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Free Agent Friends: A Collaboration with Black & Sexy TV

July 7th, 2014 1 comment

Are you familiar with the term “Free Agent Friends”?

It’s a term reserved for those who have decided to make the bumpy trek from lovers to friends and it’s the type of smart phrasing that can only be found in a series like “Hello Cupid.”

I have been a fan of this series since coming across it last year in the midst of a routine browsing of my Internet. The series, which is about two best friends Whitney and Robyn and their online dating shenanigans caught my eye because, well, admittedly, the actresses who play Whitney (Ashley Blaine Featherson) and Robyn (Hayley Marie Norman) are fine. But it didn’t take me long to get past the superficial and see a well-produced, sharp, fun web series that was just as good as anything on traditional television. Once they added in a male lead who goes by ProudDad aka Cassius (played by Brandon Scott), things got only more interesting and I was hooked. Before I knew it, I went through the whole first season, which didn’t take much time considering each episode was made-for-web, and no episode ran longer than 17 minutes.

Admittedly, this is a show I probably should have written about sooner, because if you’re a fan of this blog, chances are you might be a fan of “Hello Cupid.” But time sometimes has a way of revealing when it’s good for everyone, and that is exactly what happened when earlier this year, Black&Sexy TV, the production company behind “Hello Cupid” asked me to be a part of the series as a story contributor.

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 10.44.53 PM

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The Lesson I Learned After a Year of Being a Dating Reporter

June 4th, 2013 No comments

Today marks my one year anniversary as The New York Post dating reporter in charge of their weekly blind date column, Meet Market. On occasions such as this one, people often say the year went by so fast. But the past year for me has been the exact opposite.

I love my job, but it’s challenging, exhausting, and stressful in its own unique way. I am fortunate enough to have a specific duty when I report to work, and it never changes. My job is to get people, set them up on dates, and report on what happened on those dates. Then, with the help of my editors, photographers, and designers, we create the two pages people readers see every Sunday.

On the surface, it all seems so simple, but there have been weeks where it is the most difficult thing I’ve had to do because this job has less to do with the words I wrote and more to do with people.

When I interviewed for the position, I of course touted my resume. Over 90 percent of the people who have come in to take their photo in order to participate ask me how I managed to get my job. The first thing I tell them is, I went to school for journalism. I know that may seem pompous, and I indeed give them more details, but I begin my answer with that statement for two reasons: 1) I’m still paying for my Howard University education. 2) I am indeed a journalist; obviously not of the Bob Woodward variety, but still, resume don’t lie and it’s important people know that.

But more important than all the education and experience I acquired before I started at the New York Post, is the social skills I’ve needed to rely on in order to make it this far.

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Does Race Matter…on a Blind Date?

April 16th, 2013 9 comments

On the questionnaire I give to all my Meet Market applicants, there is one question I immediately skip to upon receiving it.

47. Are race, religion or age important factors regarding who you date? (This won’t be published, but is important so we know who you’re looking for)

Of all the answers I look at on the questionnaire, this is the most important because it’s the most specific. The person’s answer helps me figure out how to group them.

A lot of answers focus on age; they give me a range they either want or don’t want. Every now and then, their response is religion-specific; some will say they don’t want someone who is too religious, or they’d like someone who is the same religion as them. Then there’s race, which is always interesting.

Some people will say they’ve never dated outside of their race, which makes me have to clarify with them, Does that mean you want to keep it that way? Others will be more blunt and say they prefer not to date anyone of a specific race or outside of their own race. The answers never bother me. The way I see it, the more honest they are, the easier my job.

The most problematic answer is the one I probably get the most: Race doesn’t matter.

People like to make a point of saying that, and I assume they’re telling the truth, but how truthful is that truth is the question I find myself asking whenever I get this response.

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Categories: dating, race, Work Tags:

A List of Date Spots I’ve Sent People on for #MeetMarket Dates

March 19th, 2013 1 comment

Before I run this list, a disclaimer for my long time readers:

I know I have been posting about job-related things a lot more recently, but I don’t want you to think this is what the blog is going to be about on a regular basis. I am just trying to flip the following I have here into a following over at the 9-to-5. After all, this blog is part of the reason I was hired to handle the blind date column at The New York Post.

Now that I got that out of the way, I want to share with everyone a comprehensive list of all the places where I’ve sent my dates for the column. As I have explained time and time again, these dates are all FREE. Most of them consist of a nice dinner, and of course, the participants are required to tip their service, but outside of that one expense, the meal and their drinks are on the house.

While the most challenging part of my job remains finding people to participate in Meet Market (you can sign up here or email me at jcummings@nypost.com), the other challenge is figuring out where to send people.

Dinner is the quickest and easiest solution, because who doesn’t like free food? All I need to do is find a good restaurant that I think both people would enjoy. For those who have seen the questionnaire I give to each of the participants, there’s a couple of questions about their favorite food and food allergies, so I usually use those to help me get a better idea of where to send them. For instance, on the list there is a restaurant called Casa Nonna. That place was chosen because they have a gluten-free menu, and the woman who was going on the date was allergic to gluten. If people are vegetarians or don’t eat meat, I would never send them to a steakhouse either, so I have to pay attention.

Then there are a couple of activity dates, which are always my preference to set up. Whether it’s cocktails while learning how to paint at Paint Nite NYC or a Brooklyn Nets game, activity dates work well because they are a more casual way for two strangers to meet for the first time. Unfortunately, they’re not always as great of an idea in real life as they are in my head. The two people I set up on the cooking class date at Sur La Table loved their experience, but had to pay close attention during the class so they really weren’t able to get to know each other as much.

People always ask me if I’ve successfully made matches out of the dates I set up. Considering I started this job on June 4, 2012, of course there have been some people who went out on second and third dates, but that’s their call not mine. What I’m more concerned about is setting up two strangers to have a good night, to make some good memories for both of them. THAT is my, and I must say I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Here is the list of dates, in no particular order. For more information click on the name of each restaurant to be taken to their website. Also, for non-dinner dates, I’ve offered a description of the date.

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A Picture of Dan to Help me #GetDanADate

March 14th, 2013 29 comments

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Like most lulls in my blogging, the intent is never to stay away for as long as I’m gone. Trust me, if I could get back into 2009-2010 blog shape, where I was writing five days a week, I would.

But this time, part of my absence was to let the last blog post I wrote breathe a little bit. For those who remember, I introduced everyone to Dan, a single, 36-year-old man who reached out to me to participate in my blind date column for the New York Post. You can click here if you want to read the details of my first encounter with Dan, but most of you know why he is a special case. When we met, he admitted to me he has a rather extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and he has Aspergers syndrome.

Since that post, many readers have asked me if I have found Dan a date, and unfortunately I have not. I can point to his condition and say that’s why I’ve had no luck, but in Dan’s defense, finding people for this column is never easy. And once I have people sign up, getting them into the column can still be difficult. There are some people in my files who haven’t been out on a date and signed up months ago. The logistics of how this section work make no sense, and my job is to make them make sense so people can open up their Sunday edition of the New York Post and read Meet Market.

One reason I probably haven’t had any luck with finding women who are willing to give Meet Market a shot as a potential date for Dan is because I realized, even with his mental conditions, people still care how he looks. You can tell me that doesn’t matter, but I’ve worked at this job long enough to know, people may not be able to judge a book by a cover, but a nice cover makes people pick up the book.

With Dan’s permission I have posted the picture you see of him below. This is one of the pictures he took when he came to the Post offices. As you can see, he’s a reasonably handsome man. In the last post I described him as a cross between Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump and Adam Levine. Was I right or was I right? For the ladies who are like, “Yeah, but how tall is he?” He’s 5’11. For the ladies who think, “Yeah but look at the way he’s dressed.” I say, look at the way you’re dressed.

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Everyone Deserves A Date, Including a Guy Named Dan

February 24th, 2013 18 comments

Last week, I received an email at work about my Meet Market column from a man named Dan. Here is what he sent me:

I am a reader of The New York Post and enjoy your Meet Market page. I noticed it says I can email you if I would be interested in winning a date. I would be interested in participating in this and would enjoy the opportunity of meeting a woman with your help. Kindly let me know how to proceed. Thank you.

I get this type of email from readers about once or twice a week, usually on Mondays, the day after the column has appeared in the paper. They always make me happier because they make my job easier; one more person for the column, one less person I have to coerce into participating.

I asked Dan if he was over 21 and lived in either NYC or the immediate area outside of NYC, as I do all people who reach out with interest. He replied he was 36-years-old and lived in Long Island. So I told him to fill out the questionnaire and to come in as soon as he could for the picture he has to take for the column. He said he would get started on the questionnaire and could come in the next day for the photo.

Dan arrived at the time he said he would, and I greeted him downstairs to take him up to our studio.

Most of the people who sign up for Meet Market reach out through through email, so I meet them for the first time in person at that downstairs greeting. I never know what they look like or how they are going to be. Usually they are excited to take their photo, shy or busy and want to get it over with.

Dan was none of these things. I could tell he was different than anyone else I met.

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The 50 Most Important Questions To Ask A Date

December 6th, 2012 5 comments

One of the steps people have to complete in order to participate in my blind date column at The New York Post is a questionnaire. The original questionnaire I inherited when I took this over was 40-questions and eople always told me the same thing: “Forty questions is a lot.”

I know. But it’s not more than sites like OkCupid. If the person didn’t over-think their answers, they would see it’s a fun way to get to know themselves. Sometimes I suggested people fill it out with a friend, just to make it more exciting.

But alas, whenever people reach out to express their interest in participating, I always lose them at the questionnaire. They either take a long time to fill it out and send it back or I just never hear back for them. So like most people who are always giving out their number or contact information only to not be getting any responses, I decided the problem was me and the questionnaire.

Forty questions does seem daunting, but not if the questions are fun, lighthearted, and interesting. On the old questionnaire, one of the first questions was simply, “Describe yourself…” Most people who get that question will be stuck, not because it’s a difficult question to answer, but it’s complicated. People don’t want to come off as too simple nor do they want to present themselves as complicated, so a question like that (which I know, it isn’t really a question) only begs for more questions.

So yeah, I changed up the phrasing and I moved it down to near the end of the questionnaire. Near the top of the questionnaire, after all the basic contact information is asked, we get into some easy but revealing questions. I thought this was also important because as we all know, sometimes one essay question can feel like 40 short questions. The ones I added were intended to make the questionnaire not feel as mountainous of a task as I got the sense it did for those who signed up. This is why the new questionnaire is 50 questions, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Below is the questionnaire annotated so you all can understand why I’ve included each question. Also, so you know, the purpose of the questionnaire is not only for the people picking to get to know who they’re picking, we also consolidate each one to craft the profile we run in the paper. For those interested in participating in Meet Market, you should know the rules by now, but just in case, here it goes:

Must be over 21
Must be single
Must live in NYC area
Must not be shy and willing to be photographed for the paper
Must be willing to go on a completely blind date and not be worried about what their date looks like, but just hope they’re as fun as them.

At the end of the questionnaire, serious applicants can download a copy and email me at jcummings@nypost.com. But even if you don’t live in NYC, pass it on to someone who does and might be interested in participating or just answer some of the questions in the comments section.

Remember, these are the important questions we must all ask someone we’re dating. ENJOY!

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My New Dating Column for the ‘New York Post,’ ‘Current Affairs’

June 28th, 2012 1 comment

It’s been about four weeks since I started my new position as the features reporter in charge of The New York Post dating section, known to many as Meet Market. Since then, I’ve set up about the same numbers of blind dates, and I promise you, it is as fun as it sounds.

Some of haven’t gone so well, but some worked out famously. Either way, every week it’s an adventure, and a great way to kind of learn about the atitudes about dating between men and women in New York City.

For those who don’t know or still have not seen it in the actual paper, Meet Market appears every Sunday, a two page spread. On the furthest right hand side of that section is a new dating column we’ve added called “Current Affairs.”

‘Current Affairs’ is a space designated to stories focused on dating in New York City. In the words of my editor, “Think NYC dating trends, pop culture releases (new books, surveys, movies, etc.) Ideas can be both service-y/news-you-can-use or just an entertaining, thoughtful read on something timely and buzzworthy.” Here are some stories we’ve covered thus far in ‘Current Affairs.’

“Boys On The Side”
“Married Away”
“Art versus Life”

If you notice, none of these stories by me, but pretty soon, the bulk of the ‘Current Affairs’ stories will be written and conceived by yours truly, which means just like Meet Market, I’m going to need your help.

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About The New Job And Why Some Of You Should Care

June 1st, 2012 12 comments

So I got a new gig.

For those who follow me on Twitter, I’ve been talking around it for the better part of a week, not divulging the complete details because I wanted to be careful, but since I start on Monday, I decided to let all my loyal readers know the good news and what it entails.

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A Song For You: Gregory Porter, “Be Good”

May 14th, 2012 6 comments

The first time I saw Gregory Porter was in 2010, at a sparsely attended show he put on at Drom. The sight of a young jazz vocalist in this day and age is about as common as seeing a unicorn, so even without hearing his debut, Water, which also came out in 2010 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal, I bought a ticket.

Overall, the show was impressive. Porter had not only the voice but the jazz IQ to make me an instant fan, but there was one song that hit me from the very first notes Porter sang and that song was “Be Good.” Months later, when I caught him live at The Blue Note, I prayed he perform the song again as it had not yet been recorded or released on record. Thankfully, he did.

“Be Good” is also the title of Porter’s new album, which came out this year on Valentine’s Day. Even after the countless listenings I still don’t know what the song is about. I’ve gathered that it speaks to the way some women have a hold on us, but I’d love to hear what interpretations you all my have about the song.

(When watching, try to focus on the song and not that peculiar tuxedo shirt Porter is wearing)

Also, for those interested, today I made my debut for one of my favorite sites, ThoughtCatalog.com. Click here to check out, “Quit Asking Me To Watch Your Computer.”

Categories: A Song For You, Work Tags: