Former Jackson waitress makes ‘The Bachelor’
Friends watch Horst, who slung drinks at the Silver Dollar Bar, look for love on ABC’s hit show.
By Katharine Decker
April 4, 2007
A familiar face from Jackson Hole hit prime-time Monday evening during the season premiere of ABC’s latest incarnation of its popular reality TV show “The Bachelor.”
Tessa Horst, 26, who lived in Jackson from January to August 2004, made her debut as one of the 25 female contestants vying for U.S. Navy Lt. Andy Baldwin’s heart on “The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman.” While she kept her involvement a secret during filming, which wrapped two weeks ago, her friends are not at all surprised.
“That’s so Tessa,” said Lauren Penix, friend and bartender at The Wort Hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar, where Horst worked.
“Oh yeah,” agreed Paul Cockrell, bartender. “She just has the personality where she’d do anyhing like this.”
Horst’s contract states that she cannot discuss the show unless through ABC. However, she informed close friends of the “Bachelor shenanigans” in a group e-mail dated Nov. 15, 2006, asking them to serve as potential references.
“Really craz, and not sure what to think but I’m just going with it for now,” Horst said. “They may ask personal questions so only share PG memories of me..... THanks for your help guys! keep fingers crossed. xoxo tessa”
In the e-mail, she explained that several weeks before, she had met casting agents for “The Bachelor” after running a half-marathon in San Francisco. After making a “ridiculous” video of herself, she was called back for the third round of casting.
But in a phone conversation right before Christmas, Horst told Kara Mercer, a college friend and former Jackson housemate, that she was going to India with her family and therefore could not attend the final interview for the show. After Horst’s trip to India, Mercer learned through mutual friends that she went to South America for a couple of months but was “vague” about her activities there.
“I was thrown off, because I believed that she never went to the final round of interviews,” said Mercer in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Mercer realized she had been harmlessly deceived three weeks ago after receiving another group e-mail from Horst informing friends that she had returned from her trip, but due to confidentiality agreements could not discuss it.
“And then I thought, ‘Oh, she’s totally on,’” Mercer said.
Mercer watched Monday’s episode from her home in Vermont with her boyfriend, Andrew Merrell, and friend Jen Sisemoore, both former Jackson residents and friends of Horst.
“The three of us were just going crazy,” Mercer said. “We’re first of all picking apart every other person saying ‘She’s cheesy, she’s not cool,’ and then Tessa comes out. And then with the muffin joke ... ”
Thinking about it, Mercer was momentarily overtaken with hysterics, recalling how her friend introduced herself with a joke that bombed.
Awkward but endearing
“He totally didn’t get it,” Mercer continued, barely. “She totally didn’t deliver the punch line at all.”
Following their first meeting, the awkwardness continued as Horst walked into the house, getting her dress caught in a bush.
“But I was laughing so hard I missed that,” Mercer said.
While the joke might not have been delivered in true Tessa-form due to nervousness, her initial performance was not a total loss.
“In that nervousness I think she was original and funny,” Mercer said. “I give her props because she just was totally, totally random, and that’s such her personality.”
But Horst’s decision to participate in the show was not random, as she revealed to Baldwin, as well as friends and viewers across the country. Horst said on the show that her parents divorced when she was 14, but her mother found love again unexpectedly during a family trip on the Inca Trail.
“It taught me that maybe I should go out on a limb to find something, so I did this,” Horst said. “I don’t even know, this is, like, so weird for me.”
Friends say that in that scene, Horst’s genuine, down-to-earth nature came through.
“It seemed like she was sharing her real feelings,” said Lauren Amen, Horst’s friend and a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Elementary School. “You could tell she was being herself.”
Baldwin obviously appreciated her honesty, admitting that he felt the same way about being on the show. The segment ended with a shot of them laughing and holding hands, followed by Horst addressing their chemistry in an on-camera interview.
“I feel a connection with Andy because ... I don’t know, I just do,” she said.
Baldwin gave Horst one of the 15 roses of the evening, eliminating 10 of the other contestants. Horst’s friends believe viewers will see much more of her in coming weeks.
“She’s just so fun, outgoing, charismatic and spontaneous ... but when you get to know her she’s really caring and genuine,” Mercer said. “If I were a guy, I would want to date her.”
John Franklin certainly wanted to, although to no avail.
Former beaus offer praise
“I had a crush on Tessa. ... Not only is she very attractive physically, she comes off with an air of confidence and not really caring what other people think,” said Franklin, a former employee of the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. “She’s just very confident with herself, which is a very attractive quality.”
Kyle Brown agrees, which is why he dated Horst in Jackson for several months during the summer of 2004. While he met her playing kickball, he admits that he noticed her twice beforehand in the grocery store and on the running path.
“She just kind of stood out,” said Brown, who occasionally sees Horst in San Francisco where they both live. “She’s got some kind of spice.”
In addition to Horst’s attractive nature, she and Baldwin are also a seemingly compatible pair. They both are humanitarians, adventurous, athletic, well-traveled, well-educated and share a similar philosophy on life.
“Tessa lives by the quote ‘carpe diem,’” said Andrea Mazer, Horst’s friend and administrator for the Jackson Hole Jewish Community. “She definitely seizes the moment.”
That sounds a lot like Baldwin’s philosophies: “Anything is possible, shoot for the stars, go for your dreams,” he said on the premiere episode.
In addition to the similarities of their characters and backgrounds, their record indicates that they might also find one another physically attractive. Horst dated a blond-haired, blue-eyed athlete at Middlebury College, and according to John Tingue, a former Jackson resident and Baldwin’s classmate, Baldwin dated a woman of Asian descent at Duke University.
Finally, Monday’s show concluded with promising indications that Horst is one of the finalists, if not Baldwin’s future wife. In a clip teasing upcoming episodes, Horst and Baldwin were riding horses together on what looked like a “one-on-one dream date.” In addition, during the same montage Mercer and Amen are convinced they recognized Horst’s voice saying through her tears, “I’m falling in love with him, and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
While viewers will have to find out by tuning in to ABC at 8:30 p.m. on Mondays, one thing is for sure: Even if the bachelor does not fall in love with Horst, America will.