Opening Doors

By Alyson Baker
Photos by James Norton

(Published in the January 2011 issue)

Wild chicks in leopard print mini-skirts, cougars running around like college girls, dudes behaving like party animals-it's a jungle out there. In the hopes of catching free-range singles in their natural habitat,


hits the town to help otherwise solitary souls mate...or at least meet.

Closing deals isn't part of the game-the goal is just to open doors. It's Friday night and it's freezing as we arrive at La Puerta in the Gaslamp to spark hook-ups with firewater. (


means "door" in Spanish. If you didn't know that, please return to Wisconsin immediately, and may

el dios

help you.)

Armed with a photographer and a bar tab, the


crew approaches La Puerta's wildlife with a simple proposal: point out whom you'd like to meet, then we'll buy that wild thing a drink on your behalf, as long he or she agrees to pose, with you, for a photo.

Game on...

ICE-BREAKER: Keith P., 25, New York

TARGET: Mia P., 23, La Mesa


"The girl in the stripes. She's pretty cute."

RESULT: The couple hits it off and ends up sitting together for hours.


ICE-BREAKER: Tyson G., 25, East Village

TARGET: Natalie E., 25, Pacific Beach


"That chick in the red. She has nice eyes."

RESULT: Natalie's scores twice in one night-picked by two guys in less than hour.


ICE-BREAKER: Dan The Man, 28, Bay Park

TARGET: Me (Alyson), 25, Pacific Beach


"You. You have beautiful brown hair."

RESULT: He sweeps me off my feet, but I need to finish buying drinks for everyone else.


ICE-BREAKER: Alex S., 37, Downtown

TARGET: James M. (left), 23, England


"This guy, 'cause he kind of looks like me."

RESULT: Age ain't nothin' but a number-these two forge an instant connection.


ICE-BREAKER: Roger D., 45, Downtown

TARGET: Rafael N., 42, Freemont, California


"There's no cute chicks here, because I would already have bought them a drink. So I choose him, 'cause he's a cool motherf#cker."

RESULT: BFFs, single and staying that way...for the moment, anyway.


ICE-BREAKER: Noelle D., 29, Hillcrest

TARGET: Bobby, 26, Ocean Beach


That guy who works here. He's the cutest one; I like his features



Bobby is flattered, but he has a job to do, so he returns to bar-backing, and Noelle goes back to her friends.


ICE-BREAKER: Jen J., 32, Downtown

TARGET: Nathan T., 23, East Village


The guy over there in the black hoodie. He looks like a nice guy and he's cute.


Nathan sits with Jen until his girlfriend shows up.


ICE-BREAKER: Leo P., 22, Rancho Bernardo

TARGET: Elena Y., 30, Mission Valley


The short one over there, because I like older women.


It takes a while to convince Elena to pose-no love connection.


ICE-BREAKER: Tracy G., 23, Ocean Beach

TARGET: Jerrod H., 27, East County


The guy in the softball shirt at the table, because he looks like he needs a beer.  He looks like he needs some fun.

RESULT: Jerrod is on his way out the door and doesn't stay to talk with Tracy after his free drink. Way to blow it Jerrod!


ICE-BREAKER: Alex W., 26, Pacific Beach

TARGET: Natalie E., 25, Pacific Beach


The girl in the red, because she has beautiful eyes.


These two seem too comfortable-they probably know each other.


ICE-BREAKER: Angel C., 32, Bankers Hill

TARGET: Joe N., 3I, Hillcrest


That guy; I like his chiseled features.

RESULT: Faking it for a free drink-it seems like they're already engaged.



ICE-BREAKER: Jooyoung K., 25, La Jolla

TARGET: picks Raoul C., 24, Chula Vista


That bartender. He's, like, shy and cute.

Actually, I want him! I just didn't see him until now.


Jooyoung sends Raoul back to the bar, then turns her sights on Mr. Norton.

La Puerta
560 4th Avenue, Gaslamp

The same guys who own La Puerta just opened The Lincoln Room (901 Fourth Avenue, across from Horton Plaza) on the site that used to be Confidential Restaurant + Loft. The new spot offers classic American dishes and drinks, wall-to-wall Lincoln logs and an 1850s vibe. It's like pennies from heaven.

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