Biripi man goes undie-cover to find love

First impressions count, so 26-year-old John Ridgeway chose with great care the underpants in which he would make his national TV debut in his search for Mr Right.

Ridgeway arrived on the set of the new SBS series Undressed with four choices of undies for the stylists to peruse.

“They were like ‘You should wear these ones, they’re cute,” he says. “The smallest and tightest undies I own.”

The primary school teacher’s aide and Biripi man is among the participants on the new SBS social experiment show that premiered on January 16 and aims to test the theory that the process of attraction can be accelerated with physical and emotional contact.

Ridgeway will be in the February 6 episode.

The program sees couples from a mix of cultural and racial backgrounds meet in a room furnished only with a bed and a big TV screen for a 30-minute date. Instructions and questions flash up on the screen and guide the strangers through the process.

The weekly series is based on an Italian format that has become an international hit.

The first directive is for the participants to strip each other down to their underwear.

“You introduce yourself and it comes up on the big screen: ‘Get undressed’,” Ridgeway says.

“You have about 45 seconds of ‘Hi, hi’ then ‘Get undressed’. It’s like ‘Okay, we’re doing this now’.”

At the end of the show, each of the participants has to reveal whether they want to see the other again.

Ridgeway was living in Dubbo and finding it hard to meet people when he made the decision to apply for the show last year. His ‘Mr Right’ would be an average build and a bit geeky and also in his mid 20s.

“Dubbo is a fairly decent-sized country town, but it’s not Sydney or Melbourne when it comes to the dating pool,” he says. “It was hard. There weren’t very many decent guys.”

Now living in Port Stephens, Ridgeway can’t say whether he found true love on TV with fellow participant David, but says shooting the program last year was a good experience.

“It’s a lot more in-depth than your average Friday night,” he says.

“You don’t have time for the awkward moments because you don’t have your phone on you, so you kind of have to make conversation. It does force you to talk about things you probably wouldn’t (otherwise) talk about. You connect more because you are looking at each other and listening to each other rather than half listening while scrolling through Facebook.”

Ridgeway says being almost naked also forces you to open up because you already feel exposed.

Undressed airs on SBS at 9.30pm on Monday nights.

Wendy Caccetta

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