Thousands pay hefty signup fees to attend
The first event took place back in 2010, and although the entrance fee was up to 59,999 RMB, there were over 300 wealthy men who signed up, as well as 10,000 women. The 2011 blind date session saw the entrance fee rise to 99,999 RMB, though this time over 3,500 men and 50,000 women attended. Qu believes that the 2013 event, which is set to be held in early July, will be on an even larger scale, and will see many rich individuals from all over China sign up. “The entrance fee will probably remain at 99,999 RMB this year, with the five “9s” representing longevity and the idea that familiarity breeds fondness…” (the pronunciation of “nine/九” in Chinese is the same as “久”, which means a long time).
Intense selection processes
Among the 10,000 odd women who signed up for the event, only 40 are eventually chosen to participate. Through auditions and interviews, the “lucky ones” are plucked out in an intense selection process which Qu states is similar to the Super Girl singing contest. First, applicants are assessed online and must meet a series of strict requirements. Women over 30 are rejected, as are women who are or were previously married. Women deemed “not visually attractive” will also be given the boot, and once the list has been whittled down to around 4,000, it’s down to a team of around 20 of Qu’s employees to get in touch with them and have a chat over the phone or via webcam. Then, when there are around 2,000 applicants remaining, interviews are carried out by love consultants and psychological consultants who chat to between 70-80 people per day for around ten minutes.
After these three rounds, 140 women are chosen to compete for the 40 places available at the event. Among these 140 there are many women who have studied abroad or have been to Peking or Tsinghua University, and many hold esteemed jobs such as university teachers or civil servants. It’s then that the selection process enters its harshest phase, as women who for example have moles on their faces or don’t know who to do housework are likely to be eliminated. In order to gain the favor of the judges and the wealthy men attending the blind date event, the woman are expected to wear makeup and dress up nicely while they partake in a “talent show”. In groups of ten, the 140 women exhibit themselves in front of a panel of judges who then finally decide who is good enough to make it to the top 40.
Male applicants also have to go through a strict selection process, with requirements such as personal assets eclipsing 30 million RMB or an annual income of over 1 million RMB being a necessity, as well as an industrial and commercial business licence, property, a car, proof of bachelorhood, a clean criminal record and so on.
What are the results?
But are these blind dates for the wealthy a waste of everyone’s time? “The first event saw 29 couples get together, while the second resulted in 38 pairings. Currently, some of these couples are even married and have children,” explained Qu Fuqiang. Qu then produced a form which tracked the progress of successful matches. The form showed pictures depicting the couples happily married with kids. One of these success stories is 37-year-old Liu, who is a real estate agent. Liu met his future wife, Xiao Yu, who is an air hostess, at one of Qu’s matchmaking events. When they got married, they even invited Qu to be a witness at their wedding.
The 2011 event took place on a luxurious boat that set out from Wuhan’s harbor, and it was during this party that 48 women and 50 men attempted to strike up a chord with one another. One of the men was 39-year-old multimillionaire Dong, who ended up on the stage of the boat with two women who caught his eye. In a dating show-esque moment, the host of the event gave Dong 30 seconds to choose which woman he wanted to date. Dong eventually chose to go with a 23-year-old model.