WHY THIS GORGEOUS BACHELOR HAS WON AUSTRALIA'S HEART
M att Johnson has an amazing effect on Sydney’s women. The man known to Australia as Matty J is in the middle of a conversation when a sophisticated woman in her late 30s starts to hover nearby, lip twitching with excitement, as she realises The Bachelor is so close.
“Can I have a selfie?” she asks, like a giddy schoolgirl who has just stumbled across her favourite rock star.
Johnson happily obliges. But when she looks at the photo, she’s not satisfied. She requests three more selfies before she walks away.
Seconds later, she’s back. “Can you record a message for my kids? They’re one and two years old,” she says.
The next 10 minutes are spent showing him family photos. A lesser man would have cut her short, but Johnson patiently nods and smiles until she leaves.
It’s fair to say this bachelor has well and truly won Australia’s women over.
The handsome marketing manager can barely walk down the street in his home suburb of Bondi without women of all ages catapulting themselves towards him.
His debut episode averaged 846,000 viewers across the five capital cities, on par with Sam Wood’s first episode, and just shy of Richie Strahan’s 882,000. However, when catch-up viewing is taken into account, Johnson trumps all other Bachelors with a whopping 1.02
I never had this light bulb moment where I’d fallen in love
million views — 3000 more than his closest rival, Strahan.
But surely there’s a catch. Could this eligible man really have made it all the way to 30 without being snapped up?
“I think timing is the biggest factor when it comes to finding the one,” Johnson tells BW Magazine.
“I had lots of girlfriends but I never had a relationship where I had this light bulb moment where I’d fallen in love.”
Prioritising travel and climbing the career ladder to become an account director at international brand agency Wasserman, Johnson turned to online dating app Tinder to help him lure ladies. Some horror dates ensued.
“You can have banter with someone over text but then you meet and it’s literally just dead silence for five minutes,” he says.
“I’d be scraping the barrel for conversation, willing the food to come out quicker, just to give us a break from the silence.”
Things changed, however, when he moved to London in 2012 and met Australian DJ Milly Gattegno, of The Faders.
“I thought: this is what I’ve been looking for. I had everything I’d ever wanted in a relationship,” he recalls.
But after two years the couple split, and Johnson was devastated.
“It was difficult to manage initially, when for so long you think you’re going in one direction, and then all of a sudden you’re heading in a new one.”
By the time Australia met Johnson last year, he had been single for seven months, and was vying for Georgia Love’s heart on The Bachelorette.
A fan-favourite, he was runner-up for Love’s heart, physically doubling over in pain when he was rejected for Lee Elliott.
Months later, Johnson admitted he still held a torch for Love, and it seems there are some reciprocal feelings.
Although happily coupled with Elliott, Love confesses she finds watching The Bachelor “weird”.
“It’s strange to see him there dating and kissing and stuff, but he had to sit there and watch me do that as well,” she says. “It was so recent that I was on there so it was always going to be weird watching that show again.” O sher Gunsberg, who has hosted The Bachelor for the past five seasons, similarly admits there’s something “special” about Johnson. “For some reason I just clicked a little more with Matty,” says Gunsberg, 43.
“Matty just has this extraordinary superpower. He is a confident man, yet if anyone accidentally makes a faux pas or pronounces something incorrectly, he’ll dive on that grenade and make a selfdeprecating comment.
“And he’ll have that quality long after he’s stopped going to the gym and his abs have disappeared.”
Perhaps, Johnson’s unaffected warmth stems from the fact his own life hasn’t always been charmed.
“I wouldn’t say I did particularly well with girls in a romantic sense,” Johnson says of his high-school years.
“I was a later bloomer. In Grade 11 I had a growth spurt so my limbs were too long for me, I was super skinny, and I had severe acne.
“But I think those years were when I looked to finesse my sense of humour. And when the acne cleared up, it gave me a lot more confidence to pursue women romantically.”
Raised as one-of-five by his “amazing” single mother Ellie Johnson in Brisbane, he grew up without knowing his father. He credits his close relationship with Ellie and sister Kate Clifton for shaping his respectful attitudes towards women.
Indeed, Johnson believes he couldn’t have made it through the show without the support of his family.
“Walking into those cocktail parties can be daunting,” he says of the highly strung soirees in which contestants compete for his attention.
“It’s intimidating because the girls get along really well and there are some big personalities, so when you walk in you’re almost a little bit sheepish.”
Johnson also describes watching the show back as “eye-opening”.
He has found some of the more romantic moments particularly difficult to watch. “It’s pretty unique to watch yourself back kissing someone, it takes a little getting used to. I keep looking at it, thinking: ‘Do I really do that with my hands?’ ”
Watching the show has also opened his eyes to the behaviour of some of the contestants.
“I was aware in certain situations something had gone down between people but it would always go on when my back was turned, and no one wanted to go into detail. So it’s eye-opening to see why people were upset, what was actually said, and who was at fault.
“It was surprising to see that click between Jen and Leah was so immediate,” he adds of the show’s two “villains”, who bonded over their outspoken natures.
With the days ticking down until the show’s finale — after which Johnson can introduce the eagerly awaited Ms Bachelor to the world — he’s enjoying getting back into the swing of everyday life, cycling for 40 minutes to and from his Sydney city office each day and relishing the first throes of romance.
Rather than chase TV fame, he’s keen to stay in marketing.
He also says that he hopes to start a family, at least by the time he’s in his mid-30s.
And he is a staunch defender of the reality show as somewhere that true love can genuinely blossom.
“You really can fall in love on The Bachelor,” he says.
“Some might argue it’s an artificial environment but after a while you just forget the cameras are there. And when you meet someone, you know within 10 minutes, straight away from that first conversation, if you click with them.
“Obviously it’s different to meeting someone in everyday life but it doesn’t inhibit you from making the connection.”
The Bachelor airs Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on TEN
Matty J gets intimate with Cobie on a single date on The Bachelor. Matt Johnson has enjoyed his second chance at reality T V romance in this y ear’s The Bachelor; (belo w, left) during his a wkward teenage years; and (below, right) with his “little legend” nephew George on his f irst birthday. Main pic ture: Tim Hunter