A speed-dating event took place last night in New York City with very unusual criteria. The 40 men all had to be wealthy, and the 40 women all had to be beautiful.
Jimmy Cyrus is a 25-year-old New York City bachelor who works 16-hour days.
He also happens to be wealthy, an asset that made him eligible for the Natural Selection speed-dating event open only to "rich guys" and "hot girls."
Cyrus, who works in real estate, was one of nearly 150 well-to-do single men in the running for the Manhattan matchmaking event.
If he made the cut, the ticket costs $500. But for that steep a fee Cyrus may have a chance to meet Heather Tierney, a 27-year-old entrepreneur living in New York, who has also applied to attend the matchmaking event. If the Indianapolis native is chosen, her entrance fee is just $30.
Speed dating is nothing new. For the last few years, single Americans have spent evenings in bars getting paired up with other singletons in four to eight-minute "dates."
But last night's Natural Selection gathering puts a spin on the trend by reinforcing some age-old ideas about relationships: Men go for looks, and women prowl for money.
This is often the case when it comes to dating, according to a couple of recent studies, which suggest that women place high value on income, while men value looks. Still, Natural Selection has been getting mixed reactions, according to organizer Jeremy Abelson, co-founder of Pocket Change, a monthly newsletter that informs New Yorkers about the most expensive goods and services in town.
"The sad thing is not the fact that we would put it together," Abelson, 26, said. "The sad thing is that people will actually pay for it. The beautiful thing is that it exposes innate desires in dating."
But entrance into the upscale speed-dating affair won't be easy.
A man hoping to snag the woman of his dreams will be judged by pretty stiff criteria. Guys who are 25 and under must make at least $200,000 a year, and men between the ages of 26 and 30 have to bring home $300,000 a year. Older than 30? The required income level jumps to $500,000.
Not gainfully employed? No problem. Men who have at least $1 million in invested assets or a $4 million trust fund can apply.
"The man could be worth $2 billion, be 83 years old and can attend," said Abelson, who added that men must show proof of earnings or savings to apply.
For women there's only one guideline: beauty. Five photos are all that's needed to enter the competition. Education, profession, personality and income will not be considered.
Applications started flowing in shortly after the event was announced. Just days after an ad for Natural Selection ran in New York Magazine, Pocket Change received nearly 150 responses from men, along with about 300 applications from women, who have submitted photos ranging from cute poses with dogs to sexy lingerie shots.
New York City matchmaker Janis Spindel decided which "beautiful" women get to attend.
"We'll be rejecting people left, right and center," said Spindel, who's been married for 23 years.
Although the responses have already exceeded Abelson's expectations, not everyone supports the concept. Pocket Change has received hate mail from people who call it "crass" and "tasteless."