a conversation with The Amazing Race 6’s Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller.
a conversation with The Amazing Race 6’s Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller.
A few weeks ago, I heard from The Amazing Race 6’s Victoria and Jonathan, who I certainly haven’t been shy about criticizing. They offered an interview; I accepted. There were questions I wanted to ask that other interviews avoided, and while I don’t shy away from my past criticism of what we saw on TV, I was certainly interested in both hearing what they had to say and examining reality TV from a different perspective.
The result of the conversation is a feature story for MSNBC.com that will be published today or tomorrow. But as I spoke to Jonathan for more than an hour, and Victoria for about a half-hour, the interview clocks in at nearly 19,000 words. Of course, I couldn’t possibly use all of that in a 1,500 word piece, so, like a reality TV editor, I had to make choices about what to include while crafting the piece. Since there’s a lot of interesting information, and because Jonathan in particular was concerned about how I presented the information (“I hope you’re not gonna bamboozle me,” he said), the whole interview is presented here, raw and unedited, so you can make your own decisions as to how I represented our conversation. (Thanks to my talented sister Beth Dehnart for assisting with the transcription.)
One note: Because human beings don’t talk in full sentences, journalists and writers often “clean up” speech, so what you see here is everything that the three of us said, with the exception of stutters and “um”-type pauses, which have been (inconsistently) removed. Despite this, the interview stands as solid evidence that I’m destined to write, because in addition to having a voice like a Muppet, I’m apparently completely incapable of constructing a sentence without inserting “you know,” “like,” and “sort of” as every other word. Mad props to Anderson Cooper and everyone else who does this interviewing thing for a living.
Jonathan on illness and medication | being a character | being "thrown out" of the cab | getting hotel rooms | the shove incident | producers' encouragement | the cab "backhand" | cast members' reactions | being a fan of the show | the yield alliance | race changes | reaction to what aired | being in the public eye | being "a jerk," improving | reading what people write
Jonathan Baker: Hi Andy.
Andy Dehnart: Hi Jonathan.
JB: How are you?
AD: I'm good, how are you?
JB: I'm very good. I just want you to know, I know you're not that big of a fan, and I'm really sorry, and I wouldn't be a fan of what I saw up there, either, so but I am a fan of Reality Blurred, and a fan of yours I think you're a good writer, and you know, thought this may be a good chance for, you know, to, hopefully to ask different questions other than what everybody else has asked out there.
AD: Definitely. Yeah, and I appreciate that opportunity Obviously some of the things I want to talk about are just sort of the differences between how what I'm writing about is what I see onscreen, and what those sorts of differences are.
JB: Can I put you on hold for one second, so I can just finish this up in my office and tell everyone to leave?
JB: Okay, hang on one second.
AD: No problem.
JB: Okay, hi. So, okay, I mean, you know I'm trying not to beat a dead horse, but Dr. Phil was very disappointing for me he never asked, you know they talked to us for two hours .
AD: Yeah, and then obviously the segment is ten minutes long.
JB: Yeah, I mean, and the questions they were supposed to ask were they were supposed to talk about the medication, about my sickness, about why this happened, you know? I mean, not about the push. The push is what it is, you know. And it haunted me, and, and it wasn't right, but you know, it was a competition and, I mean, I don't know it's so hard, because you don't know how to humanize what people saw up there, because, I called CBS, and what are I mean, there's editing, and then there's editing. If they would have just shown the push, and [phone rings] if they would have shown just the push, it would have been okay.
JB: But they didn't show just the push, they showed all this garbage leading up to it, and a lot of it was editing, a lot, I mean, the bumps on the head, the taking out of the "I'm sorrys," Gus going "you little bastard"this was all them sticking stuff on top of it. And I don't want to blame the editing, because it was much more than that .
JB: It's you know, to try to get an open forum so that we could, so the truth can be told .
JB: You know, the internet, people think that I'm beating Victoria behind closed doors.
JB: They think that I'm, you know, I'm this person that I'm not. Yeah, you know what, obviously a piece of that person was me. But, you know, a lot of the things I set out to do, that collectively backfired, and that's what that's what the problem was.
AD: Yeah. Okay, let's talk about that. First I just want to make sure it's okay with you that I record the call so that I can transcribe it. Is that okay with you?
AD: Okay. And actually, what I'm planning to do is to transcribe it just word for word, so there's no editing issues, and I'll put that on Reality Blurred, and then I'll probably just write a sort of summary for MSNBC about it, just to let you know .
AD: how it plans to come out.
JB: You know, I just hope that you're writing this as a I hope you're not gonna bamboozle me.
AD: No I'm as interested as you are in hearing what's true. And you know, a lot of what I've noticed writing about this and reading all these things about you, is sort of this pattern that a lot of people are focusing on the same thing, and that sort of, you know, on the one hand it provides the opportunity for sort of, like, humor and looking at this in one way, but on the other hand, you know, it seems like there's a sort of constant focus on certain things, and that's what I wanted to talk to you about, you know, maybe the other things.
JB: And then as far as Victoria, she's around, too.
JB: You'll be able to get her perspective on it independently of me.
JB: And then, you know, you'll be able to put it all together the way you want to put it together.
AD: Right. Well, and that's just one of the reasons I want to publish a raw transcript is so everyone can sort of read it on their own and then that's, you know, the full story.
JB: That's, I mean, that's where you go with it, I mean, that, it's what the slant that you're gonna take, you know, it's not about raw transcript, 'cause I'm gonna say the same thing. It's what, collectively, you decide that you decide what to do with it. There needs to be some type of understanding from a third party.
JB: You know, I mean .[pause]
AD: I understand. Well, let's talk about the obvious stuff first, to get it out of the way, just because, you know, there's sort of some things that I am curious about ..
AD: Specifically, over time, in interviews, starting before the episode with the shove aired, you gave a lot of interviews that sort of mentioned different reasons for explaining your behavior you said, sort of, in some instances that you were playing it over the top, sometimes you said you were, you know, there was stress and medication, and then you also talked of course about editing, which you mentioned. And I think the perception is that as you see all these excuses, or reasons, that they become excuses, just because there are so many things, and then, that just doesn't jibe with what we're seeing on the screen, so . Explain talk to me about, you know, doing all these interviews and talking about these reasons. What is going through your mind as you talk about them and what sort of things, you know, which ones sort of bubble up to the surface as these are the real reasons why people are sort of misinterpreting who you are?
JB: Well, if you look on the web site I try to be very specific and try to tell people what it was that created the outburst of cry from the peoplefrom the American people. It was a collective amount of things that happened, that created it wasn't a single thing that created the energy, the nasty energy that people were seeing. And I was very much appalled by what people saw, too. So if I broke it downand I do want to break it down, because that's the only way that I can do itit's not they're not excuses .
JB: It's just a collective what can I say let's go over it one by one.
JB:Um [sound of shuffling through papers] I don't know where it appears, I don't know where this is I'm trying to find, archival of okay. Um, number one: the medication. You know, when you're on prednisone, and you're on a high amount of prednisone, and I've never been on any of this before. I'm a very healthy person going into this race. Three days before I go into the race they tell me that I have this element in my lungs and I have to go get a biopsy. I tell them, no, I'm not going to go do it, because I'm not going to fly around the world and have my lungs punctured.
JB: Literally, the only way to do this is to puncture the lungs from the outside, shove something puncture the skin, or go down the throat and scrape it , so, I was like, no I'm not going to do it. I told CBS I was going into the race with asthma, having really bad asthma, because that's what it was diagnosed before they did the x-rays and stuff. And again, I've never had asthma, you know, going in, that started six months before, so they were trying to treat it as a bad case of asthma. When they gave me the medication I didn't know what to make out of it, so, what you see, in terms of the craziness is a high dose, a hundred milligrams of prednisone. So, you know, that's where it all started, okay? I did go in now let's go to the next one. I don't know, does that answer any is that enough for that section?
AD: I think so. I mean, is one of the side effects of that medicationI'm not, obviously, that familiar with itare the side effects the things that we saw?
JB: Well I mean, I think that mixed with stress and everything else. I mean, what it does, is it makes your nerves raw.
JB: So, if your nerves are raw, you're going to snap a lot easier.
JB: I don't snapwe don't fight like that in normal life.
JB:We argue like any other couple but what you see up there is just such a condensed version of craziness that, you know, I can't blame anybody for looking at it and going, "God," you know, "What am I looking at?" Let me go to the next one. The next one is oh yes, I went into the race wanting to play it over the top. What does that mean? I dyed my hair blue, I wore the hats, I wanted to be a heightened version of myself.
AD: For what reason, though? Why not just sort of be yourself, and race around the world as .
JB: You know what .
AD: the Jonathan that you
JB: I wanted to I wanted to have fun. I had a license to steal, a license to be bad, I wanted to just not be I didn't want to be a creep. I didn't want to be loathed. I just wanted to be, you know, just this flamboyant character that was kind of popping around, testing all the boundaries of where we were and what we were doing. I had never been disrespectful in any country, okay? The cab ride that people think I got thrown out of?
JB:I never got thrown out of. They cut that. The guy got into an accident.
JB: That's why he said "Finito! Finito! Out! Out!" Because he was so upset that he got into an accident. I was probably the pushiest I've ever been on the race in that moment, because I had a mile and a half head start on Gus and Hera and they came up and passed us. And I kept saying to the guy, "Come on, let's go, let's go," and he got into an accident.
JB: So he wasn't throwing us out of the car, he had to get out and deal with the accident.
JB: So, you know, I'm gonna come back and say, my flamboyancy, or whatever you want to call it. My wanting to be over the top, my wanting to play the heightened version of .. came from I loved Colin and Christy, and I loved Will and Tara, and I loved the Guidos, and, you know, and it was just my way of starting this.
AD: So, you're doing it for sort of our benefit as viewers, or were you doing to just sort of test your own self and allow yourself to be freer than you are in your normal life?
AD: It was both of those things?
JB: Well, I mean, it was a mixture of everything. I mean, it was Look. You can't do the things that I did on the race in normal life. I mean, you could do it, but it wouldn't fit into a puzzle. In other words, what you didn't see, was the production egging me on all the time.
AD: How did they do that?
JB:Well, because I would go and get six-star hotel rooms. I'd walk in to the general manager, I'd say, you know what? I'm a businessman in my normal life. I'm on a global adventure around the world. And, you know, you can either help me and put me up, I can take a dirty room, I can do anything. I would eventually get them to give me a presidential suite or suite, or room, dirty or not. Sometimes dirty, sometimes clean. We'd have a place to sleep while everyone else is out on the street sleeping. I would go into six-star hotel I mean, six-star restaurants, and say, you know what, we don't have any money and you know, can you do this for us? They'd sit us in the cornerthey showed a little bit of that on the clips, you know, they only showed a glimmer of it but they never showed the hardcore what I would do. I was begging, panhandling a hundred dollars a leg.
AD: Can you blame them for that focus, though? Obviously they only have 44 minutes an episode. Do you understand why they made the decision to go with the more aggressive stuff rather than the more passive stuff?
JB: No. Because it wasn't passive.
JB: It was creative, and it was very aggressive.
JB: It was very aggressive. It just wasn't icky. It wasn't nasty. And number one Anyway, going back to the excuses, here I am, being this flamboyant person and, or this over-the-top person, and, I'm doing all these things and production's egging us on. The amount of passion that I had to play the game, was people didn't want to I use this, yes, I guess it's a take off on your site, but I call it "reality blurred" just because it's I'm running towards the million, thinking it's there. Victoria's thinking it's in her pocket, and it's going to be taken out of her pocket at any given time, every time she looks over her shoulder.
JB: When you run the race for the million dollars, you think nothing about how to get information, how to get from place to place, how to make sure that you're efficient, and how to make sure that, you know, everyone's running on fumes of money, and how to make sure that you have enough money to make sure that you can do the things that you need to do. When you watch it on television, all it is is a race about a reality show about relationships, and the last five minutes it's a race. And that's my true interpretation. Now. I'm trying to go back to let me see here, what it is just trying to go back and cover the other the other things that were used as excuses, quote unquote.
JB: And I can't find [long pause] you know what? Maybe I can go to your site and find it.
AD: Okay, I think the three major ones for me were the sort of character issue, the stress, the medication sort of playing in, and then, of course, the editing, and the sort of differences there.
JB: Oh, okay, I always said that it was storyline, not editing.
JB: Storyline was, you know what, the push was what it was. You know? It was either It was wrong, period. Um, but it also happened, and I don't begrudge them for showing it. I begrudge them for showing it from a they kind of tricked us. Because when I grabbed her bag, there were no cameras around it was a zone camera, and it was a mile away. And if you look at the way they showed the push, you see Phil in the background with Freddy and Kendra on the mat
JB: you see the jib, the camera and everything else they've never shown that, ever. And so that went up to Les Moonves, had to approve that in order for them to get that to be on television, because it was such a strange they never show anything behind the scenes on The Amazing Race.
JB: That was the first time ever.
AD: The Les Moonves' approval... did you hear that from someone, or is that just your sort of I mean, obviously that is
JB: I was told that it had to go up the line, person by person until it got to the top.
JB: That's what I was told, so the top was Les Moonves at that point.
JB: You know it wasn't [unintelligible] I don't think she had taken over at that point.
JB:Victoria coming in and screeching and crying oh! I mean, it broke my heart. It broke everyone else's heart. But I didn't do that to her. I didn't, I mean I'm not trying to take denial for I'm not trying to make an excuse for her. I just we had agreed to throw our bag. I threw the bag, I took off, I thought she would threw her bag, or she was behind me. It wasn't until I was about to literally get a moment close to the mat that I turned around and saw her screaming and crying and I was like, "Oh my god, what is this? What's going on?" And what flashed through my mind was, is I just worked for three days to stay ahead of everybody, you know, because we were, from the moment we left the car, we were ahead of everybody.
JB: You know? There might have been times that there were people bunched up, but we were generally ahead of everybody the entire time.
AD: So were you angry in that moment, when you saw her, or were you ? What were you thinking in that moment?
JB: Uh I was thinking, Victoria, we agreed to drop the bag, why are you screaming? Why are you crying? What is going on here, and why is this happening? And me going "Why did you pick up my bag?" You know what, I didn't know what that was going to look like. I have to tell you, going into this race, I decided to consciously to give my open and raw emotions, not knowing how that was going to look. Again, people see that as an excuse, but I did that.
AD: Did .
JB: On television, if you look at me on VH1, or E, or Fabulous Life Of, or Celebrity Homes I've been on television a lot, to know what the difference in in how to behave, in terms of being in front of a camera.
JB: So for this, to be a reality show, I thought, well, let me I really did believe, and maybe it's being not so smart, that CBS was going to, maybe not paint me in the best light, because of going in but paint me in such a fashion that they would show just as much good as it is bad.
AD: Did you have an impression as you're running the race that this would come out this way, like from producers' questions or were you just surprised?
JB: Victoria did, but I didn't.
AD: Oh really?
JB:I didn't. They were feeding me behind the scenes, you're great, this is great, you're making great television, this is wonderful . Now, again, I guess what I'm saying is, the amount of [long pause] the slant that they gave Victoria and I, I expected to be a little bit favorable, because I gave them two hundred percent, and I thought they would protect their franchise a little bit better, and I didn't know what that meant. And they did protect their franchise by getting the ratings. Now, let's talk about why the storyline happened.
JB: I mean I believe that there was a woman. Her name is Amy, I forget her last name. She's a senior story editor. I believe this all started and ended with her. I have talked to CBS, and I've talked to Bertram, and I've talked to Phil, and I tell you that most of the time, the head doesn't talk to the hand.
JB: From the publicity to CBS to World Race Productions to the producers to Bruckheimer, I do believe that. So I isolated it, by being in the industry, down to one person, which is the story editor. Because there was too much of one thing this season. And from what I understood CBS told World Race Productions to tone it down for the next for 7.
AD: So do you, um, do you think she made this decision like for some for some specific reason, or just because she thought that that would be the most, you know .
JB: I think that she wanted to teach me a lesson.
AD: Based upon what?
JB: Based upon what you saw. I think she saw something and thought "Whoa, I hit gold here." You know what? They could have achieved the same thing without such nastiness.
AD: How would they have done that, do you think?
JB:Well, if you look at the cab scene, totally fictitious. I was not going to hit Victoria, I never intended to hit Victoria, I've never hit Victoria in my life. I was grabbing the map out of her hand, and they cut the scene. That was all I was doing.
AD: But she sort of flinches backward
JB: She does flinch, because she's got a sound guy on the other side of her, poking on her, sticking his equipment into her side, which you don't see. And so I'm trying to get around to talk to the cab driver, and I'm pushing her into him. So as I'm coming around to talk to the cab driver, the car starts to move, I can't get around, I pull out the map, and the rest is, you know, what you saw.
JB: I looked at it and was like, "Oh my god, are you kidding me?" This is what they wanted you if they would have not shown that scene and showed everything else, don't you think that they would've gotten the same reaction? I do. If they would have put in a kind of, some of the nicer stuff, or some of the more interesting stuff, I mean That's what I told to Bertram, and I said this straight up to him two weeks ago. He's like, well, I could have gone this way, that way you know what? You didn't show anything with Jon and Kris. You could have gone that way with us, but you chose not to.
AD: Right. Well, what was his response to that? Why does he say?
AD: And you guys were the best ratings?
JB: He told me that this went up, everything went up the ladder, everything went up the ladder, it was all you know At the end of the day, it's all CBS. So it started I think that if you look at the first episode it was a little bit more lighthearted. It showed Victoria and my, you know, fighting, but they showed some humor and everything, and I think that they kind of I think this Amy girl pushed through the first episode, and as soon as they were locked in, everyone had to really sit down and make a conscious decision at that point. Because the second episode was completely muddled. "I'm so proud of myself," and "You owe me an apology." I mean let's talk about why that was happening. First of all, we had gotten into Norway, and they give you a map in Norway, which is stick figures of a map trying to tell you where to go. And by the time we got Victoria was upset, and by the time we had gotten to the zipline she was supposed to do it, and she said she didn't want to do it, and she was so upset. I went up and ran and did it and came back. From the zipline to the Viking village it was about a five hour drive, not knowing anything. Victoria was so upset at that point, telling me, you know, she thought we were in last place, we didn't know what to do, and so by the time we got to the village, we were just completely, just beat up. We beat up each other, and I was like, "No, I know where I'm going, I know where I'm going, you have to have faith in me, you have to have faith in me." By the time I get there you know it's raining out it's starting to rain, and the bonk on the head. I said, "Oh, I'm sorry." They took it out. CBS took it out. You can ask Victoria that.
JB: I mean, straight up. We're running to the clue box, and I'm thinking, you know what, there might be one or two left in there, I mean, this is just bad. It's been five hours, and this is bad. We get up there, literally, there was ten in there. I mean, there was just ten in there, so I thought, I think there were eleven in thereI thought we were first. What they do, is they put a couple of extra clues in there, just in case you're last, so you don't give up.
JB: I was like "Oh. We're first," and we started to walk over there, and she goes, "No we're not." And I'm like, "Oh." And I get there, and I see Lena and Kristy and Jon and Kris, and we're third. I'm still excited, I am excited, but my adrenaline is pumping at this point. I'm thinking, what has just happened in the last five hours, you need to just stop and have faith in me. This isn't about ego. I knew what I was doing, and she doubted me the whole entire way. So I was like, okay, you owe me an apology. She said "I'm sorry." I'm like, you really owe me an apology. That's how I was so passionate about saying to her, you know, basically I was saying to her please have some faith in me the next time. That's what that was all about. And the whole thing with "I'm so proud of myself" was because I literally got there in third position, thinking we were in last position, with a map that was done of stick figures.
AD: I mean, is there something to be said for just sort of appreciating that on your own, and not sort of demanding an apologydo you know what I'm saying? Like, does it really matter that .
JB: It matters when you both taunt each other the entire time, and we're so upset that, you know, if it was just a normal car ride, and we were not feeling the pressure of the race, feeling the pressure of the million dollars, feeling the pressure of getting eliminated we thought we were gonna get eliminated at that point.
JB: We didn't know that it wasn't a pit stop.
JB: You know we didn't know what it was. All we know is that you've gotta get here, and if you don't get there, something's gonna happen. And so, we didn't know what. What they do is they put blinders on you you never know from one minute to the next where you're going. Or what you're doing or how you're doing it, and it's that stress that keeps it going. Now, in answer to your question, if it had gone down a different way, yes, I truly believe, getting there, I wouldn't have said what I said. And I wouldn't have done what I did. I just would have let it go, and would have been happy to get there.
JB: So, you know, most of what you're seeing is just a heightened version of what's going on, and that's mixed in with the medication, that's mixed in with the production pushing you, that's mixed in with us trying to decide what it is that we're doing right or wrong at that point.
AD:Right. That reminded me, when you said, talking about something earlier. A lot of what we sawother cast members reacting to your interaction with Victoria a lot, and their reactions seem to sort of validate ours. Did they not see the same things? I mean, are they seeing the same things that we did just because they only saw you in certain locations, or, otherwise, how do you explain the fact that they sort of had the same kind of reactions?
JB: Which are great questions, love the question. First of all, Aaron was joking all the time. His comments were never real. They were just he's just a funny guy, okay? Hayden, she was, you know, commenting on some of the things that she saw. Lena and Kristy, I think that they were the only real genuine comments that were basicallywe never got to know them.
JB: What they saw was fierce competition I didn't find them to be smart players. They came in on the first one, they followed everyone out of the airport, they got fourth, I think it was. The next one they found the guide, who brought them there, and they were, you know, they came second, I think it was, first or second? Then, the next one, in Norway, they came in second to last, and then they were out, in Sweden. And this was in their home town. So as smart as everyone thought they were, and as strong as they were, I didn't think that they really had a shot. In relation to Victoria and I, they were the farthest team in making a connection that you could get. So, probably what they saw was, you know, the one moment of me coming in going, "I'm so proud of myself" and "You owe me an apology." That was it; that was our only moment that we ever spent together.
JB: I think that production goes up and asks everybody to make comments on it, and, so when she says "Well, we like Victoria but we don't like Jon," that's production going, "Well, what do you think of Jonathan screaming and saying, you know, I'm so proud of myself?" Or "What do you think of Victoria saying what she said?" So they find a way to get it out of you.
JB:Again I'm trying to be straight up so that there can be a truth to this interview. I'm uh [pause] Being such a fan of the game, I tried to bring Survivor into it. I'm a really big fan of reality television, and I love Survivor, and I love The Amazing Race, and I tried to bring it in there. I created the only alliance so far that's ever had I call it the Buddha Yield Alliance. It was made up in Budapest of John and Kris and Rebecca and Adam. And we were going afterfirst break up the model alliance, Freddy and Kendra, and Aaron and Hayden. And then second, if Bolo was still around, go after Bolo and Lori.
AD: Just because they were strong competitors?
JB: The only person that I was worried about were, from the start, and only in the game, were Jon and Kris, and Aaron and Hayden. That was it. Those were the only people I worried about. Everybody else, I had no problems dealing, you know, thinking the game through, around. Um, I decided to take Jon and Kris on our side, and then we would deal with them if it got down to the final three.
AD: So you didn't see Freddy and Kendra as a threat at all, or even strong contenders?
JB: No, we helped them. I mean, I saved them so many times. I gave them In the first leg? They gave their yield back, and I got them their yield back. Excuse me, in the first leg, I found their clue, and gave them their clue back at the start. By the end of the, I gave them their yield back. The next thing I helped them with was directions and mapping, and then the fourth thing was when the soup thing happened. He had come in and he was just gonna pick it up and drink it and I told him not to. Why did I do this? Because we needed to have some allies, and they seemed to be the only ones that were being alienated at the time, this was before they made their model alliance. I played it wrong, this game. I watched this show enough to know that you don't need anybody, and so I was running it independently. I had a yield alliance, but I was running it independently. If I could do it again, you know, I would have come in and probably made an alliance with, you know, another team. And, you know, then worked off that other team to kind of surround the game, opposed to me creating this yield alliance and using everybody.
AD: Why not just play it as yourselves, and sort of ignore everyone else and sort of, charge ahead. To us, the Survivor aspect doesn't really come in to play
JB: But it does, I mean, it does. With the yield, it does.
AD: How? Just because of where you are in line and ?
JB: Well, because First of all, playing it yourself, we did run the race ourselves, so, that's what we did. I mean, that's why you see people that alienated us because we never let anybody [phone rings in background, brief pause] we never let anybody in at the beginning.
JB:As far as this Survivor goes, the yield definitely brings Survivor into this. When I created the yield alliance If you noticed, right before we got eliminated, I said to Adam and Rebecca, "Switch." And it was supposed to be Aaron and Hayden, but they got in front of us. So they did, the yield alliance did work. And it would have worked. We would have tagged everybody right down to the end. It's just, I was, we were too far behind because of the donkey.
AD: Explain this a little bit, because I'm slightly confused still about the yield alliance. Which teams specifically was it with, and what was the goal of it? I think I have a vague idea, but I just want to be sure.
JB: The yield alliance consisted of John and Kris, Rebecca and Adam, and me and Victoria, and we were gonna go There was only three teams left, so there's six teams. We were going after Aaron and Hayden first, to break up the model alliance, then we were gonna go after Freddy and Kendra. And then if Lori and Bolo were still there we were gonna go after Lori and Bolo.
AD: And by "go after" you mean one of you three in the alliance would yield one of those three teams, depending upon who was
JB: Who was behind who.
AD: Okay. So the first team in your alliance to get to the yield would yield the first team in that other group.
JB: Knowing in order who was where. It would be first Aaron and Hayden
JB: Freddy and Kendra, and then Lori and Bolo, depending on who was in front of the yield.
AD: Gotcha. And that came into play did it ever come into play? Just once, or ?
JB: Well, it only came into play once. After that, it broke down because it didn't, because I wasn't there to lead it.
JB: That's what I believe. You know, I started this not in Ethiopia but in Budapest, so I started to talk to people at the pit stop. So I would say, you know, this is how we need to do it, and this is what we're gonna do. So I used a lot of mental you know, everyone says yeah, you know what, you don't really do this on the race, but trust me, when you see Rob and Amber, and you see what's about to happen in 7, and everyone's ganging up on them, you know, it doesn't make a difference because you do You're ultimately responsible for your own mistake, and that's how you get eliminated. But with the pressure of production, and the pressure of the actual race, the million dollars there, and knowing that if you don't get to a certain place at a certain time, you're gonna be way behind, that psychologically will screw you up. You know, in my opinion, and it bums me out, Lori and Bolo should have been eliminated in Budapest. They were eight hours behind. They should have been gone. They should not have had the chance to come full circle, and come to the front.
AD: But, alas, that was just the rules of the game, and these things you can't really count on.
JB: Can I put you on hold for a second?
JB: back with you.
AD: No problem. Lori and Bolo reminded me Can you talk a little bit more about the relationships you had with the other teams? And I kind of mean while you're racing, and also during the pit stops. Because, obviously, some of those last twelve hours, and some last thirty-six, and that, I think, you probably develop relationships that we don't really see, or at least interact in ways we don't see.
JB: As I said, on the race, the sisters, and the girlfriends, we really had no relationship with.
AD: So they just were sort of on their own at the pit stops?
JB: Yeah, we really didn't interact with them at all. Joe and Avi, we did interact with a lot. Being from New York and them being from New York we had a good bond. When everybody got on the first airplanes they bonded. Some people bonded, some people didn't. On our airplane, we did not bond. We just slept and were in competition mode. On all the other ones, people kind of got together, and they hung out, and they kind of bonded, and they were just like, okay, let's go after Jon and Victoria, or let's go after this one or that one, and basically, that's just the way it was. It was just, it was a bond. By the time you got to the glacier, there were bonds already done. Our relationship on the racebeyond the glacier, 'cause that's when it broke downas soon as you left the glacier everybody broke down because after the first person is eliminated, you realize that there, you know, as much as you want to help each other, it's not really gonna help. You are responsible for your own downfall. And that's when you see Joe and Avi, and you see them at the blue lagoon, and Avi said "Let's take another look," and Gus said, "No, let's go, get back in the car," that was the difference between winning and losing, last place at that point.
JB: Our relationship, and I guess I can go down it relationship to relationship, or team by teamis that how you want me to do it?
AD: I mean, that's not necessary, but I'm just curious about
JB: We had good relationships with everybody, except for the sisters and the girlfriends.
AD: So you think that's just primarily because you didn't hang out with them and that was the major
JB: Well, no, you know what? Everyone finds a way to bond.
JB: So, you know, Aaron and Hayden, we didn't have that good of a relationship with at that time, on the race. Off the race, very good friends of ours, but, they were in competition mode. Jon and Kris, we had a great relationship with, and really respected them a lot, respected their game, just respect you know what? They're just good people, you know? And they connected with us, and we're very, very good friends withon the race and off the race. We had an unspoken alliance on the race, because we agreed that it was an independent game, we would help each other, but, you know, at no point was, could they never not be cutthroat with us, unless they decided that we were the team that they needed to hit at that point. And that was fine. So, Gus and Hera and Don and MJ I kind of pulled alonglove them, they were great, but they were part of this invisible alliance. And that invisible alliance was on camera and off camera. If you look at and show you on camera, you know, Gus says, "You little bastard," that [phone rings] hang on one second, please.
AD: Sure. [break] Hello.
AD: That's okay. So you were talking about Gus and .
JB: You know, Gus and Hera, you know, they were fair to us, and they were great, but it was a lot of If you look at the car, I had taken them with me, and said you know what, I'm just gonna get your tickets, I'm gonna do everything. I had it all planned out, and so if you look at when we went in to leave to go to Berlin, they were behind me. I bought all their tickets and everything else, and Adam and Rebecca, I did the same for. So, you know, I was trying to pull the weaker teams forward and kind of squeeze out, in just odds, just thinking of the odds, squeezing out the stronger teams. The only one that I didn't do that to, was Jon and Kris, because I just thought that to have them on our side was better than to not have them on our side.
JB: We got along, you know, on the race with everybody, but there wasn't How do I say this? When you're on the race, you're not thinking about getting along or not getting along. You're thinking about getting the job done.
JB: And that is a big pressure behind you for that.
AD: Yeah, that makes sense. What relationship do you have to the people, the production crew right now? I mean, from Phil to Bertram, what sort of how do you interact with them now? Especially considering everything that's happened.
JB: Well, that's a good question. Phil I email on a semi-regular basis. I mean, we speak. I think that, you know, there is a mutual respect for running the race. I don't think that Phil has any control over what the public sees.
JB:And he's taken some heat for what's been going on this season, and I felt bad for him. We've talked about it. I think there's a good understanding of the difference between running the race and seeing the race. I think that when he deals with Victoria and me I do believe a lot of respect came from production to the way we ran the race. Because we were number two consistently. Yes, there were times we weren't, you know, which I could tell you what they were. But, we were at the top of the pack, let's just put it that way. Consistently. And I think there was a little bit of respect for that. Bertram, you know what? I mean, I spoke to him two weeks ago, he's, you know, we have a great relationship. We talked about 7, and he asked me what my ideas were, he asked me what my thoughts were, and I them to him, and, you know, he's a really busy guy, you know? He's moving around the world. We're still in communication on a semi-regular basis.
AD: Can you share what you might have told him? Or maybe just broadly about what you think should be done for the next season?
JB: My feeling is and I am very, very, very bummed out that they took out the fast forward. To me the fast forward was the game. And, so, to have two fast forwards in the game broke my heart, because that was the deciding factor. And I asked Bertram, I said, "Why why did you do what you did?" He said because nobody went for it in the early parts of the race. And I said, well, that's great, then just make the last five legs have it, and so, I think he listened to it, I don't know if he's going to apply it or not, but it would certainly add the flavor back that lacks now. I mean, my favorite seasons were 2 and 4.
JB: My least favorite seasons were 5 and 6.
AD: That's interesting. Because of the way the game play changed on those with the yield
AD: and the fast forward.
JB: It's a different game. It's all about editing and storyline and interaction as opposed to the game. It's about the relationships; it's not about the game. The other ones were about the game.
AD: Mmhmm. Do you
JB: You know, I mean, how you do it is interesting. Go figure the biggest ratings ever were 5 and 6. Obviously, they kind of know what they're doing.
AD: Right. Well, and that's, you know, the question is whether or not that is something that they should be doing. Obviously the ratings indicate that that's what people want to watch, but I think, you know, to some degree the quality can degrade when they do focus on this, and that happens with other shows, like American Idol, too, just the sort of relentless focus on personalities. I'm wondering if you have any sort of thoughts about how the editing process works. Or not so much the editing process, but during the race, the way they talk to you and stuff like that. Do you think that was fair, sort of? Or do you think that's a separate thing, like the production on the race is one thing, and the editing process is a totally different thing? How are they connected?
JB: I think at the beginning they're not connected, and I think after the third episode they're connected. I think after the third episode, once they're done seeing the footage, they see the basis of the storyline and they go in and they taunt you in that direction.
AD: And then that's .
JB: They guide it in that direction. Some of it's visible, some of it's invisible, some of it comes from They have production meetings with the camera crew, tell them what they want to go, they have story meetings with the you know, on-the-fly people, and at the end they do interviews. I tried to be an open book with them. I really tried to be I wanted greatness for the show. I really wanted us to be great, so to come out sensationalizedbecause that's the only word I can useI mean when you look at what has happened, it's just a sensational storygood or bad, it is what it is. Who would want that? If they would have given me anything but the storyline they gave me, I would have stood up on a soapbox and said I am the greatest reality villain of all time. But they put and this has been quoted before, and I've said this before They put such nasty energy behind it, and who would like it? I've watched what you've read, and you didn't like it.
AD: No, I mean, definitely not. It made the show uncomfortable to watch.
JB:You were appalled by it, so why shouldn't I be appalled by it? You know, it's not something that anybody could be proud of, number one, and number two, it's not something that I set out to do. And I certainly didn't set out to take my relationship, my marriage, the person that I love, of eight years, and make her lookput her in a bad light. And that's what I did. And that was never, never conscious. They made it happen. Everything I did, did happen. That doesn't mean everything that I did had to go up on the screen. Other people say other things and do other things that are as bad. Lori and Bolo were as bad. In Corsica, he went to slap her and nobody said anything, if you go back and look at that episode. So, you know, she beat him, he beat her, you know Also, if you look, Victoria, before the push, never had a voice. And all of a sudden after the push, she has a voice? She's arguing, all of the sudden screaming back at me? So, you know, she did give it back, we did banter back and forth. We were told at the beginning, you guys are the host of the show, banter back and forth. You guys need to just always be going back and forth, so that's what we did, you know? Were we a little bit of a puppet? Yeah. As smart as I think I was, I wasn't that smart. Because at the end of the day, they were able to do what they wanted with anything that they had.
AD: And obviously you knew that going in, because, I mean, the contractif it's anything like the other reality TV contracts, specifies that they can basically turn you into somebody unrecognizable, fictional.
AD: And you signed that and sort of agreed to it. Why did you do that? Why agree to that?
JB: You have to agree to it.
AD: I mean, I guess the question is, was it worth it agreeing to that to do the race?
JB: Well, yeah. Only because I love the race, I love the show, and I'm a big fan. If I was willing to go on the race sick, why wouldn't I go on the race willing to sign their contracts?
JB: What I didn't realize was that they didn't have our back at all. If they had our back, it would have been a little bit easier, a little more palatable for everybody involved: the audience, the network, us.
AD: What do you mean by that, "had your back," like, what kind of thing specifically?
JB: Well, I just mean that if they just would have tweaked it a little bit, with a little bit softer of an edge. It was a family show! The first thing I called CBS and said, "This is a family show, what are you doing?"
AD: And what was their response?
JB: This is a television show, and it is about ratings. You gave it to us, we are allowed to show it. And I said, great, I know you're allowed to show it. Colin was upset, and held it against them; I don't hold it against them because I understand the industry. To me, I'm willing to take it as far as it goes before I see the end of the road, only because the more I go out there, the more I speak, the more people will get to know the real person. Or try to get to know the real person. I mean, even Dr. Phil cut the shit out of it last night. I mean, I was just like, o-kay.
AD: Well yeah, there were some really obvious edits there, and it was, you know, clearly
JB: You have no idea. You have no idea. They edited itthat was a two hour interview that they edited down to ten minutes and I just was like it wasn't that bad. Victoria you know what? Victoria was more disappointed than me. I was just like I knew coming out of there that there was no closure. And that bothered me, because it was supposed to be about closure. The tough answers, you know, were supposed to be about real questions, beyond the obvious. It never went beyond the obvious. Everyone else on that show had a beginning, middle, and end story, we just had a beginning story.
JB: He gave me more of a closure on Entertainment Tonight where he said, "Jonathan is a nice guy and I really believe that he just got caught up in what was going on." And he made that statement on Entertainment Tonight, which was complete closure of what was going on, and he never made the same statement on his own show.
AD: Right. One question that I was thinking about was why, especially this whole experience was, you know, the way you said. Why continue to do these things that essentially are out of your hands and out of your control? Like you've been giving a lot of interviews through the season and after, obviously doing Dr. Phil, and these things. Like, why not just sort of stop living publicly, and sort of disappear, and let the people who do get to know you in person know you, and then let the country just sort of shift their focus to somebody else?
JB: Um [pause] Eh, boy. Um [pause] You know what, I'm not an actor. I am a writer, I am a producer, and I am a director. I also am a businessman, and I own businesses. I'm not Rockefeller. I'm a hard worker. Victoria's a hard worker. When you get an opportunity to be in the public eye, and, for good or for bad, you're there, and it took so much energy to get there, my feeling is that if you can turn it, and create something positive out of it, then you're doing good. And I had always wanted to have a different platform so that I could do some good things. So that I could do some charity work, so that I could actually take this to a different level, not knowing what that level is, to take hold of some opportunity and do something with it. It's a gift, to be able to be in the public eye, and to be able to do something with it. I'm not sure what's going to come out of it right now, but I'm hoping something does. A lot of effort went in to putting us into the spotlight for good or for bad, so I'm hoping that something can come out of it. I don't know if that makes sense.
AD: What would that be ideally? Like, is there something concrete you sort of would like from it, because .
JB: I would like a platform, and I'm not sure what that platform is. I would like to do Survivor, because I really enjoyed playing the game of The Amazing Race, and what Survivor has to offer. But next to that, since it's dominated by CBS, and I don't think that Mark Burnett is going to allow what Jerry Bruckheimer and Bertram allowed, which was to have other reality stars come onto their show.
JB: So, you know, I'm open minded to listen to different people, I'm open minded to stay out in the public eye, just because I believe that maybe, just maybe, people will get to see the real me, and actually like the real me.
AD: Would you consider I mean, you said going on Survivor, obviously, or maybe hypothetically doing an all-star Amazing Race, would you do that even knowing that they could have the same outcome again, or would you think that we'd see a different Jonathan and Victoria in that instance?
JB: I know for sure you'd see a different Jonathan and Victoria, because they would not build the same storyline, and Victoria and Jonathan would not give them the same energy, because You have to remember, they said banter, they said speak, they said Jeff Probst runs the Tribal Council. Phil does not run the Amazing Race. The teams run the Amazing Race. So we are the people that take you through the countries and introduce all the people. That's why every country I went to, I said hello to, Victoria said hello to. Every country we went to, we shook people's hands, almost like we were representing America from a curious standpoint. That's why I the guides that you see, we never paid those. I would go up to people and I would whether they'd be taxi drivers and I would say to the taxi drivers, listen, everyone's just gonna pay you the meter. I don't want to pay you the meter, I want to pay you a flat fee, I want you to be part of our adventure. And they would do it. You know, everyone else is paying $300 in cab rides, we'd be paying $50.
AD: Gotcha. That makes sense. Um .
JB: So my point is, we'd get to these different places, and I would collect these guides, and I would really, you know, almost like child-like want to involve them in what was going on and bring them with us. You know, I mean, there's a very child-like side to me, and people kind of saw that as a little bit retarded. Well, I don't want to say retarded, but I mean, maybe that's not the right word. They saw it as, I hope you don't use that You know, when I was in Budapest and I had the thing swinging over my head, the tarp over my head, and I was singing the song to the Wizard of Oz, the O-E-O song, [sings] "O E O yo-O." I was just having fun. I mean, that was it, you know? I mean, how often do you get to have fun, and be, you know, walk outside your element. You know?
JB:Look. You know what? I was a jerk at times, and I know I was. I wasn't conscious of it, and I apologize for those actions and the way they looked. And, you know, I'm trying to become a better person by learning about myself and the things that I never want to bring out of myself ever again.
AD: That was one of my final questions. You posted on your web site a while back that you were, you know, taking responsibility for your actions, and making this effort, and I was just wondering what that specifically amounts to. And obviously you just said that it sort of involves trying to improve yourself based upon what you saw.
JB: Yeah, self improvement. I'm recognizing what it looked like. Again, I say it again: I gave it, I didn't know what it was going to look like, I wasn't happy with it. Now I'm taking a step backwards and make it so that the majority of what you saw there doesn't happen again, the ugliness. Because now that I know how it felt to do, and what it looked like, I can have an understanding. Now, again, you know, I mean, go back to the very beginning of the conversation, there were a lot of things that played into this entire thing. And so, that was and broken down, that's why, collectively, people see it as excuse, excuse, excuse. I mean, what is your opinion of it? And I can't pinpoint it in any given way, except to say if I ran the race again, you'd never see that. If I ran the race with a different person other than Victoria, you'd never see that. But you would see a heightened version of Jonathan, which is I'm willing to go places that most people aren't willing to go.
AD: Do you mean, like, personality-wise?
JB: Yeah. I'm willing to take a lot more chances. I'm willing to be a lot more open and a lot more out there and put myself, and really take more chances than most people would be willing to do with themselves and with the situation. And with that comes .
AD: Well, yeah, and if the consequence of that is that some people think you're a jerk, or judge you based upon that, that's still an acceptable consequence to you?
JB: No. No. That's not an acceptable consequence, because that wasn't what it was supposed to be. It wasn't supposed to come out like that. It wasn't supposed to be like that. No, no, it's not acceptable, ever. But you never know what it's going to look like. Hopefully, in the same situation, you know, in the future, or given something else, the real Jonathan Baker will surface, and people will judge that person and not the edited version.
AD: And that, I mean, that's probably my final question. You mentioned earlier that you can't really blame anybody for the reaction they had, and I'm just wondering what the experience is like for you as you read things that people writeobviously, I'm one of those peoplebased upon what we see, and this is what we know, you know, only from the show, and we're sort of responding to whatever the editors have given us, and what you have given the editors. How do you react to people like us? Are you sort of mad at us, or get pissed off that we're judging you in this way, or do you just see it as, this is what happens as a result of this process?
JB: I see it, you know what? You're writing about a third person. That's the way I see it. It's a third person character. I can't blame you, because I feel the same way. The people that write in, 20 percent of it see the competitiveness, 20 percent of it see through it and see the softer side, and the other 60 percent see nothing but the dreck of it.
JB: When men write about it, they kind of can get a hook into what's going on. When women write about it, there's no hook, nothing but blinders. And, you know, and I couldn't convince someone that wasn't open minded who I was, you know. First of all, Victoria and I don't fight the way you see up there. We have really good problem-solving skills. We don't go to bed mad at each other. When we are really at each other's odds, we'll go to our separate computers, we'll email each other until we get down to the real problem of what's happening. We will then take that problem and we will work on it until we come to some type of an understanding of what to do with it, and then we will do something with it. It's not like we're just I don't think that we have a dysfunctional relationship. But I look on television and I see it, it looks dysfunctional. So, you know, what do you do? It is what it is. In answer to your final question, I wish that it didn't happen the way it happened in terms of how we saw it. It was very hard for me to watch week to week. But I loved running the race. Every moment of it, of every second, of every day.
AD: So ultimately it was worth it?
JB: Taking chances is always worth it. You become stronger, you learn about yourself, and hopefully you become a better person.
AD: Great. Um, is there anything else that you that I haven't covered, or that you want to share, or that we don't know that you want us to know?
JB: I think you did a really good job. Let me just see here, is there anything else ? First episode second next medication, sick It's been told that I'm a very big fan I mean, I am a very big fan. I don't believe that anybody has ever been a bigger fan going into the race. I think people have come out being big fans, but going into the race, just being that person that loved every second of it. You know, a lot of people went into it doing this reality show that was not a game. The game was so exciting, it was so great, and I loved being a fan, and I loved going back to being a fan. I loved going back and watching the show. I mean, as soon as we weren't on the show anymore, it became a different show.
JB: And I went back to loving it for what it was. Watching yourself on television is, everybody will tell you this, is like watching a bad home movie. You're up there, you're like, whoa. [pause] Should I get Victoria for you?
AD: Yeah, that'd be great. And I really appreciate you talking to me, and giving this opportunity to sort of get these additional things .
JB: You know, I hope that you just you print our web site, whatever you do, that's all I ask of you, so that people can have comments on it, so that if it's a positive story, they have a place to go to tell us, you know, that things that we want to hear. Which is, you know, we're starting to see the real Jonathan and Victoria.
AD: Okay. Great.
JB: And I hope it's a positive story, and I hope that I look forward to reading it. And again, I'm a big fan of yours, I like what you do with your site. It's one of my favorite sites up there. When I want to get information about anything in reality, you're who I go to.
AD: Well, I appreciate that. And again, thanks for your time.
JB: Okay. Here's Victoria, hang on, let me get her.
Andy Dehnart: Hi Victoria.
Victoria Fuller: Hi!
AD: How are you?
AD: Great. I just wanted to let you know that I'm recording this just so I can transcribe it .
VF: Okay. What is your name?
VF: Andy, okay.
AD: Yeah. So I obviously just talked to Jonathan for a little over an hour about everything, and I think we covered a lot of ground. I'm just wondering sort of, to begin with, where you sort of stand right now, after all this has sort of passed over. You know, the show has ended, but clearly you guys are stillbetween the Dr. Phil episode, and doing interviews like this one, are still sort of concerned with how people view you. I'm just wondering what you're feeling about that.
VF: My feeling on how people view us?
Operator: I have to hang up on you, because somebody else called in and entered your pass code. If you think that the other person might be an intruder misusing your pass code, please inform the system administrator. I'll give you half a minute to wrap up your current call.
JB: Hello? Andy? Can you call right back?
Jonathan Baker: Just call right back and then it'll happen, I'm sorry.
Victoria Fuller: Hello.
Andy Dehnart: Hi.
AD: How are you?
VF: I'm good.
AD: Okay. So, you were talking about how people view you.
VF: Well, you know, as long as people have questions and want to ask them, I'm completely open to answering them. As far as how people feel, there's a group of people that I don't really care about how they feel, and then, of course, there's other people who are truly curious. And, not so much I care about how everyone feels, but, like I said, as long as people want to ask questions, like Dr. Phil or whoever, you knowthere's a chance we're going on Larry Kingif they want to ask questions then by all means, I'm gonna want to interview with them.
AD: Jonathan mentioned that you were sort of disappointed with what ended up airing on the Dr. Phil special. Can you talk about that a little bit?
VF:Yeah, I was just really disappointed with his whole it just was very uneventful in my eyes, and, you know, in the interview itself, he did, at the end, say you know, Jon, I can tell that you're a good person and that you and Victoria have a truly loving relationship, and I wish you luck in your futures, and thank you, blah blah blah. And that's when I thanked him for having us on our, on his show. And they just, they cut so much out that I just felt there wasn't I mean, the whole point was closure. You know, the whole point for him was to get his primetime special so that CBS will pick him up for, like, a Barbara Walters thing, a nighttime primetime special weekly type of thing. So he got a lot of use out of us, and we really didn't get the use out of him that he had promised us. So I was a little disappointed in terms of just getting the redemption that they had offered. So, it just seemed like it didn't go anywhere, you know. The questions that they aired were just kind of, "Okay, are you a jerk?" Well, how do you expect anyone to answer that question? It didn't seem to get down to, "Well, how did that make you feel?" and whatever. "Oh, is that okay with you?" Well, of course, it's not okay. I mean, who's gonna sit there and say, yeah, it's okay to, you know, to feel like you're being beat up on. No one's gonna say that. So that was just a little disheartening for me because there was many other questions that we had great answers to. And on top of it, there was a lot of questions that we answered that they even cut short. Including some of questions that he asked were cut short. He would ask a long-winded question"Jon, are you just a jerk, because all of America really wants to know what it is that's really going on in your life, and what we see on TV must be different than what's in reality, and, you know, are you really just a jerk?" And instead, it was "Are you just a jerk?" So even his questions were cut short. So I'm not sure if they just felt they wanted to, you know, make it much shorter than it was, because we had, you know, two hours of interview with him.
AD: Right. You mentioned redemption a second ago. What do you mean by that specifically? Or what are you looking to get from that?
VF:Well, just because Jon and I have been together eight years, we have a very loving relationship, we're very good friends, and despite the fact that he acted like a maniac on the show, it's really not who we really are and it's not really how we fight, and we're not that aggressive with each other, and he's not that aggressive in our relationship. So I really was hoping to, you know, to show that side of us. Which is why they followed us around with cameras for three days and through New York and here in LA and all kinds of stuff that we did, working out, going to lunch, and all these things. And they kind of did, like, a two-minute little documentary thing that was cute, it was okay, but it didn't, but it wasn't really what I hoped for. So I thought that they were putting a lot more into it than they were. It seemed as though they were, I mean, we spent a lot of time with the production and everybody, speaking with them, and kind of hashing out what, you know, what we wanted, what they wanted, and agreeing upon a lot of things and once we got into the interview, kind of, like, everything we had agreed on had gone out the window. So it was about us showing our softer side, basically.
VF: Bottom line.
AD: You just said the whole thing that Jonathan actedyou said, quote, "like a maniac on the race." What was that like for you? I mean, during the race? Did you know he was sort of going in playing this over-the-top character that he wanted to be?
VF:Well, we had talked about it before and he's like, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that. And you have to understand, Jon is a very lively person, and we're very ying and yang. I'm very mellow, I'm very I tend to be very quiet. Even when we initially first got interviewed for the race they said, you know, you're a very vanilla couple and you guys, you know, really are very too quiet. And we were just like, oh, okay, you know, because I'm thinking, well, they don't know Jon, because he can really he can talk a lot, he's very enthusiastic, he's very high energy. And so I thought, oh, I'm really gonna kill this for us because I'm somewhat low energy, I'm just, you know, to myself, I'm kind of a recluse at times. We really had to bring it up a notch in all the interviews. I mean, we were just When we got in front of Bertram, we were like "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!" And that's really what they loved about us, and what he told us that they loved about us was that we had great banter, and were always going back and forth. When we got on the race, we had always intend on being just real loud and enthusiastic and just to keep that going. I don't think anybody anticipates how much energy that really takes to keep that up, you know, all day long. But once we got on the race, Jon, as soon as we got on the first train into Chicago O'Hare to catch the plane, Jon was just, like, screaming and screaming and screaming, and I was like, baby, you gotta calm down, this is, you know, your veins are popping out of your head, and he's like, no, this is it, this is it, we're here, we're on the race. And from that point forward, I mean, he was just on fire, you know, and I kind of let him be until it starts to get on my nerves and he, and then he started to get You know, we were stressed out with each other, with the race, and with the stress of everything, because I don't think people realize how difficult it really is. And they don't give you you know, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning to start the race. We got to the starting line, and we were out on the boats on the Chicago lake, I guess it is a lake, and with those speedboats or whatever for the intro. That was the morning of the shoot, of the start date and, we were out there for like three hours, and they only showed two minutes of that clip, and we were just worn out by that time of just being in the water like that, it was very stressful. So, it was very exhausting and tiring on top of his energy and it became very negative, I think. And, his enthusiasm just turned into just crazed maniac. I remember in Iceland thinking, oh my god, what are we gonna do? Because I thought the glacier was gonna at least be a pit stop, and it wasn't. And when we got there and I realized it wasn't even the pit stop yet, I was like, oh boy, this is just gonna be a really long race.
AD: Right. Do you .
VF: So, that was kind of in a nutshell how I felt going into it, and as we got further into it, it just, you know, being twenty feet apart 24 hours a day, and everything that's involved with the race, I just, I don't think I handled the stress very well.
AD: Do you think what you saw on television jibes with reality? Because, you know, clearly you're saying that this was a really stressful and different experience, in real life, but was what we saw accurate for the most part?
VF: Well, I mean, we did have those times, that was us at those moments, but, like, in Iceland for instance, when we were driving to find the glacier after the waterfall, it was a six-hour ride, and initially, the words were so long, and I couldn't find them on the map. You know, if you can't find where you're on the map, you can't find where to go, and that was my frustration. All the words looked the same and they were all twelve to seventeen letters long and the signs were very small, and we were driving very fast. And until I was able to locate us on the map, I was just really frustrated, and we were fighting. So for about a good ten, fifteen minutes we couldn't get on the same page, we were just like, he's like, I'm not reading the map, I can't tell you where we are, and I couldn't get him to stop. He didn't want to stop because he didn't want anybody to pass us, so we were, you know, and it was the first leg, I mean, this is it, we're on the race, this is everything we had dreamed about, this is it, we're here, you know, we can't slow down now, and, so, I did finally find where it was, and, you know, we got on the same page, and then there was another five hours when we weren't fighting. So for me, when they just show the fighting, I'm thinking, well, that was just such a small part of just that one day. And, you know, you see us on the Zodiac, we're screaming, we're excited, there was a lot of excitement and we were very happy, we kissed a lot, and, despite us arguing, we did make up very quickly, you know, like the time where he's like, oh, I'm gonna get a divorce and he rips the thing out of my hand. I remember thinking, oh, that's just not gonna look good, that's just not gonna look good, Jon. And he's like, what, what? I say, you can't be saying stuff like that, they're gonna put that stuff on and my parents are gonna see that, it's gonna look bad, you're gonna have to explain yourself. And he's like, ah, yeah, they're not gonna show that, whatever. You know, so everything that I was like, oh, they're gonna show that, he's like, "Ah, no big deal." And of course, they show all the worst of the worst. If you notice, as soon as we were eliminated, they really harped more on the teams that were left there fighting like Freddy and Kendra, they seemed pretty solid, but then they started to be like, "No, you shut up, no, you shut up, no." They became kind of volatile to each other, which was kind of throughout the whole race, which everybody was. But I think they focused more on us because I think going into it we said, we want to be the villains, we're gonna be the villains. And so, they were like, oh great, well, okay, let's pull out all the stops, you know, they want to be the villain, we're gonna let them be the villain. So I think that was a lot of how it went.
AD: Mmhmm. Let's talk about the two obvious, the most egregious moments in the whole race, which was obviously the shove incident, first. What was going through your mind during that? During that instance, you know, specifically, when he shoved you? And he said that he shoved your backpack, and I'm just wondering if that's your recollection as well.
VF: Yeah. He definitely shoved my backpack. But leading up to that, we were doing really good. We're in the lead, we're in the lead, we're in the lead. Before there was a little clue that they don't show you, that we got, that was before that long run to the pit stop. Before we got to that place, we were in front of the Brandenburg Gate and we saw the pit stop. We got there early, and I said, Jon, we can't be here because we didn't get the clue yet. And there was a lot of construction going on, and we were arguing as to which way to go, because you had to go right to get to where we needed to go to get to the next clue which we all knew, because we could see it on the map. But there was all this construction, so you had to go to the left and go all the way around and it was this whole thing. And we were arguing, you know, we're in the lead, and we know where we have to go, or at least I knew where we had to go, but he would not listen to me. He was driving, he was driving, he was driving. And then finally, I convinced him to get out of the car and let me get in the car. Well, the seat was back when they got out of the car, and when I got into the front seat I couldn't figure out how to put it forward, it was all automatic, I couldn't find the right button. Time is ticking by, we see we see Freddy and Kendra zoom by us, and I was like, Jon, help me, and he's like, "I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do," and we started to kind of just have a scuffle at that point. It was very frustrating because I felt like, oh, we're doing so good, and now I know where to go, and he won't help me move the seat up, and his thing was, well, I don't know how to move the seat, I don't know how to help you with this. So we switched again, we ended up getting to where the next clue needed to be. Freddy and Kendra were right there and it was a guy with a little, I don't know what to call it. It was like a guy with a music box, like usually they have a monkey and there's a music box. I forget what that's called, but anyway, it was in a German word and nobody in Germany knew what that was. It was a strange, long name. And this guy was wearing a red and yellow outfit, he just looked really out of sorts and Freddy and Kendra are running all around, trying to look for the clue box, they can't find it, and they're kind of far away from us, and I said, Jon, that guy has the clue, I'm telling you, that guy has the clue. There was no clue box. So we get to him, I said, please, just give me the clue, and he was smiling, so I said, look, I know you have the clue, I know you have the clue, and he finally gave it to us. And by the time he gave it to us, Freddy and Kendra kind of saw where we were, and Jon's like, come on, let's move away from this, and I go, no, we've gotta read the clue, because usually they like you to open the clue and read it right there with your cameraman. And Jon wanted to run away so they didn't know where the clue was, and I was trying to follow the rules like an idiot, because a lot of times the rules really didn't hold up. So I stood there to read the clue, and Jon was just in a panic because he knew that this was it, this was everything, we had a lead, and if it came to a footrace we weren't going to be able to beat them. So, t was a football field to maybe two football fields away where the pit stop was. We knew where it was at that point, it was straight ahead of us but it was very far away. So we started arguing about that, and so, okay, so we've got the clue, we started running, we started running, running, running, running, running. The bags are weighing us down, we're tired, we haven't slept in fifty hours, we hadn't eaten, I had to go to the bathroom, I was frustrated from you know, just from feeling like we were losing our lead, and I was just really agitated. We had agreed that we would drop the bags if it came to a footrace like that, but I had said, I don't want to drop the bags if I felt like they were going to get stolen, that was my big fear, was that the bags were going to get stolen and all our jackets and stuff were in there. So, halfway through it he sees that Freddy and Kendra are nipping on our heels and gonna come up and gonna pass us and he throws his bag down. When he throws it down, all I could think was, oh my god, his medication is in there for his asthma, everything is in there, his jacket. If we go to Antarctica or something and he doesn't have a jacket it could kill him with his lung condition. And I was very concerned, and I was like, no! And I was so upset that he droppedso angry that he dropped it. Have you ever been so broken down and so angry, and you just snap from it? Well, that's kind of where I was at. And because I was so broken and so tired, and when I picked up his bag it was so heavy, sixty pounds, and other team starts passing me, and Freddy says to Kendra, "honey, give me your bag," and that was it, I was just so mad, I knew I'd made the wrong decision, I knew that Jon was going to be mad, I knew that I'd cost us our first place, which we desperately wanted to get first place at this point, because we're always coming in second, and that was another frustration for us, is that we could never get first place. And running to him, it just, I just snapped. I just lost it. I was so upset with myself, I was upset with him, I was upset with Freddy and Kendra for passing us, I was tired, and I was broken, and by the time I had got to Jon I just couldn't hold it back anymore. So he was frustrated that I had even allowed myself to get to that point. And that's when he pushed me, and I was just like, Jon, it's just just stop. I just screamed, just stop, it's not even worth it. I knew we were going to get second place and that was no big deal for me, but at that point I was so overly emotional at that point, I just couldn't hold it back. So that's where I was in my head at that point.
AD: Do you think his reaction was justified in that moment?
VF: Uh, no. I would in fact, we had a really big fight about it because I was just like, well, what are you doing, and he's like, well, you know, it was for him it was just being dramatic, and it was overly dramatic and it was just, whatever it was for him. But I was truly upset and what they never ever usually show is once you get to the pit stop and then they kind of walk you over to like, a little tent area where they count your money, they take your passport, they take your tickets, they you check in, you sign in and they give you a slip of paper and then they take you to the rest stop to do your interviews and rest and everything. And they never show that area, which they showed, where you see me sitting with my hands, my head in my hands, and I'm crying, and, you know, Jon comes over. They never, ever have shown that area before. And they chose to keep that in because that showed us continuing on our argument. And I was so mad, because he had stayed on the mat, and he was talking to Phil and everything, blah blah blah, and Freddy and Kendra were there, and we had somewhat of an alliance with them, and they decided that they were gonna go hang out with Aaron and Hayden. And it was kind of a sour moment for me, because we had helped them a lot. They had lost their yield, we gave it back to them, they had lost two clues, we gave it back to them. You know, given them, and helped them get tickets and other things, and here they are, they got first place, and they have this smirk on their face like, yeah, yeah, ha ha ha. And I was so upset with them, because it's like, you know, we're all here in this race, and nobody's trying to be enemies with each other, and I was clearly upset and they were, I felt that they were kind of laughing at me, and I said something to them and they ended up coming over and saying, "Oh, it's okay, Victoria, don't worry about it, you know, you ran a good race, blah blah blah," and they left. So I was just so frustrated because I felt on top of it all, here's this team almost smirking at me for beating us, and it just was too much. It felt very high school, it was too much for me to handle, and it was probably a lot in my own mind, I'm sure they were just having their own moment like, oh my god, we got first, and it was very exciting for them, because they had been not doing so well up until that point. So I was, when Jon came up, I was just still in shambles from just everything, I was just bent out of shape from the whole situation. And it didn't really get better for us, even when we got to the rest stop, we did our interviews and I they didn't show our interviews at that point because I was I couldn't even not cry, I was just so emotional about the whole thing, I just had worked myself up from the entire It was like a two year old just throwing a fit and it just couldn't stop, it was just how I felt, it just couldn't stop crying, I was so upset. And Jon and I went back when we finally got to go to our hotel room and, you know, he's like, you know, you can't get so worked up, you can't be so upset, you can't let it get to you, and he was giving me the whole talk and I was just, I was like, look, I can't handle you, this is too much, this is just ridiculous. And he's like, well, I don't want to race anymore, this is ridiculous if you're gonna get to this point and, you know, we shouldn't be fighting like this, and this is just too much, and I don't want to go on, I just, I think it's bullshit, I don't think we're gonna be able to win, and if we keep this up. So Bertram I went out into the hallway and I ran into Phil Keoghan who was like, what's wrong? And I said, well, Jon and I are fighting, it's hard for me to, you know, relax in the same room. I'm just really wound up and I want to be alone and he went and got Bertram, and Bertram and Elise, the creators of the show, came in and came to the room with me and sat with Jon and said, you know, you guys are great, you remind us of us, and we can be very angry at each other, but as much as we love each other we can be very harsh to each other and you know, I can tell you guys really love each other, and you're some of our favorite racers we've ever had on the race, and you know, we're really rooting for you, and we love you guys, and you guys are just adding so much to the show, and you've given us so much great content so far and we really want you to stay, but it's your own choice to go to the pit start or not. If you show up, it's your choice, if you don't show up, I think you'll regret it for the rest of your lives. And that was the speech he gave, and it really talked us off the ledge and we were like, oh, okay, you know, and he gave us a hug, and he said how much he cared for us, and he was very sweet. And Jon was like, you know what, he's right, this is ridiculous, we shouldn't be so overwhelmed with ourselves. And we went on from there. So .
AD:When you actually watched the show, then, were you surprised based upon the reactions on the race, versus what actually ended up on TV? Did you expect them to portray you as sort of this couple that they loved in the competition, and your sort of ups and downs?
VF: Well, I had hoped that they had showed a lot, as much positive. It's okay that they show the negative, that's fine, but if that's the only thing they show on you, then that's the only character they're drawing from you, and that really was upsetting, because Jon and I, especially Jon, I mean, he was always talking to people, I was always like, come on, let's go, and he was like, no, I want to get to know these people and you know, I want to talk, and I'm like, we're in a race, let's go. He was always lollygagging and talking to people and, you know, getting e.mail addresses, and really wanted to connect with everybody that we came in contact with, and he was very sincere about, you know, and we still keep in contact with many people on the race, and even cab drivers, you know, really qualifying them before we got in the cab and making sure that it was someone that wanted to spend some real time with us and not just take us from point A to point B, someone that wanted to be a part of the adventure, and possibly if we needed a cab later on that day to just kind of stay with us throughout the day. And so we, you know, Jon tried really hard to do that and he was always very respectful of the places we went, whether it was a third-world country or a metropolis. It didn't matter, you know, whether it was a dirty place or a clean place, or if the people were rich or if they were poor, he treated everybody basically the same. And he really took an interest in who they were and their culture and everything else. And I was upset that they didn't really show that side of us, because I felt that a lot of the other racers were very they could be very rude at times. Because it's a race you feel like it's like a set, like, well, it's all there for us, so it doesn't matter how we act, it's just there for us. And it's not, you're in other people's homes and countries and, you know, you always have to keep that in mind, and I felt that we did that throughout the race. So, it was disappointing that side didn't show of us.
AD:Mmhmm. One other thing just before I move on to a couple final questions. The other major incident that sort of got a lot of talk, between you two, especially people being concerned about you and how you're doing, was the moment in the cab in Sweden after you left IKEA. Can you talk a minute just about what you remember from that moment, when you both were sitting in the backseat?
VF: Oh. I don't remember what we were arguing about. Oh, it was we knew where to go, we couldn't get the cab driver, it's like, he said oh yeahyou know they all say yeah, yeah, they know where to go?
VF: But it was like, on the map, Jon had an idea of where we needed to go, I thought I knew where to go, and the cab driver was like, oh, yeah, yeah, it's wherever, and we weren't all agreeing, and we're, you know, in a rush as usual, trying to get moving. And Jon, I think, did not want the cab driver to start driving until we all understood where it was that we needed to go. And, in my mind, I knew exactly what we needed to do, and I was trying to explain it to him, explain it to him, explain it to him, and he just really didn't want to hear it. And you have to understand that in any cab or vehicle, there's the sound man, there's the two racers in the backseat, and this was a pretty small car. So the sound man has to kind of sit away. He's got all this equipment around his waist, he's got the boom, he's got the headphones on, he's got the whole apparatus going, and that can't get into the shot. So we have to squeeze together, you know, all to one side. So we're very, very close and even though they've got the wide angle in it, it maybe doesn't appear that way, we're very crunched together. We're basically sitting in, you know, not even half the car, we're squished as close as we can. So when he was flailing his arms around I was wincing because I was afraid he was, you know, not that he was going to purposely hit me but maybe that he was going to, you know we were just so close to each other. So I winced, and of course it looked like he was going to backhand me and people the way they cut it, you know, they waited all the way till next week to see if he actually did, and of course they realized that he's yanking something out of my hand, and I winced, and I'm just like At that point, I'm just like, okay, I'm going to be quiet because it's just not getting anywhere. We're just going around and around and around in a circle, and I was extremely frustrated. We also hadn't slept in a really long time. We had gotten to Sweden, we had went to the ice bar, we had gotten to IKEA, it was closed, we had to wait all night. I don't think I slept at all that night. It was the first time I'd ever been in, like, a foreign country where you're up all night. It was just a very weird experience because the race was still very new and I could not sleep. A lot of people got to sleep but I didn't sleep. And, we got up the next day and you know, doing that whole thing that we were doing at IKEA was very taxing on me. And I kept feeling like, for me, those first two legs, I had expected that Jon and I were gonna be really in the top tier most of the time, and I kind of felt like it was a struggle to keep just in the middle. And that was very frustrating for me, because I'm somewhat of a sore loser. If I'm not winning, I'm very, very angry [laughs] and that came across a lot, and that also was a big factor in Jon being upset with me because I was constantly going, oh, we're losing, we're losing, we're losing, and, you know, being a sore loser, he would just be like, just calm down, just calm down. And then later on in the race I did drop that, and I did become like, oh, no, we're doing okay, I was just trying to be positive, and when we were doing okay later on in the race, but by that time I had already pushed his buttons in the opposite direction. So I had really gotten on his nerves at that point, and we were not we were just arguing over stupid stuff, as was everybody. I mean, we were arguing with each other and everybody was arguing with the other teams, so it was kind of going around and around and around. I think the only people that didn't really argue to any real degree was Jon and Kris. Everybody else pretty much had it out and had meltdowns and cried and everything else.
AD: Gotcha. So, in terms of your relationshipI mean, obviously you talked about this on Dr. Phil and in other places, too, but, do you think you have a healthy, normal relationship? Or is it different than what other people might have?
VF: Well, I don't know about normal, because I think that Jon and I have un-normal lives in terms of what we do for a living, and where we live, and just being, you know, in and around the entertainment industry. It's not normal.
VF:In terms of healthy, I think we do have a healthy relationship because we understand each other, we're truly friends with each other, and Jon is really the sweetest guy. I mean, he's been really good to both me, my family. He's always there for me you know, emotionally. He's always taken care of me, in terms of, you know, if I've ever had a bad day, well, let's talk about what do you want to do about it, he's always there to help me solve my problems, and, you know, just whatever in that way he's always he's like my best friend, you know, he's always been my best friend since we met. I have a lot of girlfriends, but I'm definitely not as close with them as I am with him, and he understands me, and I think he really gets me, as I get him. And that's why we've been together, we've been able to stay together for so long, is that we truly understand each other, you know, at the core, and we accept each other for who we are. If something were to happen to him tomorrow, and he was not the same Jon as I know him now, I would still be with him. I'm with him because I care about him deep inside, as he does me. So, it's not a surface thing for us, like a lot of people in LA, it's very surface our relationship, it goes very deep. And I don't think a lot of people see that or understand that. Also, too, I'd also like to point out that when people are together a long timethis is by no excuse, you know, why we fight, butwhen people are together a long time, there's often a line that is crossed much easier than when you're newly dating, or it's only been a year. People that have been together a long time have a comfort level with each other, that if you say, oh, shut up, you know, it doesn't have as much relevance as two people that are first dating, say shut up, it's like, oh my god, I can't believe you said that to me. So I think being together a long time, I think that's a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that you get a little too comfortable, and I think that's what Jon and I saw in ourselves on the race. It was like, wow, we just really the lines blurred for us, in terms of you know, knowing when to not say certain things, and to draw a line for ourselves in the sand of where we don't want to go. And that's one of the lessons that we learned with each other is that, you know, we care about each other, we love each other, and we're in this for the long haul, but we don't necessarily have to push things, push the envelope with each other to that degree. And that was a real learning experience for both of us.
AD:Gotcha. My final question is something off of what you said on Dr. Phil the other night, which was about how you basically said that you can't really blame people for the judgments and/or the sort of way they perceive you after seeing the show, and that, I mean, that would include people like me who clearly write about the characters we saw on the show. I mean, how is that, dealing with what you see on TV and then how we're reacting to it and then your perception of who you actually are?
VF: The reason why I don't blame people is because if I was to just see that and not know the real people behind it, of course you're gonna form an opinion, that's all you have to form an opinion on. All the other racers on the show that we were on, you know, they saw Jon and I, they spent time with John and I, they all are friends with Jon and I. So if we were so bad, I don't thinkespecially John and Kris, or Don and MJ, or, you know, any of these people would want to spend any real time with us. We're always hanging out, we e.mail each other all the time, and we've been planning vacations and this type of thing, and I think if we were just really horrible people to be around that they wouldn't want us to be around. So that something to think about. The other part of your question, which was what was the second part?
AD: Just about what you see on TV versus what .
VF: Well, and that's the thing. For me, too, because you see stuff on we're not celebrities, but you see stuff on celebrities, and you see, you know, whatever it is they show oh, he's a cheat he's a this, he's a that, and then you're like, oh yeah. Well they all have their own lives, they all have their own things that are going on and what they must deal with must be awful because they're constantly under this scrutiny and probably they don't try to defend themselves as much, because they're like, they realize that it's just futile. You know, it's just not going to do any good. People are gonna think what they're gonna think. And, you know, you can take measures to try and prove yourself or redeem yourself or just try to win people over by showing who you really are and getting them to know who you really are. You know, the thing TAR Con, the fans put together and it's in New York and the racers go after they watch the final episode, you know, a lot of people were surprised that we showed up because, you know, on a lot of these web sites people have just horrible things to say about us I mean, horrible things, and I mean, stuff that some stuff I'm like, oh my god, they just really don't get it I mean, some of the things, like, where did they get this information from? It's so far from the truth. So, you know, we showed up because I really both of us really wanted to give the opportunity for people to at least speak to us one on one in person and ask their own questions and form their opinions from that, and not just what they see on reality TV.
AD: Mmhmm. And do you think that their impressions do change when they meet you?
VF: Well, I think some people's did. I mean, we got a lot of e.mails, but then a lot of those same people went back on their forums and snarked again. I think people really love to take the focus off their own flaws and themselves and we love to gossip, people love to gossip. I love to gossip, you love to gossip, everyone loves to gossip. Anybody can talk bad, trash someone else and, you know, build themselves up. It's always fun. I mean, I don't know what it is about the human race that we like to do that, but we all love to do it. And I don't blame people for that. Sometimes I just want to jump in and go, what are you talking about? That's not, you know, I'm not fifty years old, I haven't had a facelift. Some of this stuff is so outrageous I just want to jump in and go, what are you people thinking? But then I realize, you know, people say what they want to say, and they're always going to say what they want to say, and people hate Mother Teresa, so what are you gonna do? There's always people that are gonna dislike you and even some people who don't dislike us are still gonna jump on the bandwagon because they want to be part of a group that is going in this, you know, a majority rules. So, you know, that's always gonna be and that was a big lesson for me, that you can't make everybody love you, you know what I mean? I mean, you can't make everybody like you, and no matter what you do and what good you do, people are still gonna find fault in you, especially if we've already been cast in a bad light. They're gonna try and find the bad in you.
AD: Great. I think that covers everything that I wanted to ask about. Is there anything that you want to share, things that we don't know that you want to make sure that I know?
VF: I can't think of anything off the top of my head. You know, just that we care about each other and we are continuing to move forward in our lives with the opportunities that are come our way, which have been quite a few interesting opportunities. And, you know, we hope to make the best of them. And, I think what we ultimately hope to do is create a positive platform to do something good for humanity, for people, for charity, for whatever it is, just something positive. Always looking to do something positive.
AD: Okay, great. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. I appreciate it.
VF: No problem.
AD: Great. Have a great day.