Important Black History Month news (Ha): The first black “Bachelorette”

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A couple of months ago I had a breakfast interview at Howley’s with former “The Bachelorette” contestant Ryan Beckett of West Palm Beach, and I asked if he thought there was ever going to be a non-white star of ABC’s dating franchise, since most of the contestants of color got bounced early. He smiled like he knew something.

“What do you know? You can’t even tell me if you know something, can you?” I said.

“I don’t know anything,” Ryan answered, although he was still smiling suspiciously.

Well, now, we all know – “I am so excited!!! It’s about time!!!!,” Ryan emailed me after the confirmation that stunning, smary attorney Rachel Lindsay of Dallas, who also happens to be African-American, will be the star of this coming’s season of “The Bachelorette.”

The announcement came officially on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” although there were spoiler Tweets all day long from ABC, and spoilers from other sites even before that. It’s weird that as of the end of last night’s “The Bachelor,” Rachel was still in the mix with repeat offender Nick Viall. But apparently that didn’t work out and now she’s got her own thing going.

And that’s great. I’m happy that the show will finally acknowledge that the beauty of black women, who dating site statistics and even suspicious science, have given a hard time.  (I’m currently dating again, and even some of the people that Match.com matches me with don’t like black women among their preferences. That’s your choice, of course, but do better, Match.) Then again, this is an admittedly addictive but silly show where a single person “dates” several people at the same time, claiming to look for love while mugging dramatically and trying not to pretend they’re dating several people.

So it’s not, you know, voting rights or Brown V. Board of Education or anything. But there’s now more equality in the chance to look silly on a dating show, so, yay?

Former rival on why “everybody loves” new “The Bachelor” star Nick Viall now

Nick Viall, the new "Bachelor" on ABC
Nick Viall, the new “Bachelor” on ABC

When Palm Beach County real estate agent Ryan Beckett first met Nick Viall, who starts handing out roses Monday night as “The Bachelor,” he wasn’t super impressed. After all, they were trying to date the same woman.

“I didn’t give him a chance,” says Beckett, who like Viall was vying for the heart of Kaitlyn Bristowe, quirky star of the 2015 season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Beckett, of West Palm Beach’s Bit Realty, was one of the original cast, who was surprised when Viall, who’d tried and failed to win the heart of previous “Bachelorette” Andi Dorfman, basically crashed the middle of the season because he’d met Kaitlyn and some or other “Bachelor” event and said he liked her. Viewers like me and contestants like Beckett, who was sent home the same episode that Nick showed up, didn’t buy it – “I’d known all the other guys from Day One, and this guy shows up. I didn’t know who he was,” Beckett says. “By the time I went home, it was episode 5 and I was actually ready to go home. I was like a beaten puppy.”

Like he had with Andi, Nick made it to the “Close but no engagement” spot with Kaitlyn, and got a full-blown weasel edit. But two years later, Viall’s now being pitched as the nice guy you’re all rooting for in his fourth franchise appearance.  He either has an unflagging commitment to finding love or just really, really enjoys getting dumped on TV. Beckett, who recently relocated from Wellington to West Palm, has gotten to know his former rival through various “Bachelor” appearances and on last summer’s “Bachelor” alum bikini-fest “Bachelor in Paradise.” And now he’s rooting for him, too.

“He’s like Mitt Romney. Everybody loves him now,” Beckett says of Viall. “People like him because he’s good at articulating his feelings.”

And for what it’s worth, Beckett says he’s forgiven Viall for showing up mid-season and being the man who, as he jokingly Tweeted to me, “#stolemyrose.” All’s fair in love, war and televised rose ceremonies – “In retrospect, I realize he didn’t owe anything” to the other suitors, “and now I think ‘Why was I so upset?'”

Beckett says he’s made a lot of friends from the Bachelor universe, but doesn’t plan to return, “although I didn’t think I would have gone on ‘Bachelor In Paradise, either. I was at a wedding in the Bahamas when a producer (reached out) to me, and I was waffling about doing it. My friend said ‘Let me get this straight. They’re going to pay you to go to a beautiful resort, date beautiful women and drink tequila. Why aren’t you going?”says Beckett, whose salt-and-pepper beard on “Paradise” earned him the nickname “Silver Fox.”

He’s still out here dating, but in reality, rather than on reality TV. But Beckett’s agreed to watch “The Bachelor” and tell us what he thinks of Nick’s picks every week. He refuses to give spoilers but is pulling for his former rival.

“He’s good at expressing himself and being vulnerable,” Beckett says. As the promos say, “Fourth time’s the charm.” Lord, we hope so.

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Delray Beach’s Vinny on “Bachelor In Paradise”: Five dumb things from last night

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Oh, Lord.

That’s not blasphemy – I am genuinely seeking divine guidance and wisdom as to what the heck “Bachelor In Paradise” is supposed to be, other than a skanky 15-minutes-of-fame extension to a bunch of hot, half-naked people who claim to be “looking for love.” Here’s a clue, y’all – Love doesn’t require an ointment.

But these are lessons that Vinny Ventiera, Delray Beach’s barber/DJ and recent JoJo Fletcher reject, and his other “BiP” rosetestants are going to find out. (Wellington’s Ryan Beckett hasn’t shown up yet.) Vinny’s already found love or sumpthin’ with Izzy, a person I have never seen before but who claims to have been on “The Bachelor” at some point. Girl, if you say so. But their macking wasn’t the only thing that happened last night. It certainly wasn’t the stupidest:

  • Chad. I don’t know if he’s the world’s most foremost rageaholic or the world’s most prolific actor. But he’s one of the more interesting parts of the show, mostly because he actually has a personality. It’s an awful, pock-marked, meat-fueled personality. And it’s gotten him kicked off. Again. He hasn’t left yet, because ABC likes when people watch their programs and Dude is ratings gold.
  • Chad and Lace. Vinny points out that they seem like the kind of people who like choking each other out while they have sex. He ain’t wrong.
  • Jubilee. I was hoping she was too good for this show. It rankles me that she’s the only woman not mentioned when the guys rattle off their list of hot girls. She’s the hottest. And she’s too good for Jared, whose facial hair still seems scared of his face.
  • Daniel. Chad’s Canadian buddy is worse than Chad, because Chad appears to be in on the joke. When he called a group of ladies far hotter than him “street dogs” I nearly threw something at my TV. But then I’d have had to get up off the couch and I don’t hate anyone that much.
  • The twins. As a twin, the “one gets a rose, they both get a rose” twist is gross. But they’ve managed to parlay this act into another TV show and I’m sitting on the couch.

 

Delray’s Vinny Venteria makes ’em laugh on “The Bachelorette,” Twitter

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“Is Chad here for love, or here for the food?”

And thus, Vinny Venteria, Delray Beach’s barber (barber/DJ), lover of puns and boss wearer of pastels, cemented his place on “The Bachelorette” as this season’s funny guy. He’s got the funny faces, the cute asides, and he came out of the Limo of Love to greet JoJo, the woman he’s group-courting with a bunch of other dudes, with a piece of toast. Because he wanted to make a toast.

We love this guy.

Because we’re not yet allowed to interview Vinny, and have to wait until he’s no longer on the show, we present you with some of our Twitter conversations, and some of his witticisms. He told JoJo he’s a joker, and so far he’s true to his word.

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Catch Vinny on “The Bachelorette” tonight and every Monday, as long as the roses keep coming, at 8 p.m. on ABC.