If you live or work in downtown New York City, you’ve probably seen this poster somewhere:
“I’m really looking for a girlfriend. This is not a joke,” the sign reads, “I am a professional artist and creative person. You know who you are.” It sounds like something Tommy Wiseau would say in “The Room,” and there’s pretty much no information on who this guy is. You could be calling anyone – the President, Justin Bieber, a DOG
or even this guy
After all, the dude’s name isn’t even on the flyer. Just this mug shot-looking photo of a middle-aged guy whose eyes pierce into your soul. It basically goes against everything we’re taught about dating, or just being safe for that matter. When I asked my co-worker, Mariel, if she would call the number on the poster, she said, “I don’t want to end up on ’Dateline.’”
The flyers first started popping up on street corners and even subways just over a week ago. Everyone was pretty creeped the f–k out. Soon enough, “Looking for a Girlfriend” guy had become an urban legend among the ranks of crocodiles in the sewer.
Who was the man behind the un-Instagrammed picture? I had to give this guy a call, because #journalism.
It’s pretty unbelievable, but it turns out this flyer isn’t a joke or a test or a viral marketing campaign. It’s one man’s completely unironic, super serious, bizarrely successful journey to find love “offline” in the digital age. Dan Perino is a 50-year-old artist who lives in the East Village. Disillusioned by the online dating scene but looking for love, he decided to get crafty. “I’d broken up with a girl a couple years ago and hadn’t been with one since…and I used to post flyers for my artwork,” said Perino.
So he posted a sh-tload of these flyers. Basically everyone thought was a joke or an invitation to be on “Investigation Discovery.” To the astonishment of reasonable people everywhere, the flyers worked. “I got 130 calls the first day and 200 calls the second day,” Perino said.
DAYUM. Dan Perino just smashed your game. You mad? Those hundreds of calls weren’t all pranks either. They resulted in Perino going on 36 dates in 10 days.
“I can’t really walk two or three blocks without somebody recognizing me for me flyers,” Perino said.
He does note that his dating experiment hasn’t been all fun and games. One woman catfished him, claiming she was in her 40s but was really in her 60s. Dan also said that some the women were “very aggressive,” which was overwhelming for him.
Dan reiterates the main sentiment of his thirst-trap poster: “I’m really looking for a girlfriend. This is not a joke.” Of all the women in this 10 day sprint of love, there’s only one he really sees himself with: “She’s really smart. She edits books.”
The takeaway? Sometimes, if you get creative, a little weird and put yourself out there, you might surprise yourself once or twice. Or 36 times.
It is my duty as a journalist to disclose that I never met with Dan in person – we only spoke over the phone. So for all I know, he could very well be this guy: