Tony Pieper: Being the next 'The Bachelor' star would be a dream come true
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/01/2012
The Bachelorette bachelor Tony Pieper, a 31-year-old lumber trader from Beaverton, OR, was eliminated along with two other suitors during Monday night's broadcast of the ABC reality dating series' eighth season.
Tony was ousted during the group date because The Bachelorette star Emily Maynard knew he was missing his son at home terribly, while fellow bachelors Alessandro and Stevie were eliminated during the third episode's cocktail reception and Rose Ceremony respectively.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Tony talked to Reality TV World about his short-lived The Bachelorette experience. To read what he had to say, click here.
Below are some highlights from ABC's transcript of the rest of Tony's call with reporters -- including whether he thought he could've had a strong connection with Emily had he stayed, why aggressively pursuing a girl on the show was out of his comfort zone, who he believed were the best guys for Emily, and why he's concerned some of the guys may not be ready to become fathers despite their good intentions.
Do you think if you had been able to push through missing your son, you would have eventually felt a stronger connection with Emily?
Tony Pieper: You know, it's kind of something I've thought about and we just had so much in common, and I really didn't get that much time with her off the bat. So I mean, I think we would've grown closer.
There was an initial connection there, but just because I didn't really have that much time and obviously my son was kind of the only thing I could think about -- and the tough part is that when you only get a certain amount of time with somebody, days feel like weeks just being away from my son.
It was just hard because after, you know -- after a good amount of time passed, I was missing my son so much and I'm like, "Well, I haven't really had time to get to know this girl."
So, you know, maybe if I did, it would've -- it would've been easier for me to really think to myself, "Hey, this could be the love of my life and I could, you know, be able to start a family with her" -- which would benefit me and my son and everything. It would be great because we'd be a family, but I just don't feel like I had enough time with her to really make that decision. So...
Do you think you were at the point that if she had not sent you home, you would've walked away anyway?
Tony Pieper: Yes, I definitely was at that point. And, like I said, I mean, I just -- I just didn't know enough about her. I just didn't have that much time with her. So I was thinking to myself, "I don't know if I could've lasted another week being there just because of how much I missed my son and everything." I probably would've gone home on my own very soon after.
I'm sure you knew leaving your son initially that it was going to be hard, but when you were actually there and away from him, was it a lot tougher than you thought it was going to be?
Tony Pieper: Yes, you have no idea. Yes, it was definitely much tougher than I ever imagined. I mean, yes, you're right. I did go on the show and, you know, I actually thought about it for a long time, like, "Is this the right thing to do, should I go on this show?"
I know that I could be gone 10 or so weeks or however long it was, and being away from him -- I've never been away from him for more than four to five days. So I knew going into it, it was going to be tough, but how I kind of -- what I told myself is that, "I'm looking for a family, I'm looking for love and I know my son wants that too."
And he sees that I'm happy; He's happy. But there's just one piece missing. And to me, it was worth it to go try and find if maybe this is the missing piece to make our family whole and make everything better, and I just didn't realize when I was on the show how much it would affect me that I couldn't see him.
And then I could talk to him and he was, like, the cutest thing in the world and he's, like, "I love you, miss you," and, I mean, that just gets to your heart, you know? It just made it all better, but at the same time, it just made me a little sad, you know? So it was a lot tougher than I had ever imagined.
A lot of the guys really go out of their way to be very competitive for Emily's attention and competitive to win this competition. You seemed to have more of a laid-back approach, which I liked, and I was wondering if that's sort of your approach in real life too in that you're not overly aggressive when pursuing a girl?
Tony Pieper: Yes, you know, it totally depends on the situation as far as dating and yes, being aggressive, you know, to ask a girl out or something like that. Usually, I'm a little bit more laid back in that aspect. I grew up playing sports. So as far as competitive, I mean, I'm one of the most competitive people you'll know.
But yes, I didn't want to be that overly aggressive guy and it just wasn't -- it wasn't, like, human nature just to start pushing guys out of the way to get to Emily. Just that's not what I do in normal life. And so, that was a little difficult for me, but I'll tell you one thing, I was there for the right reasons.
And so maybe that was one thing. I know a lot of the guys were too, but maybe some of them just were in it for the competition. So that made them a little bit more aggressive or whatnot. But to me, I mean, everything happened for a reason and I was just going to go in there and be myself and see what happens.
Do you think that it's harder for a single mom or a single dad today or is it about the theme? On conference calls in the past, Chris Harrison kept stressing that he felt there was a stigma against Emily for starring as the Bachelorette as a single mom versus Jason Mesnick being a bit more embraced being the Bachelor as a single dad.
Tony Pieper: You know, I don't -- I don't think there's a huge difference. I don't think it's tougher. I wouldn't look at it being tougher to be a single dad versus a single mom. I mean, we both go through the same obstacles and the same, you know, the same issues with being single parents. I wouldn't look at it any different personally.
I mean, it is tough just because society says that, you know, you're a single mom, you should always be around your kids and, you know, you probably shouldn't be away for a long period of time. And as a single dad, you know, it might be a little bit different just because the motherly role in society is a lot stronger, but I don't -- I wouldn't see any difference in it personally.
And what was the reunion with your son like once you got back to Oregon?
Tony Pieper: Oh, it was one of the best days of my life. I mean, he came running up and I hugged him and kissed him and it's like he grew 5 inches in three weeks, and yes, it was the best thing -- one of the best days of my life to be honest with you, I was just -- it was happiness.
That's all I wanted to do. That's all I could think of, and yes, I was -- I can't even describe it. It was just, like, a piece of my heart was back, you know?
It seems like Emily is definitely prioritizing her daughter when it comes to picking the guys. So I wanted to see if you felt that way when you were there with her, and do you think she's making good choices so far now that you're watching the show from home?
Tony Pieper: Yes, I think she's making fantastic choices. You know, one of them is making sure that not all the guys meet Ricki. I mean, it's just something that you don't -- you want as little confusion with your son or daughter as possible, and I think she's done a great job there.
I think she's done a great job, you know, putting Ricki, like, in the Muppet Show and letting Ricki have a lot of fun with this as well, but also not confuse her and not bring her along on dates and doing things like that. So I think she's done a fantastic job myself.
Do you have any opinions on the best guys for her?
Tony Pieper: The best guy? I might have a little bit of an opinion. He was the guy -- he was my kind of best buddy in the house and I grew really close to him, and that's Sean. I think as far as, like, Sean's morals and values, I think Sean is a person [who's] just a fantastic guy. And yes, I think they'd be a great couple.
You were talking about this a little bit earlier, but I just kind of wanted to go back to and ask, how did you decide to go on The Bachelorette in the first place and what was the process like for you?
Tony Pieper: Well, I had actually just gotten a divorce. It was a couple of months after, and I was just with one of my friends and we were watching The Bachelor. And she's like, you know, "I'd be great on this show. So I'm going to apply." And she's like, "You know what? You would be great on that show. You should apply too."
And so I'm, like, "Yes, okay. I'll apply. Yes, you know? This -- we'll see how it goes." And so I applied and I got a call months and months down the road. It was awhile and to be honest with you, I kind of forgot that I had applied. And when I got the call, they said, "This is so and so with The Bachelorette," and I'm like, "Bachelorette? Bachelorette party? What? I don't understand."
And they're like, "No, the television show." And I'm like, "Oh, okay. Yes, that's right. I did apply." And so, I had a half an hour interview about it and they liked me and I actually had a twin brother down in L.A. who I was going to visit.
And so, I met with the casting people of The Bachelorette and we just kind of hit it off and they're, like, great, great people. And they liked me and they kind of made me think of, well, you know, "Would you really want to do this?"
And so, I started thinking because it started getting more serious, like wow, I could really be a part of this show. And so I'm thinking about it, and obviously the hardest part is that I have a five-year-old son and he's my life. I mean, he's my everything. And the biggest issue was, well, can I be away from him for 10 weeks at max?
And I had a lot of sleepless nights about it, talked with a lot of my family members and just kind of came to the conclusion that I'm like everybody else. I want a family. I had a family once and it was the greatest thing ever, and I wanted a family [again]. I wanted my son, you know, to have a family as well with me and, you know, I wanted to find love.
I thought, "Hey, I'm taking a risk, but at the same time, I could get rewarded with the love of my life, with a family -- and that would ultimately be rewarding to my son as well." So I came in there not thinking, "Oh, this is a competition and I'm going to win and I'm going to do this and that." I came in hoping that I would have a connection and could possibly find true love out of it, and that's why I did what I did.
How long were you gone total?
Tony Pieper: I was gone about three weeks.
So are you going to keep looking for love in your hometown of Beaverton?
Tony Pieper: That is the goal, yes. I'm -- yes, I'm not going to take any time off, you know? It's just -- if something comes up, then, you know, I'm still looking. I'm still out there. So yes, I'm just in Portland now. So...
I know you said you were close to Sean in the house, but it also seems like you were close with Doug and that he'd give forward advice. Was it because he had a kid too and so he understood what you were going through?
Tony Pieper: Yes, most definitely. Actually, Doug was the first person I told in that house that I had a kid and he -- me and him, I mean, we could just -- we could relate to so many things, and that being the toughest thing that was going through my mind while I was there. It was great to go to somebody, and Doug is just such a nice guy. And he's such, he's like a big teddy bear father-type, you know?
So I'd come to him and we actually shared a really close moment when I told him I had a son, and then he talked about his son, and so we definitely had a bond there. And then whenever I was going through some issues, or he was going through some issues, we were there for each other.
So I wanted him to make sure that he knew I was there for him too, because I was the only buddy who could relate to his situation. And so yes, we had a good bond. He's a great guy and I'm rooting him for him too.
Is Emily really as sweet as she's portrayed on the show?
Tony Pieper: I would have to say yes. Every -- I have nothing at all bad to say about her. She was very sweet, very genuine. She was definitely a sweetheart, you know, because I kind of was thinking the same thing. I'm like, "Oh, this might be a little too good to be true." But no, she's definitely a very, very sweet, caring and genuine person and I saw that when I was talking to her. And yes, she was great.
Did you think any of the guys on the show were there for the wrong reasons?
Tony Pieper: You know what? To be honest with you, I liked every guy on the show.
Tony Pieper: Well, here's the thing about Kalon, okay? I think he's a good person, but I just think he was raised differently than all of us. I mean, he's kind of the rich kid and he was actually a bunk mate of mine, and when a lot of people were kind of shutting him off, I was kind of there to be a friend to him.
He seemed like a pretty good guy. Now, what I didn't mean is the stuff that's on TV now, you know? Because what I got is just me and him, you know, face-to-face, and he seemed like a decent guy to me. He just has, you know -- he's kind of grown up a little bit like the rich kid, and you know, everybody kind of wanted to make him the outcast and everything.
But what I saw on TV was a totally different side of him. And so, that was a little interesting when I saw him on the last show and I thought he was -- I was kind of defending him a little bit because (unintelligible) were, like, "Oh, Kalon, he's a bad guy, an antagonist, and this and that." And I'm like, "Well, he seemed like a pretty good guy to me."
But now, I see him on TV and kind of in a different light. And now, I think if there was one person that was there for the wrong reasons, I think it would be him. But at the same time, do I think he wants to find love? Sure, 100% percent.
That's really interesting that you saw different things on the show than when you were there. Do you see anything different about yourself watching it back? Did you learn anything about yourself, you think?
Tony Pieper: You know, the one thing is just I live for my son. As a parent, as soon as you have a child, you just -- you live for them, you know? You want to make them happy, you kind of stop everything you're doing to make sure that they're happy, they have a roof over their head, and you know, you're giving them the best life you possibly can give them.
And when I was on the show, you know, a lot that came out was my son, my son, my son. And when I'm back home and I'm dating in Portland or whatnot, it's like, "Yes, I have a son. He's the best thing in my life, but let me tell you about me and get to know me."
And so when I was on the show, a lot of times, I'd be talking to Emily and it'd be about my son or how great I was hanging around kids and this and that. But I didn't really give her that much of myself. And so, something that I kind of looked at was that I still needed to be the best dad in the world.
That's my number one priority, but I also need to step into the role of really giving myself to somebody so they can see me as a person and me as an individual, and that's kind of something I took from that that I need to do. But other than that, what you saw was me. I mean, that they portrayed me how I was, that's who I am. So...
Do you think there are guys left that think they're ready to step into a step-father role that maybe aren't?
Tony Pieper: Yes, I think there's guys there that are going to get a little bit of a shock when they step into that role, you know? That was talked about. You know, actually me and Doug kind of brought that up to everybody in just that, "Is everybody here ready to step into the fatherly role?"
And I think some of these guys even, you know, one night I said, "Hey, you know, who here has dated somebody with kids?" This was the first night, and in this circle of people, no one raised their hand. And I'm like, "Wow." Not saying that these guys aren't capable, because I think a lot -- most all of them are -- but it's just very different and I don't know.
Until you're put in that position, you know, it's hard telling them to say, "Hey, you're going to be a good father," or, "Can you even handle it?" So yes, I think a lot of the guys are going to get a little shocked being placed into that role right away, and I just hope it works out for Emily because I think the same thing, you know?
In the past when I've dated after my divorce and everything, it was like, "Well, you're a great girl," this and that, "But how would you deal with my son?" And then, you know, I kind of look at that and sometimes they're not ready.
They think they're ready, or I just really hope whoever she picks is just going to be great in that role, because it's tough saying that when you're not actually in it and you don't actually have a child.
It seems like some bachelors may be saying one thing but feeling or doing something completely different.
Tony Pieper: Exactly. Yes, that's what I thought the whole time. I mean, a lot of these guys said like, "Yes, I'm ready" and, "Sure, let's you know, I'd be a great day," but until you're actually in the role -- I mean, and that's the one thing.
It's going to be hard because me being a single dad, I mean, if I was the Bachelor and all these girls were around me, I would not bring my son into it until the very, very end. But the one problem with that is, you wouldn't get to see how they interact with the number one thing in your life.
And that'd be the toughest thing, and that's why I'm kind of interested to keep watching and see how Emily does at the end and see how much she let's her daughter into these guys' lives, because there's two different sides: One is that, you know, you want to protect your daughter. You don't want to confuse her.
You don't want to bring her around all these guys until you know in your heart that that's the one for you, but at the same time, the only way you're going to know in your heart if that's the one for you is if they're going to be great with your daughter -- the best thing in your life, you know? So...
The show has been very accommodating to their Bachelors and Bachelorettes, so if they made or bent the rules for you as well -- like move the show to Oregon or allow your son to travel with you -- would you consider doing it?
Tony Pieper: You know, I did see how accommodating they were for Emily and, I mean, everybody on the show has just been absolutely awesome not only for me, but it looks like for obviously Emily too. But if I got that kind of treatment, I would -- I'd really consider it. I mean, I think that's kind of a dream come true. I mean, if they would accommodate everything. I mean, that's the hardest part.
I'd have to think about it, but I think that would -- that would be something that would be, like I said, I mean, a dream come true. But it is -- it'd just be -- I mean, I definitely have... sorry, that's kind of a tough question just because, you know, he has school and a lot of other things that I'm sure took her a long time to really think about and see if it was really right for her.
So, I mean, that definitely would have to be something that I'd have to think about for a while, but just shooting from the hip, I mean, it would be a great experience.
Would you ever consider trying online dating?
Tony Pieper: You know, I've never done online dating before, so I don't know if I -- if I would give it a shot or not. I mean, I don't have anything against it, but it's just something I'm not really used to.
So I don't know. I'm not ruling anything out. I just want to, you know, find love like everybody else does and just hope someday I can find that whether it be online or as, you know, the next Bachelor or just being me in my hometown.
Above are some highlights from ABC's transcript of the rest of Tony's call with reporters. To read the first portion of his interview and what he had to say to Reality TV World, click here.