The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

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...

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