New Hampshire couple to appear on TLC's ‘Extreme Cougar Wives'
In this production still from the new TLC show "Extreme Cougar Wives," Ian Hickok, a 23-year-old North Hampton resident, relaxes in a bubble bath while his fiancÃ© Gale Daniels, 55, is in the foreground. The couple is one of many profiled on the show. Their episode will air August 14.
Courtesy of TLC
In this production still from the new TLC show "Extreme Cougar Wives," Ian Hickok, a 23-year-old North Hampton resident, sits for an interview with his fiancÃ© Gale Daniels, 55. The couple is one of many profiled on the show. Their episode will air August 14.
Courtesy of TLC
Among the attributes for which New Hampshire is best known – shimmering lakes, the earliest presidential primary, helmet-less motorcyclists – producing participants in reality television is not one of them.
However, there have been a few over the years. Recall Jenna Lewis, a Franklin native and contestant on two seasons of Survivor, including the show’s first, which aired in 2000. Or Mike “Boogie” Malin of Concord, who finished eighth on the second season of Big Brother.
And soon, there will be Ian Hickok, a 23-year-old North Hampton resident, on TLC’s Extreme Cougar Wives.
The show profiles young men in relationships with older women, referred to by some as “cougars.” Much older, in fact; as in, old enough to have given birth to them.
For Hickok, who will appear on the show alongside his 55-year-old fiancee, Gale Daniels, on Aug. 14, the opportunity to trumpet his love on national television seemed both fun and fortuitous.
“I can’t think of a more public display of affection than letting a bunch of strangers come into your home and film your life,” he said.
A mechanic and extreme sport enthusiast, Hickok said he grew up in various communities across the state, including Henniker, Hillsboro and Concord. He was not especially close with his parents, he said, and struck out on his own at 16, living out of his car at one point.
He and Daniels met in 2011 in a Starbucks parking lot in Marlborough, Mass. Daniels, who sells real estate and had been living in Massachusetts at the time, was in her car, talking on a cell phone. Hickok was with friends and noticed that one of her brake lights wasn’t working. They got to talking.
“I didn’t think she was 55,” he said. “I thought maybe 30 or 32, at the most.”
“He was really tall and he looked over, and there was just this eye contact,” Daniels said.
They corresponded for a few months, began dating and eventually moved in together. Their wedding is scheduled for later this month in the Virgin Islands.
It was not Daniels’s first serious relationship; she has been married three times and said she had been divorced from her last husband for about six years before meeting Hickok. The mother of three, including a teenage daughter, Daniels described Hickok as physically attractive but said his principal appeal is character-based.
“I don’t see Ian as hot,” she said. “I see him as the love of my life.”
They each heard about the show from Daniels’s brother, who, shortly after meeting Hickok, suggested they audition for it. Hickok said he was apprehensive at first, but he warmed to the idea after speaking with a casting director. Like Daniels, he said he saw the show as a vehicle through which to show others the authenticity of their relationship.
“If publicity comes with it, that would be cool, that would be fun,” Hickok said. “But if not, I’m happy either way. It was more just a chance to express what we have.”
He continued: “There’s a lot of people my age still in college and still partying. I’m just happy to be settled down and to be with Gale and have my dog and have my job.”
Daniels said there has long been a stigma surrounding women in relationships with younger men, one that has not traditionally been shared by men dating younger women. Broadcasting stories such as hers, she said, will hopefully help to further erode that public reproach.
“People need to start accepting this,” she said.
Hickok said family members and friends have been generally supportive of the relationship.
“(Gale) has a million friends, and they are all supportive and great,” he said. “I don’t have as many friends, but the ones I keep around are supportive and happy for me. I’m happy, and people are happy I’m happy.”
But Daniels said she didn’t think it would matter for Hickok even if no one approved.
“He doesn’t care what anyone thinks,” she said. “I’m his girl.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)