Alex Casey goes on a speed dating mission to get to know the beautiful brains behind the beautiful bodies of Heartbreak Island.
They were hottest people I had ever seen in my life, all skin tight dresses and sharp suits, hair coiffed and curled for the gods. Me? I was wearing pants that I had legitimately worn to bed the night before, a pilled grey jumper and my hair was in a mum bun despite not having even a whisker of a child to my name. My socks had pictures of hedgehogs on them and my nose eczema was flaring up big time. I was not Heartbreak Island, I was Fartbreak Island.
Despite all that, for half an hour last week, they were mine. Six of the 16 contestants vying for love, sex and magic (read: money) in TVNZ’s extremely horny new reality series had agreed to date me. They milled around the instagrammable Lula Inn in Auckland, talking to various media who all looked equally as beautiful and clean. Matty McLean was absolutely glowing. Brodie Kane was positively shimmering. I was definitively flaking. Before long, it was my turn to step up to the plate. What follows is my entire dating record with six of the Heartbreak Island contestants.
I dated Weiting for 10:09 minutes
“Can we not look mud?” Weiting said to the TVNZ publicist who was taking photos of our date. I asked her what that meant, she said she was worried the lighting was a bit too yellow. Weiting – “like waiting for a bus” – described herself as an old soul sucked into the modern dating world. “I am honestly an old school romantic. Even though this is modern day dating, I so believe in finding actual true love… and who wouldn’t with $100K on the line as well?”
Weiting is a professional harpist, a romantic comedy fiend and a cheese lover. She doesn’t have time for people who talk shit about reality TV. “Come on guys,” she said, addressing a mythical, mad audience, “we make your life. I love the drama. You guys love the drama. That’s the reason we are doing the show, that’s the reason people are watching the show.” She leaned back in her chair. “At the end of the day, someone’s gotta do it, and I will offer myself up if no-one else will.”
And just how much did she offer up? “Well, I walked into the experience saying I would never have sex on TV. You’re just going to have to wait and see what happens there.”
Favourite chip flavour: “The Works; bacon, cheese, everything. It’s like a cheeseburger in your mouth, a flavour explosion. Also Doritos. Oh my god, I love chips. Anything with cheese.”
Number of pillows: “I sleep with one but I don’t even need that to sleep. I mostly need something to cuddle though.”
Last book you read: “PS I Love You, don’t judge me.”
Last movie you saw: “Captain America, the last one. He’s a good guy.”
I dated Harry for 9:01 minutes
Harry sat down and immediately whipped open his blazer to show me “Hazza” embroidered on the lining. His other one says “Heartbreak”. Hazza Heartbreak has a lovely ring to it. “My dating record is absolute cactus”, said Hazza, who you might be able to tell is extremely Australian. “I’m hopeless, I’m down the drain and I need help. I got tagged in this thing on Facebook and I thought ‘look, if anyone can get me a decent girlfriend it’s probably an expert on a show like this.’ I can’t do it, I’m pathetic.”
How is that someone so young and attractive has been so unlucky in love? “No harm to them but it’s the girls. They’re crazy, they’re nuts. The girls I picked would be so intense, would break into my house and stalk me after hooking up with them two times.”
He then went on to tell me about the worst date he’s ever been on, which concluded with the touching phrase “weirdest handjob ever”. I asked if he knew what love was. “Love is such a foreign concept to me but, when I look at my dog, I know exactly what love is.”
Favourite flavour of chip: “Sour cream, an absolute dream. With chives, bring that on. “
Number of pillows: “Four, two between my legs.”
Last book read: “Some political speaker, I forgot who he was, who had really hectic points. Can’t remember his name but yeah, hectic.”
Last movie watched: “The latest Avengers one with the boys, that was hectic.”
I dated Gen for 8:07 minutes
Gen, or Gennady, stays awake at night worrying about all the stupid things she may have said on Heartbreak Island. “I’m a planner and I stress out constantly, my thoughts will go everywhere at night from ‘what way does the world spin?’ to ‘oh my god I forgot to bring the washing in’.”
An anxious gal after me own heart, Gen entered the show off the back of a break-up because she liked the odds compared to other romance franchises. “The Bachelor is like 20 girls and one guy it doesn’t really appeal to me. With Heartbreak Island there’s the element of the unknown.”
Working in construction by day, her non-Heartbreak life is very different to the bikini-wearing tan-having aesthetic you might see on TV. “I start work at 5 30 in the morning in my high vis vest, my hard hat and my steel caps. I’m far at both ends of the spectrum from day to night, a bit like Batman.” Casual question: what is the meaning of life? “To live it to the fullest. To party and have a really good time.” Anything else? “Oh, and go on Heartbreak Island.” Carpe diem indeed.
Favourite chip flavour: “Salt and vinegar with Kiwi Onion dip. I ate a whole bag last night.”
Number of pillows: “Eight. I like to be fully surrounded.”
Last book you read: “The one about not giving a fuck.”
Last movie you watched: The Kissing Booth on Netflix.
I dated Kristian for 13:05 minutes
Kristian didn’t have me at hello, but he did have me soon after at “I like your glasses.” The entrepreneur showed off his special little plastic grippy ring on the back of his phone, and offered it for me to try. I slipped it onto my ring finger. He didn’t seem to notice.
After passing up on a rowing scholarship to Harvard in his early 20s, Kristian seized the opportunity to go on Heartbreak Island, determined not to sleep on another sweet gig. “I was ignorant and let it pass me by, so now I run at opportunities full speed.”
Of all the contestants, Kristian gave the most surprising answers to my deep, probing questions. What keeps him awake at night? Reddit. All of it, apparently. “I especially love Photoshop battles and space. Anything to do with space, I just get sucked into a black hole. That’s my night gone.” What’s the meaning of life? “At its core, the meaning of life is to carry on your genes. If you look way back to single cell organism, their reproduction is why we’re here. Have some babies and have a good time. Don’t get caught up in the system.”
Favourite chip flavour: “Sea salt. Man of fine tastes.”
Number of pillows: “If it’s cold, I’ll go two and pull it down to create that extra layer of warmth.”
Last book you read: “Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. Puts the most complex and philosophical things into the simplest, most applicable context. Which is amazing. Good book, five stars.”
Last movie you watched: “Avengers: Infinity War. Last night I watched half of a terrible movie called The Kissing Booth. I regret it.”
I dated Ruby for 8:52 minutes
Ruby applied to Heartbreak Island as a joke, but quickly got a call wanting to know more. So she was only half-kidding when she said that she loved boys in Ugg boots. “I don’t know why I wrote that, I think it’s because I live in Dunedin and boys don’t really dress up there, so Ugg boots is them making an effort.” She won’t be watching the show with her parents. “I did say there were things I would never do on camera. Whether or not I stuck to that is a whole different story. I feel like you get so used to the cameras that you stop thinking about them.”
What I read between the lines is S-E-X, or at the very least a heavy dose of raunch that has already upset many folks on the internet. “It’s funny when people have so much time to comment on a show. Don’t watch it then. We’re putting ourselves out there and a lot people sitting at home wouldn’t put themselves up for an opportunity like this. It might be trashy and cringe sometimes, but you won’t get anywhere sitting on couch doing nothing.”
Favourite chip flavour: “I’ll eat anything. Not barbeque. Not ready salted.”
Number of pillows: “Two under my head, one for spooning, two more on my bed and three for decoration.”
Last book you read: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, so good.”
Last movie you watched: “I’m not a movie person. I probably can’t remember the last movie I watched.”
I dated Izzy for 9:04 minutes
Izzy, or Izaak, had the smiliest face of the lot, which was a good start. He also used the word “funky” roughly 400 times during our date, which was disarming in a way that I am yet to decipher as either good or bad.
First up, I wanted to know how he got so ripped for a show where he has to spend 70%-80% of the time shirtless. “It’s diet. It’s all about food, I think. I’m not the most cut person in the world but I know that food plays a big part of it. And the gym, obviously, but that’s a given. Also lots of green tea.”
Like almost all of the contestants, Izzy was coy about the raunch factor on the show. “Steamy would be an understatement, to be honest. I think it’s going to be very, very… funky.” There’s that word again. “I said to myself that I wouldn’t do a whole bunch of things on camera and let’s just say I ended up having up having a lot of fun.” It’s all funky fun in Izzy’s world, but what keeps him awake at night? “Positive stuff usually. Aspirations. Thinking about all the good that will happen to me tomorrow and the next week.” Can’t relate.
Favourite chip flavour: “Thai sweet chilli Doritos, amazing. Yum.”
Number of pillows: “At least four pillows minimum, six maximum.”
Last book you read: “The Harry Potters, I went back through them all. Still good.”
Last movie you watched: “Molly’s Game. About casinos and illegal dealing and stuff like that.”
Heartbreak Island begins on TVNZ2 tonight at 7.30pm.
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