For a team that only competed on “The Amazing Race” for only three episodes, Kaylani Paliotta and Lisa Tilley had a memorable journey.
The Las Vegas-based former showgirls finished near the back of the pack in the season’s first leg, but they got a disproportionate amount of premiere-night screentime after Kaylani dropped her passport at a gas station and had to rely on the kindness of Twitter-wielding strangers to retrieve the key document.
The following week, as team after team failed to notice a key clue at an Indonesia orphanage, Kaylani & Lisa were one of only three pairs with the eye-for-detail necessary to complete the task properly.
Of course, that advantage lasted only as far as this past Sunday’s (October 9) episode, when a difficult Roadblock sent Kaylani & Lisa to an emotional elimination, with a crying Kaylani earning host Phil Keoghan’s reassurance that she hadn’t disappointed her young daughter back home.
In our exit interview, Kaylani & Lisa discussed their standout “Amazing Race” moments…
Click through for a full transcript…
HitFix: So I watched the end of Sunday’s episode a couple times and there were the three teams who looked like they were all in the running to be in last, but it was hard to tell what the deciding factor for the leg was. Could you guys give your impression of how it happened that you guys got to the Pit Stop in last?
Lisa Tilley: Well, I just… You know… That last Buddha Temple challenge. We went in there in third place and I just couldn’t figure it out in time. And what I was missing, Marcus had and what Marcus couldn’t do, I could do. So once we finally did team up, it was very shortly after that that we got it, but unfortunately Kaylani and I didn’t pay our cab and they did, so it was really a foot-race between us and the Twins, but right when we were leaving the Temple to go play our cab, we saw the Twins walking back in, so we kinda knew at that point that we were last.
HitFix: So it looked like it was really close, but maybe it wasn’t quite that close?
Lisa: Well, we showed up at the Pit Stop like 10 minutes after the Twins, but we still knew that they had a good head start on us, at least 100 feet and you could only walk, you couldn’t run.
HitFix: That was so very different from the end of the last leg, where eight of 11 teams missed or misread the clue at the Indonesia orphanage and you guys actually did. Could you talk through how you spotted that clue and knew to do the right thing and maybe what you made of all of the people who weren’t as successful?
Kaylani Paliotta: I’m going to say that had Lisa not seen that… We had gotten the pendant from the orphanage and it just had this red seal on it and it was a gold pendant. It didn’t tell us where where we had to go for the Pit Stop. And Lisa looked at it and she goes, “Where’s the clue?” and I’m like “That is the clue” and she’s like, “No. There’s gotta be a clue.” We had already turned in our 30,000 rupiah that we raised dancing in the street and she stopped and looked back at the sign and just read it. Going into the show, they tell you, “Always pay attention to detail” and “Are you detail-oriented?” and everybody always says “Yes,” but she was one of the few people who did see that.
Lisa: And it made a huge difference. We would have been 10th. They told us first that we were in 10th place. And we were like, “You’ve gotta be kidding.”
Kaylani: Yeah, we were about to cry at that point.
Lisa: And then we found out what was going on. There was a lot of confusion at first, but then we figured it out.
HitFix: What was it like watching last week’s episode and getting to see the way you guys succeeded on that task that caused so much trouble for so many teams? Was it gratifying to watch, Lisa?
Lisa: Very gratifying. I was happy, because we didn’t a lot of what actually went on and there were actually three teams that left the hotel that we had to sleep for five hours at, that you don’t even see on the show, but we were one of the three teams that left last, so we were kinda in last place leaving anyway. We knew that when we were spelunking. We knew we were second-to-last to leave. Ron & Bill were the only team still left spelunking when we left, so we knew we had to hurry and hustle, so that attention to detail really saved us, that we didn’t have to go back.
HitFix: You guys had several big moments you got to relive when the show aired. What was it like watching the Passport Incident?
Kaylani: At the time, when I had lost the passport, every emotion had gone through me, because I’m not just letting myself down, but I also have another person depending on me and I’m letting her down too. So it’s not like ruining one person’s hopes, it’s ruining things for two people. Even if we just hoped to be able to run one leg of the Race, we weren’t even going to get that opportunity at that point in time. So it was this sadness. And the disappointment that I felt letting somebody else down and being responsible for ruining something for somebody else was devastating and then to get the passport, it was exciting. And watching it, knowing that was all going to happen, I think it was more like, “I wonder how much of it they’re going to show?” We don’t even know what they’re going to air at that point.
Lisa: We knew that we were going to get it back, so watching it again, I was just excited. I just told all of my friends, “You have to watch the first episode. It’s crazy.”
HitFix: When you watched it back, what did you think of your reaction to the lost passport, Lisa?
Kaylani: I was like, “Oh, they played it actually really nice.” I was so upset. Looking for that passport, I think I probably threw like a million f-bombs.
Kaylani: For me, personally, I wasn’t mad at Kaylani. I was never mad at her, because I knew she didn’t lose the passport on purpose, but I was still disappointed with the situation and not happy about it, obviously. Part of the problem is that when I’m stressing, I keep things to myself, so maybe could have expressed that a little bit better and been like, “Listen, I’m not mad at you. I’m just disappointed… blah blah blah.” But I didn’t. She just thought I wasn’t communicating with her, when really I was just stressed out.
HitFix: And how has the whole incident made you guys view Twitter going forward?
Kaylani: Oh my gosh, it’s a miracle! Who would have thought that Twitter and social media were actually going to save a Race like that? I would have been the last place I would have figured that would be a helpful utility.
HitFix: Were there any key parts of that passport/Twitter drama that we didn’t get to see?
Kaylani: We actually were roaming around looking for this thing for four or maybe even five hours. It was like five minutes after we got onto the freeway that I realized that I didn’t have the passport and I said to Lisa, “I don’t have my passport” and we had all this time. We went back to the car and we tore apart the car.
Lisa: They showed that.
Kaylani: No, but when we drove back from the airport. And we searched back through the car a second and third time. They didn’t show us looking online. We went online, where you put a dollar in this little Internet station, to look for how to get an emergency passport. And they didn’t show that we went to a guy at Customs to find out, “Hey, is there any way to get an emergency passport right away?” And I guess Phil Keoghan was on his way to the airport to eliminate us and we were just looking for any signs of hope that somebody had the passport and was going to get back to us.
HitFix: We’ve dwelt on the tension and the high drama things. Could each of you give me a favorite moment on the Race, just a piece of this adventure, that we didn’t get to see?
Kaylani: Your adrenaline’s going the whole time. The fact that you’re even on the Race, that’s the part that people don’t realize, you’re just amazed that you’re getting to run even one leg of this Race. And that was a reward in itself. I know that a lot of people really look forward to getting on this show and just to be part of as much as we did was a blessing.
Lisa: You know what I really liked? There was an eight-hour train ride that we got to take from Jakarta to Yogyakarta and what they don’t show is all of us just interacting together. Getting to know all of the other Racers was a really fun part of the Race, just getting to talk with them and strategizing. When we were on the train and we were calling ahead and trying to get taxi cabs, those kinds of things were a lot of fun and you don’t see that on the show. And we all got along well.
HitFix: No favorite fellow Racers?
Lisa: All of them!
Kaylani: I don’t think there was one team that we like more or less.
Lisa: We still keep in touch with them. We all exchanged emails and everybody, we sent out mass emails. Everybody got along really well, so even in the end when we all saw each other again, it was really nice.
HitFix: Kaylani, a lot was made in Sunday’s episode about your daughter. Has she been watching this season?
Kaylani: Yes. She’s watched ever episode and she says every day, “Oh, Mommy, I want to be on ‘The Amazing Race.'” Last night was hard for her. She was quite the mess when she saw Mommy crying, but she did say, “Mommy, you thought about me while you were on the Race.” So at least she knows that she’s always in my heart, no matter where I’m at.
HitFix: How did you explain to her why you were crying?
Kaylani: I told her, “Well, Mommy was crying because she wanted to be able to go further and maybe have a better start in life for Mommy and for you and we’re just going to have to keep on trying and keep on going.”
HitFix: In the first episode, you guys talked about how people were likely to have certain expectations based on how you look and where you’re from and you wanted to prove those expectations wrong. Do you think you did what you set out to do?
Kaylani: Yeah, I think we did. Even I’ve done this before, sitting at home watching previous seasons, and you’re like “Oh, I could do that” or “What’s wrong with them?” and you pass all the judgments you want to, but once you get into that situation, honestly, you’re challenged and pushed to your limit, 24-7 — emotionally, physically, mentally — in every way that you possibly can be. So it’s not a matter of being the smartest or being the most athletic, but sometimes it just boils down to luck.
Lisa: Oh, definitely. Even Jennifer made a comment, she told us later she had made a comment about how much makeup we were wearing and how we looked better without it, because she had seen us without makeup. But people always are going to make judgements when they first see you, I think that how we came back from the passport loss, people made comments that we had done a good job bouncing back from that and we were first from our plane to make it to the Pit Stop, since there were three teams on that second plane. So we did the best that we could given what we had and I think we did pretty well. We did pretty well in the Race, right up until we got to the Buddha Temple.