Kelly Czarnecki: “I need to be manipulative; I need to be different personalities”

Kelly Czarnecki, the 22-year-old jean salesperson and student from Chicago, was recruited for Survivor Gabon via her MySpace page, and even more unsurprisingly but still shockingly, revealed that “my page was private so they only saw my picture.” Yes, casting producers contacted her based upon a single photograph, which may explain why it was so difficult to have a conversation with her.

Kelly ranks at the bottom of my likability list because she was so extremely inaccessible and difficult to talk to–especially after my three pleasant, interesting conversations with Danny/GC Brown, Bob Crowley, and Susie Smith. Kelly never took off her oversized, Paris Hilton sunglasses, and I became increasingly convinced that she was utterly bored and staring at the ground. I laughed nervously throughout the whole interview after she’d make some kind of outrageous or nonsensical declarative statement that I had no response to. There was a lot of dead air as she’d just be done with a question even though she hadn’t even started to really answer it; sometimes she’d just say single words as answers.

Kelly sells jeans and says she’s “one of the top salespeople at my work,” E Street Denim in Chicago, and said she is “consistently exceeding sales; I manipulate people instead of buying the $40 jean to like the $400 jean.” That skill didn’t exactly come across in our interview, but maybe it’ll work for her in the game.

She seemed very impressed with herself and over-confident, but ultimately came across more like a Big Brother contestant, especially considering the way she’d say things that made no actual sense, like “I’m not going to be an act,” “my nature to compete,” “I’ve always been into jeans … and my middle name is jean so that may have something to do with it,” and “I need to be different personalities.” And can’t you just hear a houseguest saying this? “Some of the guys, I think, are really cute. This one guy looks like Nick Lachey. Yeah. The guys are cute. And I like the girl–the Spanish girl, the Mexican older lady. She’s cool. The other woman looks mean,” Kelly told me.

Kelly’s role model in the game is “Poverty” (Parvati, the winner of Survivor Micronesia) and plans to “get all the guys on my side,” and told me she couldn’t think of a single thing that would challenge her in the game.

That said, she did have sympathetic moments, and I kind of felt sorry for her. Talking about her three brothers, she said they “raised me” because “I’ve always looked up to them. It was hard being the girl in the family because, like, oh, hey, I didn’t win any awards, I’m just like this blonde, pretty girl. They made me toughen up and go for something that I want. … No crying, no nothing.”

Listen to Kelly talk about her strategy, confidence, and game play–and hear a lot of the birds and sounds of Gabon during those long pauses:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.