Hatch grins and bares it to his fellow castaways


Friday, July 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


The Newport resident, who survived another week on the CBS show, says he wasn't embarrassed at all about undressing for the heat.

By ANDY SMITH

Journal Television Writer

Middletown corporate trainer Richard Hatch has had plenty of exposure thanks to the hit CBS series Survivor . He got even more last night, as the cameras showed him walking around naked -- body parts discreetly blurred -- on the tropical island of Pulau Tiga.

"I was naked a lot of time on the island; they've finally gotten around to showing it," Hatch revealed, now that he's back in Rhode Island. "I'm not embarrassed about it at all. Not in the slightest."

On the show, Hatch said he probably should have gone naked even more often, considering the heat on the island near Borneo where the show marooned its contestants.

His fellow castaways, though, didn't appreciate Hatch's personal air conditioning.

"Immature," said Sean Kenniff, a neurologist from Long Island. "He's grandstanding, walking around naked on national television."

Each episode of the show sees one contestant voted off the island. The last one remaining wins $1 million.

So far, the castaways have been divided into two "tribes" -- Tagi and Pagong -- which live separately and compete against each other. Next week, though, they'll be combined into a single group.

"We're on the verge of the merge," Hatch said, and as usual, he was plotting his next move.

Hatch had already formed an impromptu alliance with blunt Wisconsin truck driver Susan Hatch and Nevada river guide Kelly Wiglesworth. Now he enticed former Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch to join them.

"Tell me what option you have, Rudy?" he asked the 72-year-old Boesch.

But before the tribes could merge, one more contestant had to be voted off.

After the Pagong tribe lost its "immunity challenge" -- an obstacle course set up by some Green Berets imported for the occasion -- it was Arkansas salesman Joel Klug's turn to head back to civilization.

Klug had irritated Pagong's women with his condescending manner, which they considered sexist. Oddly enough, it was Philadelphia basketball coach Gervase Peterson who remarked that "women are the stupidest thing on the planet next to cows."

Peterson's continued survival is one of the mysteries of Pulau Tiga. After all, he actually boasted how lazy he is. "Charm and personality," Peterson declared, are the keys to his success.

Hatch, of course, knows what ultimately happened on the island, a secret jealously guarded by CBS. But he hasn't previously seen the Survivor episodes, which he watches along with everyone else.

"They've done a great job; they really capture what I was thinking at the time," Hatch said. "I'm surprised by how much I like it."

And he has his own theory why Survivor has become so popular.

"It shows what goes on in people's heads in every office in the country, people saying one thing to someone's face and something else behind their back," he said. "That's why it's drawing people to it. It's not voyeurism or anything like that. It's getting at the truth of how things are."

Last weekend, Hatch reunited in Rhode Island with one of his fellow castaways, Gretchen Cordy of Tennessee. (Cordy has family here.)

"We went to lunch, we hung around the pool, we had a great time together," Hatch said.

Back on the island, Hatch and Cordy are still in two separate tribes. Do they survive long enough to become friends?

"Well, you'll just have to wait and see," Hatch said.

But if you can't wait, check out the Web site http://www.survivorsucks.com/, which so far has made some very accurate predictions.