Coby Dishes on Surviving Survivor


By Bryan Buss

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 didn't show the time on that, so I can't 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 don't 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 wasn't my original weight. And it sounds glamourous to lose that much weight, but then your body kinda fights back once the game's over and tries to gain it all back. So right now I'm in a state of trying to keep it down so I don't 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 don't 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 I'm a very politically incorrect gay person and I loved it.

I wasn't offended by that at all.
Don't waste your time getting upset over someone calling you a homosexual. I am a homosexual.

You said on the show that you'd 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 that's 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 that's still mine to keep forever. A million dollars I could spend. Burying childhood skeletons'that's 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 don't. 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 it's a boring game. I can't even fathom how fun it would be if there were nine of me left out there all playing the same way I was'crazy.

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 didn't work Tom'you're the first person to hear this, by the way'Tom 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 didn't work him when there were 20 of us, because, you know, there are so many other people to work. I thought, Oh, well, I've got him in my pocket, I feel a connection there, I don't 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 didn't pay him attention those first couple of days. It's very funny, because I told everybody before I went in, there's this gray-haired, freckle-faced guy, and we're like gonna so be in together. I was like, He's 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 didn't become a target until I became so good at the challenges, and then they took a step back and were like, 'Wait. We can't keep him around.' And then when that happened, that's 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 won't 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 that's 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 I'm 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 didn't know who Jenn was until like six episodes in. I was like, Who's that person?
I know. Some of 'em, you still don't know their names. One of the interesting things about this season is that it's almost like a two-act play. It's like the first act was Ulong, the second act's Koror. Koror wasn't really in the first act, because the whole second act is all about Koror. So you're going to get to know those people now. It's gonna get good, 'cause watching them turn on themselves, it's gonna be so personal and ugly.

I kept thinking, it's great Koror keeps winning, because it's gonna be so juicy when they have to start eating themselves.
I'm 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 they're best friends, it's ugly. Real ugly. And I loved watching it. I loved being on that jury. If I would have had some popcorn, I'd've been in hog heaven.

Have you had any love connections since the show started airing?
You know, I haven't 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 don't care I'm 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 I'm 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 you're on there, you're this openly gay character, and my dad loves you. And it's given us a whole level of conversation that I've never had with him before.' I've had a lot of people say stuff like that to me and it's very emotional. I wasn't 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. It's really cool.

So what's up for your future? Are you back at the hair salon?
I'm just running my salon, living in Texas, enjoying my family. I'm 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 I'm not going to do it. If something came my way, obviously, I'm not going to bark at it, but I'm not gonna chase it down.