New year, new “Bachelor.” The ABC
epic fail hit dating show explodes onto the screen on Jan. 2., and California winemaker Ben Flajnik takes the baton for its sweet 16th season! Are you ready for the love fermentation to begin?
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, the 28-year old reluctant reality star opened up about his experience, how he feels now about “Bachelorette” Ashley Herbert—as well as Jennifer Love Hewitt—and his bootilicious exposure on the beach.
Did you find love?
I obviously can’t tell you that, but I’m happy with my decision in doing the show.
What was your favorite date of the season?
I can’t reveal too much. But you know how [the dates] are—they’re all kinda over the top and outlandish. But I found the ones to be the most normal…the closest to everyday life…to be my favorite.
Looking back, were you really in love with Ashley H., or were you just caught up in the moment?
I had genuine feelings for Ashley. I think my self-discovery was something I didn’t expect, and Ashley was there for support and helped me get through all of that, so I don’t take anything away from that.
Did Ash’s rejection have an impact on you going into the show?
I don’t know if I was hesitant, but I said to production before I went on that I’m not going on the show to propose. If it so happens I meet someone that strikes that chord, it’s a strong possibility. I was still open to it going into the experience.
Preview The New Season:
Often times, viewers end up rooting for the runners-up and then railing on them when they become the Bachelors and Bachelorettes the following seasons. How did you maintain your integrity during the process so that we liked you as much as we did on the “Bachelorette”?
You hate me?! No, but I understand. I think there’s always going to be critics no matter what decision I make. It doesn’t really get under my skin. I’m such a laid back dude, anyway. That’s part of the experience, really.
After going through the same process as Ashley did, do you understand how it’s possible to fall in love with more than one person like she did?
Yeah, I do. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my entire life. You’re always thinking about…each individual relationship, where it’s going, where it’s not going—it’s difficult.
Rumor has it that the producers surprised you with an ex-girlfriend coming on the show. Do you think it’s fair that they do things like that to you?
Those are difficult moments, difficult situations to be put in, [but] I understand it’s part of the show and what I signed up for. It helps kind of exercise relationships and everything that’s encompassing of that, and I understand that now.
What qualities were you looking for in a woman, and did that change as you were going through the process on the show?
No, I kinda stuck to my guns in what I was looking for. It’s important for me to be with someone who’s well-rounded, cultured, and flexible. My life is very sporadic. I’m in the wine industry, and no two days are the same.
What were you thinking when the senior citizen popped out of the limo on the first night?
Drop dead gorgeous. A beautiful semi-older woman.
Did you take her seriously?
I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
See Who’s Madly In Love With Ben:
Did you ask any previous Bachelors for advice?
No, I didn’t, actually. I wanted to make this my own. I spoke to friends and family more than the Bachelor family. I kinda try to separate myself from the whole Hollywood L.A. thing.
Considering the recent break-up of “Bachelorette” Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez, how did you decide to go through with this despite the overwhelming track record of “Bachelor” couples not making it in the end?
I don’t know Roberto and Ali personally. It’s hard because relationships end whether they’re on a TV show or not. For me I’m an opportunist and optimist, and you can find someone…it doesn’t matter if it’s on a TV show, on a plane, or at a restaurant. It comes in many forms.
What would fans be surprised to know about you?
I think the show does a pretty good job at encompassing me and my life. So far, America has seen my bare butt [laughing], and I have no problem with male nudity. When a beautiful woman asks you to go skinny dipping on a beach, you don’t say no. You’d be crazy not to! A bare butt is not the end of the world to me. If [a girl] wanted to move faster than the other, that’s the point. You have to be open to self-discovery. I was glad to oblige.
You mentioned you’re not into the Hollywood thing, but there were tons of reports about Jennifer Love Hewitt getting in touch with you and visiting your winery.
She had reached out and wanted to come up to the winery with some of her friends, which she did. We went out to dinner and chatted about life and the experience and all that kind of stuff. She was a nice girl, but it was right in the middle of the time I was trying to figure out whether I was going to be the “Bachelor” or not. And after all was said and done, I wanted to go back to my life in northern California. Ending up with a Hollywood celebrity was something I never imagined doing.
What makes you different from the other Bachelors that would make us want to tune in?
I keep it pretty real. I’m pretty honest and open…maybe a bit too open, I suppose. I take [the process] seriously, but in the moment, I’m goofing around and kind of a jokester. It should be a fun season.
Catch Benbo on the season premiere of “Bachelor” Jan. 2. at 8/7c on ABC.