Modern Mating

When Technology and the Sexes Collide

Sunday, May 14, 2006

When Charlie Sheen gets lonely

In today's New York Daily News there was a delicious gossip item about how Charlie Sheen finds dates. In the wake of his separation from Denise Richards, Ben Widdicombe reports that Sheen has been using the dating site to meet women. is one of the many social networking/dating sites that caters to the prosperous and their hangers-on. The site claims that its "clients include CEOs, professional athletes and doctors, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, professional models and cheerleaders, engineers, and movie directors, just to name a few." And it bills itself as "the best and largest place in the world to meet successful, beautiful friends and singles for dating, fun, great emails, or a relationship that may last a lifetime."

The site is milking its Sheen connection, noting on its homepage that "If the site is slow at this moment, come back early morning or late night. It may be due to the recent publicity about a major Hollywood celebrity having found a match here." Some of that delay may be due to me. Upon learning that Sheen had a profile, I spent an hour paging through profiles trying to find his. Widdicombe had given a bit of a hint, saying that Sheen's username "starts with an M and ends with a Z." Unfortunately, I struck out. Perhaps, in the wake of public scrutiny and in the wake of an increasingly ugly divorce, Sheen pulled his profile. is the kind of dating site that will appeal to a very specific population. The men look like the kind of guys Candace Bushnell called "modelizers." If they aren't a "Mr. Big" already, they aspire to become him. They're well-groomed, into their success, not afraid to specify their income (about half the members specify a range of annual income -- i.e., $200K+, $500K+, $1000K+), and looking for, as one of the members,"Docteur", says, someone who "augments me professionally."

The women are consistently attractive, with many of the photos having the composition and style of a professional head-shot or a trip to "GlamourShots." Unlike the men, the women rarely include their income information. Clearly, the "millionaires" on the site are expected to be the men.

The profiles don't invite many words, and only a minority of members go beyond a few sentences. But when they do write, they write about themselves, rather than what they're looking for in a partner. The intrinsic narcissism of the participants in can't be ignored.

The site celebrates a narrow, financial view of dating and partner selection. A transactional, my money for your beauty kind of deal. That Charlie Sheen, who has admitted to paying for sex and who has enjoyed the company of porn performers, should find this a comfortable forum is not surprising. Money is the common bond for all participants in, and some intimate transactions are more overt than others.