhelming on the TV. But how was it in person?
You know, looking back on that pick I made, it was actually really hard for me, because in the beginning there were lots of people to pick from, but by the time it got to me, I had the choices of three girls, being Caryn, Angie, and Wanda. And it was actually very hard, because I liked things about all of them. Wanda may be psycho in a way, but she had 100% passion for that game. She just made it impossible for me to pick her by standing up in the first part of the game, singing and such. She just put such a huge target on her back. I couldnt have played with her if I wanted to, and I actually did want to. She had such a strong passion for that game, she was crushed. But quite honestly, it was her fatal move. Shes the one who stood up in that boat before we even knew each other and sang everybody songs. I thought jumping out of the boat was a huge target! No-o-o, write a song and sing it when nobody knows who the fuck you are. Its a much bigger target!
Im sure youve been asked this question a million times, too, but everyones wanted me to ask
Youre so sweet to even care that youre asking me things Ive been asked a million times. You can just ask me anything, I dont care, go ahead.
Well, back at the beginning it seemed you bonded with Angie. Then you ended up not choosing her for your team. It could have been the editing
No, thats the way it was. [Laughs] Thats exactly the way it played out. The reason I didnt pick Angie is because I knew she had a target on her back that was huge, just because she was different, and so did I. So I thought, two wrongs dont make a right. I was afraid if I picked her, it would make our target bigger. That was my motivation at the time. Looking back, do I wish maybe I would have picked Angie over Caryn? Of course. Theres lots of coulda, woulda, shouldas in this game. I think Angie would have been a phenomenal player on my team. I mean, look at the rest of my team. I had pretty average, kinda everyday folks, and I think me and Angie together would have been too much of a strong alliance. It would have been obvious.
Then she ended up shining through when she was with all of the plastic, younger people.
She sent me a thank-you card because I gave her a storyline.
Im kidding [Laughs]
Oh. Well, how strong was your alliance with Caryn and Janu? It seemed like you had one, but it never seemed to really come together.
Well, the problem is that Survivor is a numbers game, right? So there was that alliance of five against our alliance of four, which was with Willard, Caryn, and Janu. So our alliance was very strong, but it doesnt matter how strong it is, four against five dont cut it. You know, once they started dicing into our numbers, all we could do was hope and pray that their alliance would break up or that there would be a merge. I knew if we had a merge, my game would be totally different, but it just never happened.
Who would you have taken to the Final Four, if youd been able to manipulate that into happening?
Thats a good one. If I really had my druthers, I think it probably would have been me, Stephenie, Greg, and probably Bobby Jon. I like all their work ethics. Those are all very hard-working people. I would have taken really strong competition to the end.
What was the hardest challenge?
The hardest challenge for me, for sure, was that hellish sandbag one, where we had to go around in the circle while the tide was coming in and we were chained to each other. That was just pure F-ing hell. They didnt show the time on that, so I cant tell you how long it was, but the other people that were there told me it was hours. And you know, for an out-of-shape 32-year-old guy in his manties [bikini briefs], that was a pretty hard challenge.
The manties were pretty hot.
I dont know if they were hot, but they were what they were, which was manties. I definitely looked better in em towards the end than I did in the beginning.
How much weight did you lose?
I lost 28 pounds. But I purposely gained weight before I left, knowing I would starve. That wasnt my original weight. And it sounds glamourous to lose that much weight, but then your body kinda fights back once the games over and tries to gain it all back. So right now Im in a state of trying to keep it down so I dont show up at the reunion as a big blimp.
It rocked seeing you push James off that raft.
Yeah, that was a pretty good one, right? And I dont know what was more satisfying, me pushing him off the raft or having him talk all that smack when we were done. Cause I loved him talking smack. I know a lot of gay people were kind of offended with some of the things he said, but Im a very politically incorrect gay person and I loved it.
I wasnt offended by that at all.
Dont waste your time getting upset over someone calling you a homosexual. I am a homosexual.
You said on the show that youd been left out of a lot of team sports as a kid, as I was as well. Do you feel like you proved something to yourself by being part of a team and really rocking the challenges like you did?
You know, that was actually the biggest blessing in the game and the biggest curse. I finally did get to be part of a team, a winning team, and be a valuable player on a team. So thats what that little breakdown [when Coby got emotional over feeling left out of the team] was all about, because I did bury a lot of skeletons from my childhood. On the flipside of that, though, I think it also kind of killed my drive to win. Because it was such a big accomplishment, I think I kind of went [big sigh], Wow. Good accomplishment. And that kind of took my eye off the prize. So I think that killed my fire a little bit, but thats still mine to keep forever. A million dollars I could spend. Burying childhood skeletonsthats not something a million dollars can buy.
Are you happy with the way you played the game?
You know, you would think I would have regrets, but I dont. I thought I was fabulous. [Laughs] I had all my bitchy, crazy moods. People keep telling me I was crazy for talking to Steph [so blatantly about tribe intrigue] and crazy for jumping for the doughnuts. But, you know, I played a fun game. I think all those other people were boring. They might still be there, but its a boring game. I cant even fathom how fun it would be if there were nine of me left out there all playing the same way I wascrazy.
Who surprised you the most?
Actually, probably Tom. And it was because, from the very beginning, I felt like me and Tom had a strong bond. So I didnt work Tomyoure the first person to hear this, by the wayTom was one of the first people that when I landed, I saw him and I felt kind of a connection to Tom, and so I didnt work him when there were 20 of us, because, you know, there are so many other people to work. I thought, Oh, well, Ive got him in my pocket, I feel a connection there, I dont have to worry about it. And so I kind of ignored him the first couple of days, working everybody else. Well, that is when those initial bonds were working for him with everybody else. And so he turned on me the rest of the game, because I didnt pay him attention those first couple of days. Its very funny, because I told everybody before I went in, theres this gray-haired, freckle-faced guy, and were like gonna so be in together. I was like, Hes going to be my alliance. I can tell you already, I feel it. And then I got there, and he was my biggest foe. So the connection I felt there was right, it was just the wrong connection. But that really surprised me, because I really thought Tom and me would get along.
Did you ever wish that your team had lost when you were on your winning streak just so you could get rid of someone?
That was my second big blessing and curse in the game, was the fact that we kept winning. Because if we had gone to tribal a couple of weeks before, I would not have been the first person to go. I didnt become a target until I became so good at the challenges, and then they took a step back and were like, Wait. We cant keep him around. And then when that happened, thats when I turned bitter, because I realized that no matter how hard I worked or how good I was at the challenges, the numbers were against me, I would go anyway, and so I just got bitter that some of those loser people were still gonna be there. So I actually do think that us winning the immunities cost me the game. And I actually thought about throwing em. Because those last two [tribal] immunities were kind of in my hands. I could have thrown them. But I thought, you know, if I go anyway, and I threw this, I wont have that part for me, and so I went for it and won it so I could have it.
Do you feel you were portrayed fairly?
You know, once again, I would love to blame the editing for me being a bitch, but I just am a bitch. So I think it was very fair. I thought the portrayal was almost like they were reading my mind. So much of the story was told from my point of view that I really felt like thats probably one of the reasons, even though I was kind of gripey in the end, maybe people feel a connection to me because I think people feel they got to know me as a person, the good and the bad. So Im really happy with the way I was edited. I can not complain.
You were a really fleshed out person, unlike, at this point at least, Caryn or Jenn. They were there, but I didnt know who Jenn was until like six episodes in. I was like, Whos that person?
I know. Some of em, you still dont know their names. One of the interesting things about this season is that its almost like a two-act play. Its like the first act was Ulong, the second acts Koror. Koror wasnt really in the first act, because the whole second act is all about Koror. So youre going to get to know those people now. Its gonna get good, cause watching them turn on themselves, its gonna be so personal and ugly.
I kept thinking, its great Koror keeps winning, because its gonna be so juicy when they have to start eating themselves.
Im glad you realize that. Never in Survivor history has one team been together this long. So when they start turning on each other, and thinking theyre best friends, its ugly. Real ugly. And I loved watching it. I loved being on that jury. If I would have had some popcorn, Idve been in hog heaven.
Have you had any love connections since the show started airing?
You know, I havent really had love connections, because I live in a little town in Texas and these people know me, the gay community here is so small that they dont care Im on TV. What has happened, though, is like when I went to New York over the weekend, I was really shocked at the warmth and the love that I got from the gay community. I mean, I had a lot of people really reach out to me. I had this one guy come up and he hugged me and said, Thanks for giving me the gift of my dad. Because Im still in the closet, and the only thing that me and my dad have in common is Survivor, and so we watch it together every week, and now youre on there, youre this openly gay character, and my dad loves you. And its given us a whole level of conversation that Ive never had with him before. Ive had a lot of people say stuff like that to me and its very emotional. I wasnt expecting it at all. I was at another bar, and this person came up and they kissed me and hugged me and they said, All those things you said to the jocks, that was me, I feel you. And then they walked off. I mean, I have stuff like that happen all the time. Its really cool.
So whats up for your future? Are you back at the hair salon?
Im just running my salon, living in Texas, enjoying my family. Im not going to run off to L.A. and chase that dream with every other American Idol and Bachelorette. Reality is a dime a dozen, so Im not going to do it. If something came my way, obviously, Im not going to bark at it, but Im not gonna chase it down.