Sexy Beasts is the new Netflix original we can’t stop talking about. The dating show sees one person in full disguise (we’re talking OTT hair and body makeup) go on a series of dates with three other people in costume, in an attempt to make an emotional connection. Unsurprisingly, it left us with a LOT of questions. Namely; are we hallucinating? How long did that makeup take? What is it actually like under there?
To answer that question (no, not the hallucination one), we spoke to Gabi, a veterinary student from West Virginia, aka The Owl. Gabi took part in the dating show back in 2020, going on two dates with episode four’s Ibrahim, while covered in feathers and wearing a beak. Here’s what happened.
“A friend sent me an advert for a new dating show as a joke," Gabi tells Cosmopolitan UK. "I’m all about taking a chance on opportunities that will enrich my life, so I emailed an application off and thought nothing of it. Weeks later, I received a phone call from a casting director, asking me all sorts of questions. ‘Am I normal? Am I fun? Am I actually interested in finding a significant other?’”
A few days later, Gabi had a second video interview, this time with a focus on her relationship history. “They asked why I wanted to go on a dating show, and where my previous romances had gone wrong. I then filled out a questionnaire and that was it, I was in!”
Filming was in London, where Gabi is studying for a Doctorate of Veterinary medicine, in September 2020. Quickly, the Sexy Beasts magic really started to come alive. “I had to be in the makeup chair at 6.30am each morning, and my transformation took about three hours. I had two stylists; they put me in a bald cap and began on my facial makeup, before attaching all of the feathers. They styled me in an incredible wig, which everyone thought was my real hair, and painted all of my skin - the idea was that the person you were dating knew nothing about what you looked like, so they covered everything. And then we spent two hours taking it all off again each night!”
The experiment took place over three days, and the participants didn’t have a say in the characters they were given. “I didn’t choose the owl; they assigned us something on our first morning in the makeup chair, and I also didn’t get to keep any of the costume. We did wear our own clothes, though - the dress during my ‘big reveal’ was lent by my best friend. At the end, I had access to a third makeup artist for the ‘glam’ look, too.”
Beyond the costume, Sexy Beasts was basically like any dating show. “On the first day, I was with the two other girls [Bella and Karisa] waiting for our speed dates with Ibrahim. We shared banter and joked together when we were nervous. The date itself was short; I wasn’t prepared for all of the stop and start during filming, and the waiting around - I’ve never been on camera for anything before.
“While I can’t speak for all of the dates, the people in the background of mine were extras, though obviously people did see us in our costumes getting into cars and at the hotel. We wore the disguise all day - I’d have breakfast before getting into the makeup chair, and had to eat lunch like a bird putting worms into my beak so it didn’t get on my feathers.”
Producers went to great lengths to ensure the participants didn’t see what each other looked like before the big reveals. “They did everything they could to keep us apart. We never saw each other, we weren’t able to communicate - they even took our phones away so we couldn’t get each other’s numbers. So the reactions to each other were completely genuine - and I was just as amazed at how Bella And Karisa looked as I was Ibrahim. It was like, ‘I don’t know what I expected you to look like, but you’re completely gorgeous!’”
Despite Ibrahim choosing Gabi as his Sexy Beast, the pair didn’t share a romantic bond, with Gabi admitting she was getting more of a friend-vibe from him.
"I respected Ibrahim and his genuine personality enough to tell him he deserves someone who thinks the world of him. I didn’t want to waste his time for 15 minutes of fame. I truly do think we made a connection, because we have this shared experience. It was completely unique, and the ‘real date’ was when the cameras weren’t rolling, because we could have a giggle together.
“We’re now in a group chat with people from other episodes of the series, which is hilarious because most of us have never met. We didn’t even know each other’s names - now we’re watching it like, ‘So you were The Dolphin! You were the Tin Man!’”
Watch Sexy Beasts on Netflix now.
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