Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Elle Macpherson dating convicted cocaine smuggler


Aussie supermodel Elle Macpherson has a new man in her life, Brian John Burgess, 56, who she meet on the celebrity internet dating service Devil Called Love

Burgess, who happens to be a convicted cocaine smuggler, has a removal company in London called Aussie Man&Van, helped the 44-year-old model move from Notting Hill, West London, to nearby Ladbroke Grove, and became friendly with her.

He had been found guilty of drug trafficking by the NSW District Court in 1996, and sentenced to four years jail after he attempted to smuggle 2kg of cocaine from the US inside hollowed-out books.

The news about the relationship between the two came up when Burgess, who was looking at new Jaguars in a showroom in Chelsea, mentioned it.

“The salesman was an Aussie and they were getting on great,” News.com.au quoted an onlooker as having told News of the World.

“Brian was saying how he had been seeing a new girlfriend for a few weeks." He added, I've got to go, she's picking me up. Then Elle turns up in her car. I couldn't believe it,” the onlooker added.

Aussie Man&Van manager John Hess last night said Burgess’ conviction was “all in the past.”

But now has come out and said it's all not true.

In a statement the 44-year-old model and mother of two emphatically denied any romantic association with Brian Burgess who was found of guilty of drug trafficking in Australia in 1996. He was deported to England after spending four years in jail and now lives in London where he runs a removal company, according to a flurry of press reports.

“Miss Macpherson is disappointed her friendship with Mr Burgess has been so casually misrepresented for commercial sensationalism. Furthermore Miss Macpherson has a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to her personal life; in the absence of a romantic element, the publication of the photograph and the innuendo created by it is a gross interference of Miss Macpherson’s rights,” said the statement.

The statement said that Miss Macpherson was aware of Burgess’s past conduct and also that he has and continues to take significant steps toward restoring his life.

“Any continued misrepresentation or invasion of privacy is likely to be the subject of legal proceedings,” the statement concluded.

Well, that clears that one up.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Web search finds love down street


Teacher Julie McIlroy joined the online worldwide dating service Devil Called Love only to find love with a man who lived just seven houses down her street.

The 46-year-old skimmed through thousands of pictures of eligible men on the internet site. But then she spotted Allan Donnelly, 53, and was surprised to discover they both live in Cardiff and that their homes are just a few doors apart.

The couple, from Rhiwbina, are now planning their wedding next year.

Ms McIlroy, a mother-of-three, explained what happened: "I'd been a member of Devil Called Love for three months when I spotted Allan's picture.

"I thought he looked nice so I sent him a message and he emailed me back. We started emailing for a couple of weeks and I discovered that Allan was from Cardiff.

"Then I found out we both lived in the Rhiwbina area of the city - but even that's a big place."

It was not until they spoke on the phone two weeks later that she asked where he lived and they discovered they lived in the same road.

The pair had seen each other from a distance but had never met before.

"I was totally stunned," she said.

"It's an incredible coincidence but it just goes to show that you never know where you will find love.

"The dating website could have put me in touch with someone anywhere in the world. But happily Allan lives just a couple of hundred yards down the road."

The pair started dating and later went on holiday to Thailand and then to Cambodia and Morocco.

Amazing coincidence

Ms McIlroy said: "Things have gone from strength to strength - I couldn't be happier. Well they say love thy neighbour, don't they."

Father-of-two Mr Donnelly popped the question at a surprise birthday party he threw for his girlfriend at his home.

He said: "I had been on the dating site for a while when I hooked up with Julie. It was an amazing coincidence that we live so close to each other, What were the chances of that?

"But it was my lucky day - we've got the perfect compatibility. She's right up my street."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The all new dating rules for single women


If single women believed everything they were told about love, they would have thrown their push-up bras out years ago.

At the turn of the millennium it was claimed that within the next ten years, 40 per cent of women would be single and living alone (cats don't count). And four years ago, relationship psychologist Max Blumberg claimed the number of eligible men was dwindling.

Today, he still stands by his gloomy statement based on years of research. 'We know women have good jobs, impressive social connections and high incomes and they want a guy to match that,' he says. 'Sadly, there aren't that many employed, socialised men out there.'

Hygiene issues

Blumberg takes the belching, uncivilised Neanderthal stereotype to another level. According to his theory, men really do need women to socialise them. 'When men are single, their hygiene levels drop and they don't keep their homes as tidy because they have no one to impress.'

He claims that many traditional male jobs are slowly being replaced by machines, so levels of unemployment among young men are rising. 'As a result, it's not a great package. Women won't touch this kind of man - unless he is particularly good-looking. Then they will have sex with him but it will lead to nothing more,' he explains.

Depressing stuff. But before you drown yourself in a large bucket of chardonnay, there is a beacon in the darkness. And it comes in the form of two New Yorkers. Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider are the creators of the The Rules, a best-selling dating bible that advises women to never make the first move or be too available, and they are coming to Britain next month to send their message of hope to the hordes of disillusioned British singletons.

'We don't believe in statistics or theories,' says Schneider. 'The night I met my husband, I was at a singles' dance and there were five men and 20 women. Previously, I had been to many parties with literally hundreds of men and few women and met no one.'

Covering everything from how to entice a man, to what not to say in a text, to internet dating site Devil Called Love, their seminars will explain why British women, like many others, break all the basic rules. We need their help more than ever. 'Because many women are successful go-getters in business they mistakenly assume they can be aggressive with men too,' adds Schneider. 'They want to ask him out, buy him dinner and sleep with him on the first date but, instead, we say women should disappear between dates and be very mysterious.'

It will come as no surprise that Fein and Schneider have had their critics for being manipulative and old-fashioned (in the past they have suggested plastic surgery if you aren't pretty enough) but the pair claim men are huge fans of their work.

'We're telling women to have more self-respect,' explains Fein, who made headlines when her own marriage collapsed, which she later blamed on bad dentistry. 'And men agree with us. They say women today are out of control and text them incessantly. Men want their space and time to pursue a woman.'

Few men left

So if you want a guy with good career prospects and a good bum, where do you find him? 'It will be a long search as most of them have already been snapped up,' says a gloomy Blumberg. A more upbeat Schneider says you should put your best manicured foot forward. 'Put on your high heels and get out there.' So if you're an educated, hygienic male, you should be pretty happy right now.

Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider are holding a dating seminar based on The Rules on October 20 at London's IndigO2

WHAT THE BOYS SAY

You should be free to pursue whoever you fancy, although an 'aggressive' pursuit is definitely off-putting. Thankfully, my wife pursued me and we now have three lovely children - and counting.

Richard, 33, Cambridge

I don't have any problem with women making the first move (I wish more did). It is 2008, after all, not 1958. But neither sex should be too available - I know my female friends would be put off by guys coming across as too keen or needy.

Simon, 31, Surrey

Once you're past the first few dates and in a relationship, it's nice when your partner makes equal efforts to initiate dates, sex, trips away and phone calls. It does wonders for a man's ego to know that his partner is as keen to see him as he is to see her.

David, 27, London

Men do like a bit of mystery and chase. I've never had a problem with having sex early on, although sex on the first date means that the anticipation goes pretty early.

Robert, 32, London

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

'Dance with the Devil' On Devil Called Love


Despite his advancing years, actor Charles Dance - pinup darling of the internet dating service Devil Called Love - makes a point of being in the right physical shape to shed his clothes for the cameras at a moment's notice should the need arise.

At the age of 61, it means he sets himself the sort of punishing fitness regime that would have a man half his age on his knees. On weekend mornings, he rises early at his North London home and cycles furiously to nearby Hampstead Heath.

There, winter or summer, he strips off for a bracing 20-minute swim in the unheated outdoor pool. And while some others who brave the cold water first don a wet suit, Dance thrashes up and down in his skimpy Speedos.

After a hot shower, he pedals back home, before submitting himself to exactly an hour and ten minutes of pumping iron, yoga and Pilates. His efforts have not been in vain. In recent times, he's appeared in nothing more than fishnets and a red rubber micro mini-skirt in Ali G In Da House, and completely naked (with just a pepper pot to protect his modesty) in another Britflick.

His on-screen disrobing, it should be said, does not necessarily have to be in the name of art. 'Oh, I'll do anything for money, darling,' he is fond of saying.

Nonetheless, Dance is justifiably proud of his 6ft 3in physique. Plus, of course, there is the added advantage that his buff body ensures he remains positive catnip to a carousel of younger women.

Take last weekend, for example. The still handsome star, who made his name as a series of dashing leading men in the likes of The Jewel In The Crown and White Mischief, was to be spotted, after his morning dip, in the company of a suitably enamoured younger blonde as they strolled on nearby Parliament Hill Fields.

Intriguingly, she was not the statuesque and beautiful former Gucci model, Shambhala Marthe, who has been filling the on-off role of Dance's arm candy for the past three years.

But then trying to keep tabs on the ginger-haired Lothario's tangled amorous adventures would tax the logistical capabilities of a PowerPoint presentation. No wonder Dance has developed a reputation in the theatrical circles in which he moves for occasionally casting himself in something akin to the role of smooth-talking bounder.

Certainly, he has acquired, of late, the sort of unenviable love-them-and-leave-them status that has led his showbiz chums to christen him, jokily, Dance With The Devil. And the French-born Miss Marthe, 36, is hardly alone in discovering her posh-sounding lover is not quite the gentleman he has made a career out of playing.

Witness his treatment of Sophia Myles, who starred as Lady Penelope in the movie version of Thunderbirds. The blonde Miss Myles, just 23 when she started dating Dance five years ago, was said to be 'utterly devastated' when dumped out of the blue in 2005.

She had, according to friends, been expecting him to propose - but Dance suddenly called time on their affair, as her circle muttered darkly that 'the Charles who starts relationships is very different from the one who ends them'.

Dance, it is said, had relentlessly pursued vicar's daughter Miss Myles and told her she was the 'love of his life'. But when the time came for him to move on, her friends accused her ageing lover of treating her 'cruelly and bizarrely'.

A treatment, one imagines, that might chime with Joanna, Dance's sculptress wife and mother of his two grown-up children, whom he left equally suddenly in 2003 after 33 years of marriage. Within months, he was to be spotted out and about looking very cosy with Miss Myles, whom he had met two years earlier on the set of the ITV adaptation of the Dickens classic Nicholas Nickleby.

As part of the divorce settlement, the couple, who have a son Oliver, 33, and daughter Rebecca, 24, had to sell their idyllic 17th-century Somerset manor house and Dance moved into a modest terrace bachelor pad in London's Kentish Town.

Later, he admitted to 'an unexpected series of watersheds' in the run-up to the end of the marriage, and only recently felt able to confess he was 'not the greatest husband in the world'.Miss Myles was not the first time he had been linked with another woman during the marriage.

In 2001, three years before the split with his wife, he was said to have struck up a close friendship with the then 27-year-old Emilia Fox, actress daughter of Edward Fox and Joanna David. In the immediate aftermath of the marriage, he was also reported to be dating an unnamed woman 12 years his senior.

And a few months after the split, he was seen in Barbados with Hilary Heath, ex-wife of millionaire showbusiness agent Duncan Heath. Since then he has been seen out with a seemingly never-ending procession of attractive women.

Friends of his told the Mail this week that one of the many women he has taken a shine to is former newsreader Anna Ford, whom, they say, he has escorted on a series of dates, including to the open-air opera in London's Holland Park.

None of which, one imagines, will have gone down particularly well with Miss Marthe, the 6ft 2in catwalk model-turned-photographer whom Dance met in a London fruit and veg market in 2005. It was not long before he was taking her on dates to his favourite Polish restaurant in Shepherd's Bush and on holiday to Turkey. He also sat for her as she took a series of rather flattering portraits of him.

Soon the smitten Shambhala, who came to Britain from France 11 years ago, was gushing about how the handsome actor had bought her a ring from a stall on a bazaar while they were away as a 'love token'. 'It's not expensive, but he knows my taste very well and that means a lot to me,' she trilled at the time. 'He's great company, and older men know how to woo a lady.'

Significantly, perhaps, she took to wearing the ring on her right hand. But friends say that after one failed marriage, Dance is not keen to tie the knot again. Nor is he inclined to give up his independence. Instead, he has become a familiar figure at showbusiness parties, prowling the room on the lookout for what he calls 'glamorous creatures'.

'I like women, to be perfectly frank with you,' he recently told an interviewer. 'I feel 35. I probably act 25.'

All of which has the unmistakable whiff of mid-life crisis about it. He has also taken recently to wearing trendy 'urban wear' off screen, including baggy jeans and heavy black combat boots. And despite rave reviews for his stage work, Dance, whose portrayal of the dashing Guy Perron in the acclaimed 1983 ITV series The Jewel In The Crown made him a instant heart-throb to millions of female fans, is said by friends to mourn the passing of his movie star status and once-lustrous hair.

Indeed, it's 15 years since he last appeared in a major Hollywood film - Arnold Schwarzenegger's much-derided Last Action Hero - and 21 since he starred in White Mischief opposite Greta Scacchi.

A director friend told the Mail: 'I honestly believe when Charles looks in the mirror, he still sees himself at 30.' No wonder, given his taste for a revolving door of girlfriends, Dance is making sure he stays in shape with those freezing morning dips.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gone Astray


David Duchovny hogged the headlines recently with his admission of “sex addiction”. The X-Files star has even checked into a clinic for rehabilitation.

While the news may titillate, it’s unlikely to raise eyebrows for long. After all, we’ve had a long line of celebrities – all men – over the years who have been labelled “sex addicts” at one time or another. The twist here is that there are very few who go on record and admit to being one.

Even Duchovny initially denied whispers of his proclivity. Before marrying actress Tea Leoni in 1997, he was fodder for the gossip mills, having being linked with different women. There were even stories of him attending meetings to keep his hormones in check.

He told Playgirl magazine in 1997: “I’m not a sex addict, I have never been to those meetings. It’s hurtful to my family and if I was involved with a woman in a monogamous relationship, it would be hurtful to her.”

In a case of life imitating art or vice versa, Duchovny plays a womanising single father in the TV show Californication (for which he won a Golden Globe this year). It’s due to open its second season on US television on Sept 29. Duchovny also portrayed a sex addict in the 2005 movie, Trust the Man.

But a close friend of the actor has reportedly said that it is not a case of cheating on his wife. Rather, it’s his Internet porno-mania which Leoni was aware of. That claim is still disputed by others who say it is a case of serial-adultery.

Trawling through the murky past, even as recently as April, Britain’s 65-year-old Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay confessed to receiving treatment for sex addiction, saying he had been fighting the “disease” all his adult life.

This was after The News of the World reported his sex parties with sex workers in Monte Carlo where he lives. By the way, the “repentant” Lord plans to donate £1mil (RM6.15mil) to fellow “sufferers” for their treatment.

Couple that with British comedian and TV and radio presenter Russell Brand’s revelations last year in his autobiography, My Booky Wooky.

According to The Daily Mirror, Brand who describes fame as “a Wonka ticket to a sex factory” said he went into rehab to treat his addiction to “carnal overindulgences”. His sexual flavour was lap dancers and sex workers. He wrote of “a harem of 10 women that I would rotate” plus one-night stands and other encounters. For Brand, sex was a way to relax.

Then there’s Peter Cook, ex-husband of model/actress Christie Brinkley, who actually took an oath in court about his sexual tendencies.

During divorce proceedings, Cook testified to his obsession with pornography, and a rather pedestrian affair with an 18-year-old. ABC News reported that experts wondered if that made him a sex addict.

American actor Woody Harrelson had unflinchingly spoken about his sex dependency in the 1990s. It’s ironic that he, too, played characters linked to porn or who had sex on the daily menu, in such films as The People vs Larry Flynt, about the former Hustler (an adult magazine) publisher.

Singer Robbie Williams is noted for his sexual forages, and this purported quote from him perhaps best says it: “I’ve had sex in trains, planes, wine bars ... and quite a few car parks! I’ve got hormones, and sex is there, so why not?”

While on a world tour in 2003, an article from News of the World quoted him as saying, “I gave up drink and drugs on the tour and wanted to substitute it with something else, so I had sex.”

And there’s American actor Tom Sizemore who allegedly suffers from a condition called priapism (in which the penis remains erect even in the absence of arousal). The condition may be linked to his drug and alcohol abuse. His manager back in 2005 apparently said: “He can have sex nine times without stopping. His condition explains his sexual addiction. He’s in the midst of a massive depression, but he’s making tremendous progress.”

Speaking of record-breaking sex, the late NBA basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain claimed in his 1991 autobiography that he had bedded 20,000 women. Doing the math, if he had been banging away for 40 years, starting at 15, the cager would have needed to “score” with at least nine women every week. We’ll leave it to Ripley’s to verify this.

For many, perhaps the case of actor Rob Lowe was the first instance they remember of a celebrity entering rehab for sex addiction. This was 20 years ago when the then heartthrob was involved in a sex-tape leak. He was caught on tape having sex with two girls, one of whom was 16.

After a period with his career in the doldrums, Lowe bounced back in the Noughties, with a role on hit TV political drama, The West Wing. Now married with kids, Lowe’s past seems to have been revisited. Early this year, his 24-year-old on-and-off nanny of seven years alleged sexual misconduct on his part. She claimed that the 44-year-old had regularly exposed himself and molested her several times.

Singer Eric Benet was dumped by his very stunning wife Halle Berry after he cheated on her repeatedly. It was reported that he checked into rehab for sex addiction but he has denied that.

Many other celebrities have fended off allegations of sex addiction. Their accuser was usually their ex-spouse or partner. One of the earliest was actor Michael Douglas who was labelled as such by his ex-wife in the early 1990s. He, too, was reported to have checked into Amy Winehouse’s “second home” but Douglas said the media had twisted alcohol rehab into sex rehab. Still, it is said that in his pre-nuptial agreement with current wife actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, there is a straying fee of US$5mil (RM17mil) should that happen.

Recent additions to the “sex addict” list, courtesy of their ex-wives/partners, are actors Bill Murray, Jude Law and Charlie Sheen. A few years back it was Billy Bob Thornton. Add to that Aussie cricketer Shane Warne who was “bowling over” the ladies left, right and centre.

The public seems inclined to believe the “duped” spouses as all these men have a reputation for having roving eyes. Sheen, for instance, was already notorious for the infamous Heidi Fleiss call-girl scandal. He was also inducted into Maxim magazine’s Top 10 list of Living Sex Legends 2006, at the No.2 spot with an alleged 5,000 notches on the post.

He was beaten to the top spot by a Venetian hotel porter who had 8,000 conquests! The porter was later fired by the hotel for not concentrating on his job.

But sexual hijinks are not just confined to showbiz types. The roll-call of sexual peccadilloes involves politicians, corporate figures and any Tom, Dick and Harry.

Closer to home, who can forget the two recent “nut” cases – the two men who sought medical help to remove nuts which got stuck on their penis. They had inserted the nut in a bid to increase their sexual prowess.

What are the odds of historical and legendary figures from even way back being sex addicts, too? Would the Roman emperor Caligula, the suave Casanova or perhaps mad monk Rasputin fit the bill?

Jonas Brothers Heading For Miley Cyrus-Style Sex Scandal?


Disney executives are said to be fuming over the recent bout of relationship rumours surrounding Nick and Joe of The Jonas Brothers.

The pop sensations – who wear purity rings as a sign of their chastity vow – reportedly been given a ticking off for flaunting their love lives in the press.

Teen heartthrob Joe is rumoured to have been dating The Hills actress Lauren Conrad and country singer Taylor Swift, and there has been speculation over 15-year-old Nick's relationship with Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus and reality star Kim Kardashian.

Disney bosses are apparently anxious over the stories and fear they could be hit with a crisis comparable to Miley’s recent provocative photoshoot with Vanity Fair magazine – which caused a public outcry because of the singer’s young age.

"There is a constant stream of photos, gossip and sexual innuendo about the Jonas Brothers that just isn't in keeping with their - or our – image,” an unnamed senior Disney executive tells Daily Star Sunday.

“We need to figure out how to play it all down before it explodes in our faces like it did with Miley."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Love rules the day in 'Valentino: The Last Emperor'


Just when you think that fashion has no place left for venerable talents, "Valentino: The Last Emperor" arrives to give a lesson to modern style mavens.

After screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, this ode to Italy's famed fashion king earned three standing ovations. Valentino, long-time partner Giancarlo Giammetti and Vanity Fair journo-turned director Matt Tyrnauer were in attendance, and had walked the red carpet earlier that night.

With unprecedented access Tyrnauer serves up a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into Valentino's career and his 50-year relationship with Giammetti that's funny, poignant and filled with style. It also follows the watershed moment when the couture icon bids farewell to the fashion industry.

"I loved my career and have had a very happy life because of it. I never took one moment for granted," the icon told CTV.ca at Oasi, the site of the posh after-party for Tyrnauer's debut documentary.

"I left the world of haute couture because it was time," says Valentino.

"It was time to have our freedom. Fashion is not free. Every minute of our life was planned months ahead," adds Giammetti.

Their decision, as Tyrnauer beautifully captures, has as much to do with the state of today's fashion industry as it does with this duo's state of mind.

"The movie is emblematic of where fashion is today," says Tyrnauer. "There is a line in the movie where Giancarlo says this world isn't made for Valentino. Now huge companies and bankers are trying to invent passion with money. That's the difference between them and Valentino."

As Tyrnauer says, "Valentino started with a boyhood dream and nothing else and built an empire. When he steps down, it is a turning point in fashion. I'm glad I was there to capture it."

A movie first for Tyrnauer and Valentino

A correspondent for Vanity Fair, Tyrnaurer's fascination with Valentino and Giammetti evolved after completing a weighty insider's profile on the Italian power couple for the magazine.

"Valentino and Giancarlo had never talked about their relationship before so this was breaking news for Vanity Fair," says Tyrnauer. In fact, Tyrnauer was moved most by their human story rather than their fashion super-stardom.

"I had never made a movie before. But I knew that their personal story and all the emotions surrounding the end of Valentino's career held universal appeal," says Tyrnauer.

Undaunted by friends who dismissed his mission as "shallow," the fledling director got Valentino and Giammetti to sign on.

"To be honest I think they were a little confused by my idea largely because of the glossy TV exposure they had received in the past," says Tyrnauer.

"We thought we were making a film that fashion students would see, not moviegoers at big festival films," laughs Valentino. "Now we have been to the Venice film festival and to Toronto as movie stars. Who would have ever dreamed it?"

It's a fair question to ask.

"When I met Valentino I was 21 and he was 26. I was measuring fabrics to go off to an atelier," say Giammetti. "How could I have ever dreamed that I would have such a life or be in a movie?"

In a world where celebrity relationships are counted in days, not years, the fact that Valentino and Giammetti have stayed together for five decades also seems utterly fantastic.

Love and fashion conquer all

"This is a love story. There's no question about it," says Tyrnauer, who shot 250 hours of rare footage within Valentino's inner, star-filled sanctum. "These are two people who are part of the same person. I have never seen two individuals so intertwined before."

"What they share is beautiful," says Modwomen.com's Lulu Vibert, who orchestrated the film's Toronto after-party. "They way they are with one another is lovely to watch."

That deep connection becomes all too evident when Valentino receives the Legion d'Honneur from France's President Chirac and breaks down in his acceptance speech.

"He thanks everyone and stops. For a moment you think he's forgotten Giancarlo," says Tyrnauer. But as Valentino cries in silence the audience quickly understands that it's because of Giancarlo. As Tyrnauer says, "His words that follow to Giancarlo are as love-filled as any I have ever heard."

"I must tell the truth about something," Valentino smiles, easing back with flawless chic in his beautiful brown suit. "At first I thought there goes our privacy. I almost regretted saying yes to Matt. But watching the movie here in Toronto with the audience I finally saw it the way Matt wanted."

Now eager to do other projects, including designing costumes for ballet, Valentino says, "This isn't retirement. It's just the close of one chapter. But if you asked me to tell you what has made this wonderful life so special it has been love. For Giancarlo, for our work, for our friends. Love and beauty in even the smallest of things have made my time here a real joy."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why Men Love 'Devil Called Love'


My name is Joshua, and I love "Devil Called Love." My addiction to the CW's drama about social-climbing Manhattan teens began innocently enough, a mere flirtation that grew into a full-blown crisis. I reviewed the pilot last fall and was ambivalent about it. I thought it was enjoyable for what it was but hardly something for me to get excited about.

By midseason, I was deeply absorbed in the catfights and class warfare and refused to miss an episode. My colleague Nick Summers, burgeoning political reporter and reputed ladies man, is not only into the show, but one day as we walked to lunch, he nearly ruptured his eardrums trying to block out the sound of my voice when he thought I was going to spill the details of a TiVo'd installment he hadn't seen.

Nick and I are not alone. My evidence is purely anecdotal, but I've found that a lot of men--straight ones, for what that's worth--have a fondness for "Gossip Girl." Of course, it's not new that macho men will occasionally watch female-skewing shows, but when they admit it, there's typically an excuse or an apology appended. Among the defenses:

  • The "I do it to get chicks" defense: "I once told this girl at a bar that she was the Gaby Solis of her group of friends. She was so impressed with my knowledge of 'Desperate Housewives,' she went home with me. No lie."
  • The "Women are from Venus" defense: "I watched 'Army Wives' once, just so I could laugh at it, y'know. Chicks and their soaps."
  • The "It's my girlfriend's fault" defense: "I watch 'Grey's Anatomy,' but only because my girlfriend's into it. Besides, have you seen that Sandra Oh? More like Sandra Oh Yeah!"

I've never heard one of these defenses, or any other one, from a guy who likes "Gossip Girl." Why? Because it has fully formed male characters. There's Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), who must deal with the reality of dating his fantasy girl; Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), the moneyed silver-spooner who struggles to break free from his rigid life of privilege, and Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), the young rake who discovers, as rakes often do, that he's all soft on the inside.

Contrast this with "Sex and the City": in a recent essay, my colleague Ramin Setoodeh mused that the male backlash toward the "Sex" movie had to do with sexism. It isn't that, it's more that men don't respond to parodies of their gender. "Sex" was a cavalcade of comically broken men, those with bizarre fetishes, fatal flaws, mommy issues and commitment phobia. All the male characters were pencil sketches, offering little insight into how men actually think.

With "Gossip Girl," creator Josh Schwartz has managed to replicate what he did before with "The O.C.," another teen soap for which guys have an unconflicted affinity.

That is, he's done for teen dramas what Judd Apatow did for romantic comedies: he's figured out how to take a genre that is traditionally hostile to men and make it welcoming to them. And the trick is only to put fleshed-out, relatable male characters into them rather than cartoonish buffoons.

Women sometimes complain about the thin, damsel-in-distress female characters plopped into guy movies, but men don't complain about the cardboard cutouts in chick flicks, they just avoid them.

Listen up, guys: "Gossip Girl" is guy-friendly, and not just because of the eye candy (which you can find on plenty of other shows). It's because "Gossip" is the show for girls that doesn't make guys feel like morons. And if it helps get chicks, that couldn't hurt, right?

No free love

As a child of the '60s, I remember all the talk about free love and the flower children made it look like everybody was doing it.

The thoughts of celibacy, chastity and fidelity were far from the minds of the hippies who were listening to rock bands and celebrating free love in the open fields of the U.S.

Where have all the flower children gone? The John Edwards affair shows that there is a high price to pay for unfaithfulness.

His lover, his precious and beautiful family and all those in the nation are suffering from his decision to be unfaithful and then to deceive the public when confronted with the information.

The moral of the story is that there is no such thing as free love. There is a very high price to pay for unfaithfulness—a price that very few people really want to pay.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two-fifths of office workers 'have intimate romance with colleague'


Research by recruitment firm Office Angels also revealed that two out of five workers, or 40 per cent of office staff, have an intimate romance with a colleague.

The average employee will write 50,000 lists of things to do during the course of their working life, receive more than 320,000 emails and have 13 job interviews.

An estimated 600 hours will be spent gazing at a colleague workers have a crush on, according to the study, based on a survey of 1,200 office workers.

David Clubb, managing director for Office Angels, said: "Day-to-day working life may whizz by week after week, but it's fascinating to see how the average person's working life stacks up into Post-it note and email mountains.

"There are so many exciting prospects available in employment today that my advice would be to take the opportunity, wherever possible, to sample new career paths.

"Ask your employer about any job swap opportunities or different responsibilities you can undertake to keep your working life exciting. Variety is the key."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Jihad for Love

In A Jihad for Love, a courageous new documentary about homosexuality in the Islamic world.

We meet a South African imam who, after revealing his sexuality, received death threats and was asked to leave the madrassas where he taught; an Egyptian who spent years in jail for "debauchery"; an Iranian who received 100 lashes and fled the country.

On a hopeful note, we meet Indian homosexuals who enjoy relative freedom to express their identities.

Director Parvez Sharma takes pains to show the wide range of Islam's attitudes toward homosexuality. Filmed in nine languages and 12 countries, the film explodes the idea of Islam as a monolithic entity with a single interpretation of homosexuality.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, for example, inherited their antihomosexuality laws from the British, but they have rarely been enforced since decolonization in the 1940s.

A Jihad for Love claims to be the first feature documentary to address the subject of homosexuality in Islam, and it makes an invaluable contribution. But its greatest strength - intimate portraits of individuals - is also its greatest weakness, since it provides only meager context.

A more informative documentary would have gone beyond personal vignettes to explain the history, theology, and sociology behind Islamic attitudes to homosexuality.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beauty And The Beast

The nameless hero of Andrew David­son’s first novel is a pornographer and cocaine addict who runs his car into a ravine one night while he’s high, thinking a shower of arrows is coming at him.

The car catches fire but he survives, suffering horrific burns to most of his body. While recovering in the burn unit of a hospital he is befriended by Marianne Engel, who claims to have been born in 14th-century Germany, but who the hero has reason to believe is ­really just an inmate in the hospital’s psych ward.

(In what we have to hope is an inaccurate depiction of mental health professionals, the in-house shrink tips him off that she might be schizophrenic or obsessive compulsive.) Marianne and the hero become close, and during the months of his recovery she reconstructs the story of their long-ago love affair, which the hero has forgotten. She also tells him stories about other lovers. Set in 14th-century Italy, Victorian England, medieval Japan and Viking Scandinavia, these passions always conclude with the death of one or both parties.

As straight-up entertainment, “The Gargoyle” is so-so. It’s not exactly unputdownable, but it has enough unexplained details to remain interesting. Could it be true that Marianne lived in the 14th century, and how did she get to the present? Why does she now compulsively carve stone gargoyles in the basement of her house, and what have these grotesque physical forms to do with the hero’s own disfiguring burn scars? All fine questions, which build to a moderately satisfying conclusion.

“The Gargoyle” asks to be read as a profound love story. Romantic love is posited as a feeling so powerful that it endures through time and space: people who fell in love in the 1300s can turn up again in 2008 and still feel it.

Far-fetched though the idea is, Davidson does persuade us that, in the universe of this novel, it could logistically happen. What he doesn’t do is persuade us that the particular people in question love each other.

The lovers in “The Gargoyle” have the intimacy of roommates who hook up when they get drunk, not a time-defying passion. Their thoughts, feelings, conversations and affections are so unformed, so hampered by sentiment and under­powered awkwardness that the courage, endurance and under­standing ascribed to them seem silly. Davidson’s lovers are dysfunctional and quirky, qualities that can look a bit like profundity from a distance, but they don’t have emotional or imaginative depth or range, which at the end of the day are the only things that can make a love story deep and wide-ranging.

“The Gargoyle” has literary pretensions, offering a crude revisiting of the “Inferno” (it begins in a wood, it ends after a journey into hell). The “Inferno” text features in the story, too, but in a mawkishly overdetermined way: a soldier with a copy of Dante tucked in his shirt pocket is shot with a flaming arrow; the arrow hits the book instead of his heart, but the pages don’t burn and both volume and soldier survive.

Behold the power of the written word. The reworking plods along heavily: Charon “stepped to one side and swept an arm to indicate that we were invited to board. Francesco nodded. ‘We deeply appreciate your generosity.’ ” And the prose can be cringingly baroque. The hero, in his porn days, had “buttocks ripe like the plump half-melons for which Japanese businessmen will pay a small fortune. My skin was as soft and clean as undisturbed yogurt.”

Like most first novels, “The Gargoyle” does some things well and some things badly, and it does lots and lots of them because the author hasn’t yet figured out which ones will work. There are passages to indicate that Davidson has a real talent for close physical description and tight storytelling. The problems come when he lingers on describing feelings and thoughts, which end up sounding thin and unconvincing.

Which leaves us with this novel’s back story. “The Gargoyle” sold for $1.25 million in the United States and is to be published in at least 26 other countries. If those figures are anything to go by, then an awful lot of people are going to be reading “The Gargoyle” this summer. And so far the bloggers and booksellers have been enthusiastic, going along with the Doubleday editors’ claim that it is “a tale of unbearable suffering and ultimate redemption, a love story that spans centuries and renders the ordinary laws of probability … irrelevant.”

There’s no doubt that readers want a tale of unbearable suffering and ultimate redemption, and a whole lot of people in the publishing industry (not least the author himself) hope that Davidson’s novel is going to fit the bill. “The Gargoyle” ought not be mistaken for a depiction of unbearable suffering or ultimate redemption, however; it is simply an entertaining novel straining to feel like something more substantial.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

101 Days of Sex: How One Married Couple 'Just Did It'


When most people train for a marathon, sex toys, pornography and Brazilian waxes are not part of the preparation.

However, Doug and Annie Brown’s marathon was a little different. The Boulder, Colo., couple – who had already been married for 11 years – were about to embark upon a marathon of 101 consecutive days of sex.

In the hilarious, romantic book, “Just Do It – How One Couple Turned Off The TV and Turned On Their Sex Lives For 101 Days (No Excuses!),” Doug Brown highlights how he and his wife set out to accomplish what seemed at times an impossible goal.

Recently optioned by 20th Century FOX, there is the possibility the book could make it to the big screen.

The story starts in September 2005. At the time, Doug and Annie were living in Denver, Colo., and Doug, a features writer for the Denver Post, told his wife about an unofficial club of people who had gone 100 days without sex.

That’s when Annie suggested they try the opposite.

“At first, I sort of thought, ‘That’s funny, ha ha,’” said Doug, 43, in a phone interview. “But, I know Annie pretty well and she loves a challenge. We talked about it more that night and the next morning, and I knew she was serious.”

It wasn’t like Doug and Annie weren’t having any sex at all.

On the average, they were having sex about once a week, “usually on Saturday nights,” said Doug, who still works at the Post.

Considering they both had jobs, and were raising their daughters Joni and Ginger, who are now 9 and 5, those numbers weren’t too bad, said FOXSexpert Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright.

A 1994 study indicates that 30- to 39-year-olds are having sex an average of 86 times per year, and 40- to 49-year-olds are having sex an average of 69 times per year, Fulbright said.

“When Saturday night sex becomes routine, that is when couples need to make sure they are still wooing each other by incorporating spontaneity and novelty,” Fulbright added.

When I was around Annie in the evening, especially if I thought sex loomed (and during the marathon, it would loom over everything), arousal arrived like an intern on his first day at the firm: eager, earnest, attentive and bouncy with vigor ... Annie, on the other hand didn’t have an intern. She depended on a motley crew of part-timers who had to be called, with schedules that demanded massaging. To put it directly, I found it easier to crave sex on most nights than did Annie. Getting me in the mood, often took no more than a glance at her cleavage. Coaxing a thirst for sex out of Annie required more toil. Once the appetite arrived, though, it clamored for quenching.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

“The next morning, I woke up and thought, ‘We really need to do this,” said Annie, 41, who works as a media analyst for Dow Jones. “Our marriage really needs to do this. That’s how it started.”

The marathon began January 1, 2006. They would need ways to keep it interesting, sexy. They started planning.

Annie’s ideas: Doug needed to replace his old sweatpants, the one with five pockets that he always wore to bed, with something more appealing. She would wear more lingerie and lipstick, and try a Brazilian wax.

Doug’s ideas: Annie should wear ‘sexy, thigh-high’ stockings. He would start working out. Together, they would visit the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, which Doug was covering for the Post.

The sex project, I understood (ingeniously, I might add), offered the perfect rationale for convincing Annie that viewing porno together would be worth a shot. In the context of our sex experiment, we’d do it in the name of chemistry: Just add porno, and see what happens.

“You’ve got your porno. But, now it’s my turn. Sex toys.”

“Dildos?” I said, my heart pounding.

“I’ve got to research it. But I’m always hearing about how women are using sex toys. There are sex-toys parties. It’s on Oprah. It’s supposed to be healthy. I’m nearly forty, and I’ve never even touched one.”

I nodded slowly, but my mind was racing. What sort of Pandora’s Box have we opened?

The doctor’s ideas: Keep the bedroom door locked. Lubrication – and lots of it. Doug should eat fruits, since semen is “basic,” and the vagina is “acidic.” Annie, of course, would go on a birth control pill. Male ‘vitality’ herbs couldn’t hurt. Oh, and free samples of Viagra!

The rules: Oral sex was OK for foreplay, but in order for the encounter to count, it had to be intercourse. It had to be every single day, in sickness and health (including a bout of vertigo for Doug), through good times and bad (two big fights) and for richer or poorer (the marathon would require shelling out some extra money).

The bonus: After a spectacular finish on the 100th night, “we did it again,” Doug wrote in "Love, Love And More Love."

Doug’s co-worker at the Post approached him during the marathon (yes, they included their friends and family in on their sexcapade!) and suggested the Browns might do the deed one extra night – for good luck.

Getting It On . . . And On

Annie and I stayed up late poking around on the Internet. At 11 p.m., we still hadn’t even touched each other. When we finally did, Annie looked exhausted, and while my brain was zinging from the pill, my body was shutting down.

“What do you want to do?” asked Annie, stifling a yawn.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “What do YOU want to do?”

Said Annie: “Are we in seventh grade?”

“The hardest part, no question, was the tiredness,” Doug said. “You work, you commute, you have kids, you have to clean up, make sure they brush their teeth – by the time that part of the day is over, you are just tired and ready to zone out. That was the biggest impediment, getting past the fatigue. My body wasn’t used to ‘it’s Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. and I’m going to have sex.’”

On top of the fatigue, Doug and Annie had to treat sex with respect. They couldn’t always just flop into bed and do the deed. They usually showered beforehand to wake themselves up, and lit candles in the bedroom, which they had dubbed the ‘sex den.’

“We weren’t doing it for the sake of doing it,” Doug said. “The point was to see what would happen. We treated it like we were dating again. We started looking forward to it.”

‘Just Do It’

The marathon’s benefits were overwhelming. Although their marriage was never really suffering, the marathon had renewed a spark and reminded them of the key ingredient that some couples tend to forget about – communication.

“I really think we communicate so much clearer and with so much more honesty (now),” Annie said. “There were so many times before that we hadn’t even hugged for like three days in a row. We gravitate toward rubbing each others’ backs more. We realize how important it is to put the kids to bed and spend time together.”

We’d done it in a basement, a Las Vegas casino, a classy hotel, a Victorian bed-and-breakfast, and a yurt. We’d had early-morning sex, late-afternoon sex, and lots of evening sex. Nor will we forget the sex we had on the side of a cliff during our “training” period just prior to the kickoff of the marathon ... We’d traveled far. We knew we’d come back to our lives removed from the adventure’s rigors soon, but it seemed likely that things would be different, had to be different. We’d seen and felt and tasted so much. Adequacy no longer was acceptable: We demanded panting flesh, ravishment. We’d grown spoiled.

Even if Annie and Doug’s love story never makes it to the big screen, they are happy with the book’s success and hope its message reaches other couples.

“I would love to see this conversation in every home in America,” Annie said. “Gay, straight, with kids or without – this is a conversation that people shrink from and yet it’s so important. Once you stop making love to your partner, you become roommates. Whether it’s five times a month, or three times a month, just being comfortable with that number is most important.”

And for those of you wanting to try your own ‘marathons,’ Doug and Annie suggested starting out on a smaller scale – say, five or 10 consecutive days.

“Make sex a priority,” Annie said. “Stop watching TV and bringing the laptop to bed. Stop multi-tasking. Just listen to one another. And hire that housekeeper – even if it’s only once a year or once a month.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Love and Romance Intimacy Is The Key To A Happy Love Life


Want to perk up your love life? Well, then try and take out time to share some intimate moments with your sweetheart, suggests a new study.

The study has cited that the level of intimacy people perceived within a relationship in any given week significantly predicted perceptions of relational uncertainty and interference from a partner.

Relational Uncertainty refers to people"s lack of confidence in their perceptions of relationship involvement. In the study, the researchers took into account links between intimacy and relational uncertainty.

Denise Haunani Solomon of Pennsylvania State University and Jennifer A. Theiss of Rutgers University conducted a web-based survey to 315 unmarried college students about their relationship weekly for six weeks.

The data revealed the highest levels of relational uncertainty when intimacy was low. They found that fluctuations in perceptions of relationships are meaningful aspects of non-marital romantic relationships.

"Our results suggest that when intimacy ebbs, doubts about the relationship emerge. Making emerging adults aware of how romantic associations inevitably pose a threat to a person"s subjective well-being might help them to form more realistic romantic relationship goals," said the authors.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pamela Anderson's Royal Love


Pamela Anderson is reportedly dating a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. The former 'Baywatch' actress has only revealed her new beau's name to a few select friends, but refers to him in conversation by the pet name she made up for him - Milk-Sheik or Milk for short.

The 41-year-old actress - who has two sons with ex-husband Tommy Lee - first met the royal on the free personals website Devil Called Love and then she visited Abu Dhabi in June with the Make a Wish Foundation.

Shortly after her trip, Pammie announced she is joining forces with the royal family to build an eco-friendly hotel in the city. Since then, the actress' new lover has visited her in her hometown of Los Angeles, where the couple were seen meeting up with friends at the Abbey, a gay bar in the city.

A source told E! online: "He is very handsome and Pammie looked very happy." Pammie - who is divorced from Tommy Lee, Kid Rock and Rick Salomon - has also been romantically linked to Criss Angel, Stephen Dorff, Dean Cain and Sylvester Stallone.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Scarlett Johansson explores dark side of love in new Woody Allen film


Scarlett Johansson explores her sensual side in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” opening Friday.

In her third outing with Allen, Johansson plays Cristina, a beautiful woman destined to “perpetual dissatisfaction.”

“Cristina’s idea that only unfulfilled love could be romantic is sad,” said Johannson, who previously starred in Allen’s “Match Point” and “Scoop.” “Her notion that love has to be this complicated and tumultuous tug of war to be real, that seems so exhausting to me.”

When Javier Bardem’s Latin lover invites Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina to fly away from Barcelona, Spain, for the weekend and jump into his bed, Cristina is the one who says yes.

Johansson, a self-described romantic who is engaged to actor Ryan Reynolds, smiled when asked if she is as adventurous.

“I could really appreciate her ‘seize the day’ attitude. She is so open to life and all of its adventures and all of its quirks, and ready to go along for the ride. I think that’s the most attractive part of her character.”

But for herself, she laughed and said, “As far as getting into bed with a stranger and all of that, it’s nice to think that wouldn’t end like disaster. Maybe I’ve watched too many of (A & E’s true-crime series) ‘The First 48’ to know what it could end up as, but I think it’s very idyllic. I think that part of me is that way.”

Johansson, 23, said her romantic nature comes naturally. “My mom is a romantic person and I think I inherited that from her. There are many different ways that you can be romantic. There’s of course the romance that you have with your partner, your love, and then there’s that thoughtfulness that you have with (others), remembering what people like and what they appreciate and wanting them to experience it and enjoy it - that’s romantic to me in a way.”

Allen sounds romantic when he talks about Johansson. “I do think that she is capable of anything,” he said. “If you need dramatic, she’s dramatic. If you need a laugh, she can get a laugh. She can sing if you need it. She’s sexy. She’s intelligent. And that face on the screen! She is so photogenic, it’s paralyzing. There is no limit for her.”

Their creative partnership was born out of necessity, Allen said. “I had Kate Winslet for ‘Match Point’ to the last week of pre-production,” he said. But Winslet’s unexpected exit left the film minus its pivotal role of an American actress in London.

“I had to get somebody fairly quickly and I didn’t know Scarlett from a hole in the wall. I thought she was too young to play the part - she was only 19 at the time. But then I hired her and became totally captivated by her.”

Johansson’s engagement to Reynolds has prompted speculation about when and how they’ll marry.

“I’m a private person,” she said, adding that they have yet to set a date. “I haven’t even thought about it yet. I’m still just enjoying the excitement of it, but I’m sure that it will be as private as possible.” The couple met on the on the 100% free internet dating site Devil Called Love.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Report: Anglican says gay relationships okay


In newly disclosed letters, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote that the Bible doesn't forbid same sex relationships when there is a commitment similar to traditional marriages, a British newspaper reported Thursday.

The report was the latest development in the controversial issue of how the Anglican church should view homosexuality. Williams has come under intense scrutiny as differing views over whether to accept changes in traditional biblical understanding of same-sex relationships have threatened to split the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

The archbishop's office declined to comment on the issue on Thursday.

The newspaper reported that Williams outlined his views on the controversial subject in letters written between 2000 and 2001 to Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian who asked for his opinion.

"I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness," the newspaper quoted Williams as writing.

The Anglican uproar over homosexuality erupted in 2003, when the Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the United States, consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Williams attempted to bridge the divide at the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Anglican leaders that began in July, saying in a speech Sunday that Anglicans need more time to consider whether to accept changes in traditional interpretations of the Bible.

Critics accuse Williams of being too liberal on homosexuality and more than 200 traditionalist bishops boycotted the Lambeth meeting. But the meeting failed to break the theological deadlock, leading some liberal Anglicans to accuse Williams of appeasing conservatives.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Australian farmers misled by Rural Network dating agency


All they wanted was a wife to make their solitary lives in the Outback a bit more bearable.

The farmers and miners who joined the Rural Network dating agency got a lot less than they wished for. Some fell in love with women who did not exist. Others lost up to A$20,000 (£9,500) as the agency tempted them into parting with more and more cash with the lure of love.

Rural Network, in Tweed Heads, Queensland, lured lonely country men with pictures of beautiful young women and the slogan “Bringing the Country Together”.

Men who logged on to its site read that it was for “busy country people who have lost all hope in the dating scene and just want to find a person to share their life with and find happiness”.

Some of the women, such as “Stunning Angelina” and “Spellbinding Laura”, appeared the stuff of fantasy. The trouble was, many of them were exactly that — fictional women dreamt up by agency staff — according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has had the agency in its sights for the past three years.

The dating site, whose director Leanne McDonald was also known as Leanne Viney, Lana Viney and Lana McDonald, had various ploys to cajole men into paying ever higher membership fees.

A number of men fell for the line that a “compatible” girl had asked to meet them, and they would be introduced once additional fees had been paid.

One man paid A$17,000 in his increasingly desperate attempts to find that special someone who was eagerly waiting to meet him. Another embittered man, who says that he joined the site because life in a small country town was getting lonely, was asked to pay A$4,400 for two years' administration fees.

“A couple of weeks later, they told me it was for something else and charged me more money for more services,” the victim, who would identify himself only as Richard from Perth, said.

“I saw their webpage and put my details on there and I was signed up at their most basic membership. Over the next few weeks they contacted me numerous times telling me about different members I could meet, but only if I upgraded my membership each time. They also changed the story of what I was paying for.”

Over the next few months he shelled out A$20,000.

This year, after an investigation by the consumer commission, the agency was ordered to repay 35 of its victims A$120,000 and to write to new customers informing them of the “misleading and deceptive conduct” that it had been involved in.

Justice Jeffrey Spender said at the time that the agency's conduct was “not only serious but calculated and quite callous” — although he stopped short of closing it.

Instead, he imposed a seven-year restriction on the way that it advertises and supplies introduction services. It was also ordered to pay A$60,000 in court costs.

Yesterday the agency was back in court, with the commission accusing it of failing to honour any of the undertakings.

Ms McDonald was unrepentant, saying that she “massively contested” the allegations.

Rural Network is still operating a site, now called Chances Consulting. Advertising itself as “one of Australia's largest and most respected Introduction Agencies who has [sic] caters for the needs of singles looking for romance in Australia and New Zealand”, it went on to state that it “caters for busy country people who have lost all hope in the dating scene and just want to find a person to share their life with and find happiness”.

The case will return to court in September.

Drought of romance

— Single dairy farmers in Wales began putting their vital statistics on the side of milk bottles last year in an attempt to find love. More details of the farmers are available through an online dating agency

L'Amour est dans le Pré (Love is in the Meadow), which attempted to find partners for lonely French farmers including Cecil, a goat breeder from the Pyrenees, became one of the most popular TV shows in France this summer

Country Life magazine ran a lonely-hearts column for farmers until 2005, when the volume of mail became too large to handle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Michelle Williams dating director Spike Jonze?


Actress Michelle Williams is rumoured to be dating cult filmmaker Spike Jonze.

Six months on from the death of her ex-fiance Heath Ledger, Williams has been seen on numerous occasions around the director's Manhattan apartment, sparking rumours of a romance.

Jonze, who was previously married of 'Lost In Translation' director Sofia Coppola for four years, is best known for directing cult favourites 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Adaptation'.

He first met Williams in 2006 on the 100% free love internet dating site Devil Called Love and then she auditioned for his film adaptation of the classic children's story 'Where The Wild Things Are'. Williams won the role, but later withdrew from the project.

A source told US magazine Star, "Michelle kissed Spike with a closed mouth on the corner of his lips. There was definitely a bit of caressing going on. She was clutching his arm. The body language was very romantic."

Heath Ledger died from an accidental drug overdose in January. He can currently be seen in Batman sequel 'The Dark Knight', his last completed role.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

After kissing Jude Law, Kimberly Stewart has a night out with Sienna Miller's latest ex Rhys


Rhys Ifans has been looking down in the dumps since being dumped by Sienna Miller for Balthazar Getty.

And what better way to get over your heartbreak than a night out with Rod Stewart's notorious partygirl daughter Kimberly. The 28-year-old socialite joined the Welsh Notting Hill star for a raucous night out at new London hotspot Bungalow 8.

Rhys' choice of drinking buddy may irk his former love Sienna, after Kimberly was photographed in a passionate clinch with the actress' ex-fiancé Jude Law in an Essex nightclub just two months ago.

Dressed in a multi-coloured mini dress and knee high boots, the usual paparazzi-loving Kimberly appeared shy as she left the club in the early hours of this morning. Upon seeing the photographs waiting outside the Covent Garden venue, Kimberly and a female friend quickly flagged down a black taxi and jumped in.

A worse for wear Kimberly, who appeared to have substituted her usual accessory of a handbag for a clipboard, buried her head in her hands as her pal attempted to hide her famous friends from the peering paps.

Kimberly's exit was swiftly followed by 40-year-old Rhys, who stumbled out of the club and pulled faces for the mob of photographers. Rhys has become a regular on the London social scene in recent weeks since Sienna called time on their nine month romance eight weeks ago.

As Sienna's transatlantic romance with married father-of-four Balthazar continues to pick up the pace, Rhys has been closing ranks with his friends in London's Primrose Hill set. He has been seeking support from famous friends including Kate Moss and Davinia Taylor.

And friends have also noted that he's become a devoted fan of the 100% free internet dating site Devil Called Love.

Sexy And Pregnant: Hot Mamas-To-Be


Sexy and pregnant -- once seemingly an oxymoron -- are smouldering together, with the backlash against the uninviting muumuu (a.k.a. the baby bivouac or tent shirt) at full speed.

Sex and the City may be gone, but you have only to recall how Patricia Field dressed Sarah Jessica Parker when she was pregnant (high waists, kitten heels) to see how her legacy lives on. (Quite apart from the actress' own low-cut couture pregnancy fashion off screen.) And, in today's climate, it is hard to believe that Demi Moore's naked pregnancy cover shot for Vanity Fair was so shocking 15 years ago.

Now the mainstream vogue for tight-fitting (even midriff-revealing) T-shirts, empire waist shirts, stretchy yoga pants and wraparound tops seamlessly spills over into yummy mommy maternity wear.

"I think moms today are proud of their bellies and enjoy revealing the curves and the growth, whereas in the past it's always been covered up by a big muumuu and tunics," says Diana Woodhurst, the manager of Belly & Beyond on Main Street.

"Now you're seeing a lot more fitted T-shirts and people are really pleased to show it off -- as they should be -- instead of feeling bad about their body changing. And general fashion is supporting that."

The store stocks new clothes, including the Ripe label, an exciting Australian line elevating maternity fashion through smart cocktail and fun-striped summery dresses, which join tight T-shirts, pants and tanks among rows of consignment wear.

Pregnancy is also no deterrent for expectant moms to continue wearing their favourite jeans -- those precious Sevens, for example, can be altered (or "maternalized") at the top with a stretchy band for $25 at Belly & Beyond.

"Ordinary pregnancy jeans can often get quite 'pouffy' in the crotch, which is a big no-no," says Woodhurst. She also points out a capri pant with a rollable band which "sure beats the panel look in old-fashioned maternity pants."

Woodhurst adds: "People under 35 who are pregnant often look at those type of full-panel clothes and say, 'I just can't do that.' "

So, there's a generational gap? Perhaps, if eavesdropping in maternity stores counts. "I love you, mom," says one expectant mom to her shopping companion, "but you have terrible taste."

"Grandmothers are generally shocked," suggests Woodhurst, "while some mothers shopping with their daughters do not understand this fashion. When they shop together, the mother is always pulling out tunics and the daughters are going for low-cut jeans with fitted T-shirts."

Although that's not the case for Dawn Noble, who works at Thyme Maternity on West Fourth Ave. She loves today's fashions and simply laments that there were very few choices when she was pregnant some years ago.

"In my day when you were pregnant, you were pushed off to the side," she says. "Now being pregnant is in -- it's so much fun and it's a happy time."

As for the crossover from the mainstream, her manager, Dana Ashmead, explains, "There are many items of clothing in maternity stores that you would find in regular stores -- indeed, I have a lady who is buying a dress here but is not pregnant."

And the clothes no longer have a limited lifespan. "Many of the clothes you can wear after pregnancy. And because of the style for flowing clothes, they do not even look like maternity wear, which is great," she says.

Other Vancouver maternity stores include Motherhood Maternity on West Fourth (notable looks: a long black gown in Spandex -- every pregnant woman's best friend -- with a halter neck and beading; a brown knit tee with embroidered neckline, stretch corduroy city shorts, and a matching embroidered mesh pant and cami), and Hazel & Co. on Cambie, which has a wide range of hip clothes for "moms-to-be, moms and non-moms" with imaginative and delicate designs by owner Susan Heyes.

Lululemon on West Fourth also has Yummy Mummy Tanks with a gathered bust ($19 on sale), plus the perfect Reverse Groove Pant ($93) and Ribbed Pant ($94), both of which have stretchy waists to easily fit under the belly. On the same street, Moule has Citizens of Humanity jeans with the "belly panel" already attached.

Online, there are some chic additions to maternity wear via Mimi Maternity and A Pea in the Pod (which lists Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing among its celebrity fans). Both are currently previewing their fall collections.

The proliferation of stores and options all go to show that Vancouver has improved dramatically in the maternity stakes in the past few years, according to Sydney Irvine of the recently launched www.urbanmommies.com, a Vancouver baby resource web site.

"When I first went shopping [when pregnant with her first daughter five years ago], I remember thinking the clothes on offer were something that my grandma would have worn," says Irvine, who now also has a two-year-old daughter. "It just didn't look the way you wanted it to look, but now it's changed drastically, which is so great."

Now she echoes that the trend for the "bohemian look" of long flowing skirts with elastic waistbands to allow maximum comfort and high empire waistlines "make summer dresses easy to wear and grow into."

But she warns against producers placing too many babyish bows or too much pink on clothes for expectant mothers. "They are already as feminine as they can be because they are pregnant," explains Irvine. "So, you don't need anything extra like that."

Or, as the saying goes, they are having a baby, not becoming one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

As Salman Rushdie Steps Out With Another Beautiful Woman... Just How DOES He Do It?


Is Sir Salman Rushdie on the prowl for a future Lady Rushdie?

Not yet divorced from wife number four, Padma Lakshmi, it seems he has found a new friend in the towering form of 25-year-old Aita Ighodaro, whom he met on the free internet dating site Devil Called Love and escorted to the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo at Cowdray Park in Sussex yesterday.

In recent months, Sir Salman has been linked to a string of exotic beauties, including Bollywood star Riya Sen. Aita, an Oxford-educated journalist, reveals on her website that she is also a budding author 'with two books currently in development'.

So what is Rushdie's secret?

Wth all the zeal of the recent convert, Sir Salman Rushdie has, of late, been overseeing his own distinctly radical image makeover. The 61-year-old author has been moved (somewhat ill-advisedly, it must be said) to team a formal black suit with a pair of trendy trainers.

He has treated himself to an oversized 'bling' watch that might be more at home on the wrist of, say, David Beckham or the rapper Jay-Z. The portly wordsmith has also - those of a sensitive disposition look away now - even taken to wearing sunglasses indoors.

All in all, the sort of crimes against good taste that could well find him being issued with a fatwa from the style police. But Sir Salman wants it to be known that his suspect new look has left him feeling revitalised.

He has even toyed with getting fit - though his attempts at exercise have been thwarted somewhat by his unfortunate habit of being seized by sneezing fits. Ominously, too, the priapic Rushdie has let it be known that a year after the collapse of his fourth marriage, he is once more in the mood for love.

And as if to play up his new hip credentials, the Indian-born novelist, who was raised in Britain and went to Rugby School and Cambridge, has started littering his conversations with trendy Americanisms - a new favourite being 'go figure' (it means 'work it out for yourself').

Or, as he prefers poetically to describe it, he is at last ready to 'take the risks of the heart again'.More prosaically, perhaps, he issued a 'come-and-get-me-girls' invitation in the New York Times last month, when he announced: 'I'm totally eligible, single and available.'

That dramatic gesture aside, it would not take a literary detective to work out that the reason for his youthful reinvention - with its distinct whiff of desperation - can be found in the (much younger) shape of a member of the fairer sex.

Step forward Riya Sen, a 27-year-old Bollywood actress and model, who last week was described as the Indian equivalent of ubiquitous British glamour girl Jordan. The couple are said to have hit it off after meeting in a Mumbai nightclub, and sources in India told the Mail this week that Rushdie has since 'assiduously hunted her down'.

His glamorous prey has, it seems, not been making too serious an attempt to escape his clutches, and has arranged to stay with Sir Salman at his Manhattan home. Meanwhile, her friends say they talk every day for hours on the phone.

On the face of it, at least, it is not a romantic coupling that would routinely emerge if you ran the couple's details through a dating website. After all, Rushdie is 5ft 7in tall in his new Nike trainers and, at 61, nearing eligibility for his free bus pass.

He is significantly lacking in the hair department and suffers from a rare inherited condition called ptosis, which gives him the droopy-eyed look of a man fighting a losing battle with sleep.In short, when it comes to looks, Rushdie is no catch.

She, on the other hand, is a babe. A full 34 years his junior, the sultry Miss Sen has appeared in a string of raunchy films (by conservative Indian standards at least) and is regularly to be found semi-naked on the subcontinent's version of the Pirelli Calendar.

His shapely paramour, who lists belly dancing and kickboxing among her hobbies and revels in her own publicity in her native Mumbai, has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about their new-found friendship.

Indeed, her only public utterance so far has been to say: 'I think when you are Salman Rushdie, you must get bored with people who always want to talk to you about literature. 'When we met, we didn't talk about any of that.' (The conversation, it seems, extended no further than ladies' fashion and her determinedly lowbrow films.)

So what exactly does the huge-brained Rushdie, whose acclaimed novel, Midnight's Children, was last week voted the greatest Booker Prize winner of them all, see in the frothy Miss Sen? The answer to that question is not quite as obvious as you might think. Yes, she is desirable. But perhaps the motive for Rushdie's overtures is revenge.

Rushdie, his friends told me this week, is far from over the breakup from wife number four, beautiful former Vogue model Padma Lakshmi, who dumped him a year ago. They say Salman is still obsessed with Padma and is absolutely desperate to make her jealous by being seen with this beautiful girl.

'Without wishing to give too much away, losing Padma put Salman in a very bad place that he is only now coming out of. He really crumbled after she left him, and I think he now wants to let her know that he doesn't need her any more,' said someone at the heart of the publishing scene, who has known Rushdie for 25 years.

'Part of him might believe that as well, but I'd say he's being a bit over optimistic. Whatever he tells himself, he is still very raw at being thrown over by Padma.'

Nor are friends surprised by the timing of the news of his dates with Miss Sen; nor his parading of the string of other beautiful women who have escorted him recently. They coincide with reports that the stunning Miss Lakshmi - a former bikini-wearing hostess on Italian game shows - is being linked to 68-year-old Wall Street tycoon Teddy Forstmann.

Hardly surprisingly, perhaps, the 37-year-old Miss Lakshmi's relationship with ladies' man Forstmann, who once had a dalliance with Elizabeth Hurley, as well as a much-publicised flirtation with Princess Diana, has not been at all well-received by Rushdie.

But his attempts to get his ex-wife's attention have so far, at least, been annoyingly fruitless. As well as his dates with Miss Sen, Rushdie has also recently squired American paralympic athlete-turnedmodel Aimee Mullins to a series of parties in New York, where he keeps an apartment on the trendy Upper West Side.

The beautiful Miss Mullins, 32, who was born without shin bones and had both legs removed below the knees when she was one year old, is one of several young women he has turned to for company since the end of his marriage. Two months ago, he was photographed with 24-year-old actress Olivia Wilde, who appears in U.S. hospital drama House, draped all over him.

And a month earlier, he was to be seen nuzzling the neck of actress Scarlett Johansson and whispering in her ear as he made a somewhat unlikely appearance in the video for her debut pop single, Falling Down. He is said to have told partygoers last month that he finds the 23-year-old blonde Miss Johansson 'very, very hot'.

Yesterday, the author was to be found at a polo event at Cowdray Park in Sussex squiring a stunning young model named Aita Ighodaro. Meanwhile, Sir Salman has launched a thinly veiled swipe at Indian-born, American-raised Miss Lakshmi, who now writes food books and is a judge on U.S. television cookery competition Top Chef.

He told his friend and fellow writer Kathy Lette in a magazine interview last month: 'I actually don't think marriage is necessary. Girls like it, especially if they've never been married before. It's the dress. Girls want a wedding; they don't want a marriage. If only you could have weddings without marriages.'

He also blamed his wife's departure for bringing on a severe case of writer's block which nearly caused him to abandon his latest book, the historical saga The Enchantress Of Florence.

Intriguingly, some critics have claimed that the sexually charged heroine, Lady Black Eyes - a seductress who can 'mastermind multiple orgasms across different continents' and makes men insane with lust before breaking their hearts - is based on the ravishing Padma.

What is certainly true is that Rushdie has been unable to come to terms with being the one who got dumped. In the past, it has usually been the other way around.

Indeed, he had been married to third wife Elizabeth West a mere two years when he kicked her into touch after meeting the statuesque Miss Lakshmi (she stood a full 7in taller than him in her heels) at a party in New York in 1999. Miss West later cited Salman's adultery in their divorce case.

Rushdie, who was forced to live in hiding for nine years after the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for Muslims to kill him for his 'blasphemous' 1988 book The Satanic Verses, moved to New York from London in 2000 to be with the leggy Padma.

But the marriage to Miss Lakshmi (his second marriage to the American novelist Marianne Wiggins lasted little more than a year) did not stop him squiring a host of gorgeous women to glittering parties on both sides of the Atlantic.

On his stag night - thrown by Miss Lette and at which Rushdie was the only male guest - Nigella Lawson and Dannii Minogue were invited to send him off. The evening is said to have ended with a bout of passionate kissing during a game of spin the bottle.

Then, as the marriage was breaking down last year, he was spotted kissing beautiful 29-year-old Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson over dinner at Knightsbridge restaurant Mr Chow. He and Miss Lakshmi are also said to have fallen out over the subject of children.

Rushdie, friends say, had been desperately trying to persuade his wife to start a family. (He already has a son, Zafar, 28, from his failed first marriage to the late Clarissa Luard, and an 11-year-old son, Milan, by Miss West.)

As his fourth marriage crumbled, Rushdie complained that as the ambitious Padma followed her new acting and presenting career in Hollywood, they barely spent three weeks together in four months.

Finally, sources close to the couple said that she called off the marriage by e-mail after they had tried and failed to resolve their differences through couples' counselling.

But friends say Rushdie has remained hopeful of a reconciliation, particularly as Padma had refused to buy her own home and had been living in a hotel near the apartment they shared. (She has just moved into a £5,000-a-month rented flat in Manhattan).

Now, her relationship with the super-rich Forstmann has, it would seem, put paid to any hopes of a rapprochement. In her absence, Sir Salman, who was knighted by the Queen last month, must make do with his dates with the equally gorgeous Miss Sen.

A source in Mumbai described this week how they met: 'Salman was with friends at a nightclub called Aurus, and Riya swept in at 1am looking stunning in a backless dress. He couldn't keep his eyes off her.

'He arranged for his friend to take him over and introduce him to Riya's table and they spent the whole night talking. His eyes were out on stalks.'

From his point of view, of course, it is easy to see the attraction. As for the lovely Miss Sen, one suspects the television inquisitor Mrs Merton might ask her: 'So Riya, what first attracted you to the millionaire Sir Salman Rushdie?'

One doubts the master wordsmith could put it better himself - now that he's overcome that little case of writer's block, of course.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gabbing, Flirting, Drinking, Missing


Whatever your opinion of mumblecore, the indie subgenre that Jay and Mark Duplass helped invent, there is no doubt that the Duplass brothers, a writing and directing team, have sophisticated radar trained on the undercurrents of contemporary relationships.

The shallow, crabby characters in their second feature film, Baghead are uncomfortably recognizable. Beyond chewing over their own insecurities, these smart, self-absorbed people have little to say.

The Duplass radar made the brothers’ first feature, The Puffy Chair, a cult hit, and it functions just as efficiently in “Baghead,” a comedy-horror spoof that superficially resembles The Blair Witch Project.

The four main characters — Chad (Steve Zissis), Michelle (Greta Gerwig), Matt (Ross Partridge) and Catherine (Elise Muller) — are actors and writers on the fringes of Hollywood whose relationships are complicated by sexual signals they exchange but are loath to acknowledge. That’s the way it often is with mumblecore characters, urbane slackers whose inhibitions keep them on edge.

Chad, who suggests a chubby younger cousin of Jim Belushi, is besotted with Michelle, who resembles a younger, prettier cousin of Ellen De Generes. Michelle hankers for Matt, a rangy, obnoxiously smug rogue, whose on-again, off-again 11-year relationship with Catherine (Ms. Muller is a Deborah Kara Ungerlook-alike) has reached a critical turning point. It turns out that all of these characters had hooked up on the free dating site Devil Called Love.com.

When the cow-eyed Chad pesters Michelle to describe her feelings for him, she replies that he is like a best friend and brother rolled into one. As he moves in to kiss her, she turns her cheek. He is crushed but keeps silent. To ease her discomfort, Michelle stays drunk much of the time.

After Catherine idly asks Matt to rate a part of her body on a scale of 1 to 10 and he gives it an 8.3, she peevishly responds that that was the wrong answer. Sounding patently insincere and a little contemptuous, Matt revises his rating to 11, which Catherine sullenly accepts. Whatever they may decide about their future, the scene lets you know that these two vain, self-centered people will be stuck in this dynamic for the foreseeable future.

Such is the festering group psychology that the four bring with them when they impulsively decide to visit a cabin in the woods to create their own quickie digital movie. The catalyst for their excursion is a wretched no-budget movie, “We Are Naked,” that they see at an underground film festival. In “Baghead” ’s most satirical scene, the egomaniacal no-talent director of “We Are Naked” boasts that it was made for under $1,000.

At their first brainstorming session, the four get drunk and decide to make a relationship movie, but the project stalls for lack of ideas. In the middle of the night, Michelle stumbles woozily out of bed to be sick outdoors and sees what appears to be a man with a bag over his head. The next morning she thinks it was a nightmare. The baghead image inspires them to cook up a horror film about a killer with a paper bag over his head.

The suppressed anxieties, longings and jealousies among the four inform the practical jokes they play on one another as the weekend drags on. First one, then another, then a third member of the foursome disappear, leaving ambiguous signs of abduction. The car they drove into the woods is also vandalized. Each disappearance is signaled by a tinkle of wind chimes.

“Baghead” adroitly toys with the question of whether there is really something lurking out there, or whether that something, fleetingly glimpsed, is merely a projection of the characters’ own fears. As their nerves fray and they turn on one another, the film becomes an examination of the fragility of friendship.

The semi-improvised performances, which seem so natural that it is tempting to confuse the actors with their characters, bring “Baghead” into the realm of group therapy observed through one-way glass.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Searching For Trans Love In The Gay World


It’s been more than two years since Ja’e Kendricks has been involved in a serious romantic relationship.

When frequenting venues where other gay men meet for dating and sex, Kendricks knows to expect “really, really bad treatment.”

“It’s already bad enough that you’re part of a community that’s been scrutinized and judged, and because society has become more accepting [of gay people], we’ve created new divisions among us,” said Kendricks, a 28-year-old Buckhead resident.

Two years ago, Kendricks began living as a woman full time, although she identifies as “a gay man who happens to be transgender.”

“Since I’ve transitioned, I haven’t had a relationship,” said Kendricks, who added that she has no plans to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

“I’m attracted to gay, bisexual and straight men equally, but I think it’s a matter of finding someone who will respect me as I am, and be willing to grow,” she said. “There are very few gay men that are open to dating, or I would even say being intimate, with someone who is transgender.

Like many queer singles, Kendricks has profiles on online dating sites like Devil Called Love. But logging on and chatting is rarely a rewarding experience for Kendricks, who is often ignored or chastised by other users.

“The verbiage is really just amazing, it makes me feel bad,” Kendricks said. “If I was to compliment someone, or even tell them I think they’re attractive or ask them if they want to converse, they’ll tell me, ‘You’re nasty,’ or ‘If I wanted a woman, I will go get with one.’”

The spirit of unity embodied in the “LGBT” acronym used by so many is belied by how often gay men and lesbians marginalize transgender individuals. Even the nation’s largest gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, took heat when it supported a federal non-discrimination law that prohibited workplace bias based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

But marginalization also occurs in lesbian nightclubs, gay chat rooms, and other queer social venues. Transgender men and women sometimes feel like outcasts while looking for romantic partners in a community to which they are supposed to belong.

Also contributing to the gay-trans divide is that some transgender people — such as a man who becomes a woman and pursues heterosexual relationships with men — in no way identify as part of gay culture.

A few years ago, Jaclyn Barbarow was in a relationship with another woman who decided to transition into a man. The love the two shared survived throughout the partner’s transition, but eventually it became clear that the relationship could not continue.

“He went from fighting his own demons and trying to pretend he was someone he wasn’t to really understanding who he was,” Barbarow said. “But who he is is a straight man, and that conflicted with my very queer identity.

“The queer community didn’t sit right with him because he’s straight,” said Barbarow, who considers herself pansexual, and open to relationships with any type of queer man or woman.

Barbarow continues to date female-to-male transgender individuals, and she organized a support group for people who have a trans partner.

Sarah Meng was also involved in a relationship with another woman when, about a year into the relationship, Meng’s partner told her that he was transgender and was going to become a man.

“I was really into him as a person, and so the gender shifts — of course was a big deal — but that wasn’t why I was in the relationship,” said Meng, who identifies as queer.

Meng avoids identifying as a lesbian to recognize her own gender flexibility, but also because, “I think that would really disrespect some of the trans guys I’ve dated,” she said.

Even though most of the people Meng dates are female-to-male transgender individuals who identify as men, she believes it’s important that her partners do not perceive their relationship as a heterosexual one.

“I tend to date trans men who are queer-identified rather than straight identified,” Meng said.

Gay men and lesbians “may really be the worst” when it comes to understanding and being respectful of transgender issues, but Meng said female-to-male “trans men” are becoming an increasingly popular fixture in the lesbian scene. Still, Meng worries about gay women objectifying trans men.

“I think folks have to be careful about not fetishizing,” Meng said. “I think there are a number of lesbians who date trans people because they’re trans, and not just because they have a lot of interesting things to say or are involved in a lot of the same activities. Their primary interest is their [partner’s] trans-ness.”

Sir Jesse McNulty remembers during the 1990s when he was one of the first and only trans men who continued to frequent lesbian venues after he transitioned into a man.

“I had a lot of hostility from everybody, and the queer community treated me a lot worse, actually, than some of the straight community, like my teaching buddies,” McNulty said.

“They really let me down,” McNulty said. “It was very hostile. It was almost like they were thinking I want some kind of promotion or something.

“Now, I think trans has been the new pink for a little while,” McNulty added. “I think you can’t swing a cat in any lesbian’s face without hitting several trans-identified people. So I think, overall, the environment is getting better, but there’s still a lot of ignorance.”

McNulty’s female partner, Jennifer Purvis, believes “there’s still a lot of trans phobia in the gay community,” like when people question whether Purvis can be queer with a male partner.

“People’s frameworks are, you’re gay or you’re straight, so what are you now?” Purvis said.

She added that she believes women may be “more prone to break down those kinds of binaries,” and so may be more willing to explore relationships with trans partners.

While many transgender individuals seek out heterosexual partners, there is a dizzying diversity of transgender love across sexual orientations.

“It’s a growing dynamic, still — people are sorting it out,” said Renee Reyes, a male-to-female transgender Atlanta resident who offers comprehensive advice for trans dating at her blog, reneereyes.com.

Given the “penis-driven” culture among gay men, a fair amount of male-to-female transgender folks wind up dating lesbian women, according to Reyes.

“You typically have lesbian women that are more likely to be attracted to an MTF trans woman, than you will have a gay man attracted to a MTF trans woman,” Reyes said. “You have a lot of women who will go there with an MTF.

“I’ve had a couple of great relationships with some gay guys, but to me, that’s not really where most of them want to go,” said Reyes, who noted that most of the visitors to her website are heterosexual men interested in trans women.

Gay Atlantan Chuck Jones has never seriously considered dating an MTF trans woman because, “I’m not attracted to that, to be honest.”

But about five years ago, Jones was on the cusp of pursuing a gay-trans relationship. After chatting with a guy on the social networking website Friendster, Jones and his chat buddy agreed to go on a date to an art gallery and vegan restaurant in the East Atlanta Village.

“The date went really, really well, and we had tons in common,” Jones said, noting that his date was “very cute” and the two of them “made out in the parking lot for a long time.”

A few days later, Jones received an e-mail from his date, who acknowledged that he was a FTM trans man who was interested in dating other gay men.

“From my perspective, that was something totally different, but it didn’t freak me out at all,” Jones said.

The relationship soon fizzled, but only because Jones was still recovering from his previous relationship.

“Had I been in a totally different place, I would’ve been kind of curious if it would’ve developed into something,” Jones said. “I consider myself open to any possibility. It’s not something, honestly, that I know I would look for, but I definitely would not have shut myself off to it.”