CBS Local – CBS aired Season 34, Episodes 10 of Survivor: Game Changes, and we had the chance to interview the latest castoff, Debbie Wanner, who after leading the last episode’s blindside of Ozzy, fell victim to a blindside elimination herself.
Here’s her unique perspectives (as told to CBS Local’s Samantha Bennet and Adam Bloom) on being voted off the island, her game play and how it feels to be the third member of the jury.
Episode 10 Castoff: Debbie
AB: When that final vote was read that had your name on it, did you know immediately who flipped? Did you have any reservations about Sarah?
D: it was probably a day or two prior to that vote, in what I’ll call our alliance of six, going to Mr. [Brad] Culpepper and said, ‘When this six breaks up, it’s going to be Sarah.’ And Brad said, ‘okay well, when the time is right she’ll be the first to go.’ You get an instinct, you get a feeling in your gut through observations. And all I can say is, congratulations to her swearing on her son’s life that she would not flip on the Nuku alliance, and, she bested me.
SB: Survivor editors are great at foreshadowing who may be going home in an upcoming tribal council, especially when someone makes these proclamations during the one-on-ones interviews. Did you have any regrets regarding anything you said during yours?
D: You know, I really don’t. They could have, just as easily, used the clip where I said, well, ya know, I’ve got some doubts, here’s my thinking on the six (alliance), Troyzan isn’t an original, or Sarah, she’s playing both sides of the field and constantly talking to people. So, you use the one that makes it the most interesting and I understand that. There’s a thin line between confidence and cocky and at the end of the day, the way I live my life and played the game was I take the information I have at hand, I make the best decision I think possible, I am apparently highly entertaining in the way that I do it. It is what it is.
AB: We really enjoyed watching you on the show and, I think, you might have had a great deal of satisfaction for getting out Ozzy. When that ended up happening, walking back to camp must have been a great feeling.
D: Quite frankly, it wasn’t. I like Ozzy on a personal level. He is this fascinating, epicurean, wine connoisseur and I genuinely like him. There was no ‘Oh, great, I slayed Ozzy.’ I really don’t have an ego like that. The game does get personal and feelings get hurt. What really happened with Ozzy was the two of us had gone for a walk. [Jeff] Varner had said that Ozzy is in an alliance with Zeke and Andrea, and it stuck in my head. Ozzy and I go for a walk and I say, ‘Look, Ozzy, I’ll throw my cards on the table,’ but Ozzy went first and said, ‘I want Brad Culpepper or Sierra out.’ They were my core alliance, with Tai, so, of course then I begin being disingenuous and duplicative like ‘Okay, Ozzy, fine.’ But I immediately go back and tell Brad. So, that is why Ozzy got taken out. Tai wanted him to go because he was such a massive threat. But, no, there was no smug satisfaction from me. I’m not that kind of person. I liked Ozzy; I liked him going into the game, I liked watching him in previous seasons.
SB: This is a little off topic, but, we learn a lot about you and the cast and the things that you’ve done. You mentioned that Ozzy is a wine connoisseur which, frankly, I wouldn’t have taken him for one. Is there something we didn’t get to learn about you?
D: For my entire life, I’ve been an animal rescuer. There are three African tortoises living in my house, well, right now in their fenced in yard; that is Elvis, Priscilla, and Winston Churchill. I am a 10-year member of Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue, but I have been a member of the local animal rescue league for 30 years. Look, I have propensity to prefer dogs over humans. After Survivor, I don’t think you’re going to ask me why that is. I really love animals and it’s because they are at the mercy of human beings and, far too often, humans turn out to be cruel and evil. I immediately go out and want to do something, and that is raise funds. These animals are helpless, so that’s what you don’t know about me. I love animals more than I love most people. I’m more Saint Francis of Assisi aligned than I am Jesus Christ. I just keep asking God, if you want me to love my fellow man, why did you have to make so many wankers? So, animal rescue has been my lifelong passion. I should have been a veterinarian, but too many things just didn’t work out the way I wished they would have when I was younger. I love animals so much that I certainly wasn’t going to kill a goat and eat it.
AB: Back to the show, there was a scene this season, on the beach, which had a lot of attention where you went off on Brad. Could better explain the situation and maybe why you reacted that way?
D: Well, I had the utmost respect for Brad’s wife, Monica. I often called Brad, “Mr. Monica Culpepper,” which he took in stride and actually liked. When it came to Brad himself, I thought he got a raw deal. I always wondered what he did. I always thought he was, I don’t know, badly edited, misunderstood, so I went into the game wanting an alliance with him. And, we had one. I wanted people to be comfortable coming to me and telling me that they were targeting Brad, exactly as Ozzy did. So, we had a little distention, if you will. It was largely fake. In that clip of me going off on Brad, you do see me laughing, you do see Brad saying “Is she acting,” because somewhere along the line I probably told him, ‘Look, this is the way it’s gonna be, I need people to tell me they’re targeting you and Sierra, so we can go after them.’ It was over the top. There was never any real break between my alliance or my loyalty and devotion to Brad, but I certainly needed a Snickers bar at that point. I wish it wouldn’t have come across so tumultuous. I could have toned it down a bit, that’s for sure.
AB: I think we recognize, to a degree, that it was over the top.
SB: And there are a lot of extenuating circumstances when you’re on Survivor.
D: I’m glad you said that. There are more extenuating circumstances on Survivor that most people, even those who sit back and think about it, can realize. Let’s take starvation, thirst, genuine deprivation, cold, hot; you’re filming a television show 24/7. So, now add in the element, you know how you want to look good when someone is taking your photo? Imagine someone taking your photo 24/7. Imagine constantly being on high alert, ‘how am I going to be portrayed.’ So add that element, whatever you want to call it, whether tension, stress. Now, take the disingenuous that comes out of everybody’s mouths all the time and having to be questioned. Everybody is playing this duplicative game at a frenetic pace. You just have, what could very well be defined as, insanity.
AB: It really takes a special kind of person to do that, so we give you kudos for that.
D: Thank you. You know, one of the things I’ve always wondered was, there are quite a number of people who say ‘I will not go back and play Survivor again,’ and I thought, well, you know, it’s no fun being cold and wet and hungry and having people lie to you or being made a fool. I completely understand why people don’t play again. It is not easy, let me say that.
SB: Where are you when you watch the show? Do you enjoy sitting on your couch and watching it?
D: That’s funny because the Civil Air Patrol has meetings Wednesday nights and I’m usually there because I’m the Communications Officer. So, I watched last night fully, on the couch with my daughter. I have no qualms about watching it. Sometimes I think, ‘oh, hey, I looked good,’ or ‘oh, hey, wish I wouldn’t have done that, or handled it different or edited differently.’ But, I’m fine watching it. I really don’t have a big ego.