Former Chattanooga resident Katheryn Golden scored a month-long vacation in Maui, Hawaii, with her latest appearance on reality TV. Did she also land a man on "Temptation Island"?
The answer is still to be revealed as the drama unfolds Tuesday nights on USA Network.
Reached by phone last week, Golden would say only that she's "very happy with the outcome."
Six episodes in, we know that she has caught the eye of at least one of the coupled men on the reality show, a reboot of a Fox series that ran for three seasons from 2001 to 2003. USA premiered the fourth-season revamp on Jan. 15.
In the show, four unmarried couples at a crossroads in their relationship agree that each will live with a group of singles of the opposite sex to test the strength of their relationships. Will each couple mutually decide they are ready to commit to one another? Or will they go their separate ways?
Testing their resolve are 24 singles looking for love. The 12 single women share a beach house with the coupled men. Miles away, the 12 single men share a mountain villa with the four coupled women. The couples have no contact with each other during filming, but the cameras are always rolling. In each episode, the coupled men and women watch clips of what their respective partners are up to with the sexy singles sharing their accommodations.
The logistics throw a third question into the mix: If the couples do split, will it be so one (or both) can pursue a relationship with one of the singles they've met in this tropical paradise?
Unlike the previous run of the show, when the singles were mostly looking for a good time, the singles picked for season four are hoping to start a relationship.
"We're all there for the same reason, which adds a little bit of pressure," Golden says of her group of 12 single women. "Being a woman, we already put so much pressure on ourselves on a daily basis. Now you're on an island, and each of you is competing for the love and attention of four guys. It was difficult. We definitely had our arguments, for sure."
Now living in Nashville, Golden, 31, says she was approached by casting agents for "Temptation Island," who had her name on file from her appearance on "First Dates," a blind-date experiment that aired a single season on NBC in 2017. Golden's episode was especially memorable, mostly for her wisecracking humor, which flustered, perhaps frightened, her date.
When her date, Woody, proposed a toast, "To being ourselves, to having fun," Golden finished with, "To getting married." This was minutes after meeting.
She also warned him, "Wine makes me crazy, champagne makes me psycho, and I had both."
Golden and another "First Dates" participant, whose date lost interest when he said he still lived with his parents, subsequently appeared on "The Steve Harvey Show" for a played-for-laughs rundown of what went wrong.
In interviews then and now, Golden has said she often says things just to be funny or to provoke a reaction. She says producers of both reality shows knew she wouldn't hesitate to speak her mind — a qualifying trait for reality television.
"Here's the thing with me," she says. "I don't change who I am or what I'm going to say or the way I say it for TV or other people or anything. Who you see on TV is exactly who you're going to see in person."
Golden wasn't aware of the premise of the show for several weeks before being cast for "Temptation Island." Producers had emailed to ask only if she'd be up for "a fun adventure for singles."
"I wasn't in a relationship. I was living alone. I had a great, flexible job. I thought, 'What do I have to lose?'" recalls Golden, who works as a medical aesthetician for a Nashville plastic surgeon and as a professional makeup artist.
She went through several rounds of phone, Skype and in-person interviews, as well as a "grueling" two-day questionnaire before she was finally cast and told she would be traveling to Maui for the shoot.
"It was cold in Nashville, and we filmed in Hawaii for a month,"she says. "It was absolutely amazing."
She immediately hit it off with Texan John Thurmond, whose girlfriend of three years, Kady Cannon Krambeer, recognized the threat of the "single Southern hottie," as producers described Golden, and used a "block" to keep Thurmond and Golden from dating during much of their time together.
But not all the interactions between the singles and their objects of interest are organized outings. In one episode, Golden is shown in a private conversation with Thurmond in the villa, enticing him poolside with rose petals and candles.
"Kady's never done anything like this for me," Thurmond says.
"Katheryn will," Golden responds.
But the conversation goes south after Thurmond says he won't stray unless he finds out Krambeer has. Cut to Golden, alone in a teary confessional, expressing her annoyance.
"What is John thinking? I mean how on Earth can he possibly defend a woman who has put him in a position to hurt him?" she says to the camera, adding, "Emotions are coming for me that I never thought I had."
Golden says what viewers see is raw emotion from the participants. "Everything that we did and said was all genuine. It's raw reality. The tears, the arguments, it's all incredibly real."
She was at the center of one of those arguments, an explosive fight between her and fellow single Morgan Lolar after Lolar interrupted a private conversation between Golden and Evan Smith, another of the coupled men.
"There was nothing going on, and there was no reason for her to have acted that way towards me when all I was trying to do was avoid chaos," Golden writes in a blog for www.RealityTVWorld.com. "That triggered me, and I felt like I had to instantly defend myself — and through a screaming match I did. I definitely think the fight hindered any potential that Evan and I had."
Even if she can't talk about her current relationship status, Golden says she enjoyed her time on the show. During downtime, the single women would gather for beach days (tanning, margaritas) and spa days (mani-pedis, margaritas). When the guys were home, they would host luaus (tiki bar, margaritas) or Truth or Dare nights (confessionals, margaritas).
"I made some lifelong friendships with some of these girls," she says.
One thing it's taught her is how to cut her prep time for being camera-ready.
"Going into the show, it took me two hours to get ready (for a night out)," she says. "I can get ready in 25 minutes now. I learned by the second day, there wasn't going to be much time to put my lashes on, have my hair curled and get a dress on.
"When you're watching reality TV, or TV in general, it looks so seamless and fun," she adds. "When you're living it, it's 2 a.m. and you have to get up at 5 a.m. and literally film for 20 hours a day."
Golden says she's received positive and negative feedback from viewers so far. Some women have said seeing the couples in crisis helps them put their own relationships in perspective. Some have questioned her competitive nature.
"A lot of people have said I was so aggressive, so thirsty," Golden says. "They have to realize I was there for a reason. I was not there for a vacation."
So does she find love?
The finale reveals all on March 26.
Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.