The 48-year-old retired New York police officer who worked as a morgue detective for 20 years, Caruso retired with honors from the mayor and police commissioner. Now he lives in the Forest Hills section of Queens.
Well, actually, he’s currently living on an island in the South Pacific with a whole load of other castaways. He calls himself a daddy bear.
“I’m older, wiser, and cuter. No, just kidding — I’m not cuter,” he joked.
That he is a hunky, hairy gay guy probably won’t do his popularity any damage at all with the public. But how will his tribe, Savaii, feel about him as they struggle through Survivor: South Pacific?
Caruso gave The Advocate a revealing interview ahead of tonight’s episode. In it he revealed how he sees Survivor as less of a game and more of a life experience. He feels “blessed” to have been selected, even though he watched the show for many years and saw the deprivations!
But it was watching the show during lunch hours after the 9/11 and American Flight 587 disasters, and the months that followed, that truly helped to distract Mark during the tough months when we were assigned to the Manhattan morgue.
He has been an openly gay police officer for several years, way before it was accepted, so he is a tough guy. He was keen to show other members of his Survivor South Pacific tribe that gay people are like any other people.
“We can be police officers, strong men, and even compete on Survivor,” he said.
Despite being strong, he says that working as a New York City detective on 12-hour shifts assigned to the morgue at the time of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath still haunts him.
“I still remember certain victims and families to this very day, and sometimes even certain songs or images bring me right back to that horrific day,” he said.
He says he is proud to identify myself as being a new bear in the gay community. It seems more and more straight people are getting the concept of the bear community, although many don’t really understand what it means. But I’m liking his rugged masculinity, aren’t you?
Has Mark Caruso got what it takes to win Survivor South Pacific?