Survivor's hunky James Clement

By admin
30 July 2010

He spends most of his time in Survivor: Micronesia with his shirt off but nobody complains because with his muscled arms and ripped torso James Clement looks right at home on the beach.

It has been almost three years since the 33-year-old gravedigger headed to the remote tropical island of Koror - straight after appearing in Survivor: China - yet the memories are as fresh as if it happened yesterday.

After all, there’s that intense flirtation with his sexy tribemate, Parvati Shallow, to think about. It started with a look. That soon led to a smile, then a hug, some giggling and lots of cuddling. Was their blossoming romance for real or part of an elaborate strategy?

“A bit of both,” James says with a laugh. He reckons he and Parvati are well suited because he’s not really a talker and she’s good at networking. “I know her game strategy and I need her to do the talking.”

He has been called the show’s gentle giant for his stature and nice-guy nature but James, who won $100 000 (about R750 000) as China’s favourite contestant, says the way the show is cut doesn’t give the full picture.

“You definitely don’t see the whole person. Look, I’m a nice guy. But if you mess me around I won’t be so nice to you. The show makes me look like a cream puff but I’ve only got half a halo.”

As the eldest of three siblings and the only boy it was a given that James would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a gravedigger. He grew up in the small town of Crowley, Louisiana, and helped his dad dig graves from the age of nine.

He also spent plenty of time outdoors. “We’d go into the woods and camp for a few days. It was like playing Survivor.”

While at University of Louisiana at Lafayette he befriended Kenward “Boo” Bernis, who years later came fifth in Survivor: Fiji. When it came time to cast contestants for Survivor: China Boo told the producers James was exactly the guy they were looking for: physically fit, good looking and with an unusual job.

Boo helped him make the audition tape and before he knew it James, who by then owned a burial service business and moonlighted as a bartender and security guard at nightclubs and weddings, was heading to China.

He’d been home about three weeks when the producers persuaded him to try his luck again and sign on for Survivor: Micronesia. James jumped at the chance, partly to redeem himself from what fans have dubbed one of the biggest blunders in Survivor history: not playing either of his two immunity idols at the tribal council at which he was voted out.

So does he fare better this time? James doesn’t want to spoil the fun by revealing whether he scoops the $1 million but hints that he does redeem himself. “I’m no longer the dumbest player in Survivor history.”

Life after two seasons of Survivor is back to normal for likeable James, who will also appear in Survivor’s 20th season, Heroes vs Villains. One major difference is he’s a minor celebrity in Lafayette, Louisiana. “When I go to work people wait outside and want to talk to me. Gravedigging is lonely work but now I have to be upfront and less in the back. I’m still getting used to that.”

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