‘Perfect Match’ Star Joey Sasso on Running Around Panama to Find an Engagement Ring, How Much It Cost and What Viewers Didn’t See
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers from Season 1 of Netflix’s “Perfect Match.”
“Perfect Match” may not have been designed for cast members to get engaged, but one pair did! Joey Sasso and Kariselle Snow got engaged during the final episode of Season 1, which dropped on the streaming service Tuesday.
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Sasso, who previously won Season 1 of “The Circle,” entered the house in a completely new mindset than his last time on reality TV, as he’s now sober.
“If there’s one thing that has been missing from the show that I wish was there, was how much I talked about going into the show with my sobriety and really trying to be vulnerable,” Sasso tells Variety. “I spoke so much on being an addict, recovering and trying to come in and not hold anything back for better or for worse.”
Below, he talks more about his experience on the show, his response to some of the backlash the show’s received and purchasing the engagement ring for Snow.
How do you feel watching the show back, more than a year later?
There are a lot of times in the show where I can come off like I hopped around a lot. I would say I’ve been a single guy who’s just been trying to find myself and find the person I wanted to be with. Coming onto the show was an opportunity for me to really try to make things right in my life, because I was in a place of really trying to find someone. When you’re there and you’re not on your phone, you’re able to spend 24 hours a day with someone. You’re talking about building a life and a future… I always tell people, I’m an addict. So it’s all or nothing with anything. When I’m in, I’m all in.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the “strategy” behind the show. How do you feel about that?
There have been so many people who say, “Joey and Kariselle are just playing it safe and not going for other people. It’s just strategy.” I think it’s important to say this. When you’re watching the show, it says there’s this many days until the perfect match is decided. When I watched the first episode, I completely forgot that Nick Lachey ever said anything about finding your perfect match — meaning one pair would be the perfect match. We were all just trying to do our best with trying to find the best matches. With me and Kari, it just felt like this was a real opportunity to try to really make things right from the past.
It’s a dating competition show that has to do with compatibility. So I don’t know how you could have any strategy with that because your job is to, literally, just date and see what happens. It makes me cringe when I hear it’s strategy, because you’re dating someone. This isn’t a game show in the in the typical sense.
You were all in early with Kariselle, then?
I think there was probably a week left of filming when I was like, I think I’m gonna ask this girl to marry me. Then once that thought was in my head, I’m like, I’m gonna ask this girl to marry me. This is happening. This is what my heart was telling me and I really wanted to follow that and see where that leads me.
The show’s creator, Chris Coelen, told me you went to the mall, picked out and bought the ring yourself?
I literally had to run to the mall in Panama. We were down to the wire — a day or two left in filming. It was a rainy day in Panama. There were accidents on the road. I was like, this is never gonna happen. This is gonna go awful. I was stressed to the max. I go into the first jewelry store and see a ring that looks like a decent size — not too big, not too small. I asked how much it was. It’s $72,000. I’m like, “What?!” So I ran around all day long with one of the PAs, trying to help me find the perfect ring and make it as good as we can. I’m happy with the way that it turned out in the end. It was just a really crazy day. I ended up paying around $5,000.
We didn’t see it, but you called her dad? Had you met him before?
I hadn’t met him. I’ve spoken to her mother plenty of times but never to her father. So that was literally our first phone call ever — and it was on camera! I basically was like, “Sir, this might be the most insane phone call you’ve ever received in your life. I think you know that your daughter is here right now and we’re making the show, but I am in love with your daughter and I want to ask her to marry me. I cannot do that until I asked for your permission.” The phone call ended up going really well. I really was nervous because if he had said no, I would not have been able to ask her.
How did you plan out the proposal with the producers?
I pulled producers aside and told them I wanted to ask her to marry me. So then we were trying to figure out how that’s gonna go, because I’ve never done that in my life. It’s extremely nerve-wracking to do and to do on television. I don’t ever make excuses or have regrets for anything that I’ve done in my life, but as you watch the show — so much was cut — I’m constantly being pressed about making a commitment. I don’t think of myself as a dude who’s never committed. I think of myself as a dude who really had to find myself along the way. If there’s one thing that has been missing from the show that I wish was there was how much I talked about going into the show with my sobriety and really trying to be vulnerable. I spoke so much on being an addict, recovering and trying to come in here and not hold anything back for better or for worse. You got a glimpse of that in the first episode when asked if I was over an ex. I answered it honestly. I’m trying to show that I’m here for the right reasons. I’m not going to lie, because I came here to really put myself out there. I didn’t bullshit because I think that a lot of people do lie. Let’s just be frank about it. I think a lot of people do hold things back and don’t put themselves out there completely because they have an idea of the way they want to be presented.
Was it difficult being in the house sober?
It was at a certain point just because you’re so around it. To say I had any temptation or anything like that, to be honest with you, I didn’t. I think what made things tough is, especially in my past, when it’s come to my dating life, my sex life, everything like that, there were always substances involved. That what was hard — trying to really sit with the fact that I know I’m on camera right now and this is going to be on the world’s biggest stage, but I’m 100% sober and clear and trying to be as forthcoming as possible.
What do you want to do next?
My plan is to have my film come out, hopefully in the next three or four months because we were supposed to release it before the pandemic. We’ve been talking with different distributors, trying to line something up for that. Also, I really want to get into hosting. Hosting is something that comes so natural. I love people. I love talking. And I would love to produce. I’ve always been a creative whose mind doesn’t stop running all the time with different ideas, and being blessed to have the opportunity to come into the unscripted realm, I feel like I can really do a lot more than just be the loud, East Coast, Italian guy who makes jokes. If anyone comes to me with with something that they’re interested in me doing, I’ll always hear any conversation and weigh it out. But I would say after after doing “Perfect Match,” it’s pretty safe to say no more dating shows with me as a contestant.
All episodes of “Perfect Match” are now streaming on Netflix.
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