February blind daters freeze up at a luxury spa, LIVKRAFT in La Jolla.
Once upon a time (1998, to be exact), a pop princess named Britney Spears burst onto the scene with her infectious debut single, …Baby One More Time. In it, she sings, “My loneliness is killing me; I must confess, I still believe.”
In the spirit of these lyrics, PACIFIC set up two singles who might be feeling lonely, but “still believe” in finding their chance at love — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
On paper, this month’s daters, Josh, 34, and Mateo, 39, have a decent amount in common: They both live in East Village. They’re both young, single, working professionals (a realtor and a registered nurse, respectively). And, as we’ll later find out, they’re both fans of Britney Spears.
But is all this commonality enough to spark a romance?
Josh and Mateo have just met in an Epic Limo that will take them up to La Jolla for an evening of pampering at a luxury spa, followed by dinner at a Hillcrest hot spot.
Before we find out whether these two are going to get Lucky or if this whole thing is Toxic, let’s get to know them better via their pre-date interviews.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
JOSH: Originally from Maryland and now I live in Makers Quarter.
MATEO: I was born in Phoenix, Ariz., and raised in New Mexico.
How old are you?
MATEO: I’m 39 years old.
What do you do for a living?
JOSH: Realtor and full-time grad student, along with stints on a board for a nonprofit and a member of many local organizations.
MATEO: I’m a registered nurse.
What’s your Instagram handle?
MATEO: I don’t have an Instagram account.
How long have you been single?
JOSH: A little over a year now. Every relationship is a learning and growing experience in love.
MATEO: I’ve been single for eight years now.
Currently, what dating apps can be found on your phone?
JOSH: Nada. I’m more of the organic type.
MATEO: I’m currently on Scruff and Grindr.
Where can you be found on the weekends?
JOSH: Out and about with my St. Bernard, yoga or Barry’s class. I frequent Spin (nightclub) for Burning Man fundraisers and DJ sets. Most weekends have work involved either with showings or at my office in Bankers Hill.
MATEO: Weekends don’t mean anything to me. I work weekends, holidays. So when I have a day off, THAT’S my weekend. But my happy place is Urban Mo’s.
What are you best at?
JOSH: I love connecting with others. I like tearing away the superficial, the walls and listening/sharing stories.
MATEO: I am best at sarcasm.
What do you suck at?
JOSH: I really need to work on my short-term focus. Unfortunately, I think mobile devices have made it so easy to disconnect and distract yourself. “Oh look, a squirrel!”
MATEO: I suck at sports … and giving a damn.
What are you looking for in a date, physical or otherwise?
JOSH: I hate labeling — I have lots of tastes and many times it comes down to the connection and chemistry. I like stability, authenticity and drive. Physically, dark features get me going…
MATEO: I’m looking for an easygoing time, not an interview-type situation. But I guess that’s how many first dates are. Getting to know the other person. Physically, I like a man looking like a man.
Why do you think you’ll be a good date?
JOSH: I want to enjoy life and make sure those around me are doing the same. I’m easygoing, a good listener and all about experience. If you’re not having a good time, why are you doing it? Putting yourself through that?
MATEO: I’ll leave that up for my date to decide. I can only be me and see how the other person takes it.
Describe your special brand of sex appeal in a Tweet.
MATEO: I don’t tweet.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
MATEO: Again, I’ll leave that for my date to rate my appearance.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for personality.
MATEO: My personality on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 10. I’m awesome. My mom says so.
What’s your cocktail of choice?
JOSH: I’ve been on a gin kick; it could be just some Hendrick’s and an extra-squeezed lemon over crushed ice.
MATEO: Vodka and club soda is my drink of choice. Trying to cut back on calories.
What’s a total deal-breaker on a date?
JOSH: Selfishness, towards me or to others. I can’t stand watching people beat each other up for self-pleasure, gain or lack of self-confidence. It shows an absence of judgement and class.
MATEO: A Trump supporter!
Fill in the blanks: I want my date to be “blank” and “blank.”
JOSH: Approachable and open-minded.
MATEO: I want my date to be charming and funny. Like Ryan Reynolds. Not like I could ever get a guy like that, but I can dream.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
JOSH: Only one way to find out!
MATEO: I am completely open to how the night could end. I’ve been known to cross that finish line on a first date. I’m not a prude.
The biggest takeaway from the pre-date interview is that Mateo doesn’t have Instagram (gasp!). In fact, Mateo prides himself on being a bit stuck in the ’90s (aside from being on modern dating apps like Grindr and Scruff). He says he doesn’t even have Internet in his home.
Mateo has those dark features that Josh says really get him going. Plus, Josh wants his date to be “open-minded.” Lucky for him, Mateo boasts that he’s no prude (guess you can say he’s “not that innocent”).
Josh also says he’ll be a good dater because he’s “easygoing” — the same word Mateo used to describe what he’s looking for in a date.
Could these two be on the road to an iconic romance, like Britney and Justin? Will Josh be telling Mateo he was Born to Make him Happy? Will Mateo be a Slave 4 Josh?
Let’s get to “work, b*tch,” and find out.
Break the Ice
Daters chill in La Jolla
LIVKRAFT is a luxury spa that recently opened in downtown La Jolla. It offers a variety of services, including massages, float therapy, infrared saunas and different forms of cryotherapy. (Cryotherapy, for the uninitiated, is sometimes known as cold therapy. The technique involves using low temperatures to treat a variety of ailments, like tissue damage and inflammation, and it’s also good for increased cell rejuvenation, improvement of skin tone and reducing the signs of aging.)
Josh is feeling brave and chooses to try full-body cryotherapy first. Mateo is slightly more apprehensive, but eventually, he decides to try the same treatment, which means they’re about to become intimately acquainted. They each strip down to their skivvies, put on the protective gloves, socks, masks and ear warmers. When they’re told they get to choose the music to listen to in the chamber, each decide that no one except Britney Spears will do.
The only conflict is which Britney era they’ll choose: Josh likes Spears’ more recent work (Till the World Ends, specifically, from 2011), while Mateo, being a ’90s fan, appreciates her earlier catalogue and chooses (You Drive Me) Crazy from 1999. Both are solid choices.
Each full-body cryotherapy session lasts three minutes. After freezing in temperatures ranging from -130°F to -220°F, our daters are feeling invigorated. With boosted energy levels, they keep the cold theme going and indulge in some cryotherapy facials. They chat here and there throughout their treatments, with Mateo filling Josh in on his adventures with one of his cats, Butters.
Post-treatments, the daters are whisked to dinner at insideOUT in Hillcrest. insideOUT opened in 2018 at Eitol Towers. Described as an “urban oasis,” insideOUT has made a name for itself, thanks to its lively brunches, wine-pairing dinners and Mediterranean-inspired menus, not to mention the waterfall and pool in the middle of the restaurant.
After Josh and Mateo get some cocktails, we separate them for a quick mid-date interview.
How’s it going so far?
JOSH: It’s going good. It’s been a fun experience with some new things that I’ve never tried before.
MATEO: It is going well, very well. I like it, it’s fun. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I am excited and happy.
At first glance, would you swipe right or left on your date?
JOSH: I would probably swipe left.
MATEO: Right. He’s good-looking. He’s a cutie.
Is this the type of person you’d normally date?
JOSH: No. It’s just different mindsets. I’m not, you know, at Mo’s three nights a week, that kind of thing.
MATEO: Yes, but I might break him. He’s very thin and I’m heavy.
How was your experience at LIVKRAFT?
JOSH: It was great. That was a lot of fun. It was a neat experience, a beautiful environment and a really fun way to spend an evening.
MATEO: That was an experience. I don’t know about that cryo stuff, that froze me the f*ck up. But it was an experience and I probably would do it again. It gets your heart pumping and it rushes you. Initially I was put off by it, but afterwards, I felt good about it.
What caught your eye on the menu here at insideOUT?
JOSH: Chicken soup, which is nice after being in a cryotherapy chamber. That will warm me up. The drinks are great and I also ordered a chicken dish, the Super Tuscan (a breaded chicken breast with grilled eggplant, Calabrian chili tomato sauce, melted fontina and mozzarella cheese and broccoli rabe).
MATEO: The chicken soup. It’s a little chilly out, so we wanted to warm up. And I also got the Australian Hot Stone (an 8 oz. Angus Filet Mignon, served rare and cooked on a hot stone at the table).
What’s the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
JOSH: He’s really funny and animated and very easy to get along with.
MATEO: (Laughs) The most attractive thing is he wasn’t off-put by me. I’m not charming, I know that. It’s not where I’m in my home court advantage, where I could wine someone and dine someone. So I do have to go by my personality, so that’s kind of worse.
What’s the least attractive thing your date has done so far?
JOSH: Nothing, really. He hasn’t done anything.
MATEO: I couldn’t say anything. At this point and time, no. (Laughs) Unless he starts saying he’s a Trump supporter. Then I’m done.
Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
JOSH: I would say a six.
MATEO: I’d say eight or nine. He’s cute. He’s no Ryan Reynolds, who is a 10. But he’s a cutie, he really is.
And for personality?
JOSH: I’d say a six as well.
MATEO: Same thing. He really matches, when he talks and converses, he’s really on the same par. He’s not someone like Kylie Jenner, who relies totally on her looks. No, he has it.
What’s your date’s most attractive physical quality?
JOSH: His dimples.
MATEO: I like his eyes, he has pretty eyes.
What’s your date’s least attractive physical quality?
JOSH: (Laughs) You guys are terrible. I don’t know.
MATEO: I haven’t seen all of him yet, so I don’t know.
Do you want to kiss your date right now?
JOSH: I’m going to say no.
MATEO: I would kiss him.
Does your date want to kiss you?
MATEO: (Laughs) No.
Is this someone you’d take home to mom, just take home or none of the above?
JOSH: None of the above.
MATEO: I would, I could take him [home to family]. He seems like a decent person.
How and when will the date end?
JOSH: I’m going to go home to my sick dog.
MATEO: I don’t know, I would really like to take him home to meet my kitties and show him my ’90s apartment. (Laughs) Because I don’t have Internet, I still have VHS tapes, I still have a Nintendo.
Well, dear readers, much like Britney Spears in 2007, our daters are struggling. Josh isn’t saying Gimme More to Mateo. In fact, after dinner, Josh says he’s going to go home to his sick dog, not back to Mateo’s to meet his kitties.
Guess Josh prefers living in this decade.
After the interviews, the PACIFIC crew called it a night and left Josh and Mateo to enjoy the rest of their evening.
Cool Company, but No Spark
Daters won’t be ‘more than just friends’
Josh and Mateo spent the evening getting to know each other better in freezing temperatures, then warming up during a romantic dinner. Despite that, there didn’t appear to be a lot of romantic chemistry between the two.
Don’t worry. We won’t “Hold it Against Them.”
We checked in the next day to find out just how their night ended.
How did everything go last night?
JOSH: It was good. I can’t say that there was any romantic kind of spark or anything like that, but I really enjoyed the activities and the dinner. Mateo is a really good guy, he’s really funny. We had a great friendship connection and that’s all that really matters. I don’t think there needs to be any pressure or anything like that. It was just kind of nice to meet someone else and do something kind of random.
MATEO: I had a great time, I really did. He was wonderful company and it was a good time. I enjoyed myself.
Where did you go and what did you do for the rest of the evening after insideOUT?
JOSH: We just took the limo home.
MATEO: Oh, we just took the limo back to our own individual places. He said something about having to get ready for the morning and his trip.
Did you guys exchange numbers?
JOSH: We did not.
MATEO: No, we didn’t. But I did reach out, I don’t know if we’re allowed to do that, through you all, you know, if you want to hang out again or just grab drinks, just let me know.
MATEO: No. I didn’t want to seem too forward.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during the date?
JOSH: Probably dancing in the cryotherapy chamber.
MATEO: (Laughs) That cryo thing. I actually liked it.
What was the best part of the date and why?
JOSH: The best part of the date was definitely trying out something new and even getting Mateo on board with doing the cryotherapy. He was a little worried about it, but he did it and he was a champ and it was awesome.
MATEO: Just talking in the limo. Having a good time, just talking to each other, sharing.
What was the worst part of the date and why?
JOSH: Probably just being really chilly. After the therapy chamber, of course, you’re pretty chilly. And then at insideOUT, it’s an outdoor venue, so we were both a little cold throughout the date.
MATEO: Taking the photos (for the magazine) and trying to hold a smile.
Will there be a second date? Why or why not?
JOSH: I’m going to say no. But we live close to each other, so we might see each other out on the street or something like that. We’re just very different in our tastes or likes and things like that.
MATEO: I would like a second date, possibly. If he’s on the same page.
Do you have any dating tips for your date?
JOSH: There was a lot of repeating of himself, so maybe just keeping it fresh.
MATEO: No, I really don’t have any. It was actually a very good date.
“Oops, we did it again.” We set up a couple that wasn’t able to cross that finish line, as Mateo would say.
We learned a lot on this date, though. We learned that Mateo really likes Ryan Reynolds. And his cats. And we learned he doesn’t like Trump. Or Kylie Jenner. Or the Internet.
We also learned that sometimes, a shared love of chicken soup and Britney Spears isn’t enough to seal the deal.
But, like Britney, both men are going home a little Stronger tonight, with great skin and a few good stories to tell their friends. We hope they’re able to rise Out from Under this experience and we hope that, despite being single on Valentine’s Day, their “loneliness ain’t killing them no more.”
Editor’s Note: Daters’ answers may have been edited for length and clarity.