Interview: Vince Sly talks ‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’

Vince Sly does not have a feather in his hair as we talk in the aftermath of his “Survivor: Worlds Apart” elimination. 

We're on the phone, so I have to take his word for it. 

Vince also notes that he's not a coconut vendor, even if that's how he was introduced on “Survivor.” He owns Coconut Caravan and that is, indeed, business that sells coconuts, but that's only a weekend job. He's actually a holistic counselor and owner of four art galleries.

Yes, Vince says things like, “I”ll never badmouth anybody in the show because you really are the center of your own microcosmic universe when you”re out there. Every thought, emotion, feeling, sentiment you have feels like it”s going to alter all of existence no matter what you do.”

But he also says far more pragmatic things like noting that the difference between him and The Barbie Block in his No Collar tribe was that the lifestyle he lives is one that he's chosen and not a youthful uncertainty of trying to figure out what's next. I completely buy that this would be the thing that separated him from the Jenn/Joe/Hali alliance that ended up voting him out. 

Vince also takes exception to the way the editing portrayed his crush on Jenn and his rivalry with Joe.

Click through for the full Q&A, because what Vince says sounds pretty plausible, albeit occasionally trippy…

HitFix: Was it hard to watch last night”s episode or was it easy?

Vince Sly: Oh it was great. I was with some of my now closest friends and some new fans had offered us a beautiful viewing room. So I really couldn”t have asked for much more. It was great.

HitFix: Going back to that Final Tribal. How confident were you going in that you had the situation and the vote in hand, as it were?

Vince Sly: Well half the reason why I was reticent or as quiet as I was is because I wasn”t quite sure and I felt like Will was already so sensitive given that comment, because I was made aware of that comment. I tried to do as much clean-up as I possibly could, but I was left feeling like there was potential for it to go awry and lose complete control there. I was waiting for an opportunity in Tribal to reinforce that, “Hey Will, I got you,” without letting the other ones know that I”m going this other direction they should just all funnel their votes to me, because I did so much work already to get them to split their votes. It was a very sensitive, challenging environment to be in. And so how confident was I? Not entirely. I feel like anybody that”s playing the game, especially if you”re really in it playing the game no matter if you”re out there for two days or all 39, I mean you can”t ever just feel, “Da, da, da, dah, I got this!” I mean, it'd be nice to have that confidence at the final speech but you always have to have a little humility in the game of “Survivor,” because you never know what the guy to your left is really thinking.

HitFix: Had you already known exactly what was happening in Will”s head or did watching the episode give you any new insight into what  swung him?

Vince Sly: I knew that Will thought I was really intense and a bit of a rocker, so he was primed to go either direction. It doesn”t make a whole lot of sense logistically, game-play speaking, for him to do what he did. However, and I keep saying this, I”ll never badmouth anybody in the show because you really are the center of your own microcosmic universe when you”re out there. Every thought, emotion, feeling, sentiment you have feels like it”s going to alter all of existence no matter what you do. So you have to be really cautious. I feel like whatever Will was feeling was translated to me in a way where up to the point when Nina said, “Hey, Will, Vince is really worried about your health…” And Will and I had many conversations over days building into this. From Day 2, we had started this campaign to gain the Joe/Jenn/Hali pack. I called it the Barbie Block. It”s like, “We”ve got to break up the Barbie Block.” So I felt like he was on board with me. The thing is I knew what they were gonna do. I knew what the three were gonna do. I had already set them up for that. But I didn”t really know what Will was gonna do. I just hoped that he would go with me. And he”s ultimately the blind side. Will got me.

HitFix: Do you fault Nina for the way that she ultimately kind of pushed Will in the direction he went?

Vince Sly: I feel like that was a huge slip-up and who knows? Like one tiny little thing, one conversation, one hook in the game? You see this if you're a fan of the show. I”ve watched nearly every episode. One tiny little minute detail shifts someone”s perspective from riding the middle to voting somebody out. You know it”s gonna choose one side or the other. And I feel like that definitely was a tipping point in the game. So they were good to show that point.

HitFix: Okay, in your mind what was the line between personal and strategic in your targeting of the, as you say, the Barbie Block?

Vince Sly: Okay well here”s the thing: The way that it”s portrayed, the first episode, to me my perspective, was inaccurate. I never had a crush on Jenn. I really liked her from the beginning. She was one of the only people that interacted with me on my level. We joked a lot. We played a lot. That wasn”t really shown. They had to focus on other elements of drama. A narrative that produces shows to go with, to me, Episode 1 was inaccurate. I get that I”m an intense person and I am eccentric, goofy. I love women. None of that was a lie but I feel like focusing intently on this relationship with Jenn and the reason that I wanted to gain Jenn and Joe was not because I was jealous of Joe. In fact, I was stoked to work with Joe on a lot of things. Did I share a lot of talents similar? There”s a lot of things Joe can do way better than I can and vice versa. It just seemed like the young man”s bravado was getting in the way of letting it be kind of a two-way street. It was either The Joe Show or No Show. And when you don”t sleep for a few days and someone just comes over and tells you to tie a knot differently, even though it's a better way to it, you can hurt the person. And so I started to get really annoyed with that element of it. What you then see is my campaign towards getting Nina and Will more on my side. You know instead of like The Joe Show, Joe does a lot of fantastic things, right. They call him Joey Amazing for a reason. He”s really good at a lot of stuff. So my only thing was “I”ve got to get these people as much energy as I can, as much energy as I can focus into convincing them that, you know, Joe”s got to go.” I needed to do that. I needed to focus on it. So it wasn”t that I was jealous of Joe. I just realized Joe”s a huge threat. Playing in the game of “Survivor” you can take on a huge threat right away, but I realized we needed the challenges to break his main alliance which was Jenn and I realized at that point having known Joe and his character and where Hali was at emotionally, intellectually, it was going to obviously work out in our favor for that to happen. You know Jenn was really in the driver”s seat. Joe was kind of the ultra-workhorse, make everything happen. 

HitFix: In retrospect do you feel like your fellow No Collar tribe mates were No Collar-y enough for you or did it feel like they were sort of arbitrarily placed with you and they weren”t really “No Collar enough.”

Vince Sly: Okay, I mean there”s a lot of people that could go… I could easily be a White Collar for owning my own business and, at a time, having 12 employees, et cetera, et cetera. I could be a Blue Collar, because I”m willing to work outside every day, pulling a cart, my coconut cart, which was like a weekend project, but still that kind of behavior. I'm No Collar in the fact that I wear feathers and travel around the world on my whim. So I feel like there”s a lot of elements. Jenn loves to travel. We had that connection. She”s also varied in her career choices. Joe”s the same kind of way where he might work on a farm, a kind of Blue Collar thing to do, but at night-time and with all the spare money he had he buys art supplies and makes jewelry and things like that. The true nature of No Collar comes maybe outside of what it is that we were doing for money but maybe why. What”s governing our choices? What”s motivating us in life? I feel like for the most part they got the No Collar tribe right and what is motivating our behavior. And that is to maintain kind of a free-spirited life.

HitFix: So if you guys had that in common, and you were so enthusiastic at first when you saw your tribe, why did the division do you think kick in so quickly and is that just a “Survivor” thing and it”s invariably gonna happen.

Vince Sly: Well I think both, yes. It”s invariably going to happen. To a degree. I think it”s a great challenge for some young people to connect with those who aren”t so young and vice versa. I feel like that definitely played out in my time on the beach where here you have a group of people that really it”s the above-30s and under-30s. And the age difference can be relatively associated to experiential differences. Although maybe in our hearts we all want the same thing, we”re motivated by too much desires, here you have some huge differences in life experience and just being in your body and having reactions to things. So I feel like young people immediately connected right away. It seemed like I was going to be included in that and I feel obviously like in I can talking afterwards, we all felt that way. I have a very young, ebullient, youthful spirit and I feel like everyone in the tribe does. Yet there is a difference in hormone, a difference in reactions when you”re over 30. You know being 32 — 32 to 25, I don”t know about you man, but this is the biggest difference in my life. I”d say just as much difference turning 25 to 32 as when I went through puberty. So when you have other people who are 22 to 25 years old all together all feeding off of that kind of young energy and young reaction, they work well together and then the others don”t. I feel like that”s an also an interesting element in “Survivor”. I feel like we see that really often. The young people just kind of stick together.

HitFix: Do you think that you would have behaved differently if it had been traditionally mixed “Survivor” tribes and you hadn”t felt like you were around sort of “kindred spirits” or something to that effect? Did you have a different strategy going in?

Vince Sly: Okay, listen, I”m not gonna talk poorly about anybody because I feel like everyone brought a tremendous amount of gain and I really appreciate most of these people post-game, real life. However, let me just clarify, out there I felt like I”m the only one that had kind of what I thought of as a No Collar spirit, which was not necessarily just free-floating through life but having had the experience of making your own life which these young kids didn”t have and that was the greatest difference. It wasn”t just necessarily our age, as I keep saying. It was experience. I had made my own life. They”re either in school or working for somebody else trying to figure it out or working on their parent”s farm trying to figure out their art thing. Rather than I own four galleries because I sat on the beach and sold paintings. And then I opened up a small little spot, et cetera, et cetera. I expanded to now I own four galleries. I feel like that”s truly No Collar, right? I started working when I was 15. I”ve owned many businesses of my own that I started. And now I have my own private practice. So in relation to that, I am the only No Collar on the No Collar tribe. And so that kind of set me aside from everybody, because I really wanted things to happen in a specific way, as is the case when you”re No Collar. It”s your way, right?

HitFix: Sort of distinguishing between “Survivor” Vince and Real World Vince I think it”s interesting that you mentioned the gallery thing which obviously wasn”t a part on the show at all. What other sort of key distinctions would you want to make between the guy we saw for these couple of episodes on “Survivor” and the guy who you actually are in real life?

Vince Sly: I”m a holistic counselor. I don”t think that was ever expressed on the show. And as a holistic counselor I approach those who are maybe suffering through unhealthy lifestyles and lifestyle choices and usher them comfortably into a self-sustainable lifestyle which offers them their optimal mental and physical well-being. So I approach it with mental and physical assessment and training because I”ve got a little bit of psychotherapy with movement therapy and we throw some nutrition in there. The Coconut Caravan whacky woo woo kind of floaty around guy, no doubt that was a part of my life for a few years and I love it. I still have Coconut Caravans active at music events and whatnot. But the like feather-in-my-hair, gypsy traveler who doesn't keep an address for longer than a weekend. It”s kind of an inaccurate portrait.

HitFix: Okay, so right now you do not have a feather in your hair?

Vince Sly: I do not.

Other “Survivor: Worlds Apart” exit interviews:
So Kim