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Does beauty plus money equal love?

TODAY's Bobbie Thomas reports on the latest trend in speed dating — matching beautiful women with rich men.
/ Source: TODAY

Meeting a rich guy — it's long been the secret goal of many on the dating scene. And now a company called Pocket Change has made it official, hosting speed dating events for beautiful women and rich men.

“Women want money in a man, men want beauty in a woman — this is a factual force of nature,” states the Pocket Change Web site. “Women don’t ask ‘So, what does he do for a living?’ because they’re interested in his personality and guys don’t ask ‘is she hot?’ because they’re concerned with character. Guys know that money buys them the car, the house and the trophy wife.”

As a single girl in the city, I bravely accepted my TODAY assignment to “investigate” this new trend in dating: Does pretty girl plus rich guy equal true love forever?

I slipped on my LBD and patent pumps, grabbed my clutch, pen and paper — trying to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw, in the hopes of helping all those gals searching for love.

“Why wealthy men and beautiful women? The reason that we're doing this is because we really attempted to simplify dating,” said Jeremy Abelson of Pocket Change, a weekly newsletter detailing the most expensive goods and services found in New York and sponsor of the speed dating event.

Applicants needed to meet some basic criteria — guys who are 25 and under must make at least $200,000 a year, and men between the ages of 26 and 30, $300,000 a year. Older than 30? The required income level jumps to $500,000.

“For the women, the application process is very simple,” said Abelson. “You need to be beautiful. End of story. You go to the Web site, you upload five pictures. Those five pictures are judged. If you make the cut, you are accepted.”

The participants felt the requirements were fair ...

“I definitely would agree with some people who say ... how can women be judged for their beauty and men just for their wallet,” said Ana Maria Nacvalovaice, fellow speed dater. “Coming to an event like this allows me peace of mind that the people who are here tonight have been carefully screened.”

“I was kind of hesitant. I thought it was a little — maybe you're shallow. But, you know, and then I started thinking about it and I was like, you know, it would be probably a great way to meet — a really good-looking girl,” said Shawn Vardi.

In just two weeks, the company screened 950 applications, narrowing the field down to 40 men and 40 women.

“I think that the concept works because it is so simple. What do men want? They want beauty. What do women want? They prefer successful men,” explained Abelson.

“Why is such a good-looking, successful guy or a pretty, smart, sexy woman coming to you? Why would they come to speed dating?,” pondered Janis Spindel of Serious Matchmaking Inc. “Guess what? This is New York. It's a very tough city, just like any other city with dating. It's very hard to meet the right person.”

Many singles seemed optimistic about finding a potential mate. “The possibility of meeting a lot of wonderful, smart, successful men. That's always appealing,” said Saila Smith.

Let the games begin!
We had three minutes with each of our dates to see if beauty and bank accounts mattered. One interesting encounter epitomized the night:

Vekrum: Hi. Bobbie: Hi. Bobbie. Verkrum: Vekrum. Bobbie: Nice to meet you. Vekrum [to Bobbie]: You just got upgraded, baby.

As the night wore on, I began to notice how differently the men and women approached this speed dating game. Most of the guys checked yes or no, immediately after learning the woman's name, while the ladies waited until the end of their meetings to scribble down notes on potential suitors.

And much to my disappointment, the men appeared at a loss for words when I revealed that I was financially independent and loved my job. Just as women might rely on their beauty, some men are just as guilty of relying on their bank accounts to impress dates.

So does wealth and beauty equal love? “It's a social experiment,” offered Abelson. “Do I think that there will be relationships after this? Absolutely.”

And Spindel explained, “This is not about getting a date. Even though it's called speed dating, these people are coming to hopefully find a committed relationship that's going to eventually, down the road, lead towards marriage.”

My fellow daters remained positive about the experience. “I very much hope I meet someone here tonight who is interesting and I perhaps have a wonderful future with,” said Nacvalovaice. “If not, then I'll have a great story to tell for years to come.”

“And will I find my husband tonight? [Laughter] Who knows, you know?,” wondered Smith.

But for me, chemistry and attraction trumps all, even that black American Express card!