“Everybody is going to hate this comment, but I’ve played with the best. Stephanie is just as good as if not better than Parvati (Shallow).” – Russell Hantz
That’s high praise coming from Parvati’s former alliance member. However, Parvati will always be able to counter that argument with her two finals appearances and her induction into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame.
Oh…and that million-dollar check she picked up after “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites.”
I had a chance to chat with Stephanie the morning after she was eliminated from “Survivor: Redemption Island” to get her take on Russell’s flattering comparison, her disagreements with the Brady Bunch alliance, and if there really is a Zapateran plot to get rid of Boston Rob.
Gordon Holmes: When I spoke to your buddy Russell a few weeks ago, he said that he thinks you might be better than Parvati Shallow. He said you were stronger and more strategic than Parvati. Would you agree with that?
Stephanie Valencia: (Laughs) No, Parvati made it further than I did. If he’s saying that, that’s great. But, I would have liked to have shown it. I didn’t make it to the top three, and I don’t want to say I’m better than anyone who made it further than me.
Gordon: You pushed hard to get rid of Sarita last week, making the pitch that the tribe needed to stay strong for challenges. Was it frustrating to see them follow your plan a week too late?
Stephanie: It was so weird to me to be around those people. We’d be around camp and they’d say, “We’re such a strong tribe, things are so great.” But it was clear that they didn’t like Krista and I once Russell was gone. They didn’t give a (expletive deleted) about us. So, when I saw Sarita was voted off I thought, finally they get that they need to keep the strong players.
Gordon: Zapatera’s been on a bit of a losing streak. Were you taking any joy in that as you were watching last night?
Stephanie: Yes, it felt really good. Why throw a challenge? All they had to do was deal with Russell on this island. Maybe they didn’t think that in the future that maybe I’d want to get rid of Russell at some point. So yeah, when they lost it felt really good. But they don’t care about numbers. They care about being in summer camp and singing “Kumbaya.”
Gordon: Was there actual “Kumbaya” singing going on?
Stephanie: (Laughs) No, but it was close. If there was a guitar around, I’m sure one of them would have picked it up.
Gordon: I’m finding them hard to root for. A singalong would have cemented that feeling.
Gordon: You mentioned that you might’ve been open to voting out Russell. Under what circumstances would you have done that?
Stephanie: I think about it all the time. Having Russell and keeping him until the very end is great because nobody wants to vote for him. I’m kind of afraid of the guy too. He says I’m a good competitor, maybe he would keep someone who isn’t great in challenges and lazy around camp. Even in my alliance I saw them as people who could potentially vote me out. But, I doubt I’d vote for him. Nobody’s going to vote for him (for the million dollars).
Gordon: You seemed to be having problems getting along with Matt last night. Did you just want to talk about food and he just wanted to talk about God?
Stephanie: I guess! I felt so stupid after watching that. We really had no time to hang out. I got there, we talked a little, I went to sleep, and things went pretty quickly. But he called me annoying! But I guess he’d find anyone coming onto his turf as annoying. But, I guess I talk about food too much.
Gordon: You warned Boston Rob that Zapatera was going to be gunning for him. Was that something you’d actually heard from Zapatera?
Stephanie: No, when they saw Rob and Russell get out of the helicopter, Zapatera (expletive deleted) their pants when they saw Rob. They love Rob, so getting Russell was the worst thing ever. They’d always talk about how things would be different if Rob was on our team. And I thought, “Yeah, things would be different. You losers probably wouldn’t even be here.” I just wanted to stir some paranoia. They got rid of our veteran. They blew a challenge like morons. So, I just wanted to mess things up.
Gordon: One of the things you did that I had a problem with was how you’d continue to defend Russell even after he’d been sent home. What was the strategy behind that?
Stephanie: I really was just a Bitter Betty. I could not understand why they threw a challenge. It made no sense to me. And even if I opened up and tried to be myself, they weren’t open to it. They weren’t worried about losing because they had me and Krista to vote off. So, if I continued to defend him it was because I was pretty much defending myself.
Gordon: Alright, time for some word association. I’ll give you a name and if you can give me the first thought that pops into your head…
Gordon: Krista had the worst time with this because she was trying to keep it clean.
Stephanie: Oh she would, she’s so sweet. I love her.
Gordon: Let’s start off with Steve.
Stephanie: Dying dinosaur.
Stephanie: I called him a (expletive deleted) to his face because he backed out of our alliance. I’d say he’s the dumbest smart person I know.
Stephanie: Country bumpkin.
Stephanie: Anchorman? Phony?
Stephanie: Therapy. She needs help. She’s depressed. Depressing.
Stephanie: (Expletive deleted). Bad person. Bad apple.
Gordon: You did this the opposite of the way Krista did.
Stephanie: (Laughs) You said the first thing that popped into my head.
Gordon: Well, I appreciate your honesty.
Any questions? Any comments? Our commenting system is down for the time being, but feel free to drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes or chat with fellow “Survivor” fans at the “Survivor” Hall of Fame Facebook page.