It's Just a $1,000 Lunch
YOUR doe-eyed Korean dream girl might be within closer reach than you think.
If you have $10,000 in your bank account and a hole in your heart, there is a chance that It's Just Lunch Asia, a matchmaking firm, will ask your favourite actress out on a date for you.
Anisa Hassan is doing just that for a client - one of the 28 members of her agency's new service, the Men's Elite Club.
"He was like, 'I know her from this movie and that movie, and she has all the attributes that I'm looking for...' He's from a Scandinavian country... he likes only Asian women, specifically from Korea," Ms Anisa said.
"And he says, 'Can you broach this meeting for me, even if it's just for lunch?'"
To be sure, this client is an outlier even in the agency's new universe of premium dating.
The club, which was started about a year ago, charges $10,000 for 10 guaranteed dates with women - regular ones who are unlikely to be movie stars - within 12 months.
Even if Mysterious Korean Actress does have lunch with Scandinavian Bachelor With A Penchant For Asian Women (cliffhanger moment: we don't know yet whether she will), he should be able to meet nine other ladies who are either drawn from It's Just Lunch's database or from outside it.
The men in this club are high-net-worth individuals - a mix of MNC CEOs, business owners and, intriguingly enough, one local politician's son.
"They're very dignified gentlemen. It's not that they can't attract the women... they don't want to attract women who are looking for a one-way ticket out," Ms Anisa said.
"They want to be with somebody who looks good, who can carry herself well... but at the same time, they want a woman with brains - an intelligent, confident lady who knows what she wants."
For $1,000 a date, Elite Club membership comes with other perks - the man is able to see photos of female candidates before committing to a date. Standard membership - open to both sexes at $2,400 for 10 dates - does not offer photos.
Elite Club members are also able to get pre-date answers to specific questions - such as whether the woman in question is open to having children or if she would be willing to relocate - which would otherwise cause awkward silences on a first date.
"That element of surprise, we take that away. Everybody wants certainty," Ms Anisa explained.
Already, one of her elite clients has ostensibly found a happy ending. The man, a partner at a consulting firm, got engaged to a woman that the agency set him up with, after just one date.
"The next thing we knew, he didn't want to go out (on other dates) anymore. He got a return on his investment almost immediately," Ms Anisa said.
This particular chap possessed a touch of whimsy - the question that he had wanted relayed to the woman before his date was: "What does happiness mean to you?"
For future reference, the winning answer was: Stroking her dog when she returns home, being with family and travelling roads less-travelled. Finally, a use for Rover, relatives and Robert Frost.
Now, as the Men's Elite Club takes off, Ms Anisa is in the process of setting up a female equivalent, priced at $5,000 a head. There, perhaps, women will get to wear the pants and do the picking.
THE BUSINESS TIMES