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Next Friday evening, several hundred leggy blondes, voluptuous brunettes and auburn-haired bombshells will take the elevators up to the seventh floor of The Carlu, Toronto's art moderne meeting place, to be greeted by a phalanx of beauty, fashion and makeup consultants.

The event is not a run-through for Canada's Next Top Model, but rather a rigorous audition and party to celebrate the launch of an online matchmaking service called Millionaire's Club Canada. Its lofty goal: to pair superrich gents with fabulous-looking women.

About 400 to 800 ladies are expected to attend the soiree, where a handful of judges -- including Global TV news anchor Leslie Roberts, celebrity hairstylist Jie Matar and Michael Wilkings, president of the European record label Ministry of Sound -- will pick a roster of femmes fatales and future wives to join an international clique that now numbers about 15,000.

Many Canadians (we are a fairly conservative lot) may feel sickened by a dating service that is so blatantly mercenary and shallow. In essence, Millionaire's Club is like a big-box retail store full of eye candy for flush men on the prowl.

But owner Mark Healy is fervently unapologetic about the service he'll be providing. "We are simply offering Canada's A-list bachelors a chance to meet women of distinction," says the 44-year-old entrepreneur and former investment banker. "If you're a high-profile person, you can't be seen hanging out in bars. Nor do you have time."

Millionaire's Club was first launched in Los Angeles seven years ago. Founder Patti Stanger says she now has 5,000 paying male members, who can buy one of four packages starting at $10,000 (U.S.) a year. This includes unlimited dating in men's home province or state, plus date and relationship coaching, image consulting and a hypnotherapy session.

For $150,000, there's the VIP option as well. Currently, only one European, who needs a translator when he travels to the United States, has signed up for this level of membership. It provides gents with a personal matchmaker who will "travel with billionaires on the go," as Ms. Stanger puts it.

(The membership has always been open to women too. Some have expressed interest, but none have wanted to pay for the service.)

The whole notion sickens Elizabeth Abbott, a researcher at the University of Toronto and the author of A History of Mistresses. "It's seems to be an extraordinarily shallow criteria: just rich, just pretty, and in the same geographical location," she scoffs. "The whole thing seems very cold and calculating. Like it's more of a financial arrangement than a dating service."

Still, it's an arrangement that seems to work. The club claims that nearly four out of five men develop relationships through their services. And last year, Ms. Stanger says, her agency was responsible for 25 marriages, with countless more couples living together (although they don't condone common-law relationships).

To kick-start the process, the club carefully selects prospective male members. They are asked where they vacation, how many houses they own and what kind of car they drive. And they can pay only by cheque. Ms. Stanger finds the five-figure fee quickly separates the posers from the real deal.

Women candidates (who do not pay to use the service) are also put through fairly rigorous vetting. This involves the submission of a current photograph, soul-searching questions about their favourite fashion designers, restaurants, their attitudes about ethnicity, looks and money -- and whether they have a criminal record, an alcohol or drug addiction or any restraining orders against them.

Given the recent charges against 47-year-old Joseph Garcia of Irvine, Calif. -- who reportedly raped three women he met at rival dating website -- such screening is key.

"We screen each and every person. And if a client is not right for us, we send them to an affiliate program. Maybe you're Jewish and you want Jewish," says Ms. Stanger, who is a third-generation Jewish matchmaker herself. "I don't do Jewish, so I'll send you to a local Jewish matchmaker in your area."

The application drill certainly didn't faze Ainslie Cyopik. A former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, she now runs a successful dancewear company out of Vancouver. But the 44-year-old has tried to meet Mr. Right to no avail. When a happily married friend told her about Millionaire's Club Canada, she decided to send in her picture and profile.

"There are many ways of meeting people and I thought I'd try this one," she says. "I think there's nothing wrong with true wealth. Money surely is not everything, but it can be part of a wonderful and fulfilling life."

Lisa Daily, the Florida-based author of Stop Getting Dumped, has no moral issue with Millionaire's Club either. "It all has to do with efficiency, which is the whole reason the online dating thing, in general, is so popular," she says. "Millionaire's Club ensures you're in a very specific pool. And if dating a wealthy man or a beautiful woman is something that is really high on your priority list, then it's for you."

As for Mr. Healy -- who operates out of the Toronto headquarters for Millionaire's Club Canada along with his wife, Cynthia, and one other "consultant" -- he got into the business because he liked the low overheads and the potential upside. "Right now, online dating is a $1-billion U.S. a year industry," he says.

And he's confident that up to 800 women will show up at the door of The Carlu next Friday night to sip Moët Chandon and put their best face (or any other asset) forward. "I see it kind of like a Canadian Idol," Mr. Healy says. "They'll come through, have their photos taken, questionnaires filled out." Then the party will go into the wee hours.

Of course, Ms. Stanger is flying into town to kick up her heels alongside the other ladies next weekend. She's sure this offshoot will attract the same pedigree of women as her L.A. service -- none of whom are gold diggers, she insists.

"If you're a rich man, you want a gorgeous woman, and if you're a gorgeous woman, you want a rich man. That's just the way it is. The women are not allowed to ask anything financial," she says. "It's no different from back in the old days, when families arranged marriages based on financial necessity. You don't have to be a supermodel to get a millionaire. There are millionaires everywhere, and they're all looking for sweet Sally with the perfect little smile. They don't go for va-va-voom."

At least, Ms. Cyopik says, that's what she is counting on. "Mae West once said, 'Money ain't everything, but it's somethin!' So it made me think, maybe it's time to dare to ask for all our hopes and wishes to come true. Why not? And if there are people along the way who want to help make that happen, then all the better."

Gayle MacDonald is a feature writer with The Globe and Mail.

The commandments of millionaire dating

For men:

1. Thou shalt think quality, not quantity. Remember: You're in this to meet the love of your life.

2. Thou shalt leave a maximum of two phone messages for a woman. If she doesn't call you back, she's not interested. Period.

3. Thou shalt never ask a woman out at the last minute -- it's extremely disrespectful.

4. Thou shalt always have a plan for your date. Women prefer men who have direction.

5. Thou shalt ask a woman thoughtful questions. Topics: how many people in her family? where she grew up?

6. Thou shalt avoid drinking too much on your dates. Although it is certainly tempting, it will cloud your judgment.

7. Thou shalt not brag, and under any conditions, discuss Millionaire's Club or any other women you have dated, are dating, or are about to date.

8. Thou shalt be a gentleman. When you decide to have sex with the woman you are dating, it is advisable to wait 90 days -- which we call the "win me phase."

9. Thou shalt be careful and genuine in your offers. Don't bring up the subject of high-end jewellery or clothing designers unless you really mean it.

10. Thou shalt simply contact Millionaire's Club to report any problems. If you don't want to see or hear from a date or prospective date, we'll handle the situation.

For women:

1. Thou shalt return calls promptly and honour thy dating commitments. When a man calls you, he will offer you dinner. You have the right to reduce the date to drinks, lunch or coffee. If a gentleman does not offer you a five-star dinner on the first date, please notify the club immediately.

2. Thou shalt let the man take the lead and shalt avoid bringing personal baggage to the table. Let the man lead the conversation in the beginning and ask the questions.

3. Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, discuss Millionaire's Club or any other romantic relationships.

4. Thou shalt be engaging. Witty banter is important. Be a good listener.

5. Thou shalt not drink too much on the first date. Never allow yourself to become sloppy or drunk.

6. Thou shalt not be a gold digger. Never ask or hint for anything of monetary value. If a gentleman offers to buy you a designer watch or handbag or anything else of worth, you may accept -- but DO NOT bring up the subject. It is against club policy to even hint for extravagant gifts, your rent being paid, allowance, a new car, etc.

7. Thou shalt act like a lady. This means being polite and following common laws of etiquette such as saying please, thank you and excuse me. Do not cuss.

8. Thou shalt (if interested) express some interest. Once you have decided you like a specific male, it is important to show your appreciation and reciprocate. But do not offer to outright pay for something: Once a woman touches money/credit cards in front of a male, she becomes "masculine energy" -- which is undesirable.

9. Thou shalt not become intimate on the first date. When it comes to sex, it is important that you realize that "in is in": In other words, any kind of intercourse -- oral, vaginal or otherwise -- is considered sex, and should not be indulged in until you are both monogamous. It is against club rules for a man and woman to live together unless they are married, or engaged with a ring and a date is set. If a man doesn't propose to you by the end of one year, you must end the relationship and move on, unless he agrees to therapy.

10. Thou shalt inform Millionaire's Club of any problems.

-- Abridged from Millionaire Club's book of rules

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