Exclusive Interview with 'Survivor: Samoa' Contestant Erik Cardona
Exclusive Interview with 'Survivor: Samoa' Contestant Erik Cardona
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Erik Cardona was one of the most charismatic contestants on Survivor: Samoa, but we only got a taste of what he had to offer on the show. Erik, as much as anyone, was a victim of the editing's strong Foa Foa focus this season. Because the 28 year old writer from Ontario, Canada, is more than the brash and cocky guy who got clotheslined first by an actual clothesline and then by the right arm of his own tribe. Erik also provided one of our most compelling Survivor: Samoa interviews, and he confidently answered some challenging questions.

I asked Erik to define each of Galu's invisible and unknown tribe members, defend his strategy of patronizing Foa Foa at this week's Tribal Council and recount the story of getting clotheslined by a clothesline.

Q: Even provided that your plan to vote out Jaison had worked, the people you were antagonizing at Tribal Council still would have been your jury. What was your strategy in patronizing them?

First and foremost Foa Foa had to go... Nobody from Galu gets to the jury with them still around as a tight unit. Now we had leaned, and leaned, and leaned on them, but we needed them to break. I believed this to be good strategy, while simultaneously honoring our fallen leader's wishes. That had to take precedence. After that, I knew I would have to focus on "earning" their votes. There's a time and place to do to that,  but you have to GET there first

Q: Tell me about Brett. We've barely seen him this entire season. Who is this guy and why do you think he's failed to make an impression on the show?

Brett was my guy out there. Young, enthusiastic, fresh out of college and ready to kick the world's ass. Love that. Reminded me a lot of myself when I first graduated Pepperdine. His game plan was to lay low, and fortunately or unfortunately, it's working. It's a credit to him to have the type of patience to continually bite his tongue. However, it's unfortunate to the audience and his followers because he's not giving them "good TV". But Brett is a humble, focused man and he's there to play a game, win a game, and walk out with a fat check; not ham things up for the camera, as disappointing as that may be from a viewing perspective. The other thing is, if you want to stay humble and under the radar, you have to remain that way the whole time. You have to block out your raw emotions and feelings 100% or they will seep out. Love the kid... protected the kid. Stung the worst to think he didn't have the gall to stand up for me. I understand his predicament, and as his friend, unfortunately in that situation I would still probably advise him to just let me go, but being the guy on the short side of that stick, it was hard not to feel betrayed. He's young, and chalk-full of potential to be a GREAT human being.

Q: No one will soon forget your getting clotheslined by a clothesline. Did you really walk out of that unscathed? It looked vicious.

Hell yeah that was nasty. It's amazing how the human body works. I'm 100% flying after that chicken and then this line comes out of nowhere. I have two options: keep running and decapitate myself, or fall to the ground. My mind says instinctively to keep running as our dinner is flying the coop (pun intended) but my body says in a split second..."whoa whoa whoa... we're about to die. I'm shutting things down here." So immediately my legs stop working and I just fall to the whim of gravity and physics. It hurt, but I was already hurting, so it was just one more thing to add to the list. What hurt most was that no one seemed to be helping me and Sham catch the chicken. It was almost like they wanted the chicken to get away so that they had something to hold against her. That sucked.

Q: Of Laura, Monica and Kelly, who is playing the best game and why?

Its clear that Laura is the most dominant thus far among the girls, and for all intents and purposes, our entire tribe. Hats off. Now her decision-making at this point is questionable as she believes that she can put me out like the burning end of a midnight cigarette and have no ramifications for said action. I think it was short-sided, naive, arrogant, and greedy. But guess what, malnutrition, people constantly lying, sleep deprivation, these are all things that are not conducive to logic. So I don't fault her. She took a shot, but my impression remains that was a terrible mistake with regard to diminishing the strength of our tribe. It may have turned out to strengthen her, but certainly not our tribe.

Monica??!?!?! Seriously?!?!? I thought she got confused when she signed up because she certainly wasn't there to play Survivor: Samoa....She was playing something more along the lines of Survivor: Cancun - Spring break/Princess edition. Absolutely 0 respect for her game play; challenges, camp life, social awareness... Which is echoed by John stating "she does not contribute at all" and Russell Swan asking, "Do I want cutesiness or performance?" Thank you for supporting my point. She once told me that her  worthwhile activity for a day was "hunting" hermit crabs. Hermit crabs were an inch in size and rested still on the shore inside shells. Hunting to her consisted of nothing more than bending over to pick them up and put them in a bag!....Hunting? I need not say more.

Kelly.... by far one of my favorite people out there when it comes to personality, respect, effort. She gave her fair share of 100%. She hasn't gotten the time or focus I believe she deserved, but ask any female on the Foa Foa tribe who they least wanted to square off against and I guarantee Kelly's name is mentioned. She's all heart. A beautiful girl both inward and outward with a tiger's tenacity that I don't even think she fully knew resided within. During a water challenge as the "gladiator" she was so dominant in the first round, the girls on Foa Foa opted to triple team her.... yes triple team. How did she respond? She gets punished and nearly drowns while Natalie escapes toward the finish line. She could have easily given up as many of even the guys did at that stage, but she picked her ass up out of the water, and even with the 30 yard deficit, ran like a beast to catch Natalie inches short of the safe zone. She then gave Natalie another taste of the drink that was the Samoa seas and further increased our lead. What a badass... She could do no wrong from that point on, even voting me out.. ha ha... But seriously, that tenacity was vital to our success, and the overall success one can have in a game like Survivor.

Q: Last week you did a confessional from inside a bush. This week you did one while hiding behind a black drapery. What is going on with the Where's Waldo confessionals?

Though it's hard to take my commentary serious with the "Apocalypse Now" backdrop, it truly did justice to our environment. Number 1 rule to survival, use everything at your disposal to your advantage. Cover was invaluable; be it a tree, a bush, or a 'drapery,' offer me protection and I'll take it. It's funny because as heavy as it poured there were all kinds of creatures crawling over me at all different times in the night. Centipedes, wasps buzzing around, random tree bugs... but there was this bizarre sense of mutual respect (if you can believe that) that said hey, "Let's all get along cause we're all in this together..." Which in a way was comforting because at least I knew with them I would get stung face to face, as opposed to being stabbed in the back.

Q: You've commented before that you always wanted to be a con man. What inspired that fantasy? And did the reality live up to your ideal?

The only problem with being a con man is the diluted morals and ethics that accompany the trade. If you can remove that from the equation, as Survivor lends itself to do, you are looking at a trade where traits such as charisma, intelligence, suave deliveries and playful game-play contribute to success. "Opportunity Knocks" was a Dana Carvey movie I saw as a child. His character was so smooth and charming I couldn't help but be seduced. And you do so willfully. You love him, you want to be like him, and he gets a free pass for his indiscretions. Is there a better icon for this game? Again, though it plays in movie land, I firmly stand by my opposition to the trait in real life. But when you're "playing", it's fun!

-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins
(Image courtesy of CBS)