“We can all relate to sex!” Tayshia Adams cheers over a recent Zoom call with Refinery29. While Adams was a gleefully flirty Bachelorette this past winter — remember her painting date with now-fiancé Zac Clarke? — her season has nothing on the current Bachelorette, Katie Thurston. Thurston initially burst onto the Bachelor Nation scene brandishing a vibrator during Matt James’ Bachelor premiere. During Thurston’s first night as a Bachelorette lead, she talked strokes, tongues, and blowup dolls with the 30 men competing for her heart. The long-form trailer for The Bachelorette season 17 is peppered with hints of full-frontal male nudity and darkened hotel rendezvous to come.
Katie Thurston isn’t afraid to talk about sex on national television — and now Adams, along with her new Bachelorette co-host Kaitlyn Bristowe, are ready to have frank conversations about intimacy right along with the new leading lady.
“We all knew that was going to be important to her going into this,” Bristowe, who was the Bachelorette in 2015 and is currently engaged to fellow Bachelor Nation member Jason Tartick, explained. “That’s another refreshing thing about us being there. She can’t have that conversation with many other people.”
Following Chris Harrison’s Bachelor Nation exit, Adams and Bristowe do offer Thurston a Bachelorette opportunity no other lead has ever received: An entire season hosted by two people who understand exactly what they’re going through. Adams — who momentarily had JoJo Fletcher for a host — carried The Bachelorette mere months ago; Bristowe famously anchored one of the most sex-talk-heavy seasons of The Bachelorette prior to Thurston’s run.
Refinery29: Do you think having your own "girl gang," as you called it in the premiere, would have changed your season?
Kaitlyn Bristowe: “Yeah, maybe I would still be engaged [to my winner]. Just kidding! [Laughter]
“We talk about that often: How nice it would have been to have someone come in and be like, ‘Wow, I’ve been in your shoes. This is okay to feel this way. You are going to fall in love with multiple people. That’s okay.’ I think it helped Katie feel a little more comfortable in her feelings and open up a little more.”
Tayshia Adams: “It’s hard to navigate [being the Bachelorette]. You second guess yourself. Like, ‘Is this really the right decision? Do I really not want to move forward with this?’ Having the person who’s been in that position be like, ‘You’re doing the right thing,’ — it’s really comforting as a Bachelorette. The fact that we were able to provide a little bit of relatability in that aspect, I think that allowed Katie to really lean into the process even more.”
Tayshia, did JoJo help you last season?
Adams: “It did help me, but also JoJo was there for a day — and she surprised me. It’s so funny, because the whole time I was saying, ‘I wish I had somebody.’ Then the second someone came, I didn’t even know what questions to ask.
“With this situation, Kaitlyn and I were able to be there whenever she needed us. It was a totally different scenario. I’m just so happy we were able to navigate every single aspect of this journey for her.”
Did anything surprise you in taking over this guiding role? There’s so much crying in the trailer.
Bristowe: “We did have our work cut out for us. It had been a while since I was the Bachelorette. So I forgot how emotionally draining it can be. I mean, I did pick her up off the floor one time and hug her and was just like, ‘Gosh, I’m so sorry — I remember this.’ I was just surprised at how much I was brought right back into that feeling of ‘Wow. This is really hard.’”
Adams: “We became really invested. Just because we truly care about her and her finding love. Or her bettering herself — whatever it may be. But also at the same time, it is really tough being the Bachelorette. It’s long hours and you’re getting a lot of guys. There were a lot of tough times.”
How did filming affect your Bachelor Nation relationships?
Bristowe: “It probably hit you harder, Tayshia, because you had just become engaged from the show, [whereas] I met Jason on my podcast and then we had some time to really get to know each other and then got engaged. It was different for me because obviously I’ve… been with Jason for a little longer.
“It was nice because Jason actually was able to come out with the dogs and we all stayed together. He has a job where he can work from wherever. Tayshia, you and Zac did some long-distance again. You were kind of used to that because you had to come off the show and do long-distance?”
Adams: “It was a little difficult just because we had just finally gotten to New York and started living together. I’m not going to lie and say it was roses. But, at the same time, he’s really supportive of [my work]. Just like I’m supportive of him doing what he has to do for work. It was a really good test for us. I think that we only became better for it.”
This is a super sex positive season. How did you approach talking about something so intimate with Katie, a relative stranger?
Bristowe: “Sex was a big conversation on my season as well. I think I was able to tell her, ‘This is okay. Let’s embrace it. If somebody wants to be with you forever, they’re going to embrace it too.’ It felt like a really natural conversation to have. It didn’t feel taboo.”
Adams: “As her mentors, we needed to help her in all the aspects she needed help with. [Sex] is a big deal for her.”
Well, I will continue to hold onto my theory that Katie hooks up with someone before Fantasy Suites.
Adams: “I am not [commenting on that]…”
This interview has been edited and condensed.