‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Pre-Game Interview: Ozzy Lusth

For the first twenty one seasons of “Survivor,” every winner followed a simple rule…

Don’t get voted out.

But now with the continuation of last season’s Redemption Island twist, is it possible that someone would allow their teammates to vote them out in order to try their hand at the gauntlet of challenges? Returning favorite Ozzy Lusth is prepared to do just that.

I spoke with Ozzy in the days leading up to “Survivor: South Pacific” and had a chance to discuss this unique strategy, what he’s prepared to do to win, and how he feels about playing the game so soon after “Boston” Rob Mariano’s victory.

Gordon Holmes: Could you give me a quick rundown of your “Survivor” accomplishments for people who might be new to the show?
Ozzy Lusth:
Sure, I was on “Cook Islands,” I got second place. Missed a million dollars by one vote. I was on “Survivor: Micronesia,” was voted out ninth or something. I don’t know. I was voted out fairly early in the game because Parvati (Shallow) my alliance member decided that I needed to so she could win the million dollars.

Editor’s Note: Ozzy was the 12th person voted out of “Survivor: Micronesia – Fans Vs. Favorites.”

Holmes: What lessons did you learn from your first two seasons?
Oh man…basically to be more aware. Be aware of the signs that you’re going home. Don’t get too comfortable, make strong alliances, build your team in a smart way. And…kick some ass.

Holmes: We’re fresh off of seeing “Boston” Rob Mariano come back and win the whole thing. Do you think it’s going to be tougher on the returning players this season?
It does make me a little worried. But at the same time, it makes me comfortable.  I don’t want to be a loser here, but I’m ready to play the game. I don’t want to think about the past.
Holmes: What do you think the newbies’ reactions are going to be when they realize they’re going to be playing with you?
Lusth: Hopefully the tribe that gets me will be really excited. I think I am a huge asset  to this game. I’m also a big threat and that’s fairly obvious. But I’m an asset in that I can provide for people, I’m great in challenges. And once we make it to a merge I’m willing to bow out and take to Redemption Island if they so choose.
Holmes: So you’d be willing to take a trip to Redemption Island?
Lusth: Yeah, I do feel confident that that could happen. Redemption Island is a big factor this season and based on how Rob played the game last season, he won the game in a classic way. He did it by being a mastermind. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take that approach. I’m probably going to have to take off to Redemption and try to make immunity run.

Holmes: You’re the first person to return to the game against newbies twice. What did you learn from your Fans vs. Favorites experience that you can use here?
You need to get on as many good sides as possible. Make yourself an asset and get out of the way. Let the big personalities clash. You don’t have to be a big personality right in the beginning. Let people get mad at each other. If there’s in-fighting, use that to your advantage. There are always people on the outs at the beginning of the game.

Holmes: Ben “Coach” Wade is this season’s other returning player. What are your first impressions of him?
My first impressions of Coach are pretty comical, actually. I think he’s a good guy deep down. I think he respects how I play the game, and I respect how he plays. I think he plays with a certain amount of honor, and hopefully we’ll be able to play together. We’ll probably be split up in the beginning. I hope we both make it far enough that we can turn the game on its head.

Holmes: Do you draw a line with how deceptive you’re prepared to be?
I’m ready to be deceptive. Don’t get me wrong, I want to play this game in a stand-up and honorable way, but I’m also ready to cut some throats. I’d rather that be in the beginning, people who aren’t going to be on the jury.

Holmes: What’re the plans for when you bring home that million-dollar check?
When I win the million dollars a large portion of that is going to my non-profit.
Holmes: Your non-profit? Let’s hear about that.
Lusth: Let’s see…well I started a non-profit, it’s to build skate parks in Mexico. It’s called mexicoskateproject.org and it’s something I really believe in. There’s over 2,000 skate parks in the United States and Canada and in Mexico there are less than ten viable skate parks. And I want to change that. I want to develop in countries around the world. I think skateboarding is an amazing thing and it’s helped me in my life and I know it can help at-risk youth.

Holmes: You’re a handsome gentleman.
Why, thank you.
Holmes: Don’t mention it.  I know flirting has been one of your tools in the past. Is that something that could come into play here?
Lusth: Of course! Flirting has to come into play. You have to use everything that God gave you. Flirting will come into play. My handsome, devilish good looks…even if I’ve got to flirt with some guys. I think that was actually one of the speeches I gave to get on the show the first time. “I’ll flirt with guys, I’ll flirt with girls, it doesn’t matter! Put me on the show!”

Survivor: South Pacific” premieres Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

More “Survivor” Fun: XFINITY TV sent Gordon Holmes into the heart of the South Pacific to get a first-hand look at the filming of the latest edition of “Survivor.” Be sure to check back for an exclusive interviews with host Jeff Probst, behind-the-scenes photos, and more.

Any Questions about “Survivor: South Pacific”? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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