Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Gay SF gardener returning to TV show ‘Survivor’ in 2017

SF resident Tai Trang (Courtesy CBS)

SF resident Tai Trang (Courtesy CBS  Entertainment)

At the end of Wednesday night’s finale of the latest season of Survivor it was confirmed that Tai Trang, a gay San Francisco resident, would be returning for the long-running TV show’s 34th season next spring.

Trang, 52, a gardener for the Port of San Francisco, was a fan favorite of the 32nd installment of the show, Survivor: Kaoh Rong, which was played on the islands of Cambodia and aired in the spring. He ended up in third place but was surprised with a $50,000 reward from the singer Sia during the finale.

She also announced she would donate $50,000 to an animal rights charity of Trang’s choosing. A vegetarian, Trang had protected a chicken he named Mark from the boiling pot during the show and brought it to the last tribal council of the season.

The next season of the show has been dubbed Survivor Game Changers — the Mamanuca Islands. All of the 20-person cast are returning players who helped advance the game play on the show, which pits groups of tribes against each other at first and then becomes every person for themselves until only one person is left and wins $1 million.

After a preview of the new season was shown Wednesday night at the end of the finale show for the 33rd season – which can be viewed here – Trang joined the host Jeff Probst and several of the other returning players on stage at CBS Studios in Los Angeles.

Filming of the 34th season took place over the summer on the islands of Fiji, where the fall season also was located. In May fan sites for the show first reported that Trang would start off on the 10-person Nuku Tribe along with another cast member from his first season, Debbie Wanner.

On the competing 10-member Mana Tribe will be two other castaways from Kaoh Rong: Caleb Reynolds, whose wedding earlier this year Trang attended, and Aubry Bracco, who came in second place, according to fan sites of the show. In an August 1 posting to his Facebook fan page, Trang hinted about his being away to tape the show this summer.

“Hey Everyone. sorry I was so busy the last couple months and not able to do any social media stuff but now i am back,” he wrote.

As he explained in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter in April, Trang’s being on Survivor was somewhat of a fluke. In the summer of 2014, he and his partner, Mark Philpot, 56, who works as a nurse in the Tenderloin for the city’s public health department, had applied to be contestants on another CBS competition show, The Amazing Race.

Although the couple wasn’t picked, Trang caught the eye of a casting director, who recommended he think about applying for Survivor. He sent in an audition tape, was picked, and left in March of last year to tape the show.

Because of his being selected to return for another season on Survivor, Trang missed this June’s AIDS/LifeCycle that benefits the Los Angeles LGBT Community Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which he had told the B.A.R. he planned to ride in again. Trang has been a participant of the fundraiser the past 13 years and “has raised an incredible $71,292,” according to event officials.

The next Survivor season will debut at 8 p.m. March 8.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 16, 2016 @ 4:03 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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