Hearts of Reality 2019 – Part 2

Enlightening. My week at Hearts of Reality not only was incredible, but I learnt so much about the shows that I loved and about the people that played them. This is the second part of my experience at Hearts of Reality 2019. If you’re looking for Part 1, head to the Categories page, and click on the link to take you to the Hearts of Reality category!

DAY 2 – POOL PARTY

The day started with an imminent wait until the night’s pool party, the only event Mum and I were attending for the day at Hearts of Reality. This granted an opportunity to fill in much more shopping than what we had already completed. After spending a majority of the day out and about, I spent some of the remainder in the hotel completing some Uni work that I needed to get done, as well as watching some Australian Survivor that I had missed while being overseas. It’s safe to say I had a fair amount of work to get done when I would get home, but I persevered through it.

Meanwhile, the Reality stars spent the day at Discovery Cove, swimming with dolphins, and at Give Kids The World Village meeting the kids that the entire event’s proceeds would go to.

At roughly 10:00pm Friday night, the pool party was on at our hotel, and it was a chance to meet more people that I had missed on Thursday, and also interact further with those I had met. There’s a reason why I enjoyed the pool party only slightly more than the previous day’s events. Unlike Thursday, where I was meeting everyone for the first time, this night I just got to talk to people like we had been friends for years. It was such a lovely experience for both Mum and myself, and we really enjoyed the few hours this event lasted for.

Near the beginning of the event, Carolyn Rivera had joined us and we spoke for a while about little facts about her time on Survivor. We discussed what she would do with the future opportunity of her playing again. Her two radio talk shows. Previous Hearts of Reality events. Winning two individual Immunity Challenges as a 52 years-old woman, proving anyone can win those challenges, let-alone the game. The prize money and taxes, and what the final amount would be. Interesting to her, in Australia, we aren’t taxed on game show winnings, so the $500, 000 that Australian Survivor winners receive is a full sum, unlike the $1, 000, 000 in the U.S. Comparing the different ways of life between the U.S. and Australia enlightened both Mum and I, and Carolyn. Some other fans had joined our conversation, in and out, and Carolyn has an excellent way of speaking and informing others (given she’s an exceptional motivational speaker). I was already a hardcore Carolyn fan on Worlds Apart, but she was just amazing to talk to right here, right now. Yeah baby!

Eventually we had moved on, and I ran into a couple of other people along the way, that I had met prior. At one point, I noticed Bret LaBelle speaking on the phone (like a Skype/Facetime call) with none other than one of the greatest and most recognisable Survivor players there are, Rob Cesternino! For those that aren’t aware, Rob has catapulted the world of Survivor podcasts, with his own ‘Rob Has A Podcast’, or RHAP. Bret, amazingly, introduced us Aussies to Rob, and while it may have been incredibly brief, that was incredible because unlike everyone else at the event, it was a surprise to meet him and equally another exciting super fan moment.

While Mum and I were just standing somewhere, I noticed another favourite of mine that I had missed the chance to speak with, Tucker Ferguson, oh wait, sorry, Tyler Fredrickson (that one’s for you Bret, lol). At the time, Tyler (another Survivor: Worlds Apart alum) seemed like he was headed in a certain direction, like a man on a mission, and I felt bad for interrupting his journey to say hi. But wow, whatever Tyler had planned he abandoned because he so kindly spoke to us for a while discussing what he’s up to and what we’re doing here, all the way from Australia. Tyler said he didn’t attend many of the Reality events anymore, which is why it was so GREAT to meet him now, in case the opportunity never comes up again. Additionally, he introduced us to another Worlds Apart cast member, and fan favourite, Joe Anglim. I know Mum was really excited to meet Joe, but I also was so excited to meet the man as well.

Tyler also introduced us to Matt Bischoff (Survivor: Caramoan), and it was super interesting to learn that Tyler, Matt, and Max (yet another Survivor: Worlds Apart cast member) had all met during the casting process of Caramoan. Jonny Fairplay, who hosts a podcast with Matt, joined the conversation as well, and conversing with the three of them was really great. And having Tyler introduce us to two personal favs of Survivor was great! Thanks Tyler.

After the conversation dispersed, I had caught some small yet hilarious moments, like Jonny and Reem Daly playing ping pong/table tennis, and Mike Holloway dancing in the pool. Yeah, these guys are just like us. That’s awesome! I also spoke with Jillian Parker (Big Brother 19) again, about the event and how fun it had been and would be.

Later on, we found ourselves talking with Mike Zahalsky (Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers) and his wife, Bari, and once again learning things about the loved ones process was fantastic. When they fly out the loved ones, there’s one extra member that flies out but doesn’t make it onto the show, because their Survivor counterpart was voted out. For Bari, the news was delivered at a table where they were all sitting, and thankfully for her, Mike wasn’t voted out. Furthermore, the player voted out two Tribal Councils before the loved ones visit is only told the day before/of flying out to the Survivor location. That’s two people who are so close to hugging their nearest and dearest, but can’t, and additionally learn they didn’t make it to the end of Survivor. Certainly heartbreaking.

During the conversation, very recent Big Brother evictee (I’m talking two weeks prior) Kemi Fakunle had walked by, and Mike gave her some lovely words of advice about handling the post-show events. We also spoke with Jay Starrett (Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X) and how much he does for his mother and family. It was also incredible to learn that his sister is working on some great new technology for Youtube where you can move the video as it’s playing, like the 360 degree photo on Facebook. That’s pretty incredible.

Jeff Probst came into the conversation with Mike and Bari, and learning how much he interacts with the contestants. Mike saying that after the Reunion had finished, he had only spoken with two cast members backstage, Mike himself, and Chrissy Hofbeck. Carolyn eventually joined the conversation, and Survivor casting was discussed. Mum and Bari were talking together, but I was listening to Mike and Carolyn compare notes on the different casting finals and when they occur. Calls for future seasons. While I wasn’t directly in their conversation, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to what they had to say, like a spectator at a tennis match. I had nothing to contribute, I mean I didn’t even go on the show, but I LOVED hearing them talk about it.

At some point, I had moved over to talk with Jessica Lewis (Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X) and I met her husband, Ehren. A few people had come and gone in the conversation, but Aurora McCreary (Survivor: Edge of Extinction), Carolyn and Bret had all joined at some point, as we discussed various topics like their respective seasons, I’m sure Australian Survivor at some point, the forgive and forget mentality after the game, life outside of the show and more. Ehren snapped a pic of myself, Jess and Bret, but it doesn’t do the conversations justice at all. We had so much fun talking.

A few quick snaps with Survivor players at the Pool Party.
TOP ROW: Jessica Lewis & Bret LaBelle, Tyler Fredrickson.
BOTTOM ROW: Matt Bischoff, Joe Anglim & Sierra Dawn Thomas.

Bret introduced me to Sierra Dawn Thomas, fiancee to Joe and two-time Survivor player. He took a photo of Sierra, Joe and I, and Joe showcased his talent of accents, where I heard his imitation of Australian, New Zealand, Irish, Scottish (and probably more) accents. Apparently, some Americans have difficulty noticing the difference between Australian and New Zealand accents (sometimes we even get English as well). Of course, I can hear the difference completely. But conversely, I can’t tell the difference between Canadian and American, to which they responded, in shock, as if there was a clear difference to them. Pretty cool. Bret’s stories about visiting Australia and competing on both Survivor and The Amazing Race, were enlightening as well.

At some point, Mum was ready to retire as the night was dying down, but I kept going as I stayed up to talk with a few more people again. I spoke with Gabby Pascuzzi (Survivor: David vs Goliath) and David Alexander (Big Brother 21) again inside the hotel restaurant, and very briefly Rick Devens (Survivor: Edge of Extinction). I also met other fans, Mark Jansen from Big Brother 19 and Floyd Pierce from The Amazing Race 29 and 31. I was referred to as ‘Aussie’ by Mark, greatly accepting the nickname. I also spoke with Elena Davies (Big Brother 19) and Carl Boudreaux (Survivor: David vs Goliath), before the night closed for me and I headed back up to my room for probably the day I was most excited for, Saturday.

DAY 3 – BREAKFAST, AUTOGRAPHS & DECADES PARTY

I had trouble sleeping the night before. I knew why. I was too excited. At least I wasn’t tired, but damn I couldn’t wait to have breakfast with three Survivor greats. I managed to set up prior to the event, with Omar, a breakfast with Jessica Lewis, Carolyn Rivera, and Chrissy Hofbeck. And wow I couldn’t dream about how great it actually would be.

Wearing the Super Idol from Survivor: Heroes v Healers v Hustlers, thanks to Chrissy.

That morning, Mum and I were delighted to join the three ladies for breakfast at our hotel. I could barely eat anything though, excitement was through the roof. The chance to sit down and talk with these incredibly amazing Survivor players was… indescribable. Chrissy brought the Super Idol from her season, as she never used it and thus was able to bring it home with her. It was surprisingly pretty heavy and even Carolyn and Jessica were amazed at seeing it in front of them. I think I was the most floored though. I couldn’t believe I was holding a real idol from the actual show in my hand. It is still surreal. She told us the story behind it, and how another cast member believed it was fake, despite the authentic chain and look of it. Also, Chrissy didn’t originally find the idol, as it was given to her in a twist by fellow player Ryan. During the game, Ryan asked Chrissy, that because it could never be played and was therefore a souvenir, to give the idol back to him, since he found it, as he wanted to give it to his Mom. Chrissy however, equally a superfan of the show, rejected the exchange, as she noted on the note (that came with the idol), it said that the idol was “yours to keep”, yours being Chrissy. The move was made to be given to her, and she owned and possessed it, no offence to Ryan, but thank god she did, because otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here, with it around my neck and her telling us that story. Ah, incredible.

We shared so many stories together. Between Jessica, Carolyn, Chrissy, my Mum, and myself, there were so many aspects, layers and conversations about different Survivor events and experiences that were incredible to learn. I will share some of these amazing moments, but equally want to respect the magical moment of time that was encapsulated between the five of us by not divulging everything that was said.

Comparing each different Survivor journey, from auditoning, to finals, to playing, was fantastic for all five of us. The three ladies all are fans of the show too, and therefore have so much to learn and get excited about when someone else says something. I loved learning that Jessica’s audition tape was put together by her daughter, because for that season (Millennials vs Gen X), it was something that she said, “screamed Gen X-er”. And while I didn’t watch it myself, she was totally right! I can imagine casting putting together a theme as they choose the players and getting an audition video that wasn’t the standard one they had seen probably tens of hundreds of times. It’s a testament to why she cast, and a memory she’ll always appreciate and look back on. For Carolyn and Chrissy, slightly different stories. Both of them had been auditioning for years! Carolyn said she would constantly get asked for an additional video because the first one wouldn’t be good enough. Carolyn the person was a great character to join the show, but the video wasn’t enough to convey this. She got there in the end. Chrissy had also been auditioning for a long time, always being unsuccessful each time. Apparently, in one of the earlier years, she filmed a video that included saran wrap, and at her casting call for season 35, she and other auditionees were asked, “what’s your past Survivor audition stories?”. And she replied with, “one day I’ll tell you my saran wrap story”. Apparently the production team there turned to her and said, “THAT WAS YOU?”. They had been talking about this saran wrap video for years! And Chrissy hinted to us that when that happened, she had a good feeling she was going to get onto the show. Perfect.

Moving on from auditioning, we discussed pre-game requirements, like negotiating with production for the right clothes to wear. As, on Survivor, generally the players begin on a certain coloured tribe, and then again, production often wants the clothing of the player to reflect the story arc or theme created for said player. As we were talking, Jessica and Chrissy mentioned that they ask for ‘press clothing’, and that they were pretty aware that press clothing was anything but, and it would be the clothes they were actually wearing throughout the game. Then a tiny moment of silence swept the table as eyes turned on Carolyn who placed a big ‘L’ on her forehead with her hands. Telling us she’s the big loser, she was UNaware press clothing would actually be her in-game clothing, and had a lovely dress she wanted to wear for those press opportunities. When talking with casting director Lynne Spillman, she asked her when she would be sending photos of her in-game clothing, to which Lynne replied that she already had. Carolyn outright refused to wear the dress out in the game, and sorted the issue. Although had us cracking up right there at the table.

Carolyn wouldn’t shy away from a clothing crisis, as eventually she had to wear a yellow suit, to both reflect her tribe colour, yellow, and her tribe theme, white-collar workers. Telling us she’d NEVER wear a yellow suit, it was incredibly hysterical that Carolyn would be so unfortunate with just wearing comfortable clothing.

Any mishaps on Survivor? You wouldn’t think it, but Jessica told us a story about the first individual Immunity Challenge, where the players had to chain their hands, holding their arms up, to a giant bucket of coloured water that would fall if they moved too much. Jessica had gone in wanting to win, and purposely gripped her shoes onto the platform she was standing on to ensure she wouldn’t fall off. But once the Challenge commenced, instantly, almost all of the buckets had tipped over, before Jeff even said go. This was clearly a flaw in Challenge production, but for Jessica she was lucky enough to not have her bucket drop. But the Challenge had to be fixed and reset, and Jessica (along with the other players who still had their bucket intact), had to drop their bucket. They also had to shower, so it wasn’t obvious of the mistake given they were all doused in coloured water. This prevented Jessica from having the grip on her shoes, as they were now wet. And yes, she lost that Challenge (albeit she came in 2nd).

The Loved Ones visit was a topic of discussion, as Mum and I brought up some of the information given by Bari and Mike. Jessica’s husband was the loved one who had flown on location but didn’t get to attend because Jessica was eliminated from the game. For him, it was dreadful. But for Jessica, who had only learnt of it upon attending the following Tribal Council as a jury member, it was heartbreaking. She spoke with Jeff Probst following the Tribal Council, who approached her and told her he was sorry about her missing out on the visit. A kind gesture from Jeff, who may have used this experience with Jessica as a reason to NOW allow the loved ones that fly out, but miss the actual segment, visit their corresponding loved one at Ponderosa (where the jury members stay).

Chrissy was telling us that before going into the Challenge, she and her husband agreed they did not want to win. Because in Survivor, winning the Challenge and declining someone else from love can (and has been) detrimental to your personal game. Although in the moment Chrissy said all she wanted to do was win the Challenge to spend more time with him. Despite that, for a Survivor first, the Challenge was luck-based, in that both the player and the loved one would randomly draw either a black or white rock, and if they match, they stay in until everyone else is out. Of course, Chrissy wins, ruining her plan. For someone that had such an idea for how she wanted something to turn out, of course the Survivor Gods find a way to ruin it.

My ‘Survivor Moms’ Breakfast, with three incredible players from the show.
LEFT: Jessica Lewis and Carolyn Rivera.
RIGHT: Chrissy Hofbeck and (Mum) Michelle Simmonds.

And then I had a chance to share my own (future) Survivor story, where I divulged what I would do during a loved ones visit if ever in the situation. I don’t want to give away what exactly, but I personally have realised that if I’m in the majority alliance I DON’T want to win, but if in the minority and about to go home, maybe winning can save me by buying some loyalty. I explained to the three of them what exactly I would do with my Mum to let her know what situation I’m in and whether we wanted to win or not, and the girls loved it! I too have everything planned out from Day 0, haha.

Some more on me, that I feel like I’m obliged to share as I did at this breakfast. Everyday is like a Survivor Challenge to me. I’m not kidding. I’ve grabbed the red solo cups and stacked them upon each other, at 2 minute intervals, seeing how long, and how high, I can stack them in my very own home endurance test. I got to 10 too, and only stopped for the fact my arm couldn’t reach the top of the stack. Even throwing socks in the washing basket is a Survivor Challenge. If I miss, I’ll grab it and run back to the same spot I was in, hearing the shouting of Probst say “in and out” as it just misses again. And I don’t stop until I hear “Matthew wins Immunity!”. It might be an obsession, but I love this show so much that it’s constantly on my mind. I’m evaluating every situation and asking myself to turn it into an aspect of Survivor. Every damn day. And Carolyn, Jessica and Chrissy loved it! Chrissy leaned over and told me, “you have to get on this show”, and I’ll never forget those words. Hearing them from not only a Survivor player, but a prominent and one of my favourite Survivor players, it means so much. For years I’ve been in my own head saying I can do it and I would be great at it, so having Chrissy lean over and tell me I must get on the show, wow. Legendary.

All three noted how involved and invested I was with the entire Survivor cast, and how I began with Skype calls and asking what they said were in-depth questions, to where I am now sitting with the three of them, surrounded by so many more. Chrissy said there were about 15 fans that all of them get to know on social media and recognise and that I was one of them, that was just mind blowing (I’m running out of adjectives to describe how perfect it was). To know that both before and after Hearts of Reality, I’ve made any kind of impact on these people’s lives is insane to fathom. But equally sentimental to me, not as a fan, but just a person.

We had talked for hours, laughing and listening. It was just life changing. And Chrissy noted as we were wrapping up that we were one of the first breakfasts to sit down and begin (as other fans were eating with other players), but the last one to finish. And on that, the only reason why we stopped was because we all needed to get ready for the next event. We could have spoken even longer about anything and everything. So the breakfast was over but during it, Omar had come around and taken a polaroid photo of us at the table, now a forever keepsake I have stuck on my fridge in my Brisbane apartment. It’s something I always look at and smile about.

Fast forward a couple of hours and we’re at the Autograph signing of the event, where fans go around two rooms taking selfies and autographs from every person there. I’m so happy to say that I got a photo and autograph with everyone there. And I’ll share some small stories of the trip around the rooms.

Before the actual autographs, there were photo opportunities with the recently concluded seasons of Survivor and Big Brother as well as a pic with the Survivor winners in attendance. You can see all four below!

Professional Photo-Ops with four different groups of Reality TV.
TOP ROW: Cast of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Cast of Big Brother 20 and 21.
BOTTOM ROW: Group of Survivor Winners, Cast of Survivor: David vs Goliath.

Then once the signing had commenced, we started around the room with the hosts of NSFW podcast, Jonny Fairplay and Matt Bischoff, awesome as always. I met some more Survivor players I had missed previously, like Gina Crews, Tanya Vance, Sandy Burgin, and Survivor: Cagayan personal favourite, Jeremiah Wood! Not only was Jeremiah awesome on the show, he had some really kind words to say in the video I received from HoR last year, and I was extremely excited to meet him because of that! It was great then catching up with Leslie Nease and Donathan Hurley, whom I met on Thursday.

Selfies with multiple Survivor players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Jonny Fairplay, Matt Bischoff, Jeremiah Wood, Jessica ‘Sugar’ Kiper, Sandy Burgin.
BOTTOM ROW: Leslie Nease, Tanya Vanca, Gina Crews, Donathan Hurley.

I met some more recognisable faces from other shows outside BB and Survivor, including Mark Long (The Challenge), Deena Cortese Buckner (Jersey Shore), and Aaron & Steven (Naked and Afraid). A selfie with Big Brother legend Danielle Murphree was necessary, before meeting fellow Big Brother houseguests, Nick and Memphis.

Selfies with various Reality TV players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Mark Long, Steven Lee Hall Jr., Aaron Phillips, Deena Cortese Buckner.
BOTTOM ROW: Memphis Garrett, Danielle Murphree, Nick Starcevic.

Back to greeting Survivor folk, a trio of players from the third season (Survivor: Africa), were attending, and I snapped pics with each of them; Silas, Jessie and Carl. I had four new meet and greets with Survivor players Joe del Campo, Bruce Kanegai, Cole Medders, and Cristina Coria. And then I caught up with memorable Survivor players, Denise Martin and Abi-Maria Gomes. I loved meeting them Thursday, and just as much enjoyed the 20 seconds with them now.

Photos with several Survivor players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Cole Medders, Silas Gaither, Mum & Carl Bilancione, Jessie Camacho, Cristina Coria.
BOTTOM ROW: Abi-Maria Gomes, Bruce Kanegai, Denise Martin, Joe del Campo.

Side-by-side were breakfast legends Jessica and Chrissy, so of course grabbing their autographs and snapping a selfie with them each was paramount. Upon meeting two-time Survivor player Erik Reichenbach, who famously gave away Immunity before being voted out in his first season, I could not expect what would happen next. Erik had his Discovery Cove lanyard around his neck, and then proceeded to give it away to me, signing on it “FINAL 4 IMMUNITY”, signifying that he had given away Immunity to me. Epic. And in the moment it didn’t really hit what had happened. But Erik, the literal legend, gave his Immunity (lanyard) to me! This was a Survivor moment that is mentioned in almost every season. And it was happening to me. I am floored with excitement, and can’t thank Erik enough for that gesture. Wow.

Selfies with Survivor and The Amazing Race players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Jessica Lewis, Chrissy Hofbeck, Erik Reichenbach.
BOTTOM ROW: Jane Bright, Ray Housteau, Uchenna Agu.

Still reeling, I met Jane Bright (Survivor: Nicaragua) next, and then the legend Ray Housteau introduced me to another legend, who won his season of The Amazing Race, Uchenna Agu. I find it incredibly ironic that of the few season of TAR that I have watched, Ray was on the first and Uchenna happened to be joining the event this year. My luck: incredible. But both guys were incredible and I absolutely loved both of them on and off their seasons. This began the trend of The Amazing Race meet and greets, where I met Joey Covino and reunited with Floyd Pierce who I met last night, and Bret (the king) LaBelle who had just amazed both Mum and I for taking us in and being such a great guy to talk with.

Photos with The Amazing Race players at the Autograph Signing.
L to R: Floyd Pierce, Caite Upton, Bret LaBelle, Laura Pierson, Joey Covino.

Proceeding to Room 2 (yeah, I know, that’s only half). After met more TAR players, like Caite Upton and Laura Pierson. I had a Survivor: Ghost Island run where I caught up with Libby Vincek and Wendell Holland, and met Morgan Ricke and Stephanie Gonzalez, two women who I wish made it further into the game. Stephanie for a Second Chances season please! Three legends from Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X resurfaced, Figgy, Jay and Adam, who were all awesome just as they had been all weekend.

Selfies with multiple Survivor players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Wendell Holland, Morgan Ricke, Stephanie Gonzalez, Libby Vincek.
MIDDLE ROW: Adam Klein, Jessica ‘Figgy’ Figueroa, Jay Starrett.
BOTTOM ROW: Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson, Peih-Gee Law, Todd Herzog.

Troyzan Robertson, two-time Survivor player gave me a signed photo to add to my Survivor wall at home, but also a second one for Dad who loves the guy as well. Then this page’s featured photo was taken with Survivor: China winner Todd Herzog, and would-be-winner-if-things-were-different Peih-Gee Law! They held up their trading cards given earlier by another fan, just, awesome. Survivor: Worlds Apart was up next where I was reunited with the incredible Carolyn, who reminded us how awesome the breakfast just hours prior was. This followed with lovely encounters with Tyler, Mike, Sierra, and Joe, who all offered up some kind words about our visitation and me one day becoming a part of the family if I’m lucky enough to be cast for Australian Survivor. Meg Maley, who played Big Brother was great to meet again too!

Selfies with some of the cast of Survivor: Worlds Apart (and Big Brother 17) at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Joe Anglim, Sierra Dawn Thomas, Tyler Fredrickson.
BOTTOM ROW: Meg Maley, Mike Holloway, Carolyn Rivera.
Oh the irony, Aurora McCreary and Rick Devens pose for a photo, resembling the photo given to them to sign.

The Edge of Extinction group followed, as Chris, Rick, Aurora, Wendy and Reem were great to talk to again. I even picked up a perfectly ironic photo of a photo with Aurora and Rick. Survivor: David vs Goliath was next, as I met Davie Rickenbacker and Lyrsa Torres, and grabbed selfies with Elizabeth Olson and Gabby Pascuzzi, the latter of which told us her favourite Australian saying was, “cheers!”. A few more favourite re-encounters were with Carl Boudreaux, Jessica Peet and Dan Rengering, before we proceeded to meet the mass of Big Brother players.

Selfies with some of the cast of the most recently concluded Survivor seasons at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Wendy Diaz, Rick Devens, Aurora McCreary, Chris Underwood.
MIDDLE ROW: Reem Daly, Gabby Pascuzzi, Davie Rickenbacker, Elizabeth Olson.
BOTTOM ROW: Lyrsa Torres, Carl Boudreaux, Jessica Peet, Daniel Rengering.

I met Amanda Zuckerman, Josh Martinez, Johnny Mac and Steve Moses, all great to take a photo with. Then it was awesome to speak with (again) literally some favourites in Jillian Parker, Porsche Briggs, Mark Jansen, and Elena Davies, all reminding me why I like them because they’re just incredible.

Selfies with various Big Brother players at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: Josh Martinez, Porsche Briggs, Johnny Mac, Elena Davies.
BOTTOM ROW: Amanda Zuckerman, Mark Jansen, Jillian Parker, Steve Moses.

Big Brother 21 recent evictees, David, Sam, Kemi and Ovi were great to talk to again, but especially Bella who was extremely excited to see the Veto Necklace (a symbol of safety in the show) and featured me on her Instagram giving it to her. That was pretty special.

Finally, in the home stretch, Big Brother 20 players Rockstar (who I hope enjoyed the vegemite we gave her), Scottie, and JC. I finally met my two favourite players of the season, Tyler and Angela, who were incredibly thoughtful and appreciative of my support, and finally Kaycce, the winner and absolute legend all week, who echoed Tyler and Angela’s words. As we were wrapping up, Omar came up with the idea to get my Big Brother Veto signed, so I went back to Angela, Tyler and Kaycee, all of whom won the Veto a total of 10 times within the season, to sign the case the Veto comes in, finishing the autographs on a high note.

Selfies with some of the cast of last year’s and this year’s Big Brother at the Autograph Signing.
TOP ROW: David Alexander, Bella Wang, Sam Smith, Kemi Fakunle, Ovi Kabir.
BOTTOM ROW: Angela ‘Rockstar’ Lantry, JC Mounduix, Angela Rummans, Tyler Crispen, Kaycee Clark, Scottie Salton.

Well if you’ve made it thus far, I promise there’s only a little bit left. I think the fact there is so much to tell proves how incredible the week was and why it means so much to me.

Later in the night, the wrap-up Decades Party was on and it was the final chance to really catch up with all the amazing people who made the week so incredible. Watching Carolyn and Figgy RULE the karaoke was PERFECT. They are the duo I never knew I needed in my life. So much love for you both! Bruce offered up a shell from his season and signed it, giving me a piece from the beach of a season that aired when I was in Pre-School! I unexpectedly noticed one of the greatest Big Brother players ever, and a masterful genius on and off Twitter, Evel Dick hanging around, making an appearance at the tavern. Much like Rob Cesternino, I was almost star struck at seeing somebody I wasn’t expecting to see all weekend, much less a fantastic BB player. So of course, I got a photo to mark the occasion.

Photos taken with multiple Reality Stars at the Decades Party.
TOP ROW: Mandy Creatura, Davie Rickenbacker, Bret LaBelle, ‘Evel Dick’ Donato.
MIDDLE ROW: Bruce Kanegai, Peih-Gee Law & Jess Hermansen & Todd Herzog, Carolyn Rivera & Mum, Jessica ‘Figgy’ Figueroa.
BOTTOM ROW: Rick Devens, Elena Davies, Ehren Lewis & Jessica Lewis, Kaycee Clark.
Some candid photos of me talking with Bret LaBelle, Aurora McCreary, Jeremiah Wood (not pictured) and Peih-Gee Law.

I had long, long chats with Bret, where we discussed so many incredible things about his life and life on Survivor and The Amazing Race. At one point, Peih-Gee joined us, and in the moment it was fantastic just having a normal conversation with two Survivor players like we were old friends. This transpired to another long conversation with Aurora and Jeremiah, where I gained further audition advice from the former and how it’s important to just go for it and put everything on the table. Last opportunity photographs were taken with Rick, Carolyn, Jessica, Todd, Kaycee and more. And upon arriving at the hotel, it hit, that was Hearts of Reality, and it was a blast and so worth it. I lived out a dream. And I guarantee I’ll do it again.

POST-EVENT

There’s not much to say about what happened afterwards. In terms of the trip itself, Mum and I spent the next day at Disney World, and then flew home the following day. We had a fairly good flight back, and arriving at my apartment at 4:00am was surreal, but watching the sunrise was pretty special after such a momentous occasion just occured over the last few days. I also had some souvenirs collected, like the ‘Immunity necklace’, polaroid breakfast photo and Panama shell, but also signed photos and messages (thanks Angelina) and posters. They look great divided between my family home and Brisbane apartment.

Being able to talk to these players on social media is great, now knowing who I am and for me, gaining a closer insight into what they’re like and how awesome they are. But that’s not why I went. I went because I fell in love with Reality TV, and more specifically Survivor. I went because these people were invited to my living room for the last 8 years and allowed me to watch them play a crazy game. I has such an unforgettable experience, and it’s the highlight of an already fantastic year. Those bonds I have made sit in a special place in my heart. And I thank everyone there for being so hospitable and overall, amazing.

That’s my review of Hearts of Reality. I hope you enjoyed the long read. It still can’t describe the feeling I had for three days straight.


With Australian Survivor finishing this week, stay tuned for the next show to be reviewed hitting pretty close to home. If you’re enjoying the content on this blog, head to the home page and subscribe with your email to get posts sent straight to your inbox as they are released! Thanks for supporting me and my writing! I truly appreciate it!


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3 thoughts on “Hearts of Reality 2019 – Part 2

Add yours

  1. A fantastic read Matthew, really enjoyed it and what a terrific adventure those few days were in Florida for you and your Mum. You must still be buzzing with now having written of your experience and re living your time there

    Liked by 1 person

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