Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Gervase Peterson reveals what they didn't show on Borneo
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.
In a bold and audacious move, Gervase Peterson dared the cast of Survivor: Borneo to vote him out of the game. So, after careful consideration… that’s exactly what they did. Gervase’s Tribal Council rant never made it on to TV (which is a crying shame), but he was kind enough to recount the story as part of our Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire.
And that’s not the only juicy tidbit Gervase is offering up. He also informs us that he made two ride-or-die deals at the very start of the very first season. (Any guesses as to with whom?) Those deals may not have worked out, but as part of the original Survivor cast — and then returning 26 seasons later and making it all the way to the end in Blood vs. Water — Gervase has cemented his legacy as a reality TV icon.
So what is the icon up to now? Whom does he still keep in touch with? And who are the players from other seasons he wishes he could have played alongside? Gervase answers all that and more, and also explains how the show has been “terrible” in terms of its diversity in casting. Read on for more from one of the true OGs of the game, and whatever you do, DON’T LET THAT FOOL YOU!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
GERVASE PETERSON: I've been staying busy working on a few projects. I filmed a movie called Stealing a Survivor last year. In pre-production on a TV series called Scrawl playing a character named Chambers, and have a couple of other projects in the works. I still do custom made suits, write my column “Say Gerv?” for Boston Man magazine and host a podcast called Totally Unclear.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Playing the second time on Blood vs. Water and making the finals after a 13-year layoff. At the time, that was the longest layoff for any player playing again. The game had changed so much, and to be able to navigate that and still compete with former players who had played multiple times and knew each other outside the game was a tough obstacle for me. My goal was to make it further than I did on season 1, which was 30 days. Making it to the finals was a proud moment for me.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?
I honestly don't have any regrets from playing Survivor. It's the greatest reality show and game ever. It changed my life, and I have loved every minute of playing it.
What’s something that will blow fans minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?
That I had an alliance in season one with Ramona and Joel. I approached Ramona and on the boat ride to the island and we made a deal to never vote against each other. When we made it to the island, I made the same deal with Joel. Our plan was to have the numbers by the merge and pick of Tagi one by one. We couldn't get the rest of Pagong to agree to do that and that's exactly what Tagi did to us, but I had that plan and made my alliance from day one.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I'm happy with my edit on the show. I did some dumb things and some great things playing the game. Of course, there are some things that I and I'm sure every player would love to have been shown, but I'm okay with my edit. Season 1, the night I got voted out, Jeff asked me did I have anything to say to since I thought I was going home. I knew everyone was thinking that I was going to plead and beg to stay and for them to keep me around. I didn't do that. I proceeded to tell everyone that they better vote me off because if they don't, I will win the game. They don't have a chance against me and that I will make sure I win every immunity challenge to the end and make them regret keeping me around. The shock and look on everyone's faces was priceless. They never aired it, but they put it in the Survivor book.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
There wasn't any adjustment coming to back society for me because I came back to my newborn son Gunner and the rest of my family. I had to get right back into the mix of things. With the show not airing for four weeks, it gave me plenty of time to settle in and get back to reality before all the hoopla started.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I never regretted doing Survivor. It was an incredible experience and I had the best time out there on the island. It was a life changing moment for me.
Who do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?
I still talk to Rich, Sonja, Kelly, Sean, Joel, Ramona, Gretchen, and Jenna from season 1. I would see and hang out with them and I worked with them for years after the show was over doing TV shows, appearances, award shows, charity events, basketball leagues, commercials, talk shows, game shows and more. They are family. I love them all. I talk to Tyson, Rachel, Laura, Ciera, Colton, John, and Candice from Blood vs. Water.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I still watch Survivor. I still think it's a great show and it keeps evolving to stay fresh and entertaining. There have been a lot of great seasons over the years, but season 40 has been my favorite. It was very intriguing and had so many layers to it. They were all former winners, they knew each other, it was a mix of old school players and new school players, the coins, Edge of Extinction, the opportunity to get back in the game, the two million-dollar prize. Also, for me, I knew most of the players and watching how some of them had to change their game play and some not change their game play from the way they played and won was great to watch.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I wish I could have played with or against Clarence Black or Sean Rector. I loved them on their seasons. I think we could've had some great battles in challenges against each other and some great strategy sessions working together.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would make Survivor more equally diverse. For years, it was a standard of one Black man and one Black woman. That's just terrible. Also, more diverse in casting and production. This would help in a more diverse cast and the telling of the diverse cast stories and not labeling them with negative stereotypes. It's been long overdue.
Also, I would cast it more like season 1 with a better representation of the average person. After season 1, the cast was more "Hollywood" with a lot of good looking and ripped in-shape players. The great thing about season 1 was that fans watching the show could see themselves in the cast. It made them believe they could play the game. That was one of the constant things I heard from the fans.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Yes, I would play again if I'm asked. I'm waiting for the call to go back. Third time’s the charm. I went 30 days then 39 days, next is Sole Survivor.
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"