Not that we haven't tried to find someone to make us miserable; we have. We're just not any good with these newfangled ways, like online dating, of clubbing love over the head and dragging it back to our cave. We find marketing ourself much too difficult.
Instead, we yearn for the days of yore when a stranger sitting at the other end of an old oak bar would buy us a dry Manhattan. Or when we'd spot a set of adorable eyes across a crowded nightclub, with nothing standing between us but curls of ultra-light smoke and shyness. Nowadays it seems like all we find on the dance floor is dilated, tweaked-out eyes and frequent solicitations of crude sex. Sigh.
But in a rare mood of proactivity (and, OK, stark fear of Prozac's libido-eroding side effects), we stuck our courage to the sticking place by actively trying to find a partner to ease us into this year's holiday horror. And while skimming the "seeking relationship" section of the Bay Area Reporter (which we pick up each week for two reasons: to devour its often hysterical crime blotter, and to check the "models/escorts" ads for any moonlighting ex-boyfriends), a unique advertisement caught our eye.
It was for the Gay Millionaires Club, a matchmaking service for California's rich vein of rich gay men. The Los Angeles-based club just opened a San Francisco office. GMC's animated founder is Jill Hankoff, who charges wealthy gays "five figures" to look for love on their behalf. (Her precise fee depends on factors such as what the client is looking for, the search radius, and the cost of print advertising.)
Hankoff started GMC three years ago, but says that she's been "helping gay men connect since 1994." So we're thinking: Hankoff is a total fag hag but a clever one who turned her fascination with gay males into a pretty good money machine. And although we usually shy away from the larger-than-life personalities of fag hags, Hankoff wins us over with her love of all things feline. (Really, you have to appreciate anyone who describes her two cats as her "children.")
Hankoff insists that she doesn't offer her services to trust-fund babies or "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous millionaires." She handpicks only self-made millionaires or "millys," as she affectionately refers to her clients who, much to their dismay, have spent most of their time earning wads of dough instead of finding that special someone. She carefully screens her men, working with between 20 and 25 millys at a time.
Those of us looking for lifelong affection accompanied by a pile of money must go through a cattle call of photographs, applications, and interviews. If everything checks out, the livestock are put into a database, which the rich guys can peruse. If they like what they see, they contact Hankoff, who sets up the first date at, say, Fleur de Lys. Naturally this excites us, as our last date managed to woo us with little more than a veggie burrito at a vile taqueria.
Susceptible to the intoxicating possibility of spending the holidays with a man whose net worth is in the seven figures, we ask Hankoff if we, too, can sign up for her service. "Of course!" she exclaims. Soon enough, our head is dancing with visions of opening nights at the symphony, regular meals at Zuni, and prepaid Platinum American Express bills.
Biting our lip and wringing our hands, we go to GMC's Web site and apply to meet a millionaire. After sending in a not-so-flattering photo of ourself, we wait several agonizing weeks for a response. Then at last! we get a call to come in to the local GMC office for a one-on-one interview, to sell our almost-30-year-old ass.
We arrive on a rainy Saturday in the 600 block of Townsend Street, where GMC has rented a small office tastefully spotted with plant life. The interviewer, Charles Hunt, sizes us up to see if we truly are fit for someone in the seven-figure range. He's a sharp, well-groomed guy dashing, really and we convince ourself he's sizing us up for personal reasons as well. But we shake our head and remind ourself that we're here for one reason only: to snag a rich guy.
Hunt has us fill out an additional questionnaire, which consists of questions ranging from "How important is religion to you?" to "How important is it that you find your partner sexually attractive?" Then he quizzes us on why we broke up with our last boyfriend (cruel infidelity); how we rate our appearance on a scale from 1 to 10 (strong 6/soft 7); and whether we consider ourself a "top, a bottom, or versatile" in the bedroom (none of your goddamn business!).
After snapping a few digital shots of us under pore-revealing fluorescent lights (and a few awkward "top/bottom" jokes, which, in our unyielding naiveté, we fail to understand), Hunt tells us we did a decent job in the interview and have "a good shot" at getting a call from a well-to-do prospect. He also informs us that the youngest milly is in his late 30s, but that the average one is in his late 40s to 50s. He slips in that the men are, by and large, not too attractive. Alas.
The thought of dating an older, none-too-pretty man devoted to accumulating greenbacks doesn't sit too well with our slothful, TV-watching, generally shallow self. Hankoff says she looks for "character, integrity, acumen, and brilliance" in her applicants, which also doesn't bode well for us. Still, we plan on waiting patiently by the phone until a CEO- or high-powered attorney-husband calls. Or at least until the FDA approves something new to get us through to 2004.