UTOPIA: Red on His Elimination, His Time on the Show, and Who He'll Miss - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

UTOPIA: Red on His Elimination, His Time on the Show, and Who He’ll Miss

October 6, 2014 by  


UTOPIA has lost a number of participants in its first five weeks of filming (due to injuries, breaking rules, and opting out), but the contestants finally had control over an exit when they had the chance to vote out the show’s first contestant in Friday’s episode…and handyman, Red Vanwinkle was the first person who got the boot.

I spoke with Vanwinkle about his time on the show, his decision to separate himself from the group, and more…

You were open about missing your family, and the other UTOPIA participants actually granted you the first visitors because of it. What was the most difficult part about being away from your family for this experience?
Red Vanwinkle: You just didn’t know what was going on at the home front. You didn’t never know if there was trouble or how hard their day was, or their great accomplishments. Or my son’s birthday, his 18th birthday. There was a lot of hard things with being gone, away from the family, and your day-to-day life, and so forth.

You went in with the assumption that there would be 15 participants, but it took a while for the cast to stabilize and for you guys to get there. What was it like for your mindset to be losing so many people early on?
RV: I hated to see Dave and the preacher go. Those two things affected my morale base in UTOPIA. Those two were my go-to guys. And I think if those two had been able to last longer, we could have gotten to UTOPIA more on an individual freedom rights, and more on a straight-and-narrow path than what it’s on now.

Do you have any regrets about your time on the show?
RV: I regret getting injured. Wish I had take a little more care to not get an injury. But it happens. You have to take the good with the bad, and at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade this experience at all.

What do you feel your biggest contribution was?
RV: Well, I made several contributions to UTOPIA. I help bring the farm back into line, such as [taking care of the] cattles and chickens, they can keep it lined or let it slide back, I have no control over that now. But I know I did that. I brought in some food for the group with the hunt. Also made sure we had the ability to do the infrastructure. I was able to wire up the electrical work that needed to be done so we could turn on the power. So I made quite a bit of contributions in my opinion, and without me, I think their lives would have been a whole lot harder. I gave generously throughout. I hope I led by kindness and generosity, but I don’t know if it’s quite sunk in yet. Sometimes people miss things when they don’t have it anymore, more than when they actually had it.

In hindsight, do you still feel it was the right move to separate yourself from the group?
RV: Oh, yes, definitely, I definitely made the right call to separate myself from the group. The simple fact that I needed to for my health reasons, and the fact that I showed independence to make it to the point where some of them were even envious that I had more money than they did. I mean, it just showed that an individual can not only survive, but proper.

And before I left, I actually heard a couple of other individuals had been talking about possibly removing their portion of money from the group.

Of the people remaining, who will you miss the most?
RV: Probably Doc. She has a good heart. I think she’s a little naive. I fear she’s not going to fare so well in there. But she signed up for it, so I guess everyone will have to tune in and find out the adventures she has.

Are there any people you hope to maintain relationships with outside of UTOPIA?
RV: I’ve already reached out to Preacher and Dave, and we’re going to have a meet-up in Tennessee at Preacher’s church, so I’ve already done that. Maybe Doc, and maybe a couple of others. But aside from that, the simple fact of lifestyles and such, we’re just not the same, and they’re not people I’d associate with in my every day life.

Will you watch the series or livestreams now that you’re out?
RV: I may pop in from time to time to see how it’s going and how everyone is doing. I don’t normally watch a whole lot of TV or video online, or so forth. I do a lot of working and keeping myself busy that way. But yeah, I’ll be sure to pop in and check on things from time to time.

Have you had time to see what the reaction to UTOPIA has been?
I have [recently] gotten on my social media sites and seen so many well-wishes and so forth, and fan support which was great and amazing to see. But other than that, I haven’t seen episodes. I do have a friend of mine who has kept them recorded for me. And I have people who have offered to let me know what was going on minute-by-minute. So I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of that. But right now, I have very minimal exposure to what has been perceived by the outside world.

The UTOPIA compound was really beautiful. Is there a spot in there you’ll miss the most?
RV: I enjoyed the whole area, and the peaceful of the individual spots. It wasn’t the spot itself, because the whole place was beautiful. It was more about whether it was quiet and peaceful in that spot and who was hanging out in that spot. That’s what I enjoyed. The whole place was beautiful. I don’t think there was any particular spot I’m going to miss.

As you were leaving UTOPIA and you walked out of those gates, what was going through your mind?
RV: Excitement to contact my wife. Somewhat concerned about a couple of UTOPIAns who will still be in there. And trying to figure out how it’s all going to work. Relief, somewhat, due to the fact that I won’t have to worry about the cleanliness of the environment since my finger had just had surgery on it. There was some relief, there was some concern, and there was some happiness to go along with it. All in all, there was a lot of emotion, and it was an exciting night!

UTOPIA airs Fridays at 8 PM on Fox.


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UTOPIA Narrator Dan Piraro on the Show’s Pacing
‘We Have Thoughts’ Vodcast: Danielle and Marisa Talk UTOPIA

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