Photos by Brevin Blach
For today and tomorrow only, the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium has become Alpha Warrior, an obstacle course whose organizers promise: "No mud. No miles. No mercy." This baby is the real deal - not quite Ninja Warrior, but close.
Josefine and Giovanni met for the first time about 45 minutes ago. Now, they're arriving in an Epic limo at The Q for a high-flying, injury-defying blind date. Do rope ladders and trampolines help break the ice... or anything else? We'll soon see.
PacificSD: Where are you from and where do you live now?
Josefine: I was born and raised in Sweden and moved to San Diego in 2006. Currently live in South Park.
Giovanni: I'm from the future. I live here right now.
What do you do for a living?
Josefine: Marketing manager for The Shout! House [dueling piano bar in the Gaslamp]. I also have my own business, a marketing firm.
Giovanni: Oh, man. I'm a hustler. I hustle. I chuck 'n' jive.
What do you do for fun?
Josefine: I play the guitar and sing. I love live music. I do yoga and spend a lot of time outdoors and at the beach. I love to cook and bake and do a lot of dinner and wine parties with my friends. I like to go out and I love to dance.
Giovanni: Stuff that's fun.
What are you best at?
Josefine: I am very creative with music and arts. I'm very tech savvy. I'm a computer nerd. I am also a great friend and a great mom.
Giovanni: Not answering intrusive questions directly.
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
Josefine: I am looking for a tall, dark and handsome, kind, funny and smart gentleman. I tend to fall for guys that are passionate about life, inspire me and are confident, but unaware of how attractive they are. My ideal man could be a mix between Barack Obama, LeBron James and Vince Vaughn.
Giovanni: A cute-sexy hybrid of pure energy and hotness. A chick with apps, but not dumb ones that arecopies of others or sh!t you never end up using. I'm looking for iWoman - trademarked.
How about for personality?
Josefine: I won't rate myself; it's dumb.
Giovanni: You better axe someone. Na' mean?
What traits could your date exhibit that would be dealbreakers?
Josefine: Disrespect, and if he smells funky.
Giovanni : If she pushes me on the ground and slaps me in the face with a penis... deal's off.
How many people have you slept with?
Josefine: I am a virgin mom.
Giovanni: Oh, god.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
Josefine: Probably no kiss on the first date, unless there are fireworks.
Giovanni: It will end with intergalactic enlightenment and a sense of momentary fulfillment for all humanity.
What's the most important thing in the world?
Josefine: My amazing daughter, Juliette.
They're off. Giovanni gives Josefine a boost over the first obstacle; she scales the subsequent three on her own. Next, the two work alone, traversing rope netting, climbing a 15-foot fence and swinging from ropes.
The following obstacle, Sky Walk, involves a series of trampolines suspended between elevated ledges. Hoisting themselves up heavy-duty chains, the daters vanish into the two-story structure. Moments later, Josefine emerges, bouncing off the second trampoline onto the third ledge. There's no sign of Giovanni.
Giovanni is clutching his ankle. He hit the first trampoline fine but landed wrong on the other side. Safety personnel take him to the first-aid tent for ice... and to make sure no bones are showing.
Seemingly undeterred by her date's misfortune, Josefine dominates the rest of the obstacles, which involves sliding down a fireman's pole, hanging from sections of pipe, leaping from ledges, clinging to metal rings and suspending herself between sheets of Plexiglas.
At the finish line, she receives an Alpha Warrior medal for completing the course. When Giovanni hobbles over for high-fives, he receives a medal for the fact that the woman handing them out felt bad about his swollen ankle. The couple gets back into the limo and heads to the next stop, a photography studio where they'll get gussied up for glamour shots and dinner at Brooklyn Girl, in Mission Hills.
Ice on the ankle and drinks on the rocks
Two ice packs and an hour later, Josefine and Giovanni are already enjoying appetizers at Brooklyn Girl, an award-winning, old-timey-vibed restaurant owned and operated by Victoria McGeath (the Brooklyn girl the spot's named after) and her husband, Michael.
The daters are sitting on the same side of the booth, which suggests things have gone well since the race. They're laughing and toasting drinks as they're split for mid-date debriefings.
What were your first impressions?
Josefine: This is where I have to bite my tongue. He's such a nice guy, but he's not really, physically, what I usually go for.
Giovanni: Hot. She's a pretty girl. My orientation was kinda effed up, because I saw her for the first time, and she was in her gym dodads. And I was like, "Why is she in her gym do-dads?" Then I realized, "Oh, yeah, I'm in that, too."
Has your date been fun and/or interesting to talk to?
Josefine: Yeah, he's a really fun, really great guy. We've been laughing and having great conversations.
Giovanni: She's good, she's raw. She's got that whole Swedish- European thing, so she's kinda tell-you-like-it-is. She's got a worldliness about her. She's cool people.
Is this the type of person you'd normally date?
Josefine: No. Well, yes and no. I don't know what's up with the nose ring. But I guess Lenny Kravitz has one, too, right?
Giovanni: Yeah, because she's pretty and she's feisty. I don't know if I'm the type she'd normally date, but that's the great thing about your show.
What do you think about the way your date is dressed?
Josefine: I like the way he's dressed. I wonder what's under his hat, if he has hair or not.
Giovanni: I have no complaints about it. She wears it well. She knows what she's walking around on and she hooks it up.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the Alpha Warrior set-up?
Josefine: Oh, sh!t.
Giovanni: I said, "F***, I'm probably gonna break my ankle."
Who's the Alpha Warrior between you and your date?
Josefine: Me, for sure. I'm not a quitter. No, that's horrible to say - he hurt himself. I'm just superduper stubborn. If I hurt myself, I would still do it.
Giovanni: I don't think it's a competition, man. She's the Alpha and Omega, I'm just along for the ride.
What's the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
Josefine: Probably his personality. He's a smart guy.
Giovanni: Well, she rocked the obstacle course. That was actually a turn-on, watching her climb that sh!t. She was straddling that stuff and she was sliding across it. She was fierce about it, too. It was like she had one in her backyard.
How about for personality?
Do you want to kiss your date now?
Does your date want to kiss you?
Giovanni: I don't know. Probably.
All's Well That Ends Swell...
As long as the magazine's insurance covers warrior accidents
As their entrees arrive, the daters are finally left to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the cameras. The next morning, they tell us what we missed.
PacificSD: How was dinner at Brooklyn Girl?
Josefine: It was good. We had mussels for starters and a Vietnamese meatball that was really good. It was a cool spot. I liked it.
Giovanni: Very cool place. As soon as I walked, in I was like, "Wow, this is definitely not typical San Diego fare." The food was fantastic. I don't think I've ever had mussels. The drinks were fantastic, and the bartender made us this special drink that's not even on the menu. He called it "Love Potion Number Nine."
What did you have to eat and drink?
Josefine: For the main course, I had halibut, and it was good. I had a glass of white wine and a glass of red wine. And I had a brownie for dessert. I was so hungry after that obstacle course.
Giovanni: Clearly, I drank a lot, because I don't really remember what I had, but it was really good. I know we had the mussels and then we had some kind of meatballs. They were really good. For the main course, I had steak, and she had fish. The steak was awesome. I mean it was brilliant. We might have had a little dessert, too. It was good, whatever it was. Honestly, I don't remember. I was battling my ankle pain and filling myself up with alcohol. That was my medicine.
What happened after the magazine crew left?
Josefine: They ordered us shots. Then we got into the limo, and Giovanni brought an ice pack, because his ankle kept getting more swollen. We were drinking tequila and listening to music and cruising the city.
Giovanni: We go to the limo, and I've go my foot chillin' on top of the cooler. I think we went all around San Diego. The limo guy was really cool. We could see the lights of Tijuana at one point, then we went to El Dorado and had a few drinks. Around 11:40 or so, we piled in the car and went home.
What time did you get home?
Josefine: Not that late, maybe 10:00?
Giovanni: Around 12:30-ish.
Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
Giovanni: It was a friendly-ish, flirty, warm hug and a peck on the cheek.
What was the best part of the date?
Josefine: The obstacle course was a lot of fun.
Giovanni: I have to say the restaurant. It was a cool spot, and that was probably the best steak I've had in ages. Whatever they did to it, it was spectacular.
What could have made the date better?
Josefine: We thought about taking the limo to Vegas and even asked the limo driver how much it would cost.
Giovanni: Honestly, dude, if I hadn't messed up my ankle, we probably would've stayed out later. I would've been more tuned into the situation and not looking for something to set my foot on or someone to get me a bag of ice.
Will there be a second date?
Josefine: Only time will tell. He's a great guy. Maybe, maybe not. Gotta keep it a mystery.
Giovanni: I could totally see us hanging out again. In fact, we kinda have to, because she's got my sunglasses.
What's something your date should know before his/her next date?
Josefine: He should just be himself, it either works or it doesn't.
Giovanni: She's really candid and very open and honest, which I think is a nice quality, but there's something to be said for mystery, too. I think she might be well advised to be slightly more mysterious.
AFTERMATCH: Despite the ice on Giovanni's ankle, the daters warmed up to each other in the end. Giovanni said Josefine should be more mysterious. She said she's "Gotta keep it a mystery." Sounds like a win-win, and that's not counting the mystery of how she got home at 10, and he got home at 12:30.
Whether or not Giovanni is "Barack Obama, LeBron James and Vince Vaughn" all rolled into one, at least Lenny Kravitz wears a nose ring. And Josefine didn't dislike Giovanni's nose ring enough to rule out a second date, so a scorching summer romance may already be in the works.
Hats off to Josefine for kicking Alpha Warrior's ass - and to Alpha Warrior for kicking Giovanni's. He'll have to put a little less weight on his sole for a week, but at least he went for it. The booby prize? Watching his date "straddling that stuff and... sliding across it," not to mention the commemorative Alpha Warrior medallion we gave him so he wouldn't sue us for the personal injury.
Next month's blind daters will be going skydiving. Time to update the insurance.
4033 Goldfinch St., Mission Hills