Reality TV villains come out on top

Ricardo Simich,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 11 November 2017, 4:15PM
Chrystal Chenery, Ben Blackwell and Nazanin Khanjani.
Chrystal Chenery, Ben Blackwell and Nazanin Khanjani.

MAFS fight-night villain Ben Blackwell has no regrets about last weekend’s turmoil — but he has sent his deepest apologies to staff at Auckland restaurant, Oakroom, where the dinner party was held and whom Blackwell says were amazing during the drama.

“I know a lot of people would want me to apologise for how I’ve been on the show. I largely believe it’s a clash of cultures, I have a very forward and direct way of speaking to people which is something that I’ve inherited from my years in Australia,” he told Spy.

Blackwell, 26, and fellow Pretty Committee member and bestie Vicky Gleeson-Stokes stirred the pot with Hadyn Daniels at the dinner — the resulting fallout was so explosive the show’s producers had to step in.

But Spy reckons Blackwell, an insurance consultant who has struggled with his match with Aaron Chisholm from the outset, will be the breakout star of the show.

He has a lot in common with the then self-described “bichelorette” from season one of The Bachelor, Chrystal Chenery, and season two’s Nazanin Khanjani aka Nasty Naz, who is about to film a US reality show.

All of them have given us those “Did they just say that?” moments. And all of them have been subjected to nasty online trolling, but bounced back.

And to give Blackwell credit, he’s stuck with the experiment, and been true to himself throughout. He has the most Instagram followers of any of the MAFS participants, at 19,000, leading Angel Star-Heron by more than 2000. She and hubby Brett Renall seem the only likely match to last.

Blackwell intends using his newly-found voice for some good in the LGBT community, outside of Pretty Committee business.

“Irrespective of whether you like me or not and you’re LGBT, there is work to be done in our community. You can imagine my shock when I moved here from Australia of all places, to find NZ lagging, particularly to access and funding for HIV prevention medication,” he told Spy.

“Reducing the stigma of HIV and addressing youth suicide are some things I’d like to shine a large white light on.”

And as the show sets to wrap, Blackwell is leaning on family support.

“My parents and my immediate family have a very close relationship, that’s how most big families are. My sisters would if they could, sit down and reply to every single negative comment about myself online.

“As for my parents, my relationship with them goes from strength to strength. There is a misconception that we have a bad relationship because they weren’t at my wedding, but it is in fact because they don’t agree with the experiment as a whole and don’t wish to appear on TV.

“They are very proud of everything I have achieved in life thus far. I live my life to the fullest, an interesting life full of adventure and laughter. They taught me that and also taught me to have a voice and to use it.”