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Photo by James BunoanBill Rubenacker is about six feet tall, with brown hair and deep-set eyes. He is 58 years old and bears a fair resemblance to Fred Gwynn of TV's Car 54, Where Are You? He's seated on his couch in his spacious living room overlooking a Long Beach golf course he rarely visits because it's just an executive course.
"I've got a date tomorrow night," the wealthy owner of numerous racehorses and concession stands says with the same level of enthusiasm as someone saying he's going to his yearly eye exam. "Her name is Pamela, but she pronounces it Pahmela, so that's probably a sign right there. I guess I'll just have to call her 'you.' But she's probably a helluva girl. She sounds successful in her own right. I think she's in real estate. Maybe we'll hit it off, and I can become a house husband and just sit at home and eat bon-bons all day."
Rubenacker and Pamela were fixed up not by mutual friends or relatives, but by an extraordinary dating service called Model Quality Introductions (MQI). With offices in Beverly Hills, Irvine and San Diego, MQI is not your typical dating service. Its ads in Los Angeles Magazine, Orange Coast, Opulence, Robb Report—even our sister paper LA Weekly—make that perfectly clear.
"Would a 9 or a 10 join a dating service? They wouldn't!" reads one MQI ad from the OC Metro showing a blonde with a lock of hair seductively falling over her face. "If you are ready to settle down with a 9 or 10, we need to talk."
Just two years old, MQI claims about 100 clients today. All are single rich men aged 30 to 60. And they all joined to date hot women—9s or 10s.
"I only deal with the top 2 percent of bachelors in the nation," said Craig Donaldson, MQI's president. "Most are turned away. I have all the top doctors, all the top attorneys in my database. All the big people in Hollywood. Lots of real-estate developers and lots of venture capitalists."
Donaldson says he has a database of 1,000 girls to draw from—10 for every male client. The women come from all over Southern California, recruited by scouts tracking girls who look like they could end up in the pages of Vogue or Playboy.
"Gentlemen use our service for one reason only: they don't like to stand at a bar or nightclub like the average Joe Blow, begging for phone numbers," said Donaldson. "They'd rather outsource their dating life to our agency, which directly markets itself to the kind of girls they want to marry. We can share a guy's strengths and accomplishments in a non-boastful manner to a woman before she even sits down with him at the table. Half the guy's job is done, and the rest is just chemistry. It's such a nice thing."
Donaldson's use of the words "outsource" and "markets" is telling. He's a subcontractor, brought in by Corporate America's best not to study office efficiency or to provide legal counsel, but to procure chicks.
"I have zero unhappy clients because this caliber of man and this caliber of woman are dying to meet each other," said Donaldson. "In today's world, who's got time to do bars and nightclubs? There are just no good places left in Southern California to meet superstars."* * *
Rubenacker doesn't consider himself a superstar. "Basically, we're just a bunch of 5s looking for 10s," he said. "Why any of these girls would like a guy like me is way beyond me. But I've never had someone say they didn't want to go out with me. The girls have always been very honest with me. Of course, I always lie—say I'm 88 instead of 58, then they say I don't look that bad."
The owner of a chain of concession stands in hotels, airports and such, Rubenacker recently hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a new soup cart at Long Beach Airport. The guest of honor was longtime friend Beverly O'Neill, who last March was re-elected to a third term as Long Beach Mayor after term limits forced her into a write-in campaign.
Divorced since 1987, Rubenacker has also done bachelor auctions, blind dates, and all the other awkward and usually unsuccessful methods single people use to meet each other. Then he met Donaldson. Initially dubious, Rubenacker quickly changed his mind after thumbing through the voluminous MQI albums packed with professional portraits of MQI girls.
"You're a kid in a candy store, and I've got a sweet tooth," said Rubenacker. "I've met several beautiful women. Lots. More than anyone would have a right to. When I was starting out, I was meeting four to five girls a week, each one more beautiful than the last."
Rubenacker likes "sophisticated tomboys." Donaldson introduced him to many such girls, all slender and athletic.
"But I'm attracted to someone exotic, different," Rubenacker said. "I'd give up a point or two on the face if she has a good body. I don't really want to deal with small children. It's not a complete deal-breaker, but it's not my first choice."
One girl that sticks in Rubenacker's mind is Stephanie. A tall model from New York with long red hair and the look of a "younger version of Nicole Kidman," Rubenacker went out with her a couple of times.