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'Survivor': Shambo dishes on Russell, the chickens and her infamous mullet

December 19, 2009 | 10:47 am

98164_D4937 Shannon "Shambo" Waters, a former chef in the Marine Corps from Renton, Wash., quickly became a fan favorite on this season of "Survivor." With her infamous mullet, Shambo nearly made it to the end of the game after aligning with ringleader Russell. In an interview Friday, Shambo discussed the origin of her unique hairstyle, how much weight she lost on the island and why she was OK with being voted off early.

Let's talk about your hair. How long have you rocked this style?

The baby Shambo mullet started growing out back in 1984 when I was 26. It was due to the fact that I was a chef most of my life and a cook in the Marines Corp. I had it long in the back so I could feel the wind in my hair when I was riding a motorcycle and flip it under my cap when I was cooking.

It seemed hard to maintain on Samoa.

I didn't wash it. I would wet it down and run my fingers through my curls and build a fire to try to keep it at bay. 

Why do you think Galu disliked you so much?

It's not necessarily as seen on TV. I created a sense of alienation because I built the Shambo Shack.

What's that?

The hut that I built that I lived in, and at the merge I built on to it and that's where Russ lived. I alienated myself because I needed somewhere dry and warm to sleep and I couldn't sleep on bamboo. So on the third day, I built that shack. We called it "The Porch."

So you alienated yourself, and the tribe got mad?

Well, on Day One, Laura said she just thought I was socially inept, or whatever he verbiage was. She aligned herself with different people. You've got two strong women, and we just didn't hit it off on Day One and never really looked back from there.

Why did you decide to flip and immediately align with Russell?

It was a matter of circumstance. When Galu decided to vote Erik off, they clearly made the choice to divide the tribe. I don't think John was real happy with that decision. I know Brett wasn't happy with that decision. You got John, you got Brett, and me and Foa Foa. That's numbers. So you align with who you have to.

But why Russell? You two seemed close.

I think they went to great lengths to not make it seem like that on TV. Not once did they show us on film together.

You hung out all the time?

We did absolutely everything together.

So then you know him well -- is he really a millionaire?

I don't know, baby, you're gonna have to ask him. I don't know what of what he told me was true. We haven't spoken since the game ended five months ago. 

Did it hurt you to see Russell talking to other players about how annoying he found you?

It wasn't hard to watch at all, because he's playing a game. The guy said he was a liar. He'd lie to anybody. By pointing the finger at anybody else, it put the attention off of him. As far as hiding bananas in my hair, I wish I could have. I was starving.

Speaking of food -- the chickens. You had a special relationship with them.

I was responsible for the chickens because Russ appointed me to be. I said I had worked with chickens a little bit, but it's not like I'm some chicken whisperer. At one point, the chickens were almost dead -- nobody fed them for three days. I was absolutely devastated because it was inhumane, and nothing [irritates] me off more than that. I was just glad they didn't show me broken down crying on the beach when they finally killed them. Those chickens were always really happy to see me. They'd do their little clucky clucky walk and talk to me when I took them out of their pen -- I nurtured them.

How do you always remain so positive? Even when you were voted off, you said you understood why Foa Foa stuck together.

It was what was right. Those guys stuck together for 36 days. To watch our tribe implode on itself ... everybody wants to say that I was Judas and I was disloyal, but it was just a crock.... They were the ones that were disloyal. It was refreshing to me that those guys stuck together. It meant I didn't get to stay in the game another day, but I respected them.

At the end of the day, was "Survivor" what you expected?

It was way, way worse than I could possibly imagine. We went days without water and weeks without food. In three days, I would literally eat half an ounce. I lost 30 pounds in 36 days. When I got home, my kidneys were shut down and I was on a liquid diet for four weeks.

You seem like a fan favorite. What's it been like at home?

Its absolutely, positively overwhelming. I went to a huge fair after the show first aired and I had hundreds of people who wanted pictures with me and now it's been an onslaught from there. Some days it's challenging, because I work in outside sales, selling restaurant equipment, and if I walk into lunch at a restaurant, it's on, dude. People are coming at me and screaming "Shambo, oh my God!" like they saw Elvis or something. It's just TV, dude. But I'm really, really happy to see them. It's a freakin' happy fest on the Shambo mullet.

--Amy Kaufman (follow me on Twitter @AmyKinLA)

Photo: Shannon "Shambo" Waters made it to the final six on this season of "Survivor." Credit: CBS.

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