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The Business Of Love
Dating Darwinism
Tara Weiss 02.08.07, 6:24 PM ET

Andy Black might have bushy eyebrows and hair that looks like he just got out of bed, but he's loaded. That's what got him the three-minute date with Bobbie. Her long brown hair comes to soft curls at her shoulders; impressive cleavage emerges from her baby doll top and her dark eyes sparkle. It's not likely the two would meet in his hometown in Dutchess County, N.Y.

"A premise as novel as this was worth the two-hour drive," says 57-year-old Black, a retired real estate developer.

He's talking about Natural Selection's Speed Date Rich Guys & Hot Girls. To be considered, men must make between $200,000 and $500,000, depending on their age--the older the guy, the more money required--or have invested assets of $1 million or $4 million in a trust. Their financial documents were checked by the sponsor, Pocket Change. Those selected shelled out $500 for a ticket. Meanwhile, women submitted five pictures and the matchmaker, Janis Spindel, judged whether they were pretty enough to attend. They only had to pay $50 for tickets.

Call it dating Darwinism, call it shallow. The bottom line is, they're onto something. The event's organizer, Jeremy Abelson, said he received nearly 1,000 applicants. He was shocked since speed dating--when a group of daters talk for a few minutes and rotate to other daters when the time is up--isn't new. But the nearly 80 participants at Wednesday's event said they're tired of hiding what they really want: great-looking women and wealthy men.

"I loved the idea when I saw it in New York magazine," says Black. "It's the first time I've seen anything like this without the pretense and sham. Women are interested in men who control territory. For me, this is like a beautiful women's convention."

Indeed, there was an element of pageantry. Some women wore long dresses similar to ones popular among Miss America contests. One woman was a shockingly accurate Paris Hilton look-alike who twirled her hair and sipped her drink throughout. Also in attendance was the singer and NYC socialite Samantha Cole.

In a room full of stereotypes, there were some people who had real expectations. Saila Smith heard about the event from a friend and decided to go on a lark. She's a successful, 35-year-old sales associate for the Corcoran Group, who also happens to own a few buildings in Brooklyn and Queens. She's capable of making the same financial cut as the men. Smith is tall and poised, with perfect posture and long, straight dark hair. She's a native of Bangladesh and has a warm skin tone.

Before dating starts, she sits with her legs crossed, hands on knees, and explains why she's attending. "When I saw the e-mail I thought, 'Thank God someone has finally thought to bring this out in the open--successful men and beautiful women. Am I looking for a man who can be my meal ticket? No. I like men who are intelligent and accomplished but humble."

When asked whether the men here are likely to be humble given the fact that they have to prove they make a certain amount of money to attend, she grinned. "For a man to say, 'I'm successful' doesn't mean they're not humble," she says.

The next day she was still glad she had attended. "For a woman like myself who is so busy, and these men as well, it's a great way to do things," Smith says. "It's very efficient."

Participants like her were few and far between. Take John Ricco and Guatam Ahuja. Ricco, 33, said he came, "To look at pretty girls." Ahuja said there isn't much better to do on a Wednesday night. As for the $500 ticket price? "It's the cost of a regular evening out in New York City," says Ahuja, a 30-year-old trader with Credit Suisse. "It's shallow but so is New York."

If you think this sounds like something that would make great reality TV, you're not alone. There were several network TV scouts in the crowd anxious to see if this is the next reality TV hit.

Participants might not have left with a companion on their arm but they didn't walk out empty-handed. Goody bags contained gift certificates for massages, personal training and Botox. The PR company that put them together said companies were fighting to get into the goody bags. "This is a very desirable demographic," says Jackie Saril of Squeaky Wheel Promotions, the company that put them together.

As for the folks at Pocket Change who planned the event, they're looking to the future. The next event: Sugar Mama Speed Dating. They're looking for women who are 40 and older who have $4 million in assets, and men who are 28 and younger and are somewhat poor.

It sounds like the making of at least a few seasons on MTV.

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