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

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Greg Bruce

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.”

Matilda chooses Art Green 2015. Bach­elo r, The Rice on

Rice and Green brand in a are liv­ing the whirl of so­cial events.

nt ad­ver­tiseme in an Matilda Rice wear. for Jockey un­der

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