The Godmother is coming to Washington, and she wants to make you very happy.
In the last several months, 40 Washingtonians have used the services of the Godmother, a bizarre Manhattan publicist named Abby Hirsch who makes the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof look like a piker. For $250 Hirsch will orchestrate three dates for single men and women who are too busy to attend to such matters.
"i had the idea that people like myself had been complaining for too long at dinner parties," says Hirsch, a 33-year-old divorcee. "we had fascinating jobs, but, well, like writer Jane O'Reilly once complained, we were between boyfriends and had no one to do anything interesting with."
Hirsch conceived of a dating service for overachievers who wouldn't be caught dead going to a singles party or renting an escort. Both individuals on a Hirsch-arranged date are paying for her matchmaking service; unlike a rent-a-date affair, no one is in the for-hire role. She hasn't paid a cent for advertising, but word-of-mouth and publicity in New York has kept her and two assistants [she calls them "Godmotherettes"] busy. And Hirsch, who knows a number of Washingtonians in the media and politics, found herself catering to commuting Washington residents. So she's begun looking for a person to become Godmother to the nation's capital.
"clients don't have to be rich, they don't have to have every degree in the world, but they have to have something I respond to," says Hirsch. She requires of clients a detailed listing of their professional and educational background as well as a statement of what kinds of past relationships have worked or not worked.
"i'll run though any number of landscape to find people who are right for someone," she says. On the wall of her office in an Art Deco apartment building off Central Park are 3x5 cards listing current clients with brief descriptions of their ages and strengths. "the fun is to see the difference between what people ask for and what they really respond to. We're not here to change behavior; we take it down like a menu."
A review of her files turns up names of the [male] head of a Manhattan publishing house as well as an independently wealthy businesswoman. Their photos show two stunning men and women in the prime of life who are willing to give Hirsch a try at romantic headhunting.
"half of my clients are men, half are women," she says.
"sex is rarely mentioned." It is neither promised nor implied; that is left up to the two clients. "My only advice," says Hirsch, "is that you have to be careful who you sleep with because they might call the next morning. Or they might not call the next morning."
So far Hirsch has watched a Godmother match result in love ["I think it was more because it was June than anything else"]. She or a Godmotherette always calls their client the morning after a date. "We cheer, boo and hiss here," says Hirsch. "it's like being on a production of The Drunkard."
Hirsch graduated from Bard College with honors, did graduate work at Hunter College and lectured on the popular American novel of Oxford. Her 1974 book The Great Carmen Maranda Look-Alike Contest details her rise in the world of promotion, from ushering at a movie theater to writing publicity for a Hollywood Studio.
But what of the Godmother? Who watches over her?
Hirsch says she is not allowed to date clients, though she says she's been tempted by a couple of the men who have sent in resumes and photos.
"one day the Godmother turned to the Godmotherettes," recalls Hirsch, "and found we were like three wall-flowers. I thought, 'Let's fold the Godmother and we'll audition, meet and marry our husband.' In fact, the Godmother is in need of dates." CAPTION: Picture, no caption, By Donal Holway