What can we expect from tonight’s season premiere of “The Ultimate Merger 2” starring plus-size model and television personality Toccara Jones? It will surely involve the typical shenanigans of the all too familiar “win-my-heart” reality formula. 14 guys will meet Toccara hoping for a chance to become her beau. Week after week, they’ll be put through challenges and then face elimination from the no-nonsense diva who promises she stayed “true to herself” on her quest for love. But while other “Bachelor” style dating shows have become increasingly fake, draining and unrealistic, “The Ultimate Merger 2” has a secret weapon–Tocarra. A proven ratings booster since she first appeared on “America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 3” back in 2004, Toccara is sure to bring the laughs. But we can also expect her to be truly open and vulnerable as she searches for the man who can provide her with a stable, mature and loving relationship. Finally, a bachelorette we can relate to.
We caught up with Toccara to find out why a she decided to take her quest for love to reality television.
Did you really go in to the show expecting to find love?
“I’m definitely a hopeless romantic. You never know where you’re going to find love. I’m getting older now and when you’re dating in the business, it’s really hard to find out people’s true intentions.
What are you nervous about seeing on the show?
“I haven’t seen anything! I have no idea what to expect but I’m excited to see what the guys were like when I wasn’t around and how the chemistry translated on screen. ”
You’re not worried they may have said some negative things about you when you weren’t around?
“NO! I don’t care about what they said. I was true to me. I feel great about what I did when I was there because I was true to myself.”
In order to find true love you have to know if there is physical chemistry with the guy? Were you open to getting physical?
“I didn’t want to go on the show with things I wasn’t going to do. Everybody was like ‘Are you going to kiss them?’ YES!!!! I really am going to kiss them. That’s part of dating. I made it very clear to the guys, I’m trying to get to know everyone. So kissing multiple guys? I had to tell them point blank, that’s what we signed up for.”
There tends to be a double-standard when it comes to women being physical with more than one guy at a time. How did the men take it?
“Oh! I kissed one guy and it sent the other guys in an uproar. And it was funny because he was the first guy I kissed so then it was like, ‘Ok Ok, Tocarra’s kissing.’ So then all of the other guys were like, ‘did she give some tongue, I want some tongue!’ And suddenly all the guys were trying to kiss me!”
How did the men you previously dated feel about you doing the show?
“Of course people I’ve dated had issues with me doing the show, but I’m a grown woman. I wasn’t in a relationship before I did the show because I had to spend some time with Toccara. I had to make sure I put all the old things behind me so that I could be completely open to finding love with the guys on the show. But I mean if they are exes, then we don’t have a relationship. That’s why they were an ex so what they think doesn’t matter.”
Are you still seeing a guy from the show?
“You know I can’t answer that!”
Check out “The Ultimate Merger 2” tonight on TVOne at 9 p.m. ET. Follow Toccara on twitter on @iamtoccara.