Date Night – “Dating Games”

When I write about gay dating in Kansas City—or mating, depending on your ultimate point of view—I find myself regularly expounding on the games we men play to identify, woo, or bed Mr. Right….or Mr. Right-Now.
Sometimes the game is all too obvious. I’m not talking about the longing glances across the Dixie Belle on a Sunday beer bust or the string of IM’s that lead to an Internet encounter. I’m talking about The Dating Game. Yes, the cheesy ‘60s game show that is rearing its ugly head in Kansas City—that Dating Game.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the call from Rose at Business Casual LLC, the upscale Overland Park dating service that is making the bold move into gay matchmaking. Rose seemed like a fun party girl and she has lots of gay clients, so what could I lose by giving it a whirl?
As I walked the few short blocks to Bar Natasha, the scene for the Tuesday happy hour game, I recalled that I undoubtedly had a leg up on the competition. Sure, I write a column on dating, but I’m certainly no expert. But I am a veteran of The Dating Game—well, sort of.
How can that be, you ask? In 1991, I was living in Auckland, New Zealand, in graduate school at the University of Auckland. By some twist of fate, several American graduate students were all assigned adjoining rooms in the university housing. I don’t think we had been drinking, but when we saw the advertisement on the “telly” looking for contestants, what were we to do?
The following Tuesday we marched down to the Television New Zealand building to audition. Honestly, I really wasn’t sure how I’d do, but when we entered the waiting room, my prospects changed. You see, New Zealand is a pretty small country (more sheep than men) and the people are more British than the British (read “reserved”).
When you have to come up with two contestants and six bachelors/bachelorettes each day, you’re going to run through quite a few people. Needless to say, the producers were thrilled with the prospect of padding their numbers with five educated, upwardly mobile American singles and we were all booked for the show. The following week, we all took our turns on the stage as the producers taped a week’s worth of shows at a time.
I watched from the audience as each of my friends “won” a date and then it was my turn to approach the stage. Even though the show was called “Blind Date,” the format was essentially the same as our classic show—a contestant sits on one side of the wall and asks questions of three anonymous bachelors on the other.
The producer had prepped us well and we had a bit of time to consider answers for our questions before taping began, but I knew I had the whole thing wrapped up the first time I opened my mouth. The contestant, also a lady named Rose (I wasn’t quite out at the time), immediately responded, “God, I love that accent!” Well, the rest of the game was a formality, at best.
One of the nice features of New Zealand’s show was that the couples were flown all over the country for their dates and then a lucky few were chosen to return to the couch in the middle segment (ala “Love Connection) to recount the highlights. We went to the Hawke’s Bay region for wine tasting and jet boating. It was a great trip—even if I really didn’t feel comfortable with my date.
I’m not sure why the producers selected us to come back to the couch, but the following week, we did. Something didn’t feel quite right and I soon realized why. The producers decided they needed to boost ratings, so they coaxed Rose to lean over and lay a big, wet French kiss on me. Of course, I turned beet red (that doesn’t sound anything like me today).
The kicker came that Sunday night when they aired the weekly promo spot for the show. Lo and behold, the showed that sloppy kiss over and over and over—in one 30-second spot! I looked like a total “ho”! It really hit home the following morning when I passed by the dorm office and the secretary came running out and exclaimed, “I saw you kissing that girl on the telly!” Anyway, what’s passed is past. Ancient history. Done. Rose, I’ve moved on to boys.
So what lay in store at Bar Natasha? There was the “wall” and two other bachelors. No questions, but how hard could they really be? And then there’s the contestant—I really had no clue. I’m still a newbie to Kansas City, but I get around on the social circuit. A small, but enthusiastic audience gathered as the game got underway.
I’m not quite sure what was on his mind, but our contestant was definitely looking for someone with brains or at least a couple of opinions. “If you were elected President, which policy of George W. Bush would you change?“ They kept coming—questions about world peace, public policy….this is one serious guy! I did everything to keep him off guard. When my competitors told him they would get us out of Iraq or cut tax breaks to the wealthy, I replied that I would end abstinence-only sex ed programs.
Finally, we got to the substantive questions that would ultimately guide his choice—boxers or briefs or commando? If you were a food, what would you be? What song title best describes you? I really was on a roll now as I whipped out every sexual innuendo in my arsenal.
Yes, once again I was the lucky bachelor picked for the date. As I walked around the divider and met my date, “John” (names are always changed to protect the innocent…or not-so-innocent), I found myself pleasantly surprised. If this is the type of guy Business Casual LLC is working with, they may be the answer to many a Kansas City guy’s woes meeting men at the bars or on gay.com.
Alas, we weren’t being flown to a glamorous mystery location for our date, but we were treated to drinks and dinner at Bar Natasha (try the beef tenderloin). I’m not sure lightning struck, but “John” and I did enjoy a lovely evening, drinks, dinner, and entertainment by the effervescent Marilyn Wood.
Kudos to Cathy, Steve and Rose at Business Casual LLC (www.businesscasualllc.com) for a memorable evening. They just held a second Dating Game on June 8 at Bar Natasha and will be hosting the Dating Game at The Fox on June 24. Check out their website to find dates and locations for future Dating Games. Better yet, why not be a contestant? You may be the next lucky Bachelor #3.

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