Perhaps the most interesting and dynamic character on Mark Burnett’s Pirate Master, Joe Don Norton was the first ever captain on the nautical reality show, but was cast adrift on last night’s episode, but not before kissing his lady friend Nessa goodbye. Joe Don spends his days jumping out of planes to combat forest fires, so being a pirate probably wasn’t all that stressful. His outspoken, yet laid back leadership skills shone through all season, and it was only at the hands of an unmerciful alliance that he was cast adrift. Joe Don took some time to speak with us earlier today about his experience on Pirate Master.
Below you will find both the written transcript and full mp3 audio of the interview.
Can you tell us a little about how you became a contestant on Pirate Master, did you try out, did they find you, how did that all work out?
Well they found out what I do for a living, and the people from Hollywood found that and gave me a phone call, there were a few people that were interested in me in the reality show world and I wound up on Survivor, getting cast on Survivor, I was selected to be on Survivor: Guatemala, and then I managed to break my ankle right before I left to fly down there to be on that show.
Rough. So, coming into Pirate Master, getting on that ship, what were your first impressions of the cast and the ship?
My very first impressions were, about the cast, they were pretty interesting looking, and I thought they were going to be intelligent, physically pretty strong. I was kind of prepared for the worst and hoping for the best-type attitude really, to be honest with you. And I thought the ship was going to be bigger than what it actually was, but I liked the ship a lot, it was cool.
What were your expectations going into the show and then after that what surprised you the most once you were there?
My expectations were I thought we were going to be doing a lot more sailing, I didn’t think it would be so regimented as far as production goes, it was a start and a stop. Like, we would sail for a couple hours and go back to port and back at anchor. I though it would be much more rough waters and a lot more dynamic. I wasn’t expecting the whole production aspect of it like start, stop, start, stop.
You were thinking a little more Survivor-type experience?
Yeah, I thought it was going to be a lot more like Survivor-type experience, and I thought we were going to be sailing just a hell of a lot more than we did. I was kind of disappointed from that aspect to be quite honest with you, I was hoping for a lot more, that was my expectations.
You were the fist captain on the ship, when you got that title, what was that experience like, and did you try to set an example for the rest of the season?
I totally tried to set the example of what a captain is and what he stands for. My idea of a captain comes from the military, just kind of your bold, your fearless leader. At the same time, you’re educated, you know what you’re doing and you’re calling the shots, and in the same breath it makes your crew feel safe and respect you. Respect is huge. You don’t have to necessarily like somebody, but I think you’ve got to always hold a little bit of respect for somebody. Just all across the world, with everybody I come in contact with, I try to have a certain amount of respect for them, even if I don’t like them, I think it makes the world a hell of a lot better place, it’s a good way to be personally, you know i kind of selected as the captain by my teammates right off the bat, and I didn’t see it coming and after it did happen, I was like, “Oh no, I’m in trouble, I’m in serious trouble.” But, I just rolled with it, I just totally had to roll with it. I didn’t necessarily want it at first because I thought it’d be too much in the limelight, too much of a target. Just the leadership showed in the first expedition, everyone thought that I was a leader and therefore the leader became the captain.
Going from captain to what you were in the last few episodes, a lowly crew member, what did you learn from that transition and did being a crew member make you reflect on what kind of a captain you were?
I liked being a crew member. Being a captain was difficult for me at first, but then I actually enjoyed becoming a captain after a little while. It was like, “You know what, I like this role, I like being the leader, I like delegating, I like giving out responsibility, I like being the boss, I kind of like being a little firm.” I definitely got into that role, and then going back into being a crew, I think I got into that too, I was just like a crew member and it was the crew against the captain and the officers, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it too. I don’t know, both sides of the equation, I really enjoyed playing both parts and I think if I go back I’d say captain was my favorite part to play.
What did you think of Azmyth as a captain? Was he more annoying or less annoying than what we saw on TV?
You know, man, I try not to say negative things about anybody across the board, but as a captain for Azmyth, he didn’t come across as leader to me, at all. It was more like he wanted to try and be a friend. The term captain didn’t even apply to him, it was more like he was trying to be a crew member, and not a captain, he didn’t want to lead and that was annoying to me, that was really annoying to me. Because I’d like to have somebody in charge that you respect, is somewhat kind of like a bad ass, someone you respect and you want to be around. Someone to lead, you want a leader out there and he just wasn’t leading by any means. But, off the record, outside of the boat, I like Azmyth. He’s a good guy.
Throughout the season was there anything they kind of blatantly edited that you wish they had shown?
I think there was a lot… as far as editing, it kind if bummed me out. I really think that they did a poor job editing and it kind of bums me out because it was kind of blotchy. It seems like the story was kind rough and like, A didn’t equal B, like why did this happen to this person? They didn’t show why things happened the way they did, it just wasn’t very fluid and clear to me. I was there, and when I watched it I was like, “What?”
Are there any examples that involved you that were particularly blatant?
I think in the beginning, like the very first part when no one knew who I was, and then they’re like, “Hey you have to elect a captain.” All of the sudden, unanimously everybody elected me, except for Jon. I think the viewers were like, ”What, why is Joe Don being elected captain? What were the conditions that led up to that?” It seemed like none of that was actually shown. That was the first example, and there’s more as the show goes on. Why things happened the way they did, and they portrayed me as a money hungry kind of like tyrant, and I wasn’t as bad as that, it wasn’t as bad as that at all. Behind the scene,s I definitely was setting up a situation where I was going to start sharing more treasure we found. They didn’t show that aspect of me and there’s just so much… they have an idea of how they want it to go and they push you in that direction even if that’s not really how it went. There’s a little bit of that…you know… it kind of sucks, but, you know, when you signed the papers saying they can edit it however they want, they can edit it however they want.
Let move on to Nessa, did you plan on giving her the goodbye kiss last night and have you been in contact with her since the show ended?
Definitely, the kiss was a mutual agreement that we both felt like needed to be done. And yes, I’ve had contact with her after the show and that’s about as far as the information I’m going to give you right now, the rest is top secret, its going to cost you.
Fair enough. Alright Joe Don, anything coming up in future you’d like to tell us about?
You know, Joe Don, right now, he’s just going back to what he knows, jumping out of airplanes into forest fires. But he’s searching, he’s searching for something, he wants something new he just doesn’t know what the details are yet. So, hopefully he finds it.
(Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl)
(Image Courtesy of CBS)