Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Kourtney Moon on the One World negotiation we never saw
With Survivor filming for seasons 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.
Kourtney Moon never received a single vote against her on Survivor: One World. Unfortunately, that is because she never attended a single Tribal Council. Kourtney was a victim of both bad luck and bad hand placement in the very first immunity challenge, when she broke her wrist after jumping from an elevated platform down onto a rope net. She was unable to finish the challenge after dealing with intense pain, and X-rays later confirmed the wrist was fractured in several spots, forcing her out of the game.
It was a bummer way for Kourtney's all-too-brief adventure to end, and a bummer for viewers as well, who did not get to spend enough time with a player whose distinctive choice in headwear was matched by a distinctive personality. But while viewers did not get to know Kourtney well enough due to her early exit, they can now learn a lot more about her time on the island and what she's been up to since courtesy of her Quarantine Questionnaire.
Kourtney spills on how she ended up beheading a chicken, reveals a successful negotiation between her and the Rooster (as in Matt Quinlan) that never made it to TV, and explains why her reality television medivac was only the beginning of a very difficult medical journey. If you want the story of a true survivor, then sit back and enjoy Kourtney Moon's Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
KOURTNEY MOON: Appearing on Survivor seems like lifetimes ago. I think I have morphed into several different versions of myself since then. I sometimes wish I could've had the opportunity much later in life, as I've been through quite a bit since my 20s. For example, I knew the importance of why it's probably a good idea not to take life seriously, but I hadn't fully embraced it. I had only gotten as far as not taking myself seriously, which is the easier of the two.
Within those first few years after Survivor, I discovered I had ovarian cancer twice, which was a devastating blow, because my partner (at the time) and I wanted kids. I wasn't aware that I had actually experienced early signs of it while I was away from home for the show. Later, the doctors said that without specific testing it would have been almost impossible to detect. Only a year and a half after the first discovery and surgery, I was back in the hospital. Only this time I ended up being pregnant, too — which was completely unexpected and deemed medically impossible. So, I had the rare opportunity to be a medical anomaly for the longest seven months of my life.
Once I was well enough, I went back to school to become a chef, and once I graduated and was well on my way, I was hit with two other medical issues (boring and not glamorous) that left me bedridden for over a year. I've since gotten most of that figured out, but I was told I can't physically work on my feet with such a strenuous career as a chef in a kitchen. I didn't want to accept the fact that all the hard work and commitment was snuffed out in a matter of months. I tried to push myself and continue once I was able to walk, but it just wasn't the same, and I had to admit defeat.
I'm confident things will be better moving forward, and in the meantime, I started a small business making jewelry. At first, I was helping a good friend launch his small business while I was on bed rest, and it morphed into something else entirely. I'm enjoying it, but it's not my life's passion, which is why I am back in college. I am hoping this new start will be the catalyst to living abroad.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Well, since I was only out there for a few days, I am able to narrow that down pretty easily. I think my proudest moment happened when I was able to hack the head off of a chicken when nobody else wanted to do it. I felt like it was a little premature for us to jump to eating chicken so early on, but I could tell that Monica was entirely too uncomfortable to do it, but had stepped up to the task since nobody else would. I figured Chelsea would since she was the country girl and she caught the damned thing in the first place, but no, they were horrified. I walked over to the Lord of the Flies camp and asked for their ax. Oddly enough, they didn't put up a fight. I didn't really know what to do, and had only seen it happen once on television. I grew up in the city proper, and country and farm living was, unfortunately, a concept.
The only other thing that I could possibly be remotely proud of was my weaving and negotiating capabilities. All of these things never made the cut, but when we were trying to set up our camp and get ready for that first night, some of the girls asked the boys for embers. EMBERS. And they had, apparently, commissioned me to weave all the palm fronds for their camp and ours. I had to go over to their camp to renegotiate. Firstly, I was annoyed that the girls on fire duty weren't actually making any attempt to start a fire. Then they told me I had to find the palm fronds and weave them all myself! I had to go over to the boys' camp and tell them that I hadn't agreed to any of this, and that I would still be willing to weave their fronds under two conditions: they had to cut fresh ones for both camps (not forage fallen, rotting fronds), and they were going to BUILD our fire and bring wood... and not give us only embers. Matt tried to negotiate down, but I didn't budge. They agreed.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I wish I had been more assertive in talking to the other players and not so caught up in the immediate logistics of getting our camp and fire set up. I also, of course, wish I had not broken my arm in that first challenge. That sucked. That was also my first broken bone, so I had no idea that the crack I heard was a real crack.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I really feel like if I said it, I would be breaking the epic long contract we all signed. I'll just say that some things are pretty real when it comes to bare minimums — I was tired and hungry and dehydrated and there were no portable restrooms off-camera. Other things are not what I expected or could have imagined… mostly what goes into a production like this, the countless faces you don't see that make this show a reality. And having conversations with cameras so close to your face is a very bizarre experience.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
It's a mixed bag. I mean, they couldn't really focus on anything about me anyway since I was doomed. For the sake of not saying anything I'm not supposed to, I wish I had not been portrayed as a clueless person when attempting that challenge. Those jumps we all made were thought through and considered carefully while standing on that platform. I'm sure others have said it before, but the challenges are much more demanding and intimidating in real life than they appear on screen.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It was an unwelcome return for [those of] us who were out before the merge, too, but I can't imagine what it was like for the late boots. I could see how affected some of my friends were being voted off before the merge, so I imagine the later guys had a lot to process and cope with once they were adjusting back to even being around people without playing the game. When I returned home, I hadn't seen my phone or a laptop in months. I had an amazing time completely living life in the moment without having to worry about anything but keeping to myself, and appreciating what a strange moment in time this entire trip had been. When I got back home, reality hit hard and I slept a lot. The only good thing about going back to "normal" was seeing my son again. I was in a strange place before I left for the show, and it's like I had just picked up where I left off in the cacophony that was my life then.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Absolutely. The very first moments getting to location, seeing how everything was shaking out. And after they said, "All women in one camp and all men in the other," I thought, "Oh, f---, I'm out of my element here." I am also genuinely perplexed by the concept of reality TV, and being a part of something like that. Agreeing to that is entirely out of character for me. When I think back on it, I really wonder who that person was. On the contrary, I'll have days when I think I'd do it again, or I wonder what it would be like if I had actually gotten a chance to play the game and not be injured or sick. Truth be told, my doctors told me that even if I hadn't broken my arm, the condition I was in would have made itself very known in a matter of a week or two of being out there. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to experience that! Nor would I have wanted the network to feel responsible for any sort of oversight. The network went above and beyond to make sure we were all healthy and fit, and they took such good care of me (and all of us) when we were out there, on location and off. No matter what, it was a life-changing experience, and how could one not ponder what an opportunity like that would be like again? The "what if's" in life can plague a person if they let it.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I almost exclusively still keep in touch with Troy — his optimism is infectious, and we've had some real heart to hearts over the years. He's such a ray of sunshine.
I am in contact with Nina, who blows me away constantly with her prowess in the garden (no small feat), and she's such a wonderfully supportive mother.
Matt and his lovely wife and babies. Matt is true blue through and through. He was one of the ones I thought I would have nothing in common with, but after talking to him at Ponderosa, I quickly realized that I had made absurd assumptions. He is so down to earth and genuine, and he is incredibly intelligent with a great sense of humor.
I lost touch over time with Monica, but I miss the hell out of her! She was my soul sister out there, no question. She is one of those people that lights up everything around her, and for as many people we met along the way, she always remembered everybody's name and little things about them here and there... she's such a thoughtful and compassionate human being. The love she and Brad share is one I could only dream to find. It's also worth mentioning that she was really the reason I met my daughter's father. I wish I was in a position to be more present in her life and show her my appreciation for how much she impacted it. She's an earth shaker for sure, and the world is a better place with her in it.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Honestly, I never watched it and don't watch it. I watched the season with Troy and Brad, and I watched Monica's other season, and that's about it. I do remember watching as much as I could after I was cleared for the show, because I wanted to understand what I was getting myself into! If I remember correctly, I really enjoyed the season in China, and the one where the girl farted during one of her interviews… her season was one of the more entertaining ones to watch, and I think visiting China would be a wonderful experience… although, I think they had to eat questionable things on one of their challenges, and I can't help but watch something like that through my fingers.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I really liked Courtney. Some of her interviews cracked me up, and even some of the outtakes. She's one of the only players outside of my group that I remember clearly and recognize. She just seemed like a really interesting person, and the type that would be a ride or die.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Ha! Players [should] receive more money since they're at the mercy of the production... Can't control the edits, can we?
Finally, would you play again if asked?
It would depend entirely on the circumstances. Truth be told, I vaguely remember emailing one of the casting people saying I'd do it again after a few whiskeys. I'd be more inclined to work behind the scenes than in front, as some of my FAVORITE people from the entire experience were people who weren't players. Either way, I think it's not something I'd totally be close-minded about, but I would definitely NOT pack a dress or vintage earrings.