Is Getting Women Harder When You’re on Reality TV?

An audience of thousands tunes in to watch Brian Trunzo, the man behind Manhattan’s best menswear store, go on dates. It isn’t helping, yet.

On Bravo’s new TV show The Singles Project, Brian Trunzo seems to have been cast as the token narcissistic womanizer. When asked to give five reasons why women should date him, he’s quick to mention his “above-average looks.” When asked what his weaknesses are, he answers, “I usually succumb to women who are going through a devastating moment in their lives. My friends call me Captain Save-a-Ho.” Though Trunzo has chased a little skirt in his day (not that there’s anything wrong with that), the co-owner of Manhattan’s can’t-miss menswear store, Carson Street Clothiers, is actually pretty serious about the whole dating thing. He’s aware of the fact that he’s playing a character on television, aware of the fact that his character isn’t necessarily likable, yet still convinced that he’s going to have success looking for love or a simulacrum of it under the hot glare of the lights. 

What Trunzo doesn’t know is if his 15 minutes will mark the peak of his love life or its nadir. On the show’s second episode, he went on dates with two different women he met on Twitter, and while Trunzo expected the women to find out about each other while watching that week, the show cut one of the dates entirely. That worked out fine for him, but it did change his strategy in the moment.

Photographed by Robert Ascroft / Bravo

Trunzo isn’t intimidated by this. The show gives him the chance to take a look at himself from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know him – thousands of people who don’t know him, actually. In fact, the way The Singles Project is designed, Trunzo will know pretty soon after his dates how the audience feels about him. The show films for about 4 days, then goes through a week of editing before it airs, so what you’re watching on Tuesday night happened little over a week ago. Viewers are encouraged to tweet responses and suggestions to the stars, and can even with flirt with and potentially get dates with them through social media.

Trunzo compares this new, interactive method of reality television dating to boxing. “You can make mid-fight adjustments,” he says, explaining that he can take time to reassess his behavior and how he comes across and perhaps change his actions accordingly. After watching his costars in the first episode, Trunzo made conscious decisions about how he will act when his dates are filmed. “I don’t want to get the backlash that Lee got,” he says, referring to a costar who not only got two women’s phone numbers in front of each other, but then all-but-forced a date out of his apartment early. The Twitter barrage that followed was epic.

Trunzo is no stranger to changes of plan. He used to be a financial services lawyer catering to hedge fund clients on behalf of a large New York firm. He left to be a run his shop in SoHo for the simple reason that he never really wanted to be an attorney in the first place. He wanted to be a sports agent, but compromised when the economy got shaky. After that, his goal was to do something creative. He’s the sort of guy who loses interest easily and fashion was the only passion that stuck – well, fashion and women.

Trunzo joined the cast of The Singles Project after getting a call from a friend who was styling the show. The friend told him that Bravo was in pre-production. Without hesitation, Trunzo agreed to audition. He says of finding the right woman, “now that my issues are all okay – my career issues, my drinking issues – it’s time to address this.” And, since he’s left his job as a lawyer, he says he’s been able to “become more transparent,” about what he wants.

But the show is a mixed bag as far as romance goes. Being recognizable gives Trunzo a bit of street cred and may pique the interests of New York women who see his face plastered over subway stations around town. But having a good opening line doesn’t necessarily yield great results. When women realize who he is and precisely where they’ve seen his face before, “they tend to run for the hills,” as he puts it. Or they just want a date to get on TV (one woman used Twitter to set up dates with both Trunzo and his co-star, Lee Gause). What being a reality star absolutely does do is force Trunzo to find dates “so that there’s content for the show. This is part of the deal and it sometimes means going on dates with women he might normally overlook or trying to convince women that going on television is no big deal.

With the quick turn-around time of the show, that isn’t necessarily possible, especially when Trunzo is busy working at Carson Street Clothiers and responding to his fans from the “command center tweet deck” in his office. And this being reality television, he also has to film “confessionals,” during which he bares the more television-appropriate portions of his soul.

“There’s so much ‘why not,’” he says of the dating and filming process. He’s not necessarily sold on it, but he hasn’t come up with a good enough reason to walk away. Rather than obsessing over his own appearance and persona, Trunzo is focused on New York’s women. “I close my eyes, pinch my nose, and jump,” he says. Whether or not he makes a splash is a different matter.

Photos by Robert Ascroft / Bravo