Survivor Alum Cochran Interviews Second Eliminated Vince Sly: He digs and gets all the answers we want

Posted on Mar 5, 2015 | 01:40pm
John Cochran, simply known as "Cochran" to Survivor fans, competed on the show during Season 23 and walked away as Sole Survivor on Season 26. After the most recent castaway Vince Sly had his torch snuffed by Jeff Probst, Cochran sat down with the free-spirited castaway to touch on the topics we've all been scratching our heads about. Read on to hear how the interview played out.


Perhaps more than anyone else on this cast, coconut vendor Vince Sly truly embodied the spirit of the 30th season’s collar-based twist.  Between his penetrating gaze, his passion for 10-second embraces, and his golden locks (which doubled as a beautiful aviary), Vince was the prototypical No-Collar bohemian.  I had the chance to talk to Vince following his shocking blindside, and asked him all about his ill-fated relationship with Jenn, his rivalry with Joe, and — per your request — his feathers.

Cochran: When I found out I’d have the opportunity to speak with you, I asked my Twitter followers what question they most wanted answered, and the results were overwhelming.  Virtually everyone wants to know… what’s with the feathers?

Vince: As much as “Survivor” fans would like me to say the feathers are because of Coach (Benjamin Wade), I didn’t even know Coach wore feathers in his hair.  It really has to do with when I hold ceremonies in sweat lodges and various powwow events — you use feathers to breathe life into fire, and sometimes some of those feathers happen to find themselves in my hair during dance performances. It’s about the cross-flow between the holding space for spiritual experience and the performance art aspect.  When I found out I’d be on “Survivor,” I researched what the native tribes in that area wore; if they incorporated bird spirits, I found feathers relating to the local tribes, and wore them as a way of honoring them.  They’re also just pretty.

Cochran: Watching last night, I was actually fully on-board with your strategy; I thought taking advantage of the other alliance’s split vote was the way to go, and—

Vince: You want to know why they split the vote?  I realized the “Barbie Box” alliance, as I called them, had started to isolate themselves.  It had nothing to do with jealousy of Joe or a crush on Jenn— what was going on was it was clear there was going to be a power struggle between us, so I started planting the seed of a hidden immunity idol.  I suggested that there might be another hidden idol; by Day Three, the other alliance all thought Nina had one.  Nina even said she had one.  So I gave Nina a piece of fabric and wrapped it up so that it looked like she had an immunity idol.  That’s why they insisted on splitting the vote.

Cochran: Right before Tribal Council, you seemed pretty well-positioned; you, Will, and Nina were going to be able to control the vote and send home Jenn.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, Nina had a conversation with Will that seemed to cause some paranoia and inspire him to change his vote.  The rest is history.  Who do you blame more for what went down? 

Vince: The thing is, in the days leading up to that Tribal Council, everything for Will had been building up to “Can I really trust Vince?”  I’d been having trouble sleeping because Will was snoring so loud, and we were both emotionally slipping somewhat.  There’s lots of stress during the first few days, and anything suggested to you is going to ring in your head for a while.  So, watching Nina talk to Will about my concerns for his health right before Tribal Council, all I could do was sit there and think “Not the best time, Nina.  Not the best time.”

Cochran: We saw a lot of what looked like a sort of rivalry between you and Joe, which really culminated with you confronting him and asking him to admit that he’d been overbearing and imposing his will on the rest of the tribe.  What did you hope to gain strategically by having that sort of discussion?

Vince: That conversation took place right before Tribal Council. It was my quirky, subversive way of saying to Joe “I’m willing to work with you.”  I was thinking, if the vote goes my way, I want to be able to settle things with Joe and actually work with him.  With Jenn gone, the power would have shifted completely away from Joe and his group, so I was trying to lay the groundwork for working together after Tribal Council.  

Cochran: At the beginning of the game, it seemed like there was the possibility of a strategic partnership between you and Jenn, but things went south pretty quickly.  Where did your relationship with Jenn go wrong?

Vince: The first interaction I had with Jenn made it seem like she was someone I would want to work with.  Jenn was game-savvy, and savvy with people.  If we got to the merge together, she seemed like the sort of person who could get in good with people.  I wanted one person I’d be able to confide in and fully anchor myself to.  Nina didn’t seem like that person at first, and neither did Joe — he had too much of that young man bravado; it wouldn’t have been an equal working relationship.  Hali was just a deer in headlights.  So on that first day, Jenn and I talked in the water for a very long time, and things looked promising.  By Day Two or Three, however, it had completely shifted to the “Joe Show.”  I tried to work with Joe — I made an attempt to create a harmony or cohesion, but it didn’t work.  So by Day Three it was over.

Cochran: In your final words, you expressed an appreciation for your experience and congratulated your opponents on a job well done.  But there have to some regrets—if you could go back and change one action, conversation, or moment from your game, what would it be?

Vince: I remember I had a conversation with Will where I kind of slipped up — I was in a crazed mood — and told Will that “The ‘Joe Show’ has got to end; I’ll even throw a challenge to get rid of him.”  I could see Will panic a little when I mentioned that, so I would take back that conversation.

Cochran: Nina clearly felt hurt by Hali and Jenn’s treatment of her.  What’s your take on what happened?  Did it seem like disrespect, or did you feel like Nina was being too sensitive?

Vince: I think it was more a lack of awareness on the part of Hali and Jenn — they lack the requisite patience to learn how to communicate with Nina effectively.  You had to speak directly to Nina — like if there was a wave in the background.  So those girls I think just lacked the experience that comes with age that would allow them to communicate well with her.    

Watch Survivor Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.