In Living Color

Photos by Gabriela Lingenfelder
Caricatures by Aaron Philby

(Published in the April 2010 issue)

In the four years it took him to paint 12,000 square-feet of chapel ceiling, Michelangelo spent a lot of time on his back. Here at PacificSD, we work the same way (not so much on our backs, but painstakingly and for nearly four years) to create blind-date art.

"Mich" (as his boyfriend called him, see gayheroes.com) created with paint. This evening, PacificSD aspires to Mich's level of greatness, only in a different medium: Live Art.

What are the critical elements that lead to a blind-date masterpiece? Hopefully it starts like this:

Two characters and a caricaturist walk into a bar...

Where are you from and where do you live now?

Maria: I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Sonoma County. I've lived in P.B. for three years.
Marco: I am from Europe, Serbia. I live in San Diego now.


What do you do for a living?
Maria: Full-time nursing student. I graduate in May, finally. Six years of college was good enough for me, and I sucked the life out of it.
Marco: I am civil engineer.

Describe your personality in seven words.

Maria: Honest, intuitive, balanced, outspoken, analytical, playful, stimulating, drama-free, witty-is that seven, yet?
Marco: Why? Why not? Always, food, education, more.

What do you do for fun?

Maria: I love to go shopping, go to the gym and jog on the boardwalk, read, watch movies, hop on my beach cruiser, lay out and hit the beach, Sunday Fundays, explore S.D., get cocktails with my girls and dance to house music. And I really want to try rock climbing soon.
Marco: I read or go out.

Rate yourself physically on a scale from 1 to 10.

Maria: Umm, yeah...I don't do that.
Marco: Ten and growing.

What's your favorite thing about yourself?

Maria: I can make any awkward situation fun.
Marco: My messed-up mind.

What do you like least about yourself?

Maria: I can get very defensive when criticized, and maaaaybe I always think I'm right. Marco: I hate how I speak Japanese.

What do you hope your date will look like?

Maria: Tall, hot, dark hair, athletic body, dreamy eyes.
Marco: I just hope she does not look like me. Specially not this hairy.

What's one thing you'd like to change about yourself?

Maria: I tend to hold out on a lot of plans, because I guess I kinda want everything to be perfect before I actually initiate anything.
Marco: I would like to change my tires on my car. That's about it.

What person, food, drink, song and other item would you take to a deserted island?

Maria: For the sake of survival, Bear Grylls (he's damn resourceful, plus he's not bad looking), Coronas, Oceanaire (I freakin' love seafood), a dog and Chapstick-stuff I can't live without.
Marco: I do not need anyone. I would bring spear, since I like fish and there is plenty around island. Books instead of music, and wine.

What makes you a good catch?

Maria: I know who I am, what I want and where I'm going. I'm level-headed, smart and I don't put up with bullshit. If I get treated with respect, expect to get treated like a king. Plus, I like to keep things exciting. Routine bores me.
Marco: I am old-fashion man.

To paint the picture-the daters meet for the first time at Bare Back Grill in the Gaslamp. Marco approaches the booth where Maria is sitting, kisses her on both cheeks, then sits down next to her. Bare Back's owner sends over a few of his favorite mini-burgers (he'd be thrilled for us to point out that they're delicious and made with 100 percent organic beef) and a round of shots.

Ten minutes later, more drinks come. Maria laughs and touches Marco's arm gently, as Aaron the caricaturist and Gabriela the photographer capture the scene. More drinks.

About an hour later, the couple catches a cab over to Stingaree for dinner-the first-floor lounge is bustling when they arrive arm-in-arm and are escorted to their dining pod.

After another round of drinks, Marco and Maria are split for mid-date interviews.

How's it going so far?

Maria: It's actually going very well, better than I thought it would. He's very interesting, he's smart, he's fun to talk to, he's cute.
Marco: So far, so good. So far, so excellent. I got excited since I expected much less and I got a...nice.

Is this the kind of person you would date normally?

Maria: Actually, yeah. He's tall, dark and handsome, which is what I want.
Marco: Yeah, definitely-beautiful, smart, interesting, funny. No, not funny, but she has good sense of humor. Style, nice. Brunette.

How was Bare Back Grill?

Maria: It was good. I had a vodka soda and some fries.
Marco: Great bar for sports and drinks. We had drinks. I had about, what, four or five double Disaronnos on rocks. I drink a lot, but I don't even get drunk. I'm still not even buzzed.

Rate your date physically on a scale of 1 to 10?

Maria: Well, he has a suit on, so I can't really tell. I mean, I touched his arms and he was muscular, so I would say like, a 10.
Marco: I'll tell you after tonight. Do I have to be more specific? Nine.

And for personality?

Maria: Probably an eight.
Marco: Eight.

Is the vibe friendly or romantic?

Maria: Half and half. I can see it turning into something romantic, but it's very friendly right now for me.
Marco: Romantic.

What is the best way that the date could end?

Maria: I mentioned that I was going to meet up with my girls after, and I think Marco got a little offended by that. But I just expected this to go until nine, and then I had other plans after. I just don't want any pressure.
Marco: We decide to go out on the next date.

What's the worst way the date could end?

Maria: Him expecting more than I want to give.
Marco: The worst way is the girl getting drunk. I don't like that one.

Does your date want to kiss you now?

Maria: I think so.
Marco: Yes.

Do you want to kiss him/her now?

Maria: I don't know if I would, because it's our first date, but I definitely don't have any aversion towards it. I think I would kiss him.
Marco: Yes.

What's the sexiest thing about your date?

Maria: He seems very intelligent and confident. Oh, and he doesn't have Facebook. I've had drama in past relationships with my exes stepping over their boundaries with other girls on Facebook, and with just being friends in general with people that they probably shouldn't be.
Marco: She's very feminine. That's the biggest turn-on.

What's the least attractive thing about your date?

Maria: He corrected me a couple times. I really hate that. I had my elbow on the table when I was drinking, and he told me that it's not very feminine. And he told me that ladies shouldn't swear. I mean, when someone tells you things like that, you feel like you need to act a certain way, and it doesn't feel like you're being yourself anymore.
Marco: She likes Jamboree.

When their entrees arrive, Marco and Maria are finally left alone for the remainder of the evening. PacificSD calls the next day to see what we missed.

How was Stingaree?

Maria: I have always loved Stingaree. I feel comfortable there-the staff is so friendly and sweet, the lighting and atmosphere are relaxing. Mixed with a little wine, it's the perfect combo for a first date.
Marco: Food was great, specially shrimps. I like the ambiance.

What was the best part of the date?

Maria: We went to Fluxx after dinner and got down on the dance floor. Marco was so fun to dance with.
Marco: Beginning, while hopes of meeting atypical girl of this age were still high.

Worst part?

Maria: The way the date ended was pretty cold on both sides. I felt like he was a little too judgmental and a little too aggressive.
Marco: Beginning, also. After hitting the top it can only go downwards.

Describe any romantic connection between yourself and your date.

Maria: It was easy to kind of hold onto his arm and lean in against him and be close because there was that connection.
Marco: This word, "romantic," seems to stay only in the Art History books.

Describe your date's sense of style.

Maria: He was looking very sharp, and I liked that he wore some jewelry. I think that's cute for a guy and reveals a little more personality, as long as it's not Ed Hardy and it's not bejeweled.
Marco: Feminine, but counterfeit.

What's the sexiest thing your date did last night?

Maria: He always made sure I was warm and offered me his jacket numerous times.
Marco: Pretend to be good, polite girl at the beginning.

What's the most unattractive thing your date did last night?

Maria: We got in a couple disagreements because one or the other did something that was thought to be "disrespectful" to the other.
Marco: Trying to argue.

What happened after the magazine crew left?

Maria: We finished up our wine at Stingaree, met up with my girls at Sidebar, and walked over to Fluxx together to check out the grand opening. We danced and hung out for about an hour longer there.
Marco: We had to leave immediately, because her friends were waiting in the new club, Fluxx. Of course, they were not there, so we went to pick them up at the other club, Side Bar. Then we went to Fluxx. Just explaining this makes me tired. Imagine doing it.

Was there a kiss or romantic moment?

Maria: I think when we were being silly and taking pictures outside of Stingaree that we might have brushed each others lips once, but there was no tongue or lip-locking.
Marco: There was nothing that we can call "kiss" or "romantic."

How did the date end?

Maria: It was pretty abrupt. He did something that kind of made me upset. Apparently I did the same to him. So we left it at that, said it was nice meeting each other, and he took off.
Marco: The date ended up right about when she had her fifth drink. It ended up with me trying to stay a gentleman and fulfill all demands.

Will there be a second date?

Maria: I don't think so.
Marco: No, thank you.

What would you change about your date to make him/her more compatible with you?

Maria: I'm not into double standards. It creates inequality. I may be a little too independent for him.
Marco: I would turn off her TV.

What advice would you give your date?

Maria: Maybe to be a little less rough and aggressive with a lady, and also to be less judgmental.
Marco: Grow up.

Aftermatch: From the time they met at Bare Back, and all the way through dinner at Stingaree, Maria and Marco seemed to admire each other. In the end, however, they became each other's worst critics. Whether it was her drink number five, or the dozen Disaronno shots that made him "not even buzzed," something clearly took a turn for the oops.

What have we learned? Probably nothing, but maybe this: despite the players, perhaps dating is more of an art and less of a game. Sometimes, human elements combine to create a living masterpiece. And other times, as in the case of Vinny Van Gogh, you cut off your ear and give it to a prostitute.

Celebrity Observations
"Elbows on table? In my country of Kazakhstan, woman is don't even eat in same room." -Borat
"Even without the suit, you're gonna like the way he looks...I guarantee it." - George Zimmer , owner of Men's Wearhouse

"I can see Serbia from my backyard. Wait, my palms are sweaty. That might say, 'Arabia.'" -Sarah Palin

"I wasn't even buzzed, either." -Charlie Sheen

THANK YOU!
Bare Back Grill: 624 E Street, Downtown
619.237.9990, barebackgrill.com

Stingaree: 454 6th Avenue, Downtown
619.544.9500, stingsandiego.com

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