It's not so long ago that the worst thing about online dating was admitting out loud that you'd tried it. OK, maybe that's not strictly true. The worst thing was actually scanning a cafe menu for whatever would take the least amount of time to prepare and consume, once you'd realised that your perfect match had been as generous with the truth as they had with the trans-fats.
These days, no-one bats an eyelid at hooking up with someone who, several hours previously, only existed in binary. We've all been there, done that, and wiped it up with the t-shirt. What once seemed daring and exciting, is now about as edgy as doing a line of Coffee-Mate.
That's why shows like Blind Date don't exist anymore. They're simply too archaic; representative of a simpler time. Well, that and the fact that Cilla Black is now too busy cursing the luckless adventurers who broke the seal on her sarcophagus.
With everyone now fully au fait with the intricacies of online dating, the phenomenon has evolved to incorporate a wider range of services. So we now have sites like 'My Single Friend' - Sarah Beeny's solution for introducing the outer rim of our social circle to anyone who'll tolerate their idiosyncrasies, if there's a chance they'll get laid at the end of the evening. Or there's Grindr, which lets gay men arrange a hook-up in the time it takes to walk home from the tube station.
No-one bats an eyelid at hooking up with someone who, several hours previously, only existed in binary. We've all been there, done that, and wiped it up with the t-shirt.
The biggest challenge with all of these sites, is that they're still dependent on the importance of chemistry. So I guess it was inevitable that someone would find a way of bridging the gap between the aspirational and the attractive - by boiling things down to what really counts. Cold, hard cash.
WhatsYourPrice.com takes the principle of the world's oldest profession, and applies it to those who have, until now, maintained their amateur status. It seems that everyone has a price, whether they're buying or selling, and this site simply acts as Cupid's Paypal. The website claims that its "patent pending dating system (US Patent Pending: Application No. 61407831) provides a platform where generous and attractive singles can negotiate and agree on a price for a first date." So it's a street corner with a modem attached.
If you're a wealthy benefactor, or just have a roll of twenties burning a conveniently-shaped hole in your pocket, you can pledge whatever amount you're prepared to pay for a date. Alternatively, if you think you're simply too hot to date for free, you can name your price and wait for the offers to come rolling in.
The site says "...dating doesn't have to be a waste of time. If you're beautiful, we are the only dating site that guarantees you will get paid while you spend time meeting fun and generous people." It couldn't be more pimpy if it was wearing a fur-trimmed zebra-skin hat.
Morality aside, there's something fundamentally distasteful about a site that's predicated on the same bag-a-bargain principle as Bid-Up TV. It's OK promising a range of "beautiful, gorgeous or sexy people", but would you really want to score with someone who's willing to settle for $20?
Everyone likes to be seen sporting a hot piece of arm candy. But there are few bragging rights to be enjoyed when the beauty in question can be scored for the price of a KFC bargain bucket. And I'd be willing to speculate that the similarities don't end there.
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