THE ART OF BRAND RICE
She hooked the Bachelor and now Matilda Rice and Art Green have turned their relationship into its own currency, writes
She hooked the Bachelor and now Matilda Rice and Art Green have turned their relationship into its own currency, writes Greg Bruce
Art Green revealed in 2015, in an interview with Anika Moa, that, during the entirety of The
Bachelor, he’d only had one semi, and that had been while kissing Matilda Rice, who is now his fiancee. On a show where you can’t be sure that anything is is as it seems, what could be more real than the half-mast evidence of a feeling which by definition can owe nothing to either the cajoling of producers or a bachelor’s own desire to conform to the performative needs of his role?
That it was with Rice was no surprise. Green remembers the first night of filming, standing at the mansion and watching a stream of attractive young women getting out of cars. He remembers a wave of relief sweeping over him when he saw her.
Obviously that was nothing to do with love — more to do with the right proportional arrangement of great teeth, green eyes, blond hair and and so forth for Green’s particular tastes.
When he talked to her later that night, he thought to himself, “Oh f***, she’s really cool, she’s really funny.”
He thought, “I could probably end the show right now.” He told the producers, “I’m pretty sure this is how it’s going to go,” and they said, “Yeah, okay, Art, but that’s not how the show works.”
The way the show is supposed to work is that Green discovers Rice is one of many suitable sexy matches from among the gaggle of contestants, then, as the others are steadily eliminated, they pash, give and get semis, spend a quiet night having sex in an over-water bure in Rarotonga then, preferably in the last week, they fall in love and finally walk out of shot to live happily ever after.
But Green says he never had sex on the show with anyone and didn’t come close to falling in love, even with Rice.
“Nup. Nah, no way,” he says. “I’d spent maybe half an hour to an hour talking to her off camera throughout the whole show so at that stage I don’t think I could tell anyone that I loved them after speaking to them for that long. So nah, absolutely not.”
“Basically like at the end of the show, you are choosing someone you would like to go on a first date with. That was what I had in my mind. Matty and I got to the end and they called wrap and we sat on the beach and said, ‘Okay, now we just start and see how we go.’”
What it sounds most like is not the culmination of some narratively perfect romantic blossoming, but more like meeting someone on Tinder.
“Totally,” he says. “Yeah actually, like, exactly.” LAST WEEK, Rice turned 27 and this week she launched her first book, The Lazy Girl’s
Guide to Living a Beautiful Life, an advice/ inspiration/health and wellness book aimed at young women, featuring recipes, workout and beauty routines, a few life lessons and some light autobiography.
“It’s how to live your best life.” she says, “but by not changing too much, just by a few little tweaks here and there, a few little hacks that can really improve your life and your positivity, but you don’t have to eat garden salad for every meal and you don’t have to work out at Les Mills for like five hours every day.”
She says she’s found a “sweet spot” in her own life where she feels balanced and happy, and she wanted to share that.
“I think it’s so, so common for people to be planning to be happy, so they’re working to save a certain amount of money because then they’ll be able to retire or they’ll be happy once they get a boyfriend or once they lose 10kg then they’ll be happy. But I think it just really, really comes down to changing your life now and I know it’s easier said than done but it could be in small steps as well.” TWO MONTHS ago, Green, 29, dropped to his knee after a few cocktails on an Instagramfriendly beach in Rarotonga. Rice cried and said yes and New Zealand’s most publicly attractive couple were engaged to be married.
The cute little three-bedroom, white weatherboard place they now rent on a quiet residential street in Kohimarama is not just a love nest for the soon-to-be-newlyweds but also the headquarters for their brand, which spontaneously emerged from their relationship, post- The Bachelor.
That brand, driven primarily by their residual fame from the show, their beautiful faces and bodies, their white smiles and sociability, their openness to opportunity, their business-savvy and solid Instagram game @matootles, 131,000 followers, @art_green, 92,000 followers — has provided the means for them to make a decent amount of cash while living the sort of beautiful lifestyle that comes naturally to them and is ideally suited to the visual nature of the world’s leading photo-based social media platform.
Rice has been able to quit the job in television advertising sales she had grown sick of, and she and Green now spend most days working happily on monetising their brand from their dining room table, alongside their cats, Brian and Christine. They say they’re about as rich as they were before but they’re happier, even though they know this particular means of making a living promises less permanence than, say, an average marriage.
“It’s enough now,” Rice says, “but I don’t know if it will be forever.”
They’re starting a business selling paleo ready-meals in the next few weeks and plan to get married next summer and to have genetically privileged offspring at some unspecified point after that. Their life doesn’t include too many long-term plans beyond any of that.
They are a couple that is so quintessentially of their time and place that when history turns its lens back on this period, trying to establish what it meant to be an Aucklander in the mid-late 2010s, their lives will provide a leading case study.
Their currency is themselves, which they sell in smiling, sexy-togged photos on Instagram and elsewhere in which they’re either using free product, being paid to use product, or they’re in places they’ve been paid to travel to, or possibly
She and Green now spend most days working happily on monetising their brand from their dining room table, alongside their cats, Brian and Christine.
even all these things combined.
Their Instagram feeds include plugs for: Ford, Huffer, Jockey, Fitbit, Trilogy, Freedom Furniture, Juliette Hogan, Paco Rabanne Parfums, Garnier, Nokia, Go Pro, Working Style, Lululemon, Veuve Cliquot, Subaru, Vitasoy, Roys Road Watch Company, Adidas, Devonche, Britz Campervans, Bike Barn, Allbirds shoes, Heineken, Moet, Barkers, Tiffany, Sleepyhead, Maybelline, Fly Buys, Samsung, Disney, Neon, any number of tourism operations and destinations and, of course, Green’s own company, Clean Paleo.
The stuff they post-for-pay blends relatively seamlessly with the fiscally-unimpeachable posts of their ferociously healthy bodies at play, and this blending is, of course, the biggest part of their value proposition.
Rice says, “With the whole social media world, people are so caught up in showing perfect photos and everything’s perfectly curated, whereas I like more of a natural approach which I think does set us apart a little bit because I don’t think too many people that are doing it as a business are doing it the same way.
“I guess people feel like they’ve been on our journey with us. They were there when we first met and then we moved in together and we got cats and we got engaged, so everyone’s like watching it play out with us, which I think people quite like.”
Green says, “It feels like we’re just living our lives with people watching. We haven’t really tried to do it, we’ve just tried to be ourselves.” “We’re just very, very normal,” Rice says. This whole, “we’re regular folks” thing is what lots of famous people think about themselves because it’s true — they’re unusual only to people who know them as a result of their fame — but being an extraordinarily attractive, socially and commercially soughtafter couple with a lot of famous friends, endless party invitations and free holidays does make you a special kind of regular.
SHE SAYS: “I think you need to have your independence and you need to be fully content with yourself before you can fully love someone else, which I think is sooo true, you know, love happens when you’re not looking for it, like when you’re the happiest,” — she paused,” — rather than when you’re trying really hard.”
Green says: “About halfway through the show I pretty much had no feelings for anyone. We filmed for two months. The first month you’re having lots of fun, it’s not too serious, you have normal feelings. The second month was really intense. Everyone was getting tired, I was doing these really, really long days of filming and it was just getting to a stage where it wasn’t enjoyable, it was more like a job and under those circumstances I don’t think anyone could have real feelings for anyone.”
By the end, he says, he just had to look back and remember that he’d liked Rice from the start.
She says it was basically impossible to get to know each other on set. “A few times we’d be having a conversation about something fairly boring, like your favourite kind of yoghurt or something, and then they’d say, ‘Hey yeah, we can’t air any of this, so if you could just talk about, like, previous relationships, or like when you’re going to have kids,’ that sort of thing.”
The show wasn’t scripted, she says, but their conversations were “guided”. Who wants to be guided to love by a television production company?
“They don’t tell you what to say but they tell you what to kind of talk about,” she says. “I remember where I got to a stage where I was at the end of my tether and I had a little bit of a tanty. It was just before the finale and everybody was exhausted, like the crew, everyone was so tired, and we were over on the Gold Coast and
The stuff they post-forpay blends relatively seamlessly with the fiscallyunimpeachable posts of their ferociously healthy bodies at play, and this blending is, of course, the biggest part of their value proposition.
It feels like we’re just living our lives with people watching. We haven’t really tried to do it, we’ve just tried to be ourselves. Art Green
it was frickin hot! So hot! And I feel like we were just sweating all the time.
“We were filming this scene and it was at the zoo and I’d just been shat on by the koala so I had poo in my belly button. I was really hot and was just like, ‘Okay, can we just finish filming?’ and then they said, ‘Just go and stand by that lake and talk about how much you like each other,’ and we were standing in the sun and I couldn’t see and it was all quite glary and I was like [sighs, adopts exasperated voice] ‘Yeah, I like you heaps, [sighs again]. Yep. What else do I say?’ They were like, ‘Just talk about your connection,’ and I was like [raises voice], ‘I don’t know what else to say about it! We’ve got one! I like you!’ and they were like, ‘Wooooaah.’ I just lost it.”
When she was on dates with Green, the crew would say things like, “So if you wanted to have a little kiss in the end, it’s fine,” which she knew to mean, “If you could just snog your faces off, that would be great.”
She says, “They were very polite about it, cause I could tell that they felt a bit awkward too. I remember saying to the director, who we’re still good friends with now actually, I said ‘Oh it’s really weird, you know, kissing this person in front of a camera,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, we feel pretty weird hiding in a bush 20 metres away filming you, as well.”
“They really wanted us to say that we loved each other,” she says. “They were just desperate for it. So every day they were like, ‘Yeah, you really like each other, but what else?’ So we just kept saying it, like, ‘I really like you,’ ‘Yeah, I really like you too,’ and I could just tell that the producers were like, ‘Come on! Just say it!’”
LIVING YOUR life with hundreds of thousands of people watching is obviously not all cash and highly photogenic holiday-generating social media presences and sponsorship deals with underwear manufacturers.
She says that straight after the show she “would have messages like, ‘Hey, just so you know, my friend’s cousin is friends with his exgirlfriend and they’re back together and blah blah blah, and I started thinking like, ‘Shit, are they?’ Because I thought I knew him but I didn’t really know. I thought maybe they are, maybe this is all just — so it was all a bit of a headf*** really. Now obviously we’re solid but at the start you just don’t know what’s true because everyone knew for sure, like every single person was, like, ‘No, he’s gay, because someone, like a friend’s cousin’s postman 100 per cent saw him kissing’ — oh my God, there were so many rumours, it was crazy.”
The moment the producers of The Bachelor had so desperately failed to capture happened not on a Rarotongan beach at sunset or in a tangle of white sheets and hard torsos in a luxury hideaway cottage at daybreak, but during a late night drunken feed on Bacon Backfires at Ponsonby Burger Fuel, at a point in their relationship that they have apparently not yet reached consensus on:
Rice: “It was eight months [after the show]. So pretty decent. I think both of us took that word quite seriously. So we’re just going to do it when we absolutely are ready to. I said it first. Over a burger. Burger Fuel. The most unromantic thing. We were just like chatting and I just felt really content in that moment. I was just like, ‘Oh I’m so happy just chilling here with you, just eating our burgers and now it’s just like,” — here her voice goes very sweet and earnest — ‘You know, I love you,’ and then he was like, ‘Oh, me too,’ and then we were like ‘Oooh,’ just had a little, you know, but it was good because it was such a natural moment. I’m so glad we waited, rather than on the show. It’s very romantic but it’s like your textbook romance kind of thing, your candlelit dinners kind of thing. So this was like our kind of romance, our kind of romantic dinner.”
Green: “After we’d been seeing each other for three or four months, I realised that she was pretty special, so we were eating some burgers and we were pretty smashed and we told each other we loved each other and, yeah, that was when I knew she was pretty cool.”
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