Survivor star David Genat.
Survivor star David Genat.

Returning Survivor star is ‘TV Viagra’

Reality TV fans who find the bug eating of I'm A Celeb hard to stomach and the antics of the next crop of MAFS desperates even harder to stomach can rejoice: The debut season of Australian Survivor: All-Stars starts next week.

With favourites (and a few troublemakers) plucked from across the show's four seasons to date, All-Stars promises to be the most intense Aussie season of Survivor yet.

"I will say that I played more Survivor in the first two days of All-Stars than I did in 37 days of season 1. That's not a joke," season 1 contestant Nick Iadanza told news.com.au.

Ahead of All-Stars' premiere, we sat down with Iadanza and fellow season 1 hopeful Felicity "Flick" Egginton, season 2's Mark "Tarzan" Herlaar, and season 4 favourite David Genat to chat about their experiences returning to Survivor.

Before we start on Survivor: All-Stars, I want to ask about the Survivor "towel challenge". For one glorious week late last year, Instagram was awash with naked Australian Survivor contestants.

David: Well, it started when photographer Mario Testino shared a photo of me naked, wearing a towel - it's part of his famous Towel Series. Johnny Eastoe from season 4 was so impressed he posed for his own version …

Nick: And thus a meme was born!

David: I started calling other people out to do it, the "Golden Towel Challenge". Now it's actually turned into a charity thing for the Stroke Foundation, an official towel challenge. So some good has come out of it! So many people have taken part … except for Nick.

Nick: I'm a high school teacher! I do not need my students getting hold of that picture.

I never expected the daddy of Australian Survivor himself, Jonathan LaPaglia, to join in.

 

David: I think a lot of people were putting pressure on him on Instagram, as was I … but his was great, it was probably the best one. It was very 'How masculine can I make this right now?'

All-Stars comes at an interesting time for Australian Survivor. It feels like the last season really raised the game.

David: I don't think it's a show you can jump in halfway through (a season) and understand what's going on. But that's one of the great things about Australian Survivor, the character building. It takes time.

Nick: Being part of season 1, Flick and I initially came in wanting to play like (we were in) season 30 American Survivor. To our detriment, we didn't really take the temperature of the room.

Flick: A lot of the other contestants didn't even know what Survivor was!

Nick: Now, everyone knows the game and there's a shorthand, which means you can take your game to another level.

 

Season 1 ‘villain’ Nick Iadanza is back. Picture: Nigel Wright
Season 1 ‘villain’ Nick Iadanza is back. Picture: Nigel Wright

 

So’s fellow season 1 star Flick Egginton.
So’s fellow season 1 star Flick Egginton.

Are there still contestants who aren't really fans of the show? "I'm only here because I couldn't get on The Bachelor"-type people?

Nick: It's crazy to me because this has been this part of my life since I was 12. I'm not ashamed to admit, I'm obsessed with Survivor. Although, not so much these days … after you get to play, you get to take a back seat and move on because you've reached the pinnacle. But it's crazy to me that people would sign up for something so intense without really wanting it. What is propelling you to be out there for all these days?

Tarzan: I mean for me, I was never a superfan like Nick or Flick. For me it was more a challenge: a physical challenge, a spiritual challenge. My whole game was just me turning up, really.

 

Mark ‘Tarzan' Herlaar, David Genat, Shane Gould and Mat Rogers on All-Stars.
Mark ‘Tarzan' Herlaar, David Genat, Shane Gould and Mat Rogers on All-Stars.

Did any of you have any trepidation about returning to Survivor?

Flick: I found out that I'd fractured my leg the same month I was asked back. So that was really hard for me, but I didn't tell them that I fractured my leg. I went to osteo every week, I did hydrotherapy every week and secretly got my leg back to normal.

Tarzan: When we were in Samoa, it was horrendous weather conditions. I thought, if it's going to be that again, I don't know if I want to play. Samoa's weather was … terrible. (All-Stars is filmed in Savusavu, Fiji).

Nick: I was initially very hesitant to come back, which is crazy because I'm such a big fan. But I had a baby like six months beforehand, and I felt so guilty to leave. I just didn't know if it was the right thing to do. But my wife sat me down and said, 'You'll regret this for the rest of your life if you don't do it. But if you're going to go out there, play like you've never played'.

 

David Genat filmed All-Stars almost immediately after his season of Survivor.
David Genat filmed All-Stars almost immediately after his season of Survivor.

We have a few 'villains' in the mix for All-Stars. Is that a tricky role to play on reality TV?

Nick: I was very afraid everyone would have a negative perception of me if I ever played Survivor again because I was the snake, I was the villain. Then as the show's gone on, new villains have emerged. Someone like Dave arrives - a super villain - and I can just hide behind him!

People bring their values of sport to the game of Survivor, but those values don't translate. Survivor is about getting backstabbed and your game being elevated at the expense of other people. Some people don't understand it, but for those who do, you get carte blanche to just go nuts.

David: That's the ecosystem of Survivor, man. It does reward 'bad' behaviour because that's what needs to happen to get people off the show. There's only one winner. It's hard not to take things personally, of course.

Nick: It's just so fun watching someone revel in the duplicity of the game. Dave's like Survivor Viagra. He's a shot in the arm for the show because he's willing to make those moves that make you turn to the person next to you on the couch and say, 'I can't believe he did that'. If anyone's going to sign up for Survivor in the future, follow our lead and don't shy away from trying to put your mark on the show. The show grows when you take risks.

Australian Survivor: All-Stars debuts 7.30pm Monday February 3 on Ten.


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