Saturday, September 03, 2005
Bachelorettes flock to area to meet traveling MB man
In a quest that began on "Oprah," Richard Roe is looking for six single travel companions "fit, fun and over 40" to accompany him around the world.
Some got dolled up in strapless sundresses and stilettos, while others dressed down in jeans and summer capris. One made the six-hour drive from Rio Vista, while another booked a morning flight from Scottsdale, Ariz. A few brought girlfriends, yet some kept the trip a secret.
But each shared a common, dreamy goal of winning a few minutes with the eligible bachelor. Or, perhaps more importantly, getting the tanned, tall Manhattan Beach man to remember their names.
Considering the size of the crowd, the latter task seemed to be easier said than done.
Hawthorne's Ayres Hotel was teeming with women Thursday afternoon as Richard Roe's worldwide search for six single travel companions shifted into high gear, including face-to-face interviews, impromptu dates and cocktail parties that continue today.
The quest that first gained steam with Roe's appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in April was expected to draw at least 500 women, many of whom booked rooms and took off work for the entire two days.
"Humbling is knowing the fact that you all spent the money and time to come here," Roe boomed from outside the hotel lobby, having just staged his entrance in an antique convertible T-Bird.
"We're all cut from the same mold," said the bachelor, dressed in a pink linen shirt and khaki cargos. "We're all single. And we all don't want to be."
The afternoon showed all the signs of the typical, cheesy TV dating show: Dozens of eligible bachelorettes vying for one man's attention, eyes focused on a pricey and impressive prize -- an all-expenses paid trip with Roe around the world, with promises of romance and, just maybe, something long-term.
But in this case the 64-year-old divorcé's offer isn't open to just anyone. Prospects must be "fit, fun and over 40," qualifications that on Thursday won him many fans.
"Very nice guy. Very down-to-earth," gushed Beth Ann Forest, 53, of Georgetown, Texas.
"He has a quick wit," said Christine Lom, 62, of Moraga.
"Sincere. Communicates well," added 50-year-old Debby Eddy, who had just returned to the hotel from having a facial.
"He cuts to the chase," she said.
Roe, who gained name recognition in 2000 after creating a documentary with his son about father-son relationships, contends his travel offer has nothing to do with attracting more media attention or creating the next reality dating show. (Although applicants are asked to sign disclaimers saying their videotaped messages "may be used in any manner or media worldwide," as determined by Roe.)
The ultimate goal, he claims, is to find compatible travel partners and prove they can come from within his age bracket, a demographic that older, single men too often overlook.
"I want the world to see how many fabulous women are 50 and over," he said. "What keeps me going is the fact that I have found myself a non-unique person in a unique position. It's about the message. ... I really am in a position where I might be able to make a change."
Roe, who has three sons and lived most of his life in Philadelphia, never saw himself living alone on The Strand in Manhattan Beach.
But in 1994 his wife of 29 years asked for a divorce, a move that left him hurt and transformed him into "an emotional marshmallow."
"I loved her tremendously. It didn't seem fair," he says of Margaret Ann Davis, the niece of Grace Kelly, in his online biography. "Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I decided to run away."
So the retired stockbroker moved to Los Angeles, where his three sons had settled with their wives and children, and started a new venture with his second-born son: A feature-length documentary called "Pop & Me," highlighting 29 relationships between fathers and sons from Los Angeles to China.
Distributed by MGM, the film won the pair appearances on CNN, ABC World News and Oprah.
It wasn't until his second appearance on Winfrey's show, one that promised to make "Your Wildest Dreams Come True," that the senior bachelor travel contest was born.
Roe has since launched a Web site -- www.seniorbachelor.com -- and started his own blog, gift store and online newsletter. He claims it has attracted hits from thousands of prospective mates around the world.
Of course, he admits there are a few "deal-breakers at my end."
Smokers? Forget about it.
Anyone more than a "social drinker?" No thanks.
"Let me add," Roe says on his Web site, "that I have never been arrested nor had any skirmishes with the law, and never had any serious illnesses or diseases of any kind. I suspect the woman I am interested in being with will have a similar background."
He hopes to narrow his choices down to 12 and eventually the lucky six, one for each month of his trip.