Helen Glover braved the wilds of Thailand and lived to tell the tale.
Glover, who came in fourth place on the 2002 reality television series “Survivor: Thailand,” spoke at a Morse College Master’s Tea Tuesday. She discussed the “Survivor” application process and her impressions of Thailand, as well as the profound change she felt after competing on the show.
Glover, a U.S. Navy water survival instructor, said she considers “Survivor” the best reality show on television. But she said it is not truly reality.
“My friends who helped me make my silly audition tape shipped out for Afghanistan,” she said. “That to me is reality — Nobody is trying to kill me, and in the end, I [was able to] go home.”
She said she filled out an application for the television show as a joke. In response to a question about what she would bring with her on “Survivor,” she said she answered Mel Gibson.”
“And don’t you think I wasn’t afraid they would bring him out at some time during the show,” Glover said.
Glover said 65,000 people applied to become contestants on the show. Ultimately, she was chosen as one of the 16 contestants. She said she was forbidden to tell anyone that she had been chosen to participate, and her family was forced to sign $10 million hush contracts. In addition, she was forced to come up with an alibi for being away for 37 days.
Once they arrived in Thailand, she said, contestants were given a quick training course, which included how to boil rice in a bamboo tube. On the actual show, they were given neither rice nor bamboo. Glover lived solely off boiled leaves, water and little bits of coconut. She ultimately lost 30 pounds, she said.
“Hunger is something I don’t ever want to feel again,” she said. “It is an intense pain. You can’t focus.”
Glover also discussed life under the cameras’ gaze. The survivors were told to ignore the cameras, she said. But when she constantly turned her face away, she said, the show’s producers took her aside to “explain nicely that they were filming a show.”
Glover said producers did a fairly accurate job of portraying contestants’ characters. She said she was portrayed as a “psycho-recipe nut.”
“[But the way] you saw me on the show — that’s basically who I am,” she said.
In the end, Glover said she considers “Survivor” a “life changing experience” and has admiration for people who “go through something [of the ‘Survivor’ nature] and don’t come out with a paycheck in the end.”
Glover herself won $80,000.
Glover said her competitive streak served her well on the show.
“Had they told me ‘we lost all the money and are just playing for the honor of winner,’ I would have still played,” she said.
After “Survivor,” Glover returned to her job and began touring as a speaker.
In the question-and-answer period that followed Glover’s speech, some audience members revealed themselves to be “Survivor” fanatics.
Mary Elizabeth Rehm ’06 said she has watched every “Survivor” season. She said she considered Thailand the worst “Survivor” because “the people who won shouldn’t have.”
“Helen got jacked on the show,” Rehm said. “I really wanted her to win, and I wanted to meet her.”
David Dubick ’06 said he enjoyed the talk.
“She’s a fascinating person,” he said. “I thought she was very articulate.”
Glover lives in Middletown, R.I., with her husband and three children. She said she is good friends with the family of Richard Hatch, the first “Survivor” champion, who is also from Middletown.
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