Bachelor hype hits Reno

Just as ABC reveals who the lucky lady is on the climactic episode of season two of its popular show, The Bachelor, the network is in Reno, trolling for the next charming prince and court of Cinderellas looking for a commitment.

There’s an awful lot of imbibing on the show, so priming eager applicants at a casino martini bar is consistent. On Sunday evening inside Harrah’s Reno’s Sapphire Club, there are plenty of un-self-conscious singles putting the pant in participant, enduring videotaped auditions, the makeup chair and a potential, all-encompassing loss of privacy. An audition for The Bachelor III is high-profile matchmaking, a personal ad on steroids.

The brass ring, the object of the game, the big ol’ diamond rang is marriage, as is made blatantly clear in the show’s official Web site headline: “Now Casting the Next Bachelor. Do you, or someone you know, want to be the next Bachelor? Girls, want to marry the next Bachelor? Click to apply!’ The latter is a vivid metaphor for fitting in, with the “girls’ wondering what the next Aaron Buerge might be looking for while earnestly endeavoring to just be themselves, and the outnumbered, would-be bachelors worried what their friends will say if they see them wearing makeup.

ABC is seeking one bachelor, 25 bachelorettes and steady ratings, and its long list of rules forbids applications from anyone under 21, candidates for political office, individuals with children, convicted felons, and anyone with encumbrances that violate his or her “single’ status: “The applicant must not currently be involved in a committed … or cohabitation relationship involving physical intimacy; or a monogamous dating relationship more than two months in duration.’

Additionally, participants understand the risks of “death … injury, illness or disease and/or property damage … [and] physical activities such as skydiving, snow skiing, ice skating, parasailing, water skiing, rollerblading.’

Furthermore, if semi-finalists are “outgoing, adventurous, physically and mentally fit, and … sincerely seeking a marital relationship,’ they will “undergo physical and mental examinations in Los Angeles.’ But if they’ve ever “appeared on any primetime television reality game shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Weakest Link, Greed, The Amazing Race, Fear Factor, 21, The Mole, Winning Lines or Temptation Island—then the old maids might as well call FTD.

Local affiliate KOLO’s Carlos Faura announces the next woman to go before the cameras. In a room with the requisite bottle-blondes-with-big-implants, a vivacious, beautiful brunette hears her name and follows Faura upstairs. It’s more audacious than auspicious, just this side of receiving a rose.

“I’m all excited,’ says Rochelle Ramacher, a 27-year-old esthetician student from Reno. “This is not something you do every day. I think it’s better to just get it over with and go downstairs and see all the good-lookin’ men down there.’

Finally it’s her turn, and she’s escorted into the inner sanctum.

“Turn around,’ the videographer instructs, while he gets a full-body shot of Ramacher’s assets. “Have a seat. Be yourself and relax. Don’t be nervous.’ They should have her click her heels, too, wearing ruby slippers and awash in small-town sincerity. Ramacher responds to general queries about her life, career and marital status. Then they cut to the chase: Why does she want to be on The Bachelor? Why should the producers consider her marriage material? What is she passionate about?

“When I’m older and I look back in life,’ Ramacher replies, “I want to do something memorable. My heart is open. I’m pretty courageous. I’m looking for someone who’s like me, I guess. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?’ She wants to be able to tell her grandchildren this story, she says before her three-minute audition swiftly wraps. Unwaveringly confident and genuinely disarming, Ramacher returns to the bar and resumes conversation that can only be conducted by shouting above the thumping music.

“The odds have never been in my favor like this,’ says Frank Mastri, a handsome, 6-foot-4-inch rancher from Unionville, Nev. He surveys the room, seeming more than a holler’s distance from the serenity of the ranch. Mastri, 29, is fixin’ to get hitched for very traditional reasons: To have a family and continue ranching the family land east of here. But he confesses that glass-slipper-clad ladies would have to make huge sacrifices for his lifestyle. “I live a tough life for a woman.’

“From what I’ve been told,’ Ramacher concurs, “marriage is a compromise.’

In a quieter corner of the casino, both applicants reveal more in-depth details about their ideal mates.

“The kind of woman I’m looking for,’ Mastri says, “has to love to travel, not be a slob at the dinner table, love the outdoors and love me—more than anything in the whole wide world.’ Whoever his boot-wearing babe is, “She’s got to love the ranching lifestyle.’ Getting the cowboy to say what qualities will make him a fine husband, though, requires some wrangling.

“I am honest, very hard-working. If I fell in love with a woman, I’d have the utmost devotion to her. I’d make sure she always woke up with a smile on her face, no matter what it took.’

Mastri shouldn’t have to search long at the Sapphire to find a woman who’d love to hear those words. And with her Shania Twain good looks, Ramacher, too, wants to be a bachelorette because she’s ready to settle down.

“If I found the right guy,’ she says, shrugging off the invasive nature of the selection process and focusing on what she has to offer. “I’m an honest person. I believe that I could be definitely his best friend, faithful. It’s really difficult to meet a person who shares your moral and ethical values, and I’m willing to try something new and different to meet the right person.’