Fun Fact: The “Survivor: Micronesia” finale where Parvati Shallow defeated Amanda Kimmel to claim the title of Sole Survivor aired exactly two years and one week ago.
It certainly seems like it was much longer ago, doesn’t it?
In that short amount of time, the player that was often dismissed as a one-dimensional flirt has blossomed into one of the most well-rounded (no pun intended) competitors to ever play the game. When you add a stronger social game, a flair for strategy, and surprising immunity challenge prowess to her already effective arsenal of eyelash batting and girlish giggles you have a player that went from being the person most targeted before the game started to the first runner-up.
I spoke with Parvati the morning after the “Heroes Vs. Villains” finale to find out if she thinks her association with Russell cost her, why she never trusted Amanda, and why “Cougar” is now considered a term of endearment.
Gordon Holmes: You obviously did very well with both the social and strategic aspect of the game to the point that people couldn’t make the argument that you were just grabbing onto Russell’s coattails.
Parvati Shallow: Right.
Gordon: But do you feel like your association with Russell is what sunk you in the end?
Parvati: I think a lot of people on the jury definitely voted emotionally. I think it hurt me in a way that people were just very offended and upset with how he treated them out there. And I think that just came over to me too because I was his closest ally. They always saw us together, they saw us making calls together, making decisions. They knew we were the point people making decisions. I mean, Rupert said it at tribal council that Russell and I were calling the show. So yeah, maybe it lost me a few votes on the jury, but there was really nothing I could have done. He was the only guy I could have played with because nobody else would play with me. And the best thing I did out there was team with Russell because he played aggressively and he protected me. And then it turned out that we could protect each other in the end.
Gordon: You and I have something in common in that we both have a reputation for using our looks and flirtatious ways to get what we want.
Gordon: Was that something you were looking to get away from in “Heroes Vs. Villains” or was that still a big part of your game play?
Parvati: I think that, yes, the edit that I got gave me a lot of credit for being a strong strategic and physical player. My personality is just friendly and flirtatious anyways so there’s no real way you can edit that out. But I was very happy that they showed me as a multi-faceted human being instead of just a flirt.
Gordon: Russell has said many times that he wants to be considered the best player to ever play the game. Do you think he’s accomplished that, or has he come up a little short?
Gordon: No pun intended.
Parvati: I like you, you’re funny.
Gordon: Oh, stop it. Your flirtatious ways won’t work on me.
Parvati: (Laughs) I’m good on the phone, too!
Gordon: OK, fine. You’ve got my vote.
Parvati: Finally! Someone gave me their vote. (Laughs) I think that there are so many different ways to play this game, but the most important thing is to play a strong social game if you want to win. That’s what I do. I play 85% social, and this time I had to play so much more physical as well. In the end, to get the jury votes you have to have social grace, get the people to like you, and to respect your game as well. So, if you can’t do that, then you’re not going to win.
Gordon: Earlier in this season you referred to Jerri as a “Cougar” which is a term women hate.
Parvati: Jerri and I know it’s a term of endearment. (Laughs)
Gordon: So I take it that your relationship with Jerri improved during your time out there?
Parvati: Jerri and I were always bickering. But there’s something about Jerri that I really love. She’s a really good person with a sweet heart. I think in the beginning she felt threatened by me, so it made her very standoffish. So I was like “Screw her!” But we grew on each other and we’ve grown to love each other.
Gordon: During the final tribal council, you kept going back to the statement that you had to stick with Russell because nobody else would play with you. Was there any other angle you could’ve taken that would have separated yourself from him?
Parvati: I could’ve won the last challenge, because then I would’ve taken Russell and Jerri to the end and I may have had a better shot at winning the jury then. But, that’s out of my control. But other than that there was no move I made that I would have changed.
Gordon: As you were watching yourself stumbling around, looking for that necklace during the final challenge, was it driving you crazy?
Parvati: Oh my God, that challenge hurt so bad. I had bruises all across my stomach for months.
Gordon: Did you trust Amanda at all during the game? Your relationship seemed tenuous at best.
Parvati: I think Amanda and I have a very weird relationship. So I don’t think I can play with her, but it’s five to five, so let me just see. So when I went to go talk to her my first thought was, “She doesn’t trust me.” I could tell she was holding back. So, I held back with her. I gave her a little bit of information to see if I could trust her. And I found out that all of the Heroes knew that I had an idol. So clearly Amanda told them. And I can read Amanda like a book. I played with her for 39 days and we’re so close I can read her mannerisms.
Gordon: Did you base your decision to give idols to Jerri and Sandra on the fact that Amanda told you you were in trouble?
Parvati: Going into that tribal, I hadn’t made the decision to play both of them until I was sitting on my stump. I realized I had to keep my people together. I knew it wasn’t going to be me based on how hard Amanda was saying “Play it for you, play if for you.” So I figured Russell was safe because they thought he was with them, Danielle was safe because she had immunity, and the only other options were Jerri and Sandra. And even if they had voted for me, there would have been a revote and I would have been safe.
Gordon: Early on in the season you referred to Russell as “The Devil.” And that’s before he had actually done anything. What were you basing that on?
Parvati: I was basing that on, nobody knew this guy, he just got off of a game of “Survivor,” and he’s been labeled one of the top five villains of all time. This guy is clearly the devil incarnate.
Gordon: Where would you rank him now?
Parvati: Number one. Number one villain.
Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about best ever, worst ever, dumbest ever. But at the end of the day is it better to be a “Survivor” winner or to have Coach consider you to be a warrior?
Parvati: Aww…I love Coach considering me to be a warrior. Very nice of him. You know what? It was nice just being able to play as hard as I played and getting some respect. I mean it sucks not to win because I played so hard, but I wouldn’t begrudge the win from Sandra or Russell.
Gordon: Alright you, let’s do some word association. And let’s start with Russell.
Parvati: Bologna…bologna sandwich. (Laughs)
Parvati: Man eater.
Parvati: Debbie Downer.
Parvati: Dirty pirate.
Parvati: (Laughs) Zen master!
Parvati: Cowboy…I don’t know. (Laughs)
Gordon: There are no wrong answers here.
Gordon: The gross amount of hidden immunity idols in the game?
Parvati: Mass chaos.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Gordon: You mentioned going back to earn some respect, and you’ve had quite the progression from your first season, to “Fans Vs. Favorites,” to “Heroes Vs. Villains.” How do you want people to remember your time on “Survivor?”
Parvati: I would like people to remember me as (Laughs) the best player to ever grace this game…in the whole entire planet…and universe.
Gordon: I think there’s little doubt of that.
Gordon: But if you had to state your case for that title, what would your case be?
Parvati: I’d just like people to give a girl a little respect. Cause they think here’s this cute girl, and they always underestimate those girls. And you know what? Little girls can compete with the big boys. Not only can we compete with them, but we can also beat them.
More “Survivor” Fun: Check out my interview with “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” winner Sandra Diaz-Twine.