(42) Behind the Bachelor with Ashley

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Past Bachelor contestant, Ashley Spivey, is an open book as she spills the Bachelor Nation tea! She tells so many secrets, such as how the girls really felt about Brad, the show’s torturous methods to make great TV, what it’s like to live in a house full of women whose periods have synched up, and the deets about Chris Harrison – is he shady? In addition to dishing about reality TV and dropping a bomb that leaves me speechless, Ashley also talks about how being on the Bachelor changed her, how she changed the show, and what life is like beyond rose ceremonies. So join me for the most dramatic (and hilarious) episode ever!

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Brandy:            Hello, Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. Do I have a generous gift for you today – especially during a time where we could all use some laughs and lightness — school started. (Oh, my God.) In this episode, I’m talking with past Bachelor contestant, Ashley Spivey. She was from Brad Womack’s season back in the day, and lucky for us, she’s an open book as she spills the Bachelor Nation tea — like, all of it. My jaw was on the floor many times in this interview, and I laughed so hard during it and then editing it and reliving it all. I can’t wait for you to join me in basking in Bachelor secrets about how the girls really felt about Brad, the show’s torturous methods to make great TV, what it’s like to live in a house full of women whose periods have synced up and they’re all dating the same lame dude, and the deets about Chris Harrison – is he a kindhearted romantic that cares for his flock? Or is he shady? The answer to that is so good. In addition to dishing about reality TV and dropping a bomb that leaves me speechless, Ashley also talks about how being on The Bachelor changed her, how she changed the show, and what life is like beyond the rose ceremonies. So, join me for the most dramatic episode ever.

Brandy:            Also, Ashley and I recorded this right at the beginning of quarantine when New York City, where she lives, was being hit hard by COVID. When you hear my voice in this episode, listen to how much zest I have for life pre-pandemic. This is what I sound like when have autonomy and balance. It’s like I’m high, or maybe, I was just so excited to get the real real on Harrison.

Brandy:            Real quick, writer friends or those who want to be writers and friends, you can now work with me! Do you have a writing project in your head or on your computer (or a mix of both), and wish there was someone who could help you organize your thoughts, tap into your voice, find your writing process, and motivate you to keep going – like a doula but for writing? Are you looking for someone who will meet you where you’re at, ask probing questions about your story, and give you honest feedback and ideas that further your project while also understanding the vulnerability that is sharing your work? Hi. {laughter} Since my book launched, I’ve organically found myself working with a handful of writing clients in this way, and it’s gone so well that this is now a thing I am offering. You can go to my website http://www.adultconversation.com/workwithme for more info, including testimonials wherein people lie about my good nature because I blackmailed them. On to the show —

Brandy:            Today on the podcast, we have a super exciting guest who I’m hoping can give us an inside look at The Bachelor — like the real real. I have so many questions. Her name is Ashley Spivey, and she’s a former Bachelor contestant from one of Brad Womack’s seasons. So, thank you for being here today, Ashley, to answer all of my wildest questions!

Ashley:             I’m so excited to do this with you. I hope that I can answer all of them. I mean, it was a while back that I was on. I think it’s almost been ten years at this point.

Brandy:            Yeah. You might have a little bit of the nostalgia and some of the harsh edges soften a little bit. Does that happen?

Ashley:             Maybe. At this point, too, I feel like I’ve been enough of a critic of the franchise as well that maybe I have some other answers. {laughter}

Brandy:            This is beautiful because what this is like is (I don’t mean to make everything about birth or parenting but…) with a birth story, you have a story that exists right after it happens, and then the story changes as the years go on. We’re going to get your processed, metabolized version of what it was like looking back to be on The Bachelor. So, I’m actually more excited about this version than if you were fresh off The Bachelor boat.

Ashley:             I feel like whenever people first get off, they still think producers are their best friends, or they’re still kind of basking in the glow of being a newly-crowned reality contestant. I feel like I’m looking at it through jaded eyes without sunlight. {laughter}

Brandy:            Yes. You are getting me so excited about this because these are the kind of discerning eyes that I want to see it through. I want to let people know that we met because you have a popular book club called Spivey’s Book Club, and I did a takeover of your Instagram account with my book. Honestly, when I did that, I didn’t know you were part of Bachelor Nation. I only found that out during that day or something, but when I found out, of course I asked you if you would give me the dirt on what it’s really like to be on the show. And to my surprise, you said “yes.” Again, I just bow down to you for being here for us. And also, I did some research before our interview and the more I learn about you, the more I love you. You are outspoken but kind, and you’re an activist. You’re an open book about fertility and abortion and women’s issues. You are a perfect fit here. So, we are now BFF’s. I hope you don’t mind.

Ashley:             {laughter} Not at all. I love that you didn’t know that I was on The Bachelor. I love that enough time has passed now that I’m known more for creating a book club than being on a reality show. So, it doesn’t hurt me at all when people don’t know that I was on the show.

Brandy:            Maybe, it’s even like you’re making a new life for yourself even though that other one has its benefits, I’m sure. It’s like, “Oh, you can exist outside of The Bachelor and exist and have people know you.” That’s pretty amazing.

Ashley:             I always tell people if they ever ask me after they get off the show, I’m like, “It’s okay to make your way in the world without relying on the franchise to keep you well-known.” I’m surprised that more contestants don’t do that, but I guess the lore of being on Bachelor in Paradise is too great.

Brandy:            I have an entire outline about Bachelor in Paradise because it’s the more “garbagey” version of The Bachelor. Anytime reality TV can get lower, I’m always in. I’m sorry. That’s probably awful for people who are on it to hear. But before we get to the goods, what do you think the listeners need to know about you?

Ashley:             I think you just covered it all. Whatever you said when you looked me up. I wanted to say that I think sometimes I can get pigeonholed whenever people learned that I was on a reality show. I hope in the years since I’ve been on the show, I’ve shown people that there is more to me. Whether it’s me being a critic of the show, whether it’s I’ve ran some charity campaigns — I like to give financial support to teachers — I just hope that people can see that there’s more to me after this episode.

Brandy:            Yeah, absolutely. I could tell that from the beginning. I think the fact that you had a book club is already like, “Oh, that’s fascinating.” Absolutely, the more that I looked at your stuff and read about you, I was like, “Oh, this is somebody who’s using their platform and is helping other people with this really important voice and is vulnerable.” Some of the stuff that you talk about, especially abortion stuff and fertility, that’s not the neatly-packaged Bachelor thing. That’s not the — what was Carly and who was the guy?

Ashley:             Evan.

Brandy:            Yeah, that’s not the Carly and Evan story. That’s not the Jade and Tanner story. I really appreciate honesty and putting one’s neck out. One thing I wanted to ask is: Did you sign an NDA for a certain amount of time, or are you just allowed to talk about anything?

Ashley:             You have to sign a contract and that contract lasts for a year after the show airs. So, my contract is way up. I can talk about anything.

Brandy:            Okay, good. Remind us again, you were on it ten years ago on Brad Womack’s season, and how many rose ceremonies were you there for?

Ashley:             I actually finished 11th. I don’t even know how many ceremonies that would be. I did get the first impression rose which is why I think I stick out in people’s minds. Also, my best friend on the show was also named “Ashley,” and they put us on a two-on-one together. That’s how I got eliminated because they put the two best friends in the house on a date together. It was actually very sad, but I think that rose ceremony sticks out in people’s heads or me getting eliminated sticks out in people’s heads. Then, I was up for Bachelorette, but I did not want it because I knew my best friend, the other Ashley, really, really wanted it. And she ended up becoming Bachelorette and married JP. I was in her TV wedding.

Brandy:            {gasps} Oh, my gosh. I am furiously writing down things. Every word you say opens up a whole new chamber of things: the two-on-one date (which is the worst fate known to man), but then with your best friend, and then the fact that you’re both named the same name, then you got the first impression rose — that’s a big deal. Wow. Before I ask you about those, I have to know some background. I think a question that many people want to know is: Did you first go on The Bachelor to find true love or for the experience and career opportunities? Or was it a mix of both? How did you get drawn to it at first, and then what do you think most people are on there for?

Ashley:             Whenever I did it, people really did not become big celebrities. I think at that point, maybe the biggest celebrity to come off the show would be Jillian Harris or Travis Stork, who ended up being on The Doctors. You know that show?

Brandy:            Yes.

Ashley:             But Jillian Harris was on — oh, what was that home improvement show? Home Makeover? But you did not become a social media sensation. Really, only Twitter was out at that point when I went on. I think Instagram was just starting. Whenever I did it, I really wasn’t thinking, “Oh, I will become famous.” But at the same time, the reason why I did it is I had moved up to New York with a boyfriend, and he wanted to quit his job in finance to become an actor. I thought this was really insane because he had this great job, but I ended up catching him in bed with another girl in our apartment.

Brandy:            {gasps}

Ashley:             I don’t know why my mind went to this, but I was just like, “You know what? I’m gonna make it to TV before this asshole.”

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I sent in my application to The Bachelor. Even before I caught him in bed with another girl, my dad had passed away probably six months before I applied for the show. I had a combination of being in the dead dad club which the show really loves to exploit, and then I also really wanted to like get back at my ex. I think that they probably saw my application and were just like, “This girl is emotionally unstable.” {laughter}

Brandy:            “She’s perfect.” {laughter}

Ashley:             She will be the perfect person to get on here and get really deep into her mind and exploit her. They called me back like thirty minutes after they received my application.

Brandy:            You must have checked so many of the perfect boxes like you said.

Ashley:             Oh, yeah. You have to send in these pictures for one of the rounds that you make it through. I went to Central Park, and I stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue in a bikini, and I got one of my friends to take pictures of me. I think they were just like, “Yes!”

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             Like, “Either this girl is going to be super crazy or super sad, but no matter what, she’s gonna be perfect.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh. I love all of this. How do you feel about that looking back on it that that was why you got into it? Do you have embarrassment or regret or are you like, “Hey, that’s who I was at that age, and it’s totally fine?” Or do you cringe at all looking back on it or watching it back?

Ashley:             Actually, I don’t look back regretting anything. If anything, I think I was really kind of stuck at a point in my life where I had moved up to New York, my dad had died, and I had this horrible relationship with this guy. I wasn’t very happy with my job at that time. I was hoping by doing something like this (going on the show), it would kind of jumpstart my life into something else. So, I chose to look at it like an adventure. I tell people all the time that going on the show kind of did give me a second lease on life because I got a great edit. I made so many friends. I got a great edit. I only have positive things to say actually about going on the show.

Brandy:            Getting that edit, how hard is that? When you hear people talk about, “Oh, I got a bad edit…,” as the viewer, we’re always like, “Well, you gave them that material, so how is that the edit?” As somebody who does podcast editing and editing of writing, I know you can leave things out that makes somebody seem a certain way. Maybe, back then people weren’t talking about it as much, but is that something that the contestants were like, “Oh, I hope I get a good edit.” And how do you know if you’re gonna get a good edit or not?

Ashley:             You have to go on the show knowing. You have to be aware of what producers do. I think what happens is that you are assigned a producer about two months before you go on the show. They will call you every night. They go very deep into what it is that makes you tick, things that will make you emotional, and they will use it against you later.

Brandy:            Wow. Exactly. {laughter}

Ashley:             Anyone who is realistic about the experience should know that. It’s whenever people go in, and they’re naïve, and they think that production is their friend that, I think, they end up getting screwed over. I would consider myself someone who likes to drink and have fun, but whenever I got on the show, I knew that I could not go past a certain point of drinking or they were really going to mess with me.

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh. Yes. I imagine in the background there’s somebody just pouring booze for everybody. Are they pushing it on you guys? Or is it there and you can have it, or are they like trying to grease the wheels here?

Ashley:             I have a couple of like alcohol related stories for my season. So, the first one is that they asked me at one point what type of liquor I would want stocked in the house. I was joking, and I said Sweet Tea Vodka. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Sweet Tea Vodka, but it’s not something you can take as a shot. It’s definitely something you have to mix with other things. The next morning when I came downstairs, there were like twelve bottles of Sweet Tea Vodka.

Brandy:            Oh, my God. {laughter}

Ashley:             At the rose ceremony, they were passing it out as a shot. I was just like, “Wow, how do they not know this is not something you can take as a shot?” It’s not like sweet tea mixed with vodka. It’s like a flavored vodka, so it’s just as potent.

Brandy:            Oh, my God. You could have been like, “I really like Everclear,” and they’re like, “Alright, everybody’s doing a 40-ounce of Everclear.” They’re pretty clear about what they’re trying to get you guys to do or to loosen those inhibitions so that you make good TV, it sounds like.

Ashley:             Right. I will say that it’s not like they’re like, “Here, you should drink this.” I wasn’t particularly comfortable on camera, so sometimes I was like, “Yeah, I need to have a couple of shots before I feel comfortable doing this.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Yeah, right.

Ashley:             Once, we had this very awkward date at Brad’s house, and it was a group date. We were all supposed to be sitting around a jacuzzi, hanging out, and having fun. Brad was just one of those people who could never let loose.

Brandy:            {laughter} Yeah.

Ashley:             So, production was just like, “Alright, we have to step in. We have to do something.” They started passing out tequila shots, and this was one of the times where I was like, “Okay, yes. I do need to actually be a little drunk in this situation.”

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             They started playing music which that’s a no-no on the show because it really messes with audio. Unless it’s a concert date, you never hear music on the show.

Brandy:            So true. Right.

Ashley:             They were playing music. They were letting us take tequila shots. Then, it kind of got crazy around the jacuzzi, but he wouldn’t take his sweatshirt off. I don’t know why, but that really bothered me. Who can sit in a jacuzzi with a sweatshirt?

Brandy:            {laughter} As it should bother you.

Ashley:             Well, I was like, “One, I can’t even look at his body. That’s so disappointing. Two, he can’t even let loose enough to take off his sweatshirt.” It must have been the tequila, but I just kept on talking about it. I think that’s when producers were like, “Yeah, Ashley’s not into Brad. We have to get her off.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh. This goes down to so many other avenues. Do you know who the Bachelor is going to be before you go on it? When do you find that out?

Ashley:             On my season, I actually found out as I was on the plane flying to LA.

Brandy:            Wow.

Ashley:             My best friend saw it on Reality Steve, and she sent it to me. I had not been watching The Bachelor for that long, so I had no idea who he was. They took my phone as soon as I got there, so it’s not like I could even look up anything about him. And they wouldn’t tell me anything about him.

Brandy:            Oh, wow. So, you didn’t even have like a, “Yes, that’s the one I was hoping for,” or like, “Oh, that guy’s a total tool.” I feel like in the Bachelor world, 99.9% of them are the total tool. These guys are so boring. Nick Viall was, I think, the most interesting to me of the later-ish ones. I think about how bummed all these girls are every single time they find out who this dude is, and they’re like, “Oh, that guy is the worst.” And then, they have to show up. So, you didn’t even know how to feel yet. When you did meet him, what was your initial take?

Ashley:             I kind of learned a little bit about him in the limo on the way over, and the vibe I was getting from the other girls is that he was an asshole because he had turned down two girls the last time he was on the season. I’m sitting there in the limo, and I’m like, “Okay. All of these girls are really upset at him. I’m gonna play this different.” I acted like I had no idea what he had done. Once I met him, I was like, “Okay, he’s tall.” I think I actually grabbed his ass which is something I feel very ashamed of now because I preach really hard against stuff like that. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I just froze in the moment. His butt is also where just a normal hand placement would be because I’m very short, and he’s very tall. I just froze, and I just did that. I think I called him “a tall drink of water.”

Brandy:            Oh, my God. You totally gave him a “me too” moment. {laughter} I like this.

Ashley:             I did! And I’m so ashamed now. {laughter} Whenever I got inside, everyone was talking about that. I just told myself, “I am going to use this to my advantage. When I talk to him, I’m not going to bring it up. I’m just going to be like, ‘I hope that this is something you learned from, and I’m willing to give you a second chance and whatever.’” That’s why I got the first impression rose because I was the only person who wasn’t being a jerk to him about him not picking anyone.

Brandy:            When you were doing that and when you were kind of using that as a strategy in your mind, are you thinking, “Oh, I’m going to use this strategy or I’m going to use this take because I want this guy to like me and to see that I’m different?” Or are you, and everybody at this point, just trying to hold on for a couple of rose ceremonies so that you can get your feet wet and see if you even like this guy?

Ashley:             I think that both of them are true. I think that there’s always a level of strategy. I think people go in saying, “I would never use this as sort of like a competition,” but it just happens naturally. He will be really into someone else, and no matter what, even if you’re the most confident person in the world, you’ll just be like, “Why does he like her, and he doesn’t like me?”

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh. That’s so true. Yes. I can totally imagine that you don’t even want the prize, but you’re like, “Why doesn’t he like me? I will make him like me.”

Ashley:             Exactly. Yes. Then, you know you’re doing it, and you’re ashamed. But also, you don’t want to lose. You don’t want to get eliminated. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter} This is why I love this show. It’s so human. It preys on the most human basic instincts about winning and wanting to look good and be loved. It’s like wanting to win and be loved at the same time. It’s so fucked up and so great and the best TV ever.

Ashley:             It’s so true. I think I was 26 at the time. I think he was 38. Automatically, I was kind of like, “He’s a little old for me. I don’t think this is what I want right now.” I didn’t necessarily want to get married, but also, I wanted to be open to the idea of falling in love. Who knows how I would have felt by the end of it right?

Brandy:            Right.

Ashley:             But it took me about three episodes to realize he is not marriage material for me and for anyone, I guess, at that point.

Brandy:            Okay, that was my next question. When do you know, and if you know, do you have to keep it quiet because everybody will be like, “She’s not here for the right reasons.”

Ashley:             What’s so funny about our season is that I’m not sure any girl was really into him.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley              Even Emily, who is like an angel on Earth – we would all talk about how he was a robot, and Emily would do it too. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I don’t know if it was that we were all such good friends or if that has an impact on it? I don’t know if you remember the final two from our season, but the actual villain, for us, was Chantal who was the other person in the final two.

Brandy:            Oh.

Ashley:             But she got a wonderful edit. No one would know that. She was the meanest person in the house.

Brandy:            Woah. No way.

Ashley:             At one point, I think I even told producers, “If I stay, we might actually get in a fight.”

Brandy:            Wow, I am googling this because I’m so curious. I forget everybody season to season. Once there’s a new season, I have forgotten literally everybody.

Ashley:             Michelle Money was the villain of our season.

Brandy:            That’s right.

Ashley:             And she wasn’t. She was an angel. She was so nice. She would do all of our hair and makeup before rose ceremony. I mean, would she say things that were annoying? Sure, but that doesn’t mean she was the villain of our season. Chantal was the one that — I mean, I wish I could remember everything mean she said to us. It’s funny, too, because after the season, I’ve talked to her so many times. Now, she’s lovely. I just think she’s one of those people where she was uber competitive, and she really wasn’t there to make friends with any of us.

Brandy:            Wow. That’s where it really goes back to this edit idea. You can really get edited totally different than everybody experienced you in the house.

Ashley:             Yes. You have to hope that it goes well, but that’s what I always caution people against. Don’t give them that material because even if you say just one little thing wrong, they’re going to cut everything else you said and focus in on that one thing you said wrong. What happens, too, a lot is you’ll have to sit down with producers and do these ITM’s all the time which is like an in-the-moment interview. Sometimes, you’re just so tired of talking about your feelings or how you feel about a situation, that a producer will say what they want you to say, and then, they want you to repeat it back. That’s when you have to be careful because those aren’t your thoughts, and they’re really just trying to get you to say something.

Brandy:            So, how would that go?

Ashley:             Well, they would be like, “How do you feel about what Michelle said before the date?” And you’d just be like, “It wasn’t a big deal to me,” and they could be like, “Well, no, go a little bit more into detail about that. Did you want to punch her in the face when she said that?” Then, you can’t repeat back any part of that because then that’s what they’re gonna use. So, you have to be like, “No, I would never do that.” You can’t say, “No, I would not punch her in the face,” because they’ll just take that “punch her in the face” part.

Brandy:            Did you realize that pretty quickly, so you didn’t do those things? Or did you slip up a couple times and then realize that? How did you learn that?

Ashley:             I realized that actually after a sound bite like that because Michelle had a black eye. She woke up with black eye, and I think I said something about punching. It was because a producer had asked me something like that. I was just joking, and I was like, “I wish I did it myself.” Then, they used it.

Brandy:            Oh, of course.

Ashley:             Luckily enough, I had a good edit, so it didn’t make me look bad. But then, I noticed them doing it more in conversation, and something clicked. I just wish that more people knew that producers don’t have your best interest at heart always.

Brandy:            How excited do you think the producers were on last season when Kelsey had champagne spray in her face? That moment to me was — we rewound it just about a dozen times, and I feel like that was production gold for them.

Ashley:             Oh, yeah. I can imagine them in the whole green room where they’re all watching all the different conversations that are happening and just knowing that that was gold.

Brandy:            Yeah. {laughter} It’s so messed up to be one of those people. Who am I to talk? I’m the one watching it, and I’m like, “I can’t understand how they could watch people’s conversations and then make a show of it,” but I’ll watch it. But there’s something creepy about trying to manipulate it. That kind of turns me off.

Ashley:             Yeah.

Brandy:            You verified for me that they do take your phones. What is that like? Do you guys get them back at all? If not, how do you have any interaction with the real world and people that actually love you?

Ashley:             Unless something has changed, they took mine as soon as I arrived to the hotel, and they sequester you for two to three days before the season starts. You just sit in your hotel room with no phone. You can’t get on the computer. They would take us out of our rooms for like 15-minute intervals where they’d let you go into the gym, but you can’t do anything for 15 minutes in the gym. We’d have to get all of our food as room service. Then, sometimes production would come in and talk to us, but you’re in a room by yourself not talking to anyone. By the time you’re released, you will talk to anyone and everyone.

Brandy:            {laughter} Are they doing that on purpose? What is their reasoning? Do they tell you, “Now, you’re going to go through a deprogramming couple of days,” and does it feel shady? Or does it did it make sense?

Ashley:             I think after the second day, it started making sense because I would find anyone interesting at this point. {laughter} I would really want any guy to pay attention to me. It doesn’t matter who it is.

Brandy:            {laughter} Oh, my God. This is so bad. It’s like deprivation. There’s a level of human torture that happens to like then put you in a headspace where you’re like, “Nobody loves me. I’ll take whatever.” And then, they’re like, “This is Juan Pablo,” and you’re like, “He sounds perfectly reasonable.” I bring him up because I couldn’t even watch his season. These guys are hard for me to watch anyway, but that guy was a guy that I just knew I couldn’t even do. I think I saw on one of the things that I was looking up yesterday about you. You mentioned something about liking Arie, and Arie was almost the only guy — he was from quite a while ago, so I don’t totally remember. There could have been things he did and said that now are super cringy, but I was a huge Arie fan. I loved him.

Ashley:             It’s funny because after Emily’s season, I really wanted The Bachelor to become Arie, but then, I met Sean Lowe in person.

Brandy:            Uh. {laughter} Sorry.

Ashley:             I think I texted a producer — and believe me, my feelings about Sean have actually changed since this time. I texted someone from production. I was like, “If you don’t choose Sean, you’re crazy because there was something about him back then that wasn’t like super crazy godlike. He was very funny. I don’t know. I would say he was one of my better guy friends in Bachelor Nation, and he stopped following me on all social media platforms. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m so outspoken about my political beliefs. I called him out on it, and he was just like, “Oh, I’m just following friends and family now.” I was like, “Okay. I get it. I can see who you follow.”

Brandy:            Uh. Seriously, dude. We’re not idiots here. Like I said, I remember so few, but that name, I’m immediately like, “Oh, that guy was the worst. Just the most milquetoast…” I couldn’t even get a lady boner. I can never, ever get a lady boner on these shows for any of these guys almost, and that guy was just a boner killer all around. It’s good to know that even his personality still continues to be a boner killer. That’s amazing. {laughter}

Ashley:             It was so funny, too, that he ended up with Catherine because I think she’s wonderful.

Brandy:            Yeah, I liked her.

Ashley:             But yeah, you’re right. I mean, they’re all the most mediocre white guys ever.

Brandy:            {laughter} Yes.

Ashley:             I know we’ll go here later, but Chris Harrison made a point recently where he’s just like, “Whenever we find the right black guy, we’ll finally have a Black Bachelor.”

Brandy:            Oh, Jesus.

Ashley:             I’m just like, “What? Why can’t we have a mediocre Black guy just like all the white guys we’ve ever had? Why does it have to be the best Black guy ever?” That makes no sense.

Brandy:            That makes me enraged inside because that is just straight up racism. That’s the, “Oh, there’s different rules, and we don’t want one of those kind. We want one of this kind.” Meanwhile, the most awful white dudes are on that show. You brought up Chris Harrison which is a question that I think all of us have. Is Chris Harrison the bro bro that he seems like? Like he’s got all of your best interests in mind, or is he slimy?

Ashley:             I’ve had so many different feelings about Chris. My first impression of him was after a girl got kicked off, named Madison, who was in our house and who wore the vampire fangs. I don’t know if you remember her.

Brandy:            I don’t.

Ashley:             He came in and was kind of bad-mouthing her. I don’t know why, but that really bothered me. I was just like, “That’s not your place. Just stick to coming in when you have to and saying the same lines that we always hear you say. Don’t come in and bad mouth one of our friends.”

Brandy:            Yeah, that’s weird.

Ashley:             Then, I went to Emily’s finale. Ashley, my friend from the show, and I got invited to be on there. I’m not even sure why we got asked to be on there. {laughter}, but Chris Harrison came and asked me a question during the show. And then afterwards, it kind of seemed like he was hitting on me. Later on, Ashley and JP told me that he wanted to go on a double date with me.

Brandy:            Woah.

Ashley:             I was just like, “Okay,” but only because Ashley and JP are going too. I think I would feel really weird just going on a date with him by myself. I’m not kidding. Thirty minutes before the date, they supposedly got in like a big fight and then did not come. But then, I felt like a jerk, and we were going to Babbo in New York. Now, I would not go to Babbo because Mario Batali, but at the time, I was like, “Yes, Babbo. Great restaurant. I will go with Chris Harrison.” I invited two of my friends to go with us, so it was still gonna be a double date.

Brandy:            Nice. And did you go?

Ashley:             Yeah, he was perfectly lovely, but one of my guy friends who was on the date, Graham Bunn (he’s actually from the show, too), he was just like, “I feel weird being here because he definitely wanted this to just be a date between y’all.” Nothing happened. We didn’t kiss or anything like that, but we stayed in touch through text. Then, I saw him at Ashley and JP’s wedding, and I brought a date, who is now my husband.

Brandy:            Aww.

Ashley:             Chris Harrison was so mad at me. He came up to me, and he was just like, “You move on quickly.” I was just like, “Whoa, Chris Harrison. We went on one date.”

Brandy:            {gasps} Oh, my God. I love this for so many reasons. Chris Harrison was on a group date, and he hated it. It’s like, “Fuck you, Chris Harrison,” even though I partially as a viewer, I love Chris Harrison. But also, you’ve witnessed people being in the most awkward situations, and now, you have to be in it, and it sucks. And then also, I feel like the power you had in that moment, you could have been like, “Listen, Chris. I just really feel like it’s not working out. I think I’m gonna have to send you home.”

Ashley:             {laughter} No rose for you.

Brandy:            Yeah, you didn’t elicit that power. I would have felt so tempted. But then, that he was all butthurt about it. Oh, my God. This is great. My jaw is dropped, and I’m just enjoying every second of this if you can’t tell. {laughter}

Ashley:             It was wild.

Brandy:            What’s your status now with Chris Harrison? Is he friendly? Do you see him at stuff? Do you even go to stuff anymore?

Ashley:             I get asked a lot if I think production doesn’t like me because of some things that have happened, and I always tell people that production has never said anything bad about me. Even Millsy, who’s one of the head producers, he always says really nice things about me. Chris Harrison shades me in interviews.

Brandy:            Oh, really.

Ashley:             He hasn’t don’t it in a long time, but also because I feel like I haven’t been super critical lately, but he’s shaded me a couple of times in interviews. I always just want to be like, “Oh, shut up. We went on a date.” {laughter}

Brandy:            Yeah, you’re just pissed because you got rejected. You didn’t get the rose, Chris Harrison. {laughter}

Ashley:             {laughter} Yeah.

Brandy:            Now, next time we watch a season, if there’s a palatable Bachelor, I’ll know this information, and I will have such a different view of Chris Harrison because he seems so invested. I mean, I’m sure there’s a part of it that he gets into his work and he is, but he just seems so like, “Hey, man. I’m really bummed for you.” He seems like he’s in it, but of course, he’s a human being. Who knew Chris Harrison was a human? {laughter}

Ashley:             {laughter}

Brandy:            This is the question that I would have for a Survivor contestant (it’s period related): How annoying is it to be on your period and having to flirt with some douchey dude on camera? Also, how long does it take for all of your periods to sync up and then have hell week for everyone?

Ashley:             No, that was a real thing. Our periods all synced up.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             It was crazy. I don’t know if this is getting too gross or whatever —

Brandy:            Not possible.

Ashley:             I don’t mind talking about it. When you’re in the house, you really cannot eat healthy food or anything like that. You’re just kind of eating whatever is put in front of you. You’re mic’d all of the time, and so, you can only take off your mic whenever you’re about to go to the bathroom or something like that. I really feel like that puts a lot of stress on your system. So many girls could not go to the bathroom regularly, and there was one girl who, I’m not kidding, she gained ten pounds because she could not go to the bathroom.

Brandy:            Of just poop. Oh, God. {laughter}

Ashley:             Finally, she was like, “You have to get me some laxatives. This is not comfortable.” That was another thing that happened that I think a lot of people don’t think about.

Brandy:            Yes. Well, I’m always thinking about it.

Ashley:             {laughter} Well, that’s definitely something that happens that I did not expect when I went on.

Brandy:            When you guys would get on your periods, was everybody like, “Oh, we cannot even deal with you today, Brad.” And then, Chris Harrison would be like, “Alright, one of you lucky ladies get to suck this guy’s dick.”

Ashley:             {laughter}

Brandy:            And then, you’re all like, “No, her. Not me.” Do you have to feign it for the camera? What were those period weeks like?

Ashley:             Those are the weeks that you see everyone just being in a horrible mood. Those are the weeks that you see someone has the biggest pimple on their face, and they can’t cover it up. And that’s for sure the week that someone will get a one-on-one date with him.

Brandy:            Ah, of course.

Ashley:             Because they’re already feeling badly about themselves. So, that is the thing. Production is always looking for little things like that to really mess with people.

Brandy:            When I’m watching this, these cocktail parties, to me, seem like they go from 10pm to 5am because you’ll see some of the supposedly late-night interviews after somebody gets dumped. It’s at sunrise. What is happening here? Why is the timing of these parties so late? It seems like one of these forms of torture like, “Well, if we keep them up long enough and we give them enough really strong alcohol, there’s going to be good TV.” Is that really what’s happening, and is that the timeline? Why are people getting dumped at sunrise?

Ashley:             I’d say the first four happen from like 6pm or 7pm until 7am.

Brandy:            Oh, my gosh.

Ashley:             It’s just because they want to get the Bachelor talking one-on-one with people. They want to get all the girls talking to each other. They want to do one-on-one interviews with most people, with the Bachelor, with the contestants. And then also, they have to do the rose ceremony which takes a really long time. It’s a lot. One thing, too, is that you can’t wear a watch, and you also don’t have your phone, so you really never know what time it is.

Brandy:            Oh, my God. {laughter}

Ashley:             {laughter} Yeah. I can never sleep. I think I typically got like four to five hours of sleep a night when I was in the house, maybe less. The rose ceremonies are as awful as you could possibly think of because I don’t know about you, but I really hate wearing heels or just being in a very uncomfortable cocktail dress.

Brandy:            Oh, yeah.

Ashley:             And to do that for almost twelve hours is so miserable. There were so many girls during the rose ceremony that would almost faint because they would lock their knees out when they were standing up. {laughter} Those were always everyone’s least favorite nights. We did not look forward to them at all.

Brandy:            I bet. This is like torture, I swear. Everything you keep telling me, I’m like, “This sounds terrible.” What are your biggest criticisms with the show?

Ashley:             Oh, wow. Just in terms of what production does to us or even now?

Brandy:            Now, I guess. Looking back on it, at the beginning, you mentioned something about that you’ve been critical of the show. In what ways have you been critical of the show, or what things stick out to you? I’m sure there’s a lot, and we’ve gone over a lot of those. If you had to distill it down to one or two of the most problematic things about the show, what would you say those are?

Ashley:             I think the biggest one is that I just no longer feel like this show is representative of its audience. There’s no diversity in terms of skin color or even weight.

Brandy:            Right. Or gender or gender identity or homosexual, like queer. None or that. Yeah, it’s very binary.

Ashley:             Yes! Right. I would love a season of The Gay Bachelor. It would be so good. I don’t know why. How many Bachelor in Paradise shows can we get where are we just seeing the same contestants come on time after time?

Brandy:            Right.

Ashley:             I mean, I know you love Bachelor in Paradise, but at the same time, for me, I’m just like, “I’m so tired of some of these people.” I would just rather get new characters.

Brandy:            Oh, for sure. What was actually really interesting is I think the last season they had Demi on there, who’s bisexual, and that was one of the most interesting parts of it, I thought, because it was just something new. It was something new, and I was also really surprised that Bachelor Nation was even going to go there. My husband and I were like, “Well, of course, they went there with two women,” because there’s still that like, “Oh, that’s sexy for men.” We talked ad nauseum about if there were two men, The Bachelor would never let that fly because then dudes would be like, “I’m not watching that shit,” or at least probably the kind of dudes that maybe The Bachelor draws out anyway. I really loved that newness of it and something different. I think you’re so right that if they could get a little bit more diverse, they could maybe breathe some new life into this kind of dying out franchise. Although, maybe, it really isn’t dying out. Maybe, it’s more popular than ever. I don’t know. This last season with Pete, the boringest pilot on the planet, and Madison.

Ashley:             {laughter}

Brandy:            I liked her, and then, I was like, “You signed up for the show where this dude gets to bang someone in a fantasy suite, and now you’re mad about it?” So yeah, there’s a lot in that. What was your take on Bachelor in Paradise with having Demi and her girlfriend? And then also, did you hate Pete the pilot like I did?

Ashley:             I loved the Demi storyline. Have you seen Too Hot to Handle? It’s on Netflix.

Brandy:            Oh yes, that’s like gutter entertainment that I’m here for. So, yes.

Ashley:             I love that. I loved how there was a character on there where they didn’t say she was bi or anything like that, but she was like, “I’ll go for dudes, and I’ll go for girls. I don’t care.” I was just like, “This is what the show needs.” We just need something other than the person who’s lost a parent tragically. I mean, now, I even feel like the sad stories we get are someone’s parents divorcing, and I’m just like, “What is that as a tragedy?” Like, “Everyone’s parents are divorced.”

Brandy:            Right.

Ashley:             I don’t get it now. I feel like they’re just relying on the same tropes. It needs an injection of new life. I don’t know what that is, but I’m hoping that with Claire’s season — I don’t know if you’ve heard what they’re doing with hers, but it’s going to take place in one location. They’re thinking everyone’s going to stay at the same resort because I don’t think they’re going to do it at the house. They can’t really go anywhere for dates, so it’s really going to be like Love Island or even like earlier seasons of The Bachelor where they didn’t rely on them going on these fancy locations or these really super crazy dates. Right now she’s taking a look at her contestants on social media so that she has kind of like a feel for them, and I would love if they give her the option to eliminate some people before the season starts based on their social media. I just think that would be amazing.

Brandy:            Yes.

Ashley:             Or even if America could vote on some of the contestants based on their social media.

Brandy:            Uh, but not a certain part of America. I feel like America has voted and didn’t do a good job. Let’s not trust America for a while. {laughter}

Ashley:             {laughter} That’s true. That’s so true.

Brandy:            I love the idea of having like a pre-screening that maybe the contestant would get to look at that and be like, “Oh, total douche. Racist. Sexist. Drunk.” But we would have no contestants. Nobody would make the cut. {laughter}

Ashley:             True. I just think it’s so wild at that at this point that there’s been so many social media snafus.

Brandy:            Yes.

Ashley:             They don’t know to go through their social media at this point and get rid of things that are bad? It’s just so wild to me. I guess, I mean, if you’re a racist, you just don’t care if you’re a racist.

Brandy:            Yeah, that’s the thing. I don’t think you think it’s bad until somebody calls you out which is just insane to me. I think that’s how people can stay in those hateful beliefs. They actually think that they’re right.

Ashley:             I mean, I have a lot of thoughts about what the show can do better. I wish that they would pay contestants.

Brandy:            Wait, wait, wait a minute. These people do not get paid?

Ashley:             Nothing.

Brandy:            Holy shit. Oh, my God. Wow. I don’t know why everybody else is probably like, “Yeah, Brandy. Idiot. Of course, they don’t.” But I was thinking one of the only reasons you go on this, aside from maybe fame or love, is that you at least get paid like 10 or 20 grand, but you’re saying there’s literally nothing.

Ashley:             No. The lead gets paid. And then, if you go on Bachelor in Paradise, I think you get maybe like $400 a week or something like that. But if you go on The Bachelor — I mean, I know it put me into debt. When I got off, I had $15, not joking, because I still had to pay for rent on my apartment. I still had to pay loans for my college.

Brandy:            Yeah, and you can’t make money. You’re not working.

Ashley:             No, exactly.

Brandy:            Wow. Okay, so paying contestants. Yes, that sounds important. {laughter}

Ashley:             Yes. Well, I think that that is a reason why we don’t get a huge pool to choose from in terms of contestants because not that many people can just give up their lives from September to the beginning of December.

Brandy:            Right.

Ashley:             That’s just not an option for most people. Whenever people are complaining that the show doesn’t have people with actual careers, that’s why. Because most people can’t quit their jobs to go on the show. But I think that if you did get a little bit of money, at least to keep you afloat, then we would have a better selection of contestants.

Brandy:            Yes. That seems imperative. I’m learning a lot here today. Would you ever be on Bachelor in Paradise? I think at one point you had said they had asked you to, and you turned it down. Will you tell me about that?

Ashley:             Okay, so back then it was actually Bachelor Pad. It wasn’t Bachelor in Paradise which I actually think Bachelor Pad was better than Bachelor in Paradise. One, because you had a way to win money, but then also, people were really on their worst behavior because money was involved and because you really did have to scheme to try to screw over other people.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I think what one of the most iconic scenes in The Bachelor history is whenever Nick screwed over Rachel for the money. He just kept it instead of sharing it with her. I mean, I think he’s a douchebag for doing that. Don’t get me wrong. Also, that’s just such a memorable moment to me.

Brandy:            Right. It was like the producers were thinking, “The only thing that we don’t have here is — well, we’ve got the basic need to be loved, and we’ve got the competitive spirit. Let’s add money. That’s about the only other thing we could add in here that would just set this thing even more on fire.”

Ashley:             Not to keep on going back to Too Hot to Handle, but that’s why I think that show is really cool too.

Brandy:            Was there a time before you got married that you would have considered Bachelor in Paradise?

Ashley:             I actually really did consider it when they asked me. I had some conditions though. The only way I would do it is if Frank came back. That was my person who I was like, “If he does the show, I will definitely do it.”

Brandy:            Hold up. Googling Frank right now. I know when I see him, I’ll know.

Ashley:             He’s from Ali Fedotowsky’s season.

Brandy:            Oh, no way. Yeah! I think I liked him.

Ashley:             I had met him at a Las Vegas reunion, and I just thought he was really cute and so sweet. I was like, “Okay. I could see teaming up with him.” That would make me want to do it. But then also, I was very thankful for the good edit that I got, and I just knew my competitive nature would get the best of me on Bachelor Pad. So, I was just like, “No. Let’s just keep the good edit here.” {laughter}

Brandy:            You’re smart. One good edit is already one more good edit than most people probably get.

Ashley:             No one gets two.

Brandy:            Tell us where you’re at right now. So, you finally found love?

Ashley:             Yes, and I actually found it through The Bachelor which is kind of crazy. I was at a bar probably in 2011, so like a year after the show. This guy came up to me, and he was like, “Hey, I remember you from The Bachelor. You were my favorite contestant.” I had a boyfriend at the time, so I blew him off. But he realized that the guy he was at the bar with was dating my roommate, so he begged them for a year to set us up. And then, me and that guy broke up. Then, my friends set me up with him, and we’ve been dating ever since.

Brandy:            Aww.

Ashley:             Because he had watched the show, he recognized me, and we ended up getting together. We really hadn’t been dating that long whenever I was like, “Hey, do you want to come to this wedding with me? The only thing is, it’s going to be televised.”

Brandy:            {laughter} Right.

Ashley:             He was totally cool with it which you would be surprised, people were really not cool with the whole reality aspect. In the previous relationship, he really did not like that. He hated that whole world. He didn’t want to get to know other Bachelor people. Steve, my husband, had watched the show for so long that he knew who everyone was. So, that weekend was that much more fun because he wasn’t being a jerk about meeting Trista. He was more excited than I was.

Brandy:            Aww. So, he passed The Bachelor test.

Ashley:             Yeah, he did with flying colors.

Brandy:            One of the things that you’ve been really open about on social media is your journey with fertility. Will you tell us a little bit about that?

Ashley:             Yeah. I feel like I’ve always been really open about it, or just kids in general, because I’m a nanny. I’ve been a nanny since I was 22, and I’m 35 now, so a long time. In all of my jobs, I’ve seen the struggles that women can go through in trying to have kids. I really felt like it was something that whenever I started trying to have kids, I wanted to be as open and honest as possible to help others if they were going through the same type of thing. I had a copper IUD, and my best friend got pregnant. She was like, “I want us to do this together. Could you and Steve start trying to have kids now, too?” So, I took my copper IUD out and actually got pregnant the next day.

Brandy:            Oh, wow.

Ashley:             Yeah, it was a complete surprise, but of course, we were very excited. But then, eight weeks later, we went in, and they couldn’t find the heartbeat. That was very devastating. My sister was actually at the appointment with me, and she felt awful. After that, the doctors were like, “Just try normally. We don’t want to put too much pressure on you but try naturally for six months. Then, we’ll discuss next steps.” We tried naturally for six months and nothing happened. I feel like once we started trying again, they found some cysts or some polyps. I had to go in and have that surgery. So, at this point, I’ve had two D&C’s. Then at that point, we decided to do an IUI. It did not work. Then, we had a medicated IUI that we were in the process of whenever COVID happened. A couple of days before I was set to do my trigger shot, they actually just canceled my cycle.

Brandy:            Aw, man.

Ashley:             It’s been a long journey.

Brandy:            Yeah, how have you been coping? Already going through infertility, there’s so many unknowns, and you have to surrender to shit you don’t want to surrender to, but then having COVID on top of it and then having even that hope being dashed, how are you coping with that?

Ashley:             At this point, I think what Steve and I are trying to focus on is the fact that we’re healthy, and that we haven’t lost any family members to this and to just be thankful for that. They did give the go ahead that New Yorkers could start fertility treatments again, but I don’t 100% feel a lot of safety in our health care system right now just because there’s still a ton of people in the hospitals. I don’t know if I even feel responsible doing that right now. I just feel like this is not the time to be worried about having a kid. I don’t know. And maybe that’s naive at my age, but I don’t know.

Brandy:            I would be thinking the same exact things as you. I would be thinking like, “Okay, this isn’t ideal. Do I seem reckless that I’m gonna try to do this right now with everything so up in the air?” But then there’s a part that’s like, “If this is all we have, then fuck it.” I mean, the one thing this has shown is we don’t know how much time we have, and nature sort of has us by the balls. I can see it going both ways. I would totally be stuck between the two of them, and I think I would be worried, too, about needing a medical system that seems to be somewhat broken at the moment.

Ashley:             Yeah. I don’t feel like completely hopeless about it. I still feel like I’m pretty optimistic. But at the same time, everything just seems so up in the air right now. It’s just wild.

Brandy:            Totally. I know with my son it took us almost two years and same with my daughter. It took us quite a while. I hesitate to even say anything to you because it’s so hard when you’re in it to hear anybody’s stories because so many people want to give you stories of like, “Oh, here’s how it happened for us, so this may happen for you.” And then, you just know like, “I don’t know if it will happen like that for me.” So, I always found it really hard to hear people’s well-intended story. I even hesitate saying this to you, but I will say that the first time around, I wasn’t really open to getting any fertility help because I just sort of thought it’ll happen naturally or whatever. And then the second time, I had that same mindset, and then at some point, I was like, “Okay, I need answers. I need to know things. I need to know what’s broken, and I need to know what I can fix and all this stuff.” Whereas the first time around, I just assumed it was me and my cycle, so I went and did acupuncture and did yoga and was really working on me thinking I was the problem. So, the second time around, we both got tested, and it turns out I wasn’t the problem. That was such an interesting, eye-opening moment for me because I was like, “Oh, my God. I’ve spent so much of this fertility journey trying to ‘fix’ myself, and meanwhile, this guy over here, we need to fix him.” That was a helpful moment of clarity, and also I felt so much frustration about it — not about him, but just about, “Why did I just assume it was me, and I needed to let go, and I needed to not be stressed,” and all the things people tell you that make you want to punch somebody in the throat. It was so relieving to me that it wasn’t me and that we maybe had some other options. So, I just want to say I’ve been in a similar position, and I know it’s hard. I just wish you guys the best with it and to find you on the other side of it whenever that happens. I know that that is a rough journey.

Ashley:             Oh, thank you. What’s really funny about what you’re saying is I kind of took the opposite approach.

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I had been going to Parsley Health. They’re a functional medicine clinic, and I knew my hormonal levels were really just out of whack because I’ve had skin problems for forever. I went in and made a plan with my doctor where we were going to get me pregnancy ready within two years and get all my hormones balanced. They actually figured out that I had an underactive thyroid which was really key to know in the process of getting pregnant.  So then, whenever the miscarriage happened, I was just like, “Damn it. I’ve been prepping for two years. What could possibly be wrong?” The only thing I look back and really wish I wouldn’t have done is that six months where they were like, “Just try naturally,” I actually wish I would have been more aggressive because at the end of that six months is when they found the stuff in my uterus. I wish I would have been a little bit more aggressive with them and been like, “No, let’s try to figure out what’s wrong with me,” because then at the end of that six months, that’s when they found out I had a blocked fallopian tube. Also, that’s when they found the polyps.

Brandy:            Right, because you would’ve known that earlier. But, it’s so hard to know, right? Because it’s something that so many people go through, and it doesn’t happen for everybody immediately. It’s like you want to give it this breathing room and especially not be focused on it, but then when that time goes by, that’s kind of how I felt the second time around. I was like, “I’m not going to let all this time go by and then get checked. I’m just going to do it now, and even if it turns out that we find no new information, at least I’ll know that.”

Ashley:             Yeah. I would say, “Be your own advocate.”

Brandy:            Yes. Yeah. Always.

Ashley:             I almost feel like people are always like, “Don’t stress about it.” But if there’s something in your mind, that’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to stress about it. Let’s be more aggressive with figuring this out.” Then, push your doctor to do it.

Brandy:            Exactly. Well, I guess in closing, I’d love to ask you: How do you think being on The Bachelor changed you? What did you learn from it, or what did you take away from it in terms of “If I hadn’t been on The Bachelor, I would not be the same person?” What did you walk away with, or without?

Ashley:             Oh, wow. Hmm. I think that the show, in a weird way, taught me that my voice mattered. After my season, I started a blog where I kind of lifted the curtain on some of the things that they did behind the scenes. I tried to get people to not be so hard on contestants. That’s when I found that me being really vulnerable and being honest about things really resonated with people. I think that that has really guided everything that I’ve done since that point.

Brandy:            Wow.

Ashley:             There’s no reason for people to remember me at all. Like I said, I finished 11th. {laughter} Usually, that does not make people stick out in your mind, but I think it has been because I’m willing to be open and honest and vulnerable. You don’t always have to be a sellout once you get off the show. You can actually stand up for the things you believe in and make a life different than being a reality contestant. Did that answer it?

Brandy:            Yeah, that’s amazing because it could be so easy to just fall in line with everybody and have The Bachelor sheen and really not talk about anything, but like we’ve talked about, this was a form of torture that you went through. To be the person who’s gonna call it what it is and say the true thing which is “Hey, there some problems with this, and this is actually how it went,” and just to be honest to free other people who felt the same way or who want to know what it’s like, I mean, obviously, I’m all about that. I so value that, and I think that that’s probably what makes you so functional without The Bachelor is that it seems like if you stick with it, and that’s your only thing that you know, you have to kind of keep those things under wraps and worship Bachelor Nation. But if you can have a healthy point of view on it and be honest about it, I feel like that frees you which is pretty amazing.

Ashley:             Yeah, I completely agree. I don’t know why more people don’t do it. I mean, like I said, I think that they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them, or they want to be on a future show, but I never worried about that.

Brandy:            It speaks to the courage that you have to bite the hand that feeds you because I don’t know if you think this consciously or not, but like, “Just knowing without this thing, I still matter in the world, so I’m gonna say the thing and if the hand wants to then push me out and I’m no longer a part of this, I don’t need it because I have value other than that.” That’s a really big deal, and obviously, there’s not that many people from that group or probably from a lot of reality shows that are capable of doing that. Huge props to you for that. That’s a big deal.

Ashley:             Thank you. I mean, it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

Brandy:            Yeah, but it like it really truly is. Where can people find you now, and what fun things are you doing that you want people to know about?

Ashley:             Right now, you can always find me on my Instagram at @ashleyspivey, and I have two arms of my book club. The first one started on Facebook, and it’s actually #spiveys(book emoji)club. I made it hard to find on purpose because I didn’t want too many people. But I know a lot of people are really against Facebook, and honestly, if it wasn’t so successful there, I would delete my whole Facebook profile because I think Facebook is really evil too. So, if you hate Facebook, you can also find it on Instagram at @spiveysbookclub. I’m on Twitter at @AshleySpivey. I mainly just live tweet the show. I find that Twitter is such a negative place, so I don’t really say that much there.

Brandy:            Is there anything else that you feel like needs to be covered? Anything that we didn’t talk about?

Ashley:             I’d say maybe one of the biggest contributions I’ve made to The Bachelor world is that I got them to do deeper background checks because I found a pretty big hole in what they were doing. What had happened is Reality Steve was sent an email, and it said, “You might want to check into one of the contestants from South Boston.” That’s all they said. We were just like, “What? What does that have to do with anything?” He emailed the person back, and he was like, “Can you give me any other information?” They were just like, “No. Whatever person is from South Boston, they were at the courthouse today. You should look more into them.” So, Reality Steve was just like, “This is not what I do. If you’re not going to tell me what it is, I have no interest in this.” I told him, “Well, I’d love to look more into it.” Before I became a nanny, I was taking the LSAT because I wanted to go to law school. I was just like, “This is right up my alley.” I called the clerk of court there, and they told me that they could not give any information online or on the phone, but I could call the press office for the courthouse. So then at this point, I had figured out that it had to be a contestant named Lincoln Adim because he was the only one from Boston. I sent the press office an email and said, “Hey, can you tell me anything about what Lincoln Adim was doing in court yesterday?” They sent me back a thing, and sure enough, he had been arrested for groping a woman on a booze cruise. That was something they had missed in this background check, and I think that’s something that’s pretty important.

Brandy:            Yeah. Just a little bit.

Ashley:             I went forward with that information. My sister-in-law lives in Boston, so I was like, “Can you go down to this courthouse and photocopy all of the papers on this court case so I’m not just saying what this press office sent me, so I’ll have actual papers that I can show everyone this happened.” A lot of it was blacked out because, obviously, there’s a victim involved, but that’s how I uncovered that they really were not doing deep background checks on these contestants.

Brandy:            Did he get sent home because of that? What happened?

Ashley:             I found all that out after the season was done airing.

Brandy:            Oh, got it. Got it.

Ashley:             One thing I actually was very disappointed in the show about, not only that they let him on the season, but two, they did not completely erase him from the show once this came out. They wanted to use him in this part where he was talking about flat earthers. I guess they were using him for comedic value, but I feel like once you find out that someone’s done something like that, you should cut them out with editing or at least put “groper” underneath their name if you’re gonna keep them on there. {laughter}

Brandy:            {laughter}

Ashley:             I don’t know if you watch RuPaul Drag Race, but there’s a contestant this season who he had catfished some other people he was involved with, I guess, sexually and like sexually assaulted them, and they didn’t find out until the end of the season. But then, what they’ve done is they went back in editing and they haven’t really been giving him any screen time. I didn’t know why ABC couldn’t do that, too.

Brandy:            That’s a good question. Ashley, I feel like I need to be almost quarantined like you were at the beginning of The Bachelor. I need to just have a couple days to just soak in all of this information. I so appreciate you. I appreciate your point of view, too, and this sort of years later, and I don’t know just this really thoughtful, critical point of view. So, thank you so much for coming on here today. I would imagine my listeners are as excited as I am and are going to go tell all the people that they know all these insider little secrets. Thank you for giving us that gift.

Ashley:             This was so fun. Really. I’m sure there’s so many things we didn’t talk about, so if you ever want to know anything else. {laughter}

Brandy:            Yes. Okay, so let’s keep it open for a part two, and I’m just going to keep writing questions that come to mind. Man, just the whole Chris Harrison part. I really need to sit with that for a little bit. {laughter}

Brandy:            I don’t feel like there’s anything left to say. This episode just said it all. Harrison on an awkward date. Just magic. Oh, wait, there is something – sometime during the pandemic, Ashley got pregnant, and is expecting a boy! So, a huge congrats to her. I wonder if she’ll name him Frank?

Brandy:            If you enjoy the podcast, chances are you’ll love my novel. Especially, right now while you might need some validation, humor, and a wild trip to Vegas if only in your mind. Titled Adult Conversation: A Novel, it’s a darkly comedic story about the relentlessness of modern motherhood where the main character seeks an answer to the question, “Is motherhood broken? Or am I?” After a series of relatable mom wins and failures, she and her therapist end up on a Thelma and Louise style road trip to Vegas where they are tempted and tested while finding lost pieces of themselves that motherhood swallowed up. You can find it in all the usual places, or you can go to my website http://www.adultconversation.com to find out more. As always, thanks for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.