When most people go on a first date, they wear their best. A nice shirt, a pretty dress. But what would happen if a first date involved wearing nothing at all? Dating Naked, a reality dating experiment premiering on VH1 July 17 is meant to strip away people’s inhibitions and allow daters to show prospective mates who they are at their cores, without the trappings of finery and furnishings. Amy Paffrath the show’s host, spoke to us via phone from Panama, during a break from shooting the show.
What has it been like being the host of Naked Dating?
Amy Paffrath: We’re having a wonderful time and we thing the show is going to be a huge success. We’re really looking forward to seeing people’s reactions. The first thing you hear is “Naked” and it’s sensational and it is tantalizing and scandalous in a way, but it’s not at all. You’d be so interested how non-sexual it can be because it’s all there. That’s the last that thing you want to do, is be overtly sexual, when your dater is naked. You kind of dance around the sex of it and it’s more about the person.
Amy, tell us about the show and how the experience works.
There’s two primary daters. Those two people go on three dates each including a date with each other. So right at the beginning, I give the twist, “You’re here, you’re going to go on three naked dates and you’re going to start by dating each other.” So they meet each other right away, they go off on their date, and at the end of the date they return to this jungle villa.
The villa is beautiful — it’s on the top of this cliff — with an ocean view. There’s a pool and a bar and they can hang out there and get to know each other. And, if they want to spend the night, they can spend the night. But there are separate bedrooms for them, and then the next day, we introduce their next dates and they each go off on date #2 and do their own thing. And then the four of them return to the jungle villa, have a little mixer where everyone gets to know each other.
And then the third day, the same thing happens, we introduce their final dates, they go on their final dates and then all six of them return to the house and have a good time. And enjoy their night. And if people hook up, they hook up and if they don’t, they don’t. And fireworks happen or they don’t.
And the next day is when I meet everyone up at the house and we have our “Elimination Ceremony.” This is the only time I see naked people. Our two main daters get to decide who they had the least connection with and who they had the strongest connection with. And hopefully, that person reciprocates. Or they don’t and we go from there and then everyone goes off as happy couples or everyone hates each other, it could be one of the two.
Was this being a “Naked” show a surprise to the participants?
No one comes here not knowing that they have to get naked. They’re all very willing participants. It’s not to say that it’s 100% comfortable for everyone. I can image that each time is a very new experience because you’re doing it again. You’re bearing your soul; you’re baring your body for someone. They’re here to try something new and maybe this will help them communicate on another level.
What has the naked experience been like for the dates?
It’s kind of all over the place. Some people find it freeing because it gets rid of all of the preconceived notions of brand and label identities and covering up and projecting an image that you want. You can’t do that because you’re just…you. You’re at your very bare minimum. There’s nothing hiding between you and who you are.
One of the girls said it got rid of the mystery. She likes a little bit of mystery. It made her feel less connected to the guy because there was nothing hiding him so it can go both ways but then you see kid of relationships develop between people you would never think would click and suddenly, they find they have a lot in common.
It’s been really interesting, at least in this first episode, the two people I thought never in a million years would have chemistry and they really ended up really liking each other. And I think the nakedness really helped put them together because if they were to meet in any other bar setting, it’s like the nerd and the hot girl. Maybe they would never strike up a conversation, but being forced to have this experience together got them to talk about things that were way beneath the surface.
How did long it take for you to forget that everyone was naked?
Before we even started rolling, I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to look now so when the cameras are rolling and I’m on camera, I’m not staring at them for the first time.” I kind of glanced around, and was like [laughs], “okay, everyone’s naked, just checking it out.” And then once they got up on the platform with me, it kind of disappears. You can’t help your eye from glancing down every now and then, it does happen. I’m not going to lie. But my point, at the end of the day, it to know everyone’s eye color, so I’m making complete eye contact and I know who you are, and I know your name, and I’m looking at you in the face.
How is Dating Naked different from other reality dating shows?
You can hide behind a lot of different things: technology, clothing, brand, image, all of these things get in the way of who we really are. We can put up an image that’s completely different from who we are underneath, I think that this show really does strip away all of that and it makes you really vulnerable. You’re really just there in all of your glory. For some people this experience comes after marriage, it’s not something happens right off the bat. Dating Naked is just reversing the order. What would happen if you were just all walking around in our glory so all you could present is who you are at your very core? I think that element makes it so radically different from anything out there.
Tell us about the dates the naked participants will experience…
The daters are doing really fun stuff and I’m lucky enough to get to test out some of the experiences. Today I went Zorbig in the ocean which is a big, giant clear plastic ball that you run around in like a giant hamster.
The first date they went zip-lining, they’ve gone stand-up paddle boarding. There is no shortage of awesome adventurous things to do here. They had a little campfire date out on the beach, they went horseback riding, it’s just beautiful everywhere you look here. One setting is just more beautiful than the next. It’s really romantic. There’s action and adventure around every corner. Panama offers a plethora of things to do, and I’m just hands in the air to try everything to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m the Guinea pig.
Because the participants are nude, is this just an excuse for televised hook-ups?
If people have a romantic connection and want to explore that, by all means… The jungle villa where they’re staying is beautiful and there are multiple bedrooms so they each have their own space, but if they so feel that they have a connection with this person and they want to spend time together they can.
But, I just think being naked in front of someone changes the way you interact. Your flirtation is different. You’re not going to overtly touch someone and make them uncomfortable unless you’re really getting that signal. So, some of the dates are different from others. They did a mud bath yesterday and so they were rubbing each other and they were getting into it and they ended up really liking each other. Spoiler alert, I don’t want to say who he ends up picking in the end. But certain things are a little more sensual that others and if they’re willing to go there with each other, if they like each other, they can explore each other. And if not, they can keep it platonic, like friends hanging out.
And they each navigate that very differently based on their personalities and how comfortable they are with sexuality in general. There are people are rely open with that, and people who are a little more conservative and closed off. So you’re getting the whole gamut.
So what do you think of Dating Naked? With the word “Naked” in the title, it’s going to titillate some viewers and enrage others. Will you watch it? Is Amy Paffrath the luckiest woman in the world, or the bravest? Would you strip down in the search for love?