NEW YORK – Social networking and online dating Web sites have become popular for letting everyday people create celebrity-like identities for themselves.
But celebrities are using the very same sites to shun their Hollywood identities in favor of meeting everyday people.
"I love smart men, funny men, elegant men," Rivers' profile reads. "If I had to choose between Brad Pitt stripped to the waist or an old George Clooney in a dinner jacket, George would win hands down." Rivers admitted to Howard Stern last month that she placed the Match.com ad.
Rivers' profile also tells readers she is a comedian, interested in "coffee and conversation" and includes a picture of the 72-year-old comic.
Even beautiful Oscar-winner Halle Berry has admitted to spending a lot of time in chat rooms, and to dabbling with dating sites.
“I am never who I am,” Berry told Contact Music in July about her experiences online. “I have been to a couple of dating ones just to see what everybody is talking about. I chime in and say a little fun stuff."
While it seems unthinkable that stars who attend A-list parties would want to have coffee with the average Joe or Jane, Date.com’s Shira Kallus says some celebrities really just want to be normal.
“They can stop being celebrities and start being people,” she said. “Online dating lets people get to know you for what kind of person you are, not who you are."
The founder of romance advice site TheRomantic.com, Michael Webb, agreed. "Celebrities are just like everyone else," he said. "Unfortunately people can become captivated by the celebrity status and be attracted to them for the wrong reasons."
With online dating, celebrities can try to develop a relationship based on their character, not their stardom, Webb added.
And the stars have dry spells just like everyone else. Rivers Cuomo, frontman of the rock band Weezer, signed up for an online dating service site after remaining celibate for two years, he told Rolling Stone magazine last May.
"I'm taking time off and I'm looking for a cool, sexy girl who's sharp, fun, loving, and has great taste," Greenfield's profile read. He told readers he just bought a house and needs help decorating, and that those who don't love movies need not apply.
Defamer has a disclaimer along with its report. "We have to recognize the possibility that the profile is the work of some very bored prankster," it said. "But why should we be so surprised that a person like Greenfield might be out there hunting for a suitable, faith-appropriate mate?"
However, when it comes to making a love connection, many still swear by "the real world."
Out of 2,000 people polled, just 7 percent believe computer-dating services work, according to a recent annual survey by romance-novel publisher Harlequin.
And a 2005 study by Keynote, an Internet industry research firm, shows customer satisfaction with online dating is low. Sixty-one percent believe others are misrepresenting themselves. And a whole 30 percent are married or live with a significant other, according to Keynote.
The study goes on to mention other problems, such as functionality and organization, that lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Cuomo was one of those dissatisfied customers. After submitting his profile, he said the Web site responded: "We are sorry, but there is no one anywhere in the world that is appropriate for you."
“So that was it, I gave up," he said.
Rivers told Stern she hasn't received a single message yet. And Berry found her latest love, Candian model Gabriel Aubry, at a photo shoot in Canada.
But it’s worked for others. Date.com, for example, claims to have been responsible for at least 250 marriages.
Far more trendy these days, however, are free social networking services, which are often used for dating.
MySpace, for example, has more than 59 million members, many who list “dating” as one of the reasons for joining.
There are pages on MySpace for most celebrities; a search for Cuomo comes up with 36 pages and a search for Berry more than 50. Virtually all of them are created as fan pages or hoaxes.
But as the No. 5 English-language Web site, according to Alexa Internet’s rankings, people on the site get exposure.
Todd Shaeffer, an aspiring actor from Harrisburg, Penn., has a page on MySpace. While on the set of the upcoming M. Night Shamalayan film, “Lady in the Water” as an extra, Shaeffer said he told the first assistant director, John Rusk, his first name, to which Rusk replied, “Todd Shaeffer?” Shaeffer said yes and Rusk then asked, “Oh My Todd?” "Oh My Todd" is Shaeffer’s MySpace handle.
“I just started laughing and blushed like crazy that this guy knew my name and my MySpace name,” Shaeffer said. “I didn’t put it anywhere on anything that I filled out. I asked him how he knew my name and my MySpace name, but he wouldn’t tell me.”
Which just goes to show: you never know who's looking at you online. It could be Halle Berry, so you might want to say hello.
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