What do a Washington pilot, criminologist, child psychologist and a pack of Washington lawyers have in common with a New York radio talkshow host and a college professor? Salaries in the 30s and up, for one thing. Prestige, responsibility. And right now, they're all single.
They also have busy schedules that keep them from meeting stimulating, eligible people outside of their career worlds. Humdrum, they say.
And they're all willing to pay $250 each to the Godmother, which specializes in helping the affluent, the gifted, upwardly-mobile, eccentric, and otherwise generally elite to meet. For their money they get three hand-tailored dates, after a one-hour, "no-holds-barred consultation." (The Holiday Gift Certificate offers all of that, along with a box of Godiva chocolates.)
"Five years ago, anyone who said they were too busy to take care of their social lives, I'd have thought it was just an excuse," say Abby Hirsch, the slick, dark-eyed proprietor of the Godmothers Ltd., the dating service she founded a year ago and operates from her apartment-office on legant Central Part West.
The problem today, though, is that "busy people have trouble meeting people. Suddenly, I found there were writers, government workers, people with incredible jobs. But they couldn't get to the better part of their lives.
"Just because a person is rich or a great success, doesn't mean their love lives are in perfect order."
So Hirsch, at the time a divorced New York publicist for Jacqueline Susann, Rod McKuen (and even the country of Poland), teamed up with Madeleine Schaap (her former partner, a press agent and theatrical manager) and developed the Godmother concept:
Draw successful, well-educated, generally-happy single people together and, by careful evaluation and strong instinct, the right chemistry can develop. Add questionnaires disigned by a psychologist, an intimate interview over Perrier or white wine. And a slightly intimidating Hirsch.
"We are not a marriage service," Hirsch tells even the most casual visitor to her deep-plum-colored, glass-and-chrome-accented apartment in one of New York's art-deco edifices.
"It's just a lark and definitely not for the clutchy, desperate single person who wants us to find the perfect mate," she says, drumming long, dark nails on her desk.
"But what we will give you is somebody you won't be bored with."
The eligible-New York-glitterati-list (which has recently expanded to Washington, thus necessitating a Godmothers branch here) includes about 450 men and women. "Fortunately," says Hirsch, "it's about a 50-50 sexual balance, which is great for us."
Some current clients: a 41-year-old publishing magnate tired of women-publisher/media dates; a doctor who is "so good-looking I started noticing my nail polish was chipped;" a shipyard owner; a Washington scientific administrator; a man in his 50s who owns a string of hotels; a femal cancer specialist. And loads of beautiful models. All of them have met privately with Hirsch or Godmotherette Sarah Ordover, 23, formerly of Washington.
"We have to assess the difference in what they want and what they say they want," says Hirsch. "For instance, a man comes in and says 'I really go for the independent, assertive type.' Later, I ask him what he likes most in a woman. He says 'creativity.' It could mean that a doctor or lawyer would be too much and he needs to find an artist or potter."
A brief telephone conversation; a request for a resume, listing jobs, education, interests, achievements; the personal interview -- with carefully worded questions like, "Describe three meaningful relationships in your past and tell why" -- help weed out undesirables, says Hirsch, and keep honesty intact. If all goes well, clients pay the $250 at the interview.
"I wanted a social circle outside my recently-divorced husband's," says Leila Kight, the 33-year-old head of Washington Researchers. "When you divorce, you suddenly realize that nearly all your friends were also his. It's very confining.
"I read about the Godmother; it sounded terrific. I decided to give it a try, and I've been extremely pleased with the results."
She made two stipulations: No Washington men -- "I get tired of the types here, pin-striped lawyers and politicians; that gets old" -- and no dates who have never been married.
Kight's first date had never been married. And the second lives in Washington. "I thought, 'Oh, boy. What have I got here?'"
The first date, it turned out, shares her interest in food and wines, was "very cultured and charming," and they will still see each other when she visits New York.
Her Washington date, who has an academic background and a career with a non-profit organization, was "the sort of man I wouldn't have met any other way." They're still dating.
Would she like to find romance? "No. Especially just coming away from a divorce. Definitely not right now. I would say anyone going to the service looking for long-term relationships would be making a mistake."
"Men especially," says Hirsch, "seem to be more reluctant to get into dating services, as such. They don't want the audition process that some places offer on video. Besides, that works both ways. You can't see that they're wearing acrylic pants.
"And 95 percent of these people have never been to another dating service. If they're over 30, they probably haven't been to a singles bar in years."
But everybody, she says, wants to meet stimulating people.
"Washington women are fascinated by New York men, because they want someone who won't talk politics. And there are plenty of New York men who want a different breed of woman than the New Yorker."
Also, she says, Washington dinner parties "offer an intimate, family feeling -- which is good. But they can also be a bit of a prison." Hence, she says, growing numbers of Washingtonians reaching out for something different, are contacting her.
A sample letter to the Godmothers: "Height 6 feet 1, 175 pounds. Excellent health, eyeglasses, no prison record, no big scars. Forty years old. Pipe smoker.
"Extraction: French, Hugenot (sic), Welsh. Educated at Yale, Oxford, Sorbonne. History, political science, economics. 'And,' the aspirant notes, 'I would prefer to think those institutions didn't deaden me.'"
"These are clever people," says Hirsch. "We don't take people who are in shambles. Divorced recently is one thing. If the rest of their lives are in order we can still help them. But a person who comes in and says they've never been out twice with the same person, I don't think we can do much for them."
Though there have been no marriages, four from her stable of matches are now living together. And there have been some unexpected turns from the meetings, such as clients in similar professions finding each other new jobs.
"We try to eliminate the feeling that there's something better around the corner, or a little black dress in the back we haven't shown you. Because," says Hirsch, "sometimes you can't appreciate what you have if your're hoping for something better."
Sometimes the dates plain bomb out. Though the agency doesn't usually encourage re-signing, some clients do it for three more unique chances.
"If nothing else, it's a lot of fun," says one man in his early 40s, who swears his friends gave him the Godmother as a gift. "And besides, you'd spend that much on three dates with three people you knew in advance you didn't like. You could meet somebody really great . . ."
The Godmother can be reached in New York at 25 Central Park West (212 -- 245-7175). Or a Washington interview may be set up by calling the answering service for the Washington office: 949-0413.