Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Clarence Black imagines Survivor: Harlem
With Survivor filming for season 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
Yes, Clarence Black stole the can of beans. That simple mistake haunted Clarence not only throughout his season on Survivor: Africa, but also in the 19 years following his appearance on the reality franchise. “I am 43-years-old, and I am an officer in the United States Army Reserve and yet I am known for something stupid I did back in 2001 on Survivor,” says the season 3 contestant.
But the beans are not ultimately what did in Clarence — who was also accused of taking too many cherries. At the very first individual immunity competition, the Detroit native engaged in an epic duel against Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper, when the two outlasted the competition in an arm-raising challenge. After six hours, and with no end in sight, Clarence and Teresa agreed to a rock-paper-scissors contest, with the loser dropping their arm to give the other one victory. Clarence lost the round, and then lost the game the next day when his tribe voted him out due to his challenge prowess and fear that he would win multiple immunities.
How does Clarence feel now about his time back in season 3? Does he have thoughts about his edit? What is something wild that went down that never made it to air? And what sort of changes would he like to see on the show? We sent Clarence our Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to find out, and he responded with some wildly entertaining answers that deserve to be read.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
CLARENCE BLACK: When I came off Survivor: Africa, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to work locally in sports radio. Shortly after, I started working in television as a sports broadcaster and hosted several shows on teams and events in and around metro-Detroit. I was a direct commission into the Army Reserve in 2010 and I am currently a Public Affairs Captain.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Carrying two goats at one time during that crazy ass goat challenge. It helped my team get the win.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I was 24-years-old and I really didn’t understand how to play the game. Looking back, I should have looked up the previous two seasons and really thought about strategy. I was just out there playing by the seat of my pants and not thinking (obviously). I really didn’t understand that Survivor: Africa would be with me for life.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
We made an oven out of cow s---. We actually made a cow s--- oven. I couldn’t believe that we made it, but I really couldn’t believe that bulls--- worked. Like, it really, really worked. I went to Africa and made a working cow s--- oven. I did that! WTF!
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
Many of the Black Survivor contestants were on a Zoom reunion last week discussing this very thing and it is interesting how many of us had similar feelings about the slight “liberties” we feel the show took with us. Here is an example from my season. On episode 1 or 2, Ethan comments that “Clarence took two cherries.” Well, we had eight people and it was can of cherries. Meaning there were more cherries in the can than there were people, so someone else also had more than one cherry. It was little s--- like that. But hey! I chose to go. I chose to be recording. I signed the papers. It’s their baby. At the end of the day, f--- it! They did what they thought they needed to do to entertain the audience and I get that.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Oh, Hell no! I was so glad to be back home. There was no culture shock for me, but there was definitely some “butt shock” after being away from certain foods for so long. Man I had my mom roll through a McDonalds on the way home from the airport and by the time I got home, my a--hole had turned into Chernobyl.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
NEVER! It wasn’t a perfect experience, but it was truly a once in a lifetime, kick-ass ride. I was a 24-year-old Black kid from Detroit who got to go on national television and play a game. Then I somehow ended up on Regis & Kelly, Howard Stern, Hollywood Squares etc. How many people can say that they were on Hollywood Squares? Hell! How many people can say they’ve done put themselves out there in life and taken a risk?
Who do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Honestly, I am probably the s---tiest at the “keep in touch” stuff, but it’s only because my life moves at 200mph. I have a wife (my second) and four kids. That being said, I still keep up with T-Bird and I LOVE Lex and his wife, Kelly. They are truly two of the best people on the planet. Evil Dick Donato did a Survivor: Africa Zoom reunion recently, and it was felt so amazing to reconnect and catch-up with my old castmates. I am very grateful to him for that. Gotta give up to the Big Brother guy for showing us Survivors some so much love.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I don’t, honestly. It’s mostly because I don’t watch much TV, but also because I spend most of my time with my kids or doing something for Army Reserve or something for radio or television. I started to watch a season or two ago, but I didn’t, because I heard some douche-hat, Dan Spilo, was sexually harassing people. How crazy is that? And they call me a villain because I took a can of beans? Unreal!!
My favorite season that's not mine is season 4: Marquesas. There was a lot of people from that cast that I became cool with and it was also the first Black winner and the only ever Black female winner. Go V! Go V!
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Dan Spilo, so I could have beat the living s--- out of him. I don’t know the other males who were on that cast, but if they knew this guy was this big of a misogynistic f----tard, they should have dealt with him. I have three beautiful daughters, so it would have taken the whole crew to get me off this boy. And I don’t wanna hear that guys were worried about getting kicked off because there is NO WAY that Mark and Jeff would ever kick me off Survivor for turning Dan Spilo’s ass into a doggie chew toy.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would even out the demographics. It’s 2020. We're in the middle of this George Floyd nightmare and Survivor is still doing “token” Black casting. If you show up on your island and you’re the only Black Survivor, it’s not a comfortable feeling. Imagine you turned on Survivor: Harlem and it was one white girl and seven of her Black “peers”? Yeah, good luck, Miss Daisy!
Finally, would you play again if asked?
In a heartbeat!! But not why you might think. So okay, I stole food on Day 3. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb decision. I shouldn’t have done it, but again (read “regret” answer), I wasn’t thinking. I am 43-years-old, and I am an officer in the United States Army Reserve and yet I am known for something stupid I did back in 2001 on Survivor. Truthfully, I could live with it, but it sucks that my four kids are all old enough to have to deal with it from kids in school calling their dad a “bean thief.”
So yeah, I would love a second chance to show America that the man I am now is a better person and a better player than the kid they saw in 2001. Unfortunately, I have never been asked to return, so I am not holding my breath. At the end of the day, Survivor and everything that happened to me after has given me the best life and I will ALWAYS be grateful to Mark, Jeff and CBS for changing the course of my life.