JOHN is a 26-year-old man who only three months after coming out got into his first serious relationship with a man.
“I came out of the closet and straight into a relationship,” he said.
It was 3am and before he knew it, John was signing up to the Australian version of Undressed, an Italian series which is more social experiment than a matchmaking show.
Debuting on SBS on January 16 each episode of Undressed features two pairs of strangers going through a similar experience.
Couples from a mix of different cultural backgrounds, sexualities, disabilities and religions meet in a room furnished only with a bed and a large-screen TV. Instructions and questions flash up on the screen, guiding the strangers through the process.
The first directive is for the participants to undress each other down to their underwear. As the experiment continues, the couples answer a series of probing and deeply personal questions. At the conclusion of the proceedings, each person is given the choice to stay and get to know their counterpart better, or to leave.
John was paired with a man called David who when he first laid eyes on him couldn’t believe how pale he was.
“I think I referred to him as Casper (the ghost) in an interview, but he said he didn’t mind because everyone calls him Casper,” John said.
“He was pretty cute, not what I was expecting. He had a big dorky grin and a big dorky laugh.”
John a former Aboriginal health worker and primary school teacher’s aide is very passionate about mental health in the LGBTI community and in particular Indigenous members of the community said he had faith the producers would pair him with a good match and is interested to see the final cut of his episode.
“I knew they wouldn’t match me to someone random it would be based on someone I was compatible… I trust them it was a pretty thorough questionnaire they made us fill out,” he said.
Based in Port Stephens in the NSW’s Hunter Region, John had to tell his family that he was going to be on the show otherwise they would be curious to know why he was going to Sydney for a couple. His family had mixed emotions about him being on Undressed and were most concerned about John being in his underwear on national television.
“I made sure I had my good underwear on for the shooting,” he said.
“They prompted us to have a pillow fight which I’d never done before. I’m nervours to see how weird I look, having a pillow fight in my underwear.”
John said being undressed with nothing more than a screen and a bed forced the pair to “get right down to the part of the date where you talk about each other”
“That was one of the most interesting things I’ve done, I’m quite shy and timid sometimes and when I feel shy I get my phone out and look at it,” he said.
“It’s a pretty positive and unique experience, it’s definitely not scripted… I’d recommend for people to try it.”
Towards the end of the date John and David were prompted to kiss by the instructions on the monitor.
“According to the producers it was one of the steamiest kisses they had had on the show,” John said.
“There was definitely chemistry there.”