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Love Could Be Just A Lane Away

July 13, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ The age-old dating game has hit the road with a growing number of singles in clubs from coast to coast using bumper stickers to advertise and license plate numbers to establish contact.

The concept is ″something a little different, a little more adventurous″ than personal ads, says a tape-recorded telephone pitch for Motor Mates, a club that operates in the New York metropolitan area.

Motor Mates and other clubs operating in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California operate the same way.

For a fee, members receive a bumper sticker, and their name, address and license plate number are logged in the club’s computer. If one member eyes another on the road and wants to get acquainted, they jot down the license number and notify the club, which forwards a letter of introduction or personal biography.

″I’m more apt to do this than something else,″ such as video dating services, where the people are ″desperate,″ said a woman named Tracy who signed up during Motor Mates kick-off party Wednesday at a Manhattan nightclub.

″It seems to be more casual,″ said the 21-year-old woman.

″Basically, we’re the middleman,″ says Bill Lum, who owns Motor Mates with partner Sheldon Priess.

Motor Mates charges a one-time fee of $5 for membership and $2 for each letter forwarded, says Priess, who is 40 and single. The club started up in early May and already has more than 1,000 members, he says.

The club is considering branching out into T-shirts and beach bags for non- drivers, says Lum, 43 and married.

Flirt Alert, a bumper-date service based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., charges an annual fee of $29.95 plus $2 for each letter forwarded and provides members with a four-page guidebook on how to break the ice with a potential mate.

″We’re teaching our members how to be better flirts,″ says Lynne Hoinash, president and founder of the company, which began operating in February.

Miss Hoinash, who has an MBA in marketing and finance and owns a small advertising agency, said she studied the relationship between Flirt Alert members and the cars they drive.

Many members are stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers, she says, and ″a lot have red, white or black cars.″ People who own cars of that color ″tend to have a strong sense of self, self-confidence, independence, adventure, freedom,″ and are outgoing and open to new ideas, she says.

Flirt Alert operates in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and has about 725 members ranging in age from 23 to 62. A branch just opened in Boston, and someone wants to open a franchise in Ohio, says Miss Hoinash, who hopes to expand the club to include the entire East Coast.

″People run the gamut″ at Tail Dating, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., says Steve Greenberger, president of the corporation.

Tail Dating, which hit the scene in February, has between 1,000 and 1,500 members in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, says Greenberger, 31 and single. He says people have expressed interest in opening branches in other cities around the country.

Tail Date, based in Farmingdale, L.I., exchanges phone numbers and first names instead of forwarding letters.

A driver can become a ″bumper dater″ for $10. The club has drawn 85 members since it started July 2, says Alan Treff, 29, who runs it with partner and fellow single Ira Zepnick, 30.

Tail Date also holds get-togethers for members and offers special trips through the travel agency the partners also own.

Though Treff says he got his idea after reading about Tail Dating, other club owners say they went into business before hearing about the competition.

″It was an idea whose time had come,″ Miss Hoinash says.

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