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Bachelor downturn? Handsome and available hunks scarce at Calgary auditions

Bachelor downturn? Handsome and available hunks scarce at Calgary auditions
 Casting assistant Lauren Twombly poses for a photo at the Delta Bow Valley in downtown Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. Open auditions were being held for the next season of the Bachelorette Canada. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network | Photograph by: Lyle Aspinall , Calgary Herald

“I’ve been single for a week.”

That was Taylor Shaw’s opening line Thursday morning, a booming voice in what turned out to be the somewhat barren wilderness of early Calgary tryouts for the first season of W Network’s The Bachelorette Canada.

Shaw, a 31-year-old equipment operator, was one of precious few to trickle into the Delta in downtown during the first couple of hours of the Calgary auditions. He had told himself he would turn around and walk out if there was a lineup. There wasn’t.

So the Collingwood, Ont.-native, who now lives in Blackfalds, sat beside the roaring fire of the Delta’s hotel lobby to fill out the paperwork and discuss why he hoped to find true love on a reality show. He certainly seems like a good candidate to compete against 19 other studly bachelors for the hand of Canada’s first reality-show bachelorette, who has yet to be revealed. He is tall, good-looking, showcased a dry sense of humour when filling out the application’s more mundane questions (“What makes you unique? My mom tells me I’m special.”) and is blessed with that booming voice.

But for him, first and foremost, the problem is that he’s single and has been for, well, a week.

“It seemed like a different opportunity,” said Shaw. “I’m single now and there’s no point to rule this out. You can find a relationship pretty much anywhere. This seems like an opportunity to me, so I figured I’d try it out and see what happens.”

Tryouts were scheduled to run until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and showrunner Keely Booth was certain that things would pick up during the after-work hours. But it was a still far cry from past Calgary tryouts for other reality series. The Bachelor Canada, for instance, had dozens of women lining up in the early hours with hopes of being part of the series. It had none of the party-like atmosphere of Big Brother Canada tryouts either, where hundreds of Calgary revellers, convinced of their TV-friendly uniqueness, showed up for cattle-call auditions and waited hours for a chance to be on the series.

Calgary was part of a cross-country tour that will find producers travel from Vancouver to Halifax to find 20 bachelors for the series, set to debut in the fall of 2016. Over eight weeks, the 20 will eventually be whittled down to one, chosen by the bachelorette as her betrothed. The series will be shot in Vancouver and various unnamed locations in the spring.

Booth said that the low morning turnout in Calgary wasn’t completely a surprise. After all, it was 10:30 a.m. on a work day and being employed is an appealing attribute for eligible bachelors.

Also, she said many of the Calgary hopefuls, although she didn’t have an exact number, had applied online and set up appointments.

Still, she said auditions for the Bachelorette Canada are different than those for other series such as Big Brother Canada, Dragons’ Den or Canadian Idol.

“I think for a lot of people, it’s very intimidating to step into this kind of process,” Booth said. “Other shows are about your business acumen or a talent that you have. But to come in and present yourself as someone looking for love and to say ‘This is me’? That is overwhelming. It’s hard and it can be, for some people, daunting.”

That seemed to the case with a 36-year-old government worker, who sheepishly wanders in at around 11 a.m. He is happy to talk to a reporter, but doesn’t want his name used. This desire for anonymity might seem a peculiar trait for someone hoping to participate in a reality show, but this would-be candidate had yet to make up his mind and wouldn’t want people to find out he had auditioned and failed to get on the series.

“My mom and another female I work with last year challenged me to do it because I am single still,” he said. “I thought this might be something fun to do.”

Booth said the interviews are partially set up to ensure the men applying are there for the “right reasons.” In short, they should be serious about settling down and getting married. They also have to be prepared to invest up to eight weeks of their life to the series.

Conrad Field, a 30-year-old former engineer who recently opened his own real estate investment business, fits the bill. He’s looking for love, not TV stardom. In fact, the thought of being on TV “terrifies” him.

“From the parts of the show I have seen, there’s some pretty incredible women that they find,” he says. “I’ve been unsuccessful so far trying to find somebody, so I think it would be a pretty good opportunity to meet a pretty incredible girl.”

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