MAFs stars turning 15 mins of fame into $300k windfall
Married At First Sight contestants are turning their 15 minutes of fame into a $300,000 windfall.
But that means get ready to see more of them - both in appearances and quite probably in nude scandals.
After years of cast members breaking rules and contract clauses, Channel 9 and production company Endemol Shine have given up and allowed their participants to enlist an agent for the first time.
And most have wasted no time in doing so, with almost half the cast employing celebrity agent Max Markson to make them some quick cash.
Markson, who is known in the reality TV industry as the go-to man for post-MAFS publicity, looks after seven current season contestants including Natasha Spencer, Hayley Vernon and Steve Burley.
Previous contestants on his books include top earners Jessica Power and Cyrell Paule and bad boy Mike Gunner.
One of the highest earners from the MAFS stable is Martha Kalifatidis who, along with her TV husband and real-life boyfriend Michael Brunelli, has a smorgasbord of Instagram clients.
It is estimated she has earned about $300,000 from her account.
Together they have posted recommendations for Steve Madden shoes, Tempura mattresses and wide variety of teeth whiteners and skin products.
Markson said the contestants are fully aware their time in the spotlight is going to be fleeting so.
"These MAFS people know that when they are hot, they need to capitalise on it, because it doesn't always last very long," Markson told The Sunday Telegraph.
"They are getting 15 minutes of fame by being on the show. If I can give them another 2 or 3 minutes, that's great. They and I both know it is not a long-term thing."
One contestant who is aware she is on borrowed time is controversial participant Vernon, who contacted Markson prior to even being selected on the show.
"During the initial interview process I thought it would be wise to find someone who could represent me and have my best interests at heart," Vernon said.
"I called Max as he is a household name and he said, call me back when you actually get selected.
"My hopes is to use this platform to reach out to drug affected youth and teenagers who are going through drug addiction and if I can do that and make money, then why not.
"I haven't worked in six-and-a-half months."
Markson's message to his MAFS clients is simple - earn hard and fast.
"I tell them: 'You are one of 20 or so people. You need to maximise your profile as much as you can when you are hot, or you will die away quickly'.
"Go to the opening of an envelope, go to charity events and do as much as you can to get your photo out there. You have to cement your profile and do it straight away. You have this great platform on with a top-rating TV show, now maximise it."
Markson said his MAFS clients have the capability to earn as much as $300,000 a year through sponsored Instagram posts and appearance fees.
"They get a couple of thousand dollars per post on Instagram," he said.
"If they do that two or three times a week that's $5000-6000 a week, which is worth $300,000 a year and I take 20 per cent of that."
"From a financial point of view, I tell them: 'Your income is going to be from Instagram posts and it's going to happen for you immediately for only a couple of months'. They will also earn from appearances, which you can get sometimes $3000 for."
When asked whether he believes contestants go on the show for love or fame, Markson said there's no doubt participants want to gain notoriety.
"Of course they want or need to become Instagram famous post-show," he said.
"They have likely given up their job or lost their job and all of a sudden they get the opportunity to have a bit of fame in their own circles. Everyone wants to be famous.
"Jessica Power was earning $90,000 a year working in the mining industry and she chucked that in. She is earning much more money with what she is doing now."
Markson's weeks are never short of drama. Dealing with nude scandals, sex tapes and illegitimate babies all part of the job.
"I do this because it is fun," he said. "These guys are relevant now. Soon they won't be."