QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
Name: Stephanie Johnson
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Current residence: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Yoga Instructor
Gordon Holmes: My wife is from Chicago. She made me go there once and wait two hours for a hot dog.
Stephanie Johnson: It’s worth it!
Holmes: Mmm…I don’t know about that.
Johnson: Where did you go?
Holmes: Hot Dougs?
Johnson: Yes! See, she knows. Did you get the cheese fries?
Holmes: I just remember questioning my life choices.
Johnson: Was it the best hot dog you ever had in your life?
Holmes: I’d never admit it to her.
Johnson: (Laughs) It was.
Holmes: You’re a tri-athlete. Is that something you’re going to keep a secret?
Johnson: Absolutely. I’m not giving that away. I already look fit. They don’t need to know how fit. They don’t need to know my endurance training and how mentally strong that makes you.
Holmes: Is it hard to get the training in while being a single mother?
Johnson: No, it’s just my lifestyle. I wake up at four in the morning…
Holmes: That sounds terrible.
Johnson: (Laughs) You know, I’ve grown to love those early morning hours. I’m either working out or I’m writing. It’s part of my lifestyle and I incorporate my kids as much as possible. I want them to see their mom getting outside and doing awesome (expletive deleted). They’re my biggest fans. If I have a long run, I’ll throw them on their scooters and shout, “Keep up!” Well, usually it’s them telling me to keep up.
Holmes: And where do you find the time to read the blogs of your favorite “Survivor” online personalities?
Johnson: Before bed. That’s what I do instead of date. “Survivor” is my longest standing committed relationship. I’m kind of in a romance with it. I’m here to seal the deal.
Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Johnson: I was cast because I’m the whole package. I’m socially strong, I’m extroverted, I’m fun. I’m strategic. I know this game inside and out. I’ve been watching for seventeen years. Day one, episode one. Never missed. And I’m strong, I have all the characteristics it takes to win this game.
Holmes: Twisted steel and sex appeal.
Johnson: That is good.
Holmes: I stole that from professional wrestling. But, feel free to borrow it.
Holmes: Anything else you’re going to keep secret?
Johnson: I’m going to twist my job a little. It sounds like a lot when I say it. I’m not going to talk about my clothing line. I’m not going to talk about the writing. I’m just going to own a wellness center.
Holmes: Have you set any boundaries for what you will and will not do? Lying, cheating, stealing, etc?
Johnson: I’ll do anything. I don’t care.
Holmes: You will stab somebody in the face.
Johnson: I will. (Laughs)
Holmes: You will be disqualified immediately.
Holmes: I thought you watched this show.
Johnson: But if I do it nicely. Just a little…
Holmes: There’s no nice stabbing.
Johnson: Fine, I won’t stab someone in the face to win this game.
Holmes: OK, so there’s one boundary. What about flirting?
Johnson: Absolutely. Sex appeal is everything.
Holmes: Also, twisted steel.
Johnson: (Laughs) I will definitely flirt, I will definitely use sex appeal. But, I’ll also tame it down a little. As a mom I kind of have a nurturing sex appeal.
Holmes: I’m not comfortable with this conversation.
Holmes: Is there anyone back home who will get upset if they see you flirting on national TV?
Johnson: No, God no. I told you, “Survivor” is my boyfriend.
Holmes: You guys are totally in the dark as far as twists and themes…so let me tell you what it is…
Holmes: No. No way.
Holmes: What do you think is going on?
Johnson: I have no guesses. I can’t figure out what it is. Maybe casual fans vs. super fans?
Holmes: It’s fluorescent colors vs earth tones.
Johnson: Yes, I’d be on a tribe all by myself. I basically dress like Rainbow Brite.
Holmes: You know my gimmick; I play games.
Johnson: That’s right.
Holmes: I’m going to give you a “Survivor” situation. You tell me which you would rather.
Holmes: Align with a Hillary supporter and Trump supporter?
Johnson: Oh God, you’re pulling out the big cards!
Holmes: It’s a long flight to Fiji. I had plenty of time to figure out how to torture you guys.
Johnson: Hillary…because I want an all-girls alliance. I’d love to get a solid group of girls and (expletive deleted) rule this game.
Holmes: It’s happened before. The guys never seem to be able to make that work.
Johnson: It’s because they’re all idiots. No offense.
Holmes: Uh huh.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Johnson: Eliminate a juror.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Johnson: Endurance challenge.
Holmes: Of course, cause you’re a tri-athlete.
Holmes: If you had to run a distance, swim a distance, or…bike a distance?
Holmes: I had to guess on that last one. I’m not a tri-athlete.
Holmes: Obviously. Here’s the worst one: if you had to align with a racist or a sexist?
Johnson: God…I would align with a sexist because I would (expletive deleted) slap him.
Holmes: That’s how most alliances start.
Johnson: Just a good smack. I can’t do either of them, but if I had to choose. I’d put him in his place.
Holmes: Voted out first or before final Tribal?
Johnson: Final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with a tax cheat or an adulterer?
Johnson: Tax cheat…I just don’t do cheating on your spouse. That does not fly with me. I’m the most loyal person back home. Here, I don’t care about these people.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who to take?
Johnson: I would want to win and decide who to take.
Holmes: Caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Johnson: Idol hunting. We’re all going to do it.
Holmes: Align with a superfan or who someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Johnson: Someone who doesn’t watch the show.
Holmes: Dance challenge or karaoke challenge?
Johnson: Karaoke! Can I have a margarita before?
Holmes: Like at an auction? Maybe.
Johnson: Good, cause I don’t sing…I perform. I perform karaoke.
Holmes: What’s your go-to karaoke jam?
Johnson: Um…anything Britney Spears…
Holmes: There’s no shame in that.
Holmes: What kind of first impression do you think you make?
Johnson: Flirty, loud, bright…maybe I laugh a lot. (Laughs)
NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Stephanie a picture of each of her competitors and asked her to share her first impressions. (Thanks for the picture idea, Jodi!)
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes