The Tennessee bartender tells Liane Bonin he wasn't the lazy, manipulative slacker you've seen on TV
Silas Gaither
Credit: Silas Gaither: Monty Brinton

A week ago, TV viewers may have seen Tennessee native Silas Gaither, 23, as the king of the Samburu tribe. But his new teammates on the Boran tribe decided the aspiring actor was more of a joker than African royalty, and they gave him the boot. talked to Gaither about being a slacker, why it’s okay to be hated, and why those little tooth brushing sticks may be the next big trend.

You certainly seemed to take it easy while the older members of your team did all the work. Is that accurate?
This show is made in the editing room. Everybody said something bad, everybody said something good, and everybody said something stupid every day. The producers picked what they wanted to make good television. I busted my tail around camp. Brandon, Kim, Frank and Teresa would be the first to tell you I got all the fire wood. And as far as my sleeping in, I’m a bartender. I work until four in the morning. I can’t help it if Frank’s been getting up at four in the morning since he was 12.

Asking Frank, Linda and Teresa to vote for Lindsey turned out to be your downfall when they ratted you out to your new team. Are you wishing you’d kept your big mouth shut?
To be honest with you, I don’t blame them for being angry. That was a power play that was just a very stupid move. And it should’ve never been done. It’s one of those situations where you’re so caught up in the moment it’s hard to describe it. In all honesty, I had my game face on during the competition. When you have vulnerability or hesitation, you have weakness. So that’s kind of where my attitude of go-get-’em came from. I was thinking, ‘Grab the bull by the horns and take him down.’

On the ”Survivor” website, you rank dead last in their likeability poll. That’s gotta hurt.
Until you’ve been through an experience yourself it’s not fair to be critical, or at least that’s what I’ve always been taught. I’m just like, ‘You know what man? That’s okay, because they don’t know, and they’re trying to have fun and figure out the game.’ That’s the fun part of the TV show. I’m happy to be a part of that.

Did you realize that your own team had thrown the immunity challenge just to get rid of you?
That was a shocker to me. It didn’t hit me until I watched the show last night. That was pretty bad. But I think it was a wise move on their part. They played the game well.

Linda really gave you a hard time for getting down on one knee to rally the troops. Where did you pick that up, anyway?
I can’t believe it struck such a chord. All my athlete buddies were laughing their heads off saying, ‘Man, I do that all the time.’ It’s just a pep up thing. It’s like the quarterback taking the knee in the huddle, like ‘C’mon guys, doggone it, let’s score this touch down.’ It’s just part of me, and it came out. But I hate that Linda thought it was cheesy, because I think she’s a terrific person.

You’re a bartender in Los Angeles. How are people reacting to you? Are you getting better tips?
It’s been really sweet. Nothing but positives. There are people that come in and recognize you, and some people that just don’t. It hasn’t changed a thing. I mean, people aren’t mean or anything. They realize it’s a game, and they realize that you’re out there to win. My parents thought I had won the whole thing. So that was a heart breaker. And, for my parents’ sake, I hate the fact that people think I’m portrayed as the manipulative kind of guy. But that’s the power of the media.

Do those little tree branches really clean your teeth?
They were unbelievable. They have fluoride in the branches. It really works. In fact, we were making jokes about marketing it in the United States and calling it the African Tree Brush or something. I didn’t get any cavities while I was there.

So tell us, why the heck did your team’s pots keep breaking?
They didn’t show this either, but both tribes busted their pots. To make good television, they have to show just us breaking the pots because it looks like the mall rats are screwing around. It’s excellent editing. They told us the pots were tough and that you can just throw them right on the fire and we did that, but they started cracking and breaking. You talk about a nightmare; it was truly, truly a nightmare.

Lex and Tom seemed thoroughly unimpressed with your camp. Were they being too harsh?
I was surprised at their reaction. Each camp had their own system, and, if you remember, they had won a huge tank of water so they didn’t have to waste time gathering and boiling water. So of course they had time to stock up on fire wood.

Considering that your team won the first two immunity challenges, were you surprised by how everything fell apart?
You know, it’s easier to vote someone off earlier in the game because no one’s formed any alliances. We had nine days before we had to vote anybody off, and it basically tore our team apart. When you win like that, you almost create your own destruction.

What did you miss most while you were in Africa?
I missed greasy cheeseburgers. Honestly, probably the food and the things we take for granted in life, the things that we have everyday. You know, a Q-tip. Just the little things.

Survivor: Africa
  • TV Show
  • CBS