Dating game explored in new ABC online series
New ABC iview reality series The Daters follows a group of six young Adelaideans as they look for love via the pubs, clubs, chatrooms and apps of the modern romantic scene over a three-month period.
Consisting of 25 ten-minute episodes, the 'cast' includes Adelaide radio presenter Burgo; “True-blue Aussie boy" and apprentice plumber John; dance student Courteney; jewellery designer Anna; and make-up artist/journalism student Sooz.
Then there’s the gay guy, Johnny (pictured), who comes from a small town in rural NSW and made his way to Adelaide for study after working in PR in Sydney. At 26, he’s now studying Mandarin and International Business while running his own international art sales firm (“artists aren’t businesspeople and you can help them promote their work”).
“I left school very young,” Johnny says. “I was 14 and I did a trade. I don’t think you’re as familiar with what’s available when you’re from the country; you just do what everyone else is doing.”
Johnny says his coming out was an easy transition. “I was pretty lucky,” he says. “I didn’t make a deal of it or wear it on my sleeve. I had finished my apprenticeship, so I was 18, and I was gradually telling people. It seemed to go down pretty well – which I know isn’t the story for a lot of people who grow up in the country.” His best mate, after Johnny nervously told him, responded, “Oh… so are we going for a beer?” “That was the first thing out of his mouth,” Johnny remembers, “and I was really nervous to tell him. I was expecting the worst, but it went quite well.”
VIDEO: Watch a preview of The Daters
In Adelaide, a friend at the ABC approached Johnny to help her make the pitch for The Daters, and he subsequently stayed on as one of the daters. He says he’s a little nervous, he doesn’t know what to expect from the show, which airs tonight. “I’m not a fan of reality TV, but in this context it seems to be more of a documentary; an honest relay of our lives and how the real world and the digital world influences people in reference to dating.”
The quick hook up via Grindr is a thing of the past, Johnny says, “My days of hitting up Grindr are well and truly over. I’m a little more focused on something that might have a bit of longevity. I think of that stereotypical 80s gay man, that was all about the beats and the gay clubs. It’s probably marketing or the way it’s been presented, but to me it had this little bit of a sleaze factor about it. I think Grindr is bringing that back to a degree, which is why I’m more of a sticker for Tinder – it’s a bit cleaner communication. No one can open with a dick pick.”
Johnny says in terms of a partner he’s looking for someone who’s opposite of the tall, dark corporate man he thought he wanted, so he can be “surprised”: “That would make for a far more interesting life than dating someone who is your type.”
With the program launching on ABC iview tonight, Johnny says he hopes to give viewers the impression that dating for gay men isn’t just the stereotyped emphasis on sex. And he’s ready for the viewer reaction. “I had an interview with a national radio station last week and after that my phone was going crazy. It’s given me a taste of what might happen.”
The Daters, launches 12.30pm on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 on ABC iview.
IMAGE: Johnny flies the flag for gay romance in The Daters.