More with Evan Starkman of The Duel 2 - TV Casualty
This is the second of 2 interviews with Evan Starkman via TV Casualty (Here's the 1st one, Pre-Ruins), which was conducted in June, after filming of The Ruins had just wrapped up.
How are you?
I’m all right. I’m doing all right.
Well, you have $100,000, so that must be nice.
Yeah. I have half of it so far, but it feels pretty good.
Why do you only have half of it?
I don’t know; some bizarre payment where they send the first half when the first episode airs and the second half after the finale. But apparently the mail hasn’t gotten here yet.
What are you planning to do with your winnings?
Just be a stay-at-home dad. No, I really don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve put some money into a clothing company Kenny and I are starting called Suck Yeah clothing and that’s it. I’m looking for good ideas.
You already have another clothing company, Branch Out Clothing. How is Suck Yeah different?
Branch Out Clothing is a not-for-profit clothing company. We actually just signed a great deal with Plan Canada to produce shirts for them to support their “Because I’m a Girl” campaign. Branch Out is now partnered with them and the only shirts we make support “Because I’m a Girl.” It’s an incredible mission to raise the status of women worldwide and basically ensure that young girls in most of the third world go to high school. If they go to high school then they’re recognized as people more, so it’s a good opportunity to have. But Suck Yeah is a fun way to have a bromance with Kenny. It’s just for-profit.
You’re having a bromance… for money?
Well, no, Kenny and I are great friends and we wanted to do something together. We were joking one day about the status of T-shirts in the world for men, which include jewels and skulls and horses with skulls for heads and all kinds of angry things. We felt that was sorta lame, so we wanted to make what T-shirts should be: just tacky, old T-shirts.
Tell me about the final challenge in the Duel, where you had to swim and bike and do a bunch of mini-challenges.
The one thing is that they really don’t do a good job of showing was how far that race was. It was about 14 miles. It kinda looks like we jump from point to point, but just the section of walking uphill with bikes – we couldn’t ride uphill because it was too steep. Brad and I walked with our bikes for four-and-a-half hours. We were about 30 feet apart and every so often I’d be like, “You wanna take a break?” And he’d be like, “OK, but you stand right there and I’ll stand right here!” When I was carrying the ring with Britney, we walked together for about two-and-a-half hours. It’s quite a long process. I’ve received a lot of mail concerning my reading comprehension [Evan misread one set of instructions and ended up climbing a pole while carrying a bicycle on his back]. I haven’t really come up with anything clever to say about that other than to say I’m an idiot. I really am.
Well, it all worked out.
All in all, it did work out. I would say it was one of the best days of my life. I was an athlete growing up and I’ve never pushed my body like that. It was incredibly difficult.
How long were you racing that day?
We started at six in the morning and I finished – well, Brad and I finished – around 5:30 p.m. They actually had to pick Mark and Aneesa up on four-wheelers. The producers were like, “The sun’s going down and we really need to finish this shot.” The magic of television!
Why does Aneesa keep going on challenges without doing any training beforehand?
I ask that about a lot of the women who come on the show. Ultimately, just so you know, her training is at a strip club. That’s where she works. I don’t know. For me, I have a lot of fun on these shows, and they are kind of silly and chintzy, but I understand that when I am invited on the show, I’m given the opportunity to compete for money. It’s a total blessing. And I have good odds! When I showed up in New Zealand, there were 13 guys, so I had a 1 in 13 chance; you’re not going to do better than that. So I try to get ready. By no means am I Superman, but I try to prepare, and some people just miss the memo on that. I don’t know what they’re expecting, but it’s pretty funny to watch some people come and realize, “Oh, you just… don’t care about the money. At all.” Which is unbelievable, especially if you’re a stripper. It’s not like, oh, you’re rolling in cash. She’s been paying her bills in singles for a long time!
Was Brad pissed that you beat him by, what, half a second?
Yes. Brad is a great guy and he’s done a lot of these shows and never won. I think he’s on eight or nine. He was pretty upset. It was a pretty unbelievable sequence of events; I really don’t know what went wrong. I feel bad. Not that bad, because I’m rich, but I definitely feel bad.
What was the deal with him and Tori breaking up?
It was very bizarre the last few weeks. Another thing they never really highlight on the show is the mental anguish that we’re all in. I said it a thousand times, but you’re not allowed to have an iPod, there’s no stereo, there’s no television. If you have a book, they take your book away. Prisoners are given books and the Internet and we don’t have any distractions. And then you’re in a house you can’t leave. You can’t be like, “Hey, we want to go out!” You can’t even go for a jog. It’s beyond prison. So Tori just reached this wall where she crumbled mentally, made Brad’s life sort of terrible and when she lost to Aneesa, we’re all sort of like, “Wow, that’s really pathetic. How did you lose to Aneesa?” She gave Brad this note that she had a dream where she lost but then Brad went on to win and… [laughs] I don’t know. I saw Brad recently; Tori wasn’t there, thank God. They’re getting married in April of next year and they’re happy and it’s all good.
A big aspect to the show this season was the social hierarchy, with everyone picking their friends until only one person is left.
Yeah, the whole popularity contest.
You were pretty much at the top the whole time, but you were still targeted a lot.
Yeah. I’m used to, I guess, getting a bit of a free ride on these shows. I don’t know if it’s deserved or not. I guess some of the people who don’t prepare for the challenges look at me – I mean, not only do I train hard, but I put all my T-shirts in the dryer twice before I go, so I look like a really big guy around the house because the shirts are so tight. I don’t know, I’m not used to getting called out as much as I did, which made the experience a lot more difficult. But ultimately, I think it helped me because I was more prepared for the final, mentally. Once you go into the duel enough times, you look at your competition and you’re like, “Well, if I can’t beat this guy, I probably shouldn’t be here.” Ultimately, it sucks going in and I went against a lot of good players, but if I can’t beat Davis, just go home, Evan. But I don’t know why people came after me.
Well, it was probably because you were taking charge of the game; obviously the people on the bottom were trying to change that.
You know what it is? I’m a pretty vocal guy. A lot of the veterans who came on the show are sort of quiet, mature people, I guess you would call them. I definitely have a target on my back and I don’t make any mistakes about how I feel about certain things. I always look at these shows as three phases. Despite there being different rules and there being different roads to the final, there’s always been a pattern, and it goes like this: the first few weeks are probably the most nerve-wracking because you’re learning what the game is and the house is full of new people who have never done the challenges. So the hierarchy doesn’t matter to them and they feel like, “Well, I’m going home anyway because people are going to throw me under the bus, so I’m just going to go after the top dogs or go after Evan because why not? I’m going home anyway.” You don’t know what they’re thinking, you don’t have alliances with them because they’re new and you’re just sorta like, “Yeah, get out of here.” The middle weeks are pretty mellow because everyone’s falling into pretty strong alliances and they get the game and it’s simple, the way the game flows. You know if you’re going in and everyone agrees, for some reason, on the way of things. And then at the end, the way I try and do it, I just hope that I’ve fooled people long enough that I can pull the rug out from underneath them and it’s too late for them to do anything about it. That’s sort of the plan. It just happened to work out on this one.
On the first episode, Diem seemed like a lost little puppy who didn’t now what she wanted. Did she experience any personal growth that you saw, or is she still as lost as she ever was?
Yeeeah… uh… It’s weird. Maybe it’s because I haven’t looked in the mirror long enough, but it seems that the longer people do these shows, it’s a slippery slope. Some people just slowly and surely deteriorate. When we first met Diem, she was Little Miss America. She was a teen idol and doing all these great things. She’s still a total sweetheart but a lot more wine is involved. A lot of red wine and paranoia. Diem’s true colours are sort of out. She’s lost. I love Diem because in all the shows I’ve done with her, for some reason, she’s convinced that she should get some kind of free ride right to the end. Every time she’s called out to go into the duel, it’s a mega production. Somebody should give her an award. It’s like, [fake crying] “Oh my God! I can’t believe it!” It’s like, there’s only four girls left! How did you not think you were going to get called out? Every time I was her partner, she was like, “You know, I think I’m really over my fear of heights,” and then as soon as we get up there, she’s screaming and crying. Some of these kids are buying mirrors that, when you look into them, you’re seeing a different person than the rest of the world sees. I would like to know where they’re buying these mirrors. We should all have them, actually. You look great in them, apparently.
So the last time we talked, you were just about to go on another challenge. Can you tell me anything about it?
I can’t tell you a thing about it. [He later tells me stuff about it anyway, but, like I said, I can't reveal any of it.] When did we last talk? Oh, you know what’s really funny? The last article you wrote, I said something about Robin and her child.
Oh, yeah. Somehow her or her fiancé came across that article and I got some pretty heavy mail. I should forward you the email. She’s pretty upset.
Was it not true?
Well, it’s just sort of mean-spirited. I say things – I hope you put this – I say a lot of things that are jokes. In writing, I look bad. It’s like the opposite of my résumé, where I look good on paper but if you actually knew what I did, you’d never hire me. Sometimes in writing, I come across as… a mean guy. Overly arrogant, cocky guy. I really don’t feel like that. I mean, in The Duel 2, how much footage was there of me reading Eat Pray Love? A lot. I’m fully, fully a lesbian. No, I’m trying to be really positive and Robin is due, I think, right now. Having the baby or had the baby. It’s really hard for me to believe that she’s not still doing Percocet, but I wish her the best, I really do.