Despite the abundance of full wine glasses and champagne flutes on every episode, Molzahn drank “not more than a sip of champagne ever on Bachelor because I wanted to be fully there.”
Her sweet-girl persona still reigns. Now, as then, the worst she’ll say of Pavelka is, “I think his true ambitions were more into television, rather than finding a genuine, lasting love.”
After her publicly televised heartbreak, the self-proclaimed naive, small-town girl (from Newberg, Oregon) with a background as a Disney-princess dancer (yes, actually) went on a tour of red carpets and talk shows. She soon landed again in the thick of what she calls “the Bachelor franchise.”
The producers offered her a spot on the Bachelor spinoff The Bachelor Pad, in which former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants live together and compete for a $250,000 cash prize.
“I took some time to think about it because I was, like, Well, it sounds like an MTV hook-up show, and that’s not really the person I am, so I don’t know that I’d be the best fit for it.”
But they talked her into it by reminding her that the show is Disney-owned and on prime-time, and so it wouldn’t be raunchy. Besides, Molzahn’s experience on The Bachelor had given her a “thicker skin” and a less-naive perspective.
“On Bachelor Pad, I’ll be honest, I had a different idea of what going on TV is like. I looked at it like this could be a great opportunity, I’d love to win some money, and this’ll be fun. I knew some of the people around me. I trusted them. I didn’t really trust the producers, but I knew how they worked, so I was more laid-back and enjoyed a few glasses of champagne.”
One of those people she knew going in was Kiptyn Locke, a former contestant on season five of The Bachelorette who had also been the runner-up. Locke reached out to Molzahn after the Pavelka rejection aired, to console and befriend her. They’d known each other for two months before filming began for The Bachelor Pad.
“Everybody knew that we had known each other, but people outside in TV world didn’t get all of that. The producers were trying to get us to have conversations about getting to know one another. They’d be, like, ‘Ask so-and-so about this,’ and we were, like, ‘We already know the answer.’”
Once again, for the second time in a year, Molzahn found herself falling in love on national television. Today, two years later, they’re still an item. Locke is the reason she moved from Orange County to Encinitas. Internet searches of the words “Kiptyn and” and “Tenley and” pulls up choices ranging from “Kiptyn and Tenley engaged” to “Tenley and Kiptyn break up” to “Kiptyn and Tenley still together 2012.”
Plug “Tenley Molzahn” into the search box on YouTube, and the list of videos includes everything from Molzahn on The Bonnie Hunt Show to a bikini-fashion face-off between Molzahn and Britney Spears; most of the videos were posted a year or more ago.
“It’s not that I’ve done anything grand or great or contributed much to the world. It really doesn’t settle well in my stomach when I hear past cast members talk about themselves as such superheroes.”
On the other hand, being a recognizable person has its advantages.
“You can use those 15 minutes. It’s allowed me to share my platform for better health and gluten-free awareness and the other things that I’m really passionate about.”
Today, Molzahn’s focus is on school, Locke, stand-up paddle-boarding, and the “structured, simple, everyday life” she’s created for herself in Encinitas. But reality-show world remains just a phone call away.
“There is one network that continues to call us, to see if we’re interested in doing something with them. Never say never, but there are certain things that you just don’t want to invite into your life.”
How about Dancing with the Stars?
“It would be a wonderful opportunity, but it’s not something I’m pursuing. And I don’t think my platform is strong enough for them to be, like, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s call that Tenley girl from a few years back.’”
If it’s boring, we’ll cut it out
Prior to tonight’s show, in the back room behind the 3 Minutes to Stardom stage, Binkow briefed the contestants, reminding them to give their shout-outs. They sat quiet and nervous in the sofas and chairs placed against the walls. One guy, a half-drunk Corona in his hand, bounced an ankle against his other leg’s knee for the entire five-minute speech.
“This is not American Idol. It’s not X-Factor. It’s 3 Minutes to Stardom, at Valley View Casino,” Binkow said. “We want to get the story of who you are. But it’s TV. If it’s boring, we’ll cut it out. And if it goes on and on, we’ll cut it out.”
Then, I suppose to keep the mood upbeat, he added, “Give it your all.”
So, basically, Give us your best you, and do it quickly. And be awesome.
The result of this speech is that half the contestants step out onto the stage shouting and wooting, trying to pump up the audience despite evidence that it may not be in their nature to do so. The ankle-bouncer runs out and high-fives the band, the judges, and the host, before jumping into a rendition of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.” It’s a bit over the top, but not quite as embarrassing as the poor guy whose arm gets stuck while he attempts a strip-the-jacket-off sexy-move while singing Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Dancing in September.”
Most contestants opt for the more-is-more approach to their singing, as well, prompting great one-liners from the judges.
“Wow, you really motorboated your way through that song,” Dave Good tells a woman after she sings Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.”
Moments after this comment, we break for a commercial. A make-up lady planted in the audience runs up to Good and powders his bald head.
Author Elizabeth Salaam's Backstory