BEFORE THE 90 DAYS Is the Ben and Mahogany story fake?

Ben Mahogany

On the fifth season of 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days, 52-year-old single dad Ben Rathbun reveals that he is flying to Peru to meet his 24-year-old soul mate Mahogany for the first time. When announcing his intentions to his children and ex-wife, Ben insists that the relationship is not part of a mid-life crisis and is actually part of God’s plan. The family members, and more than a million viewers, rolled their eyes and shook their damn heads in disbelief.

Adding fuel to the head-shake-a-thon is the fact that Ben has never had a video chat with Mahogany. All he’s ever seen of her are some extremely filtered photos and one very brief (and equally filtered) video that she sent him as proof that she isn’t a catfish.

Ben’s level of commitment to what is essentially an anime avatar is unbelievable. But, is it actually unbelievable? As in not true at all?

Before the 90 Days has always been the 90 Day Fiance show that producers have taken the most liberty with in regards to fabricating relationships. The original franchise was hard to fake because the couples had to at least be committed enough to shell out the money for a K-1 visa application.

But, with Before the 90 Days, all you need are two people from different countries who say they’re in a relationship. That’s it. And that’s pretty much all the casting announcements ask for. The result has been numerous couples that were quite clearly not actual couples, but were playing the part to get on the show.

Is that the case with Ben and Mahogany? Is their relationship fake? There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence to support that theory.

Before the 90 Days Ben and Mahogany catfish

Ben And Mahogany Evidence Binder

I will start with the fact that Ben has done some stage acting. Granted, it’s just local theater stuff, but it’s still acting. That would probably give producers a little more confidence to tweak things a bit. Plus, it speaks towards Ben’s desire to perform (and more specifically, act) for an audience. It’s not a major red flag in regards to potential fraud, but I thought I would mention it.

Here’s Ben as Tarzan from a poster for the 2014 Warren Civic Theater production of the Disney musical:

90 Day Fiance Before the 90 Days Ben Rathbun as Tarzan

The thing that really raised my suspicion, and inspired me to research this article, is a Facebook video that Ben shared after it was officially announced that he would be on the show.

Ben’s bio from the TLC press release says that he “found work as a model and caught Mahogany’s eye after being featured in a fitness magazine.” During his Facebook video, Ben recalls how he was cast for the show, and he also credits his appearance in a magazine. However, the rest of the story seems a little suspicious.

Here’s how Ben tells the story:

One of my fitness pictures got put into a men’s magazine, and from there a couple producers got a hold of me and said, “Hey, how would you like to be in a reality TV show?” And I was, like, “Yeah! Maybe. I mean, if it’s fun. And if there’s a free trip involved.”

And then they told me what it was about, and I was, like, “No. I’m out. Nope. Not good.” I got kids. They’re gonna see that. I’m not gonna go on an island and be a part of that craziness where you’re just, like — you’ve all seen those kind of shows.

But then something else kinda came up, and I was like, “Yeah. That one I can do.”

Ben was featured in a mens magazine and he was contacted to be on a reality show filmed on an island. He turned it down. Then, 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days “kinda came up.” Hmmmm…

Ben Rathbun friend quote

After doing a bit more research, I found what is most likely the article that Ben is referencing. He appeared in an issue of Men Cruze early in 2021. I’m guessing you are like me in that you’ve never heard of Men Cruze. However, it is a publication by Style Cruze, which looks to be a well known magazine in the fashion and modeling world.

Ben shared a photo spread from the article on social media on March 3 and wrote that it was “opening some doors for some other opportunities I’m considering. No announcements yet, but one involves my kids and a little traveling which would be pretty fun.” He added that “being on stage is a complete waste of the spotlight if you have nothing to say…Whatever opportunity I have on any stage I find myself standing, will be to convey a spiritual message of hope.”

Mahogany doesn’t follow Men Cruz on Instagram (only 4,500 people do), but it’s entirely possible that she saw Ben’s photos some other way. Perhaps she follows one of the many hashtags that Ben used, like #fitover50, #spiritualjourney or #fitbeast?

Ben says on the show that he first contacted Mahogany 115 days prior to the scene he was filming. I’ve put together a full relationship and filming timeline at the bottom of the post, but let’s recap what we have so far.

In February, Ben appeared in a mens magazine. Mahogany found Ben because of the article and friended him on social media. He noticed that an attractive young woman was following him, and DMed her. That sparked a conversation between the two that resulted in a spiritual connection and an application to be on Before the 90 Days. (Assuming producers didn’t approach Ben and/or Mahogany first.) Less than four months later, Ben is filming for Before the 90 Days.

OK, let’s get back to Ben’s Facebook announcement. “I don’t know if you guys saw last season’s episodes,” Ben says of Before the 90 Days. “They were just CRAZINESS, and highly entertaining. So I hope to entertain, but most importantly I hope to be vulnerable and let you guys see a little bit more of me.”

Ben then tackled the question directly of whether or not the show is real:

To answer some of your questions: Is it real? Like, is reality TV real? There is a lot of realness. I mean, Hollywood actors spend their entire lives honing their skills to be able to cry on camera and to look real. Reality TV just is real. That’s why people are so compelled, because I’m showing a part of my life that is very raw, and sometimes humiliating and embarrassing. And sometimes really inspiring. And it’s just all me. So to answer that question: Yeah. Yeah, it’s real.

…It’s going to be an exciting story filled with drama, intrigue, and — I can’t tell everything. In fact, they said “no spoilers.” So, you’ll just have to watch. Not even my own family really knows much of what’s happening. But it’s gonna be — it’s gonna be crazy. So stay tuned. Not even I know the end of this thing.

What about Mahogany? She hasn’t been as verbose on social media as Ben in regards to appearing on the show, but she did post something that kept my fraudy sense tingling.

On one of Mahogany’s heavily edited Facebook photos, someone commented that Ben was obviously being catfished by a Nigerian scammer. “I agreed to be on 90 Day Fiance to share a dramatic story to watch,” Mahogany replied. Hmmmmmm. “Keep looking and you will be surprised!” she added.

Speaking of Mahogany’s Facebook photo comments, I could find only one by Ben. “Your smile can light up the darkest corner of the world,” he wrote on a Mahogany selfie on June 29.

The thing that had my fraudy sense tingling the most is how Ben talks about doing the show. It’s purely my subjective take, but he sounds like someone that signed up to play out a sure-to-be controversial role on an extremely popular reality series. He doesn’t sound like someone who had genuinely fallen for someone and wanted to share his love story. Plus, I just don’t buy him being naive enough to not question the fact that Mahogany looks like a computer generated anime avatar. I believe he’s just hamming up his naiveté for the cameras.

That being said, I don’t have an issue believing that Ben’s family didn’t really know a lot about what was going on. Clearly they had to know that he was filming for something, but their responses seemed quite genuine during the Mahogany reveal scene.

Ben And Mahogany Dating Timeline

Here is a timeline of Ben and Mahogany’s relationship based on what he has stated online and on the show. Some of the dates are estimates, but the general flow of the timeline should be accurate:
 
February, 2021 – Ben’s photos appear in Men Cruze magazine.
 
March – April, 2021 – Ben begins talking to Mahogany. (He says on the show that he met her 115 days before filming.)
 
June 29, 2021 – Ben leaves a comment on one of Mahogany’s Facebook photos.

July-ish, 2021 – Ben gets a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

August 2-ish – Ben has a flight to Peru to meet Mahogany for her birthday, but she calls and cancels three days prior because her parents weren’t going to be there.

August, 2021 – Ben begins filming for Before the 90 Days. It’s unclear if he filmed prior to his first scheduled flight that was cancelled.
 
September 2-ish, 2021 – Ben flies to Peru.
 
October 2-ish, 2021 – Ben returns to the US after “a month out of the country.”

What do you think? Is Ben and Mahogany’s relationship faked for the show? If so, does it matter as long as the story is entertaining? Let us know over on Instagram!

Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm. You can contact Asa via Twitter, Facebook, or email at starcasmtips(at)yahoo.com


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