A Bachelor or Bachelorette season rarely goes by without the lead accidentally spoiling something about their journey. But what about the first Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner, who’s admitted to being blissfully unaware of the perils of social media and what it means to trend? Simple: He slips up on the pickleball court.
Gerry trusts his pickleball friends “at the highest level,” he tells Bustle — but even so, he never intended to spill any secrets from his season, which premieres Sept. 28 on ABC. “I made a random comment one day after the taping was over,” he recalls. “And one of the [players] came to me a couple of days later and said, ‘Gerry, you said this, and that helps me narrow it down to two or three people.’ So it’s like, Oh my God. Now, I totally trust that she’ll keep it to herself. But it was good detective work on her part to listen and hear that little thing that I said. So, the lesson to me: Just don’t say anything.”
Fortunately, Gerry is surrounded by people who have his back. He and his late wife, Toni, raised two daughters, Angie and Jenny, and later welcomed two grandchildren, Charlee and Payton. Gerry’s brood also includes his dog, Dakota (Cody for short), who made her way into Gerry’s Golden Bachelor photo shoot. Although he’s happy to find a workaround if his prospective partner is allergic to dogs, he’s not quite as understanding otherwise. “If they just don’t like dogs... I’d question whether they were real humans or not,” he says. “Because who doesn’t like dogs?”
Below, Gerry opens up about filming surprises and his thoughts on the much-hoped-for Golden Bachelorette.
During Men Tell All, many of the guys didn’t want to give you advice — because they saw you as the relationship expert! But did anyone from the franchise give you tips that helped in the process?
There are two things — one comment that came from Jesse Palmer and one comment that came from Trista [Sutter]. Jesse said, “Gerry, as you go through this process, just pick your battles. Decide where you want to stand your ground and where you don’t want to give up part of your soul.” With Trista, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with her on one of the group dates, and she brought me some focus. She said, “Gerry, don’t look for the woman that you can live with. Look for the woman you can’t live without.” And that became a theme for me. That was the litmus test that I looked at everyone with.
With Jesse’s advice, were there specific battles that come to mind?
That comment was specific to certain dates that I wanted to have, which the producers knew were ill-suited for the person I wanted to have that date with. I learned quickly that even though I’m an old guy and know a lot about life, I didn’t know much about the show. I had to really trust the judgment of the producers when it came to matching a date activity to one of the women that I wanted to spend time with.
Did the producers ever explain their rationale?
It was because they wanted a genuine, surprised reaction — either from me or the women involved. I can appreciate in retrospect [that] you don’t want to give up a surprise.
Ever since The Golden Bachelor was announced, people have been hoping there might be a Golden Bachelorette, too. Is that something you’ve thought of?
Of course. I have no say in that but I would love to see it happen. I think several of the women on my season would be excellent on The Golden Bachelorette.
You’ve said that filming the show was a “whirlwind.” Looking back, is there anything you might have done differently — or anything you would have prepared for more?
If I give myself a retroactive piece of advice, it would be to give myself over to the process right from the very beginning. The loss of some of the personal privileges is actually a good thing. Don’t fight it, and embrace it right from the beginning. It makes life a lot easier.
What kinds of privileges?
I make it sound a little bit more severe than it was. [It’s more about], “This is when you get to eat, this is when you get to sleep, this is when you change clothes.” On and on and on. Just go with it. Somebody is planning your life for you. Don’t make it stressful!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.