Tara Reid and Tyler Brûlé don't share much in common. She's the half-baked blond actress best known for her enlarged breasts; he's the Canadian branding guru and Wallpaper* founder who recently launched Monocle, a new magazine for deep-pocketed intelligentsia.
But these boldface names represent two of the 3,262 members (as of Friday) on PeLiMe.com, a private online community for creative types that happens to be filled with talented and/or talked-about Torontonians.
Among the standouts: Dan Kurtz of buzzworthy band Dragonette, gallery owner Georgia Scherman, restaurateur and architect Marc Kyriacou, magazine publisher Michael King, photographer Paul Alexander, and Robin Kay, who heads the Fashion Design Council of Canada.
People also come from far-flung locales: Beirut, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Shanghai. Some boast recognizable surnames: Kipton Cronkite is Walter's son and Charles Annenberg is the descendant of newspaper baron Walter Annenberg. Others just sound chi-chi: Milena-Christina Acimic-Furstenberg from New York or Martine Martel Van Doorne from Monte Carlo.
PeLiMe (which rhymes with "key lime" and is a truncation of People Like Me) launched two years ago as a pet project conceived by London-based Web designer Maxwell Lamb and J. Harry Edmiston, an aspiring film producer who currently lives in Toronto.
Twenty-four years young, Mr. Edmiston has spent time in London, Johannesburg, Beijing, Taipei and New York. With a pedigreed accent, longish hair and distressed Euro-prep fashion sense, he's intriguing to a fault. "Where did he come from?" is a question often asked among regulars at his favourite hangouts: Caffe Doria by day and Amber by night.
And let's not forget the Spoke Club, the invitation-only hideout where the membership often overlaps PeLiMe. Its president, Michael Shore, counts himself a friend of Mr. Edmiston's and acknowledges that they share similar objectives. "The Spoke Club tries to bring artists together within a specific space, and meetings between artists are meant to be accidental," he wrote in an e-mail from Australia.
Now, Mr. Edmiston wants to leverage the cachet of its members (who are permitted 50 invitations each) while carefully avoiding the cyber-circus scenarios otherwise known as Facebook and MySpace.
He's hoping to secure a deal with film producer and member René Bastian ( L.I.E., Transamerica). Making members' content (films, music, etc.) available to non-members for a fee could generate the revenue necessary for the site to remain exclusive. "We don't want to open the membership to hundreds of thousands because it won't benefit anyone," he says.
The challenge Mr. Edmiston faces is this: Torontonians always seem eager to join something touted as private, but they fall short in the follow-through.
Rumblings around town suggest that the Spoke Club never lived up to expectations and falls short in its execution of good food, good service and overall energy.
Strange which private clubs become successful: ASmallWorld online and Soho House in New York and London are ogled by outsiders. Meanwhile, PeLiMe and the Spoke Club remain underused despite their potential.
Some members admit they don't check in very often. "I've never used it. Don't use any social networking sites. Waste of time methinks," Mr. Brûlé wrote from Milan.
Arts lawyer Paul Bain made a valid observation: "The fundamental problem is that there really aren't many people like you, because you're unique. So do you want to be part of a club or do you want to be unique?"
He underscores that "people like me" refers to similarly minded individuals, but the double entendre (people like me ... they really like me!) also applies. "Love the guy," Ms. Scherman said.
Although he exercises full discretion about members, Mr. Edmiston cannot shake his bon vivant reputation. Of Toronto, he applies the maxim: "It's a great place to live. It's a great place to leave. It's an even better place to come back to."
Funny, the same could be said of his site.