We’ve all been there. Said the wrong thing in front of a girl and, in trying to repair the damage, clumsily driven a steamroller straight through the house. But for 27-year-old male model Damion Merry, ‘there’ was national television, in front of a studio audience, with five million more watching on at home, cringing and laughing, many of them taking to their laptops and smartphones to call him a cunt.
“I was just digging and digging and digging,” he says. “I just kept going deeper into that hole and couldn’t get myself out. It was just one mistake after another.”
FHM: Where did it all go wrong?
Damion: As soon as I was in the lift – The Love Lift – I just knew it was going downhill. Y’know, you see all of those girls there and, like, a thousand people in the audience, and the music, and the lights… it’s just not really a situation you’re faced with on a daily basis. When you get attention from women normally, you might get one or two looking at you, but [on the show] you’ve got 30 girls looking at you and judging you. It’s just surreal; such a bizarre situation to find yourself in.
The only rehearsal you do is you time the music from when you come down to when you get to the centre of the stage – and that’s it. You don’t know what the girls are like and you don’t know what questions you’re gonna get asked. You don’t get to meet anybody beforehand. Even when you go for your date on the isle of Fernandos, you’re on separate planes. It’s not pre-rehearsed – you don’t get to chat with them or apologise for your mistakes or anything like that. Every interaction is all done on camera.
How was the date?
I’d say being stung by a thousand bees is probably less painful. She wasn’t over it. It was hard, hard graft. I felt like a bit of a knob, really, how I was coming across on the show. It really wasn’t me. I didn’t go on the date to try and sleep with her or anything like that, or even to woo her or win her over, I just wanted to redeem myself a little bit and show her that I was actually quite a nice guy.
And did you succeed?
By the end of the date she accepted my apology. She said that under different circumstances something could have happened with us. But you don’t usually go into a date feeling so much pressure and knowing before you’ve even said anything that you’ve got to apologise. I was doomed from the beginning.
Where did it all go wrong on the show?
I think I went on the defensive a little bit when lots of lights went off because of the Jodie Marsh thing. But I stuck by my guns with Lucy – she was the one that I was drawn to. A lot of the other guys on the show, they’re happy to basically go on a date with any one of the girls. In a way I think it’s a good thing that I only wanted one because it shows that I wasn’t just happy to accept second best. My eyes were originally drawn to Lucy and that’s what I was sticking by – I don’t really make any apologies for that. Straight away I knew Lucy was the one I wanted and any of the others would have been second best. A lot of people have said they’re with me on that one because it’s better to want one than all thirty; that would make me a bit of a sleaze, I guess.
Would you go on again?
I’d definitely go on the show again. Hindsight’s a brilliant thing and I do look at it and cringe a little bit but, y’know, the other guys on the show have got eight or nine thousand YouTube hits and mine’s got about half a million [now nearly 1 million and counting] so I must have done something relatively entertaining. Maybe I came across like an idiot and lots of people have called me arrogant, but lots of people have said, “You’re a legend, you’re a hero”. I’ve never seen such a divide in opinions before but if it made good TV, that’s what people want, don’t they?
Would you do anything differently?
If I went on again, I think I’d probably do the same again. Maybe not so over the top… but then I dunno ‘coz I don’t really think I did anything that bad, to be honest. I wasn’t saying, “I could sleep with you and you and you, and I go out every Saturday night and I get this type of girl”.
Are you normally a bit better with women?
I am a confident guy; I mean I have to be for my job – I’m in front of a camera a lot of the time – but I’m not a smooth operator that goes from one girl to the next. I go from relationship to relationship and I’ve been in real long-term relationships – like three or four of them, so I’m not really the ‘player’ type but, at the same time, I’m not going to say that I’ve ever had any problems with attracting girls. But I’m not like the sleazy type that uses chat-up lines and all that stuff.
So you went on the show looking for a relationship?
Yeah, I think I did. Yeah.
Does the public reaction bother you?
It does bother me. People would presume I’ve got an ego, because of my job or the way I came across on Saturday, but it’s never nice hearing negative things. Somebody put on Twitter yesterday “I wouldn’t care if this guy died” and lots of people are just saying “laugh it off, laugh it off” but I took it to heart quite a lot. I never meant to hurt anybody or to cause anybody any upset or anything, so I didn’t like that comment and it did get to me quite a lot. But then everybody was very supportive once they saw that comment on Twitter; 50 to 100 people commented within a couple of hours saying “they’re just jealous” or “just forget it” but yeah, it did affect me, it was quite bad for me, it wasn’t the best of things.
Have you had any girls asking you out since the show aired?
There’s been quite a lot of girls sending me messages on Twitter and girls sending me pictures of their boobs and everything else. I’ve had blokes sending me pictures of their stuff as well. I think I’m catering for both sides at the moment. Lots of girls have been saying “if you need a cuddle or if you need anybody to talk to you can take me out for a drink bla bla bla” so, as much as it’s been negative, I’ve still had 5,000 friend requests on Facebook, so there’s obviously some appeal!
Will you go out with any of them?
No. Not from Twitter, no. But it’s only been three days…
If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?
Quagmire! I just think he’s brilliant and he’s an idol of mine. He absolutely cracks me up.
What’s your favourite dinosaur?
My favourite dinosaur? Err… Jesus. Any clues? I don’t really know any dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus Rex? That’s a big one, innit?
Yep. Tell us a secret…
I’m petrified of jelly. I hate the stuff. I don’t trust the way it moves. The guy who stitched me up on the show by telling everyone about Jodie Marsh – he once filled our whole flat with plates of jelly while I was out. I was going absolutely mental.
How much would we have to pay you to eat a bowl of jelly?
A couple of grand.
What flavour would you go for?
Probably raspberry, I reckon.
So what was the deal with Jodie Marsh?
I’m not really supposed to talk about it, but she denied it – that’s very far from the truth. She basically said it was just one kiss. That’s so, so wrong. So wrong. But it’s fine. I’ll get my side to come out.
Does that annoy you?
Yeah, it does. It does. ‘Coz like this anti-bullying campaign stuff she’s doing at the moment about being honest and not victimising people, not picking on people and saying negative things – and then she was saying all this rubbish about me. It’s very contradictory, to be honest. Hypocrite.
Are you in a relationship now?
Kind of. It had been on and off for quite a while but being on the show made me realise what I wanted. There’s such a wide range of girls on the show: you’ve got blondes, brunettes, you’ve got natural girls, burlesque dancers and everything – seeing such a range of girls made me think of someone in particular and what she was like and how lucky I would be to have somebody like that in my life. Not saying that the others were bad, but it just made me realise what type of girl I truly wanted.
Have you had any other disasters with women?
The worst one was when me and a girl went swimming on our first date. I spent ages pretending that I couldn’t swim. She was helping me kick my feet and I was holding onto the side and she was getting really, really proud of me – she was getting really emotionally involved in helping me out. She spent a good 45 minutes teaching me how to stroke my arms and everything. Eventually she put me in the deeper end where I was paddling around a little bit but sort of drowning. Then half an hour later she said “try to jump in from the side and keep afloat”. So I ran up to the top diving board of this swimming pool, dived off and swam the length of the pool. She went absolutely wild. She smacked me in the face and never wanted to see me again. So that was a little bit of a disaster; that taught me a bit of a lesson there.
Didn’t you see that coming?
No, I thought it was gonna be hilarious. But it went completely the wrong way so I won’t be doing that again. I’ve learnt my lesson. Now it’s just be honest with a girl, just get yourself in a nice situation where you can just talk and be yourself and let them know a lot about you – don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not because they’ll find out soon enough.