IT’S a tough game navigating the world of online dating as a celeb.
How do you know if your matches are interested in you for who you really are — or for your devastatingly good looks, talent, fame and, er, sizeable fortune?
You could even find yourself accused of being a fake and chucked off some sites, as recently happened to Sharon Stone, 62, on Bumble.
Which is why most single celebs can be found on Raya — an uber-exclusive dating app for the rich and famous with a waiting list of more than 100,000.
Its roll-call of users is like a Who’s Who of today’s A-listers — Cara Delevingne, Paul Mescal, Lewis Capaldi, Ben Affleck, and even Adele have all been linked to the site.
But being famous isn’t enough to grant you access. Like a snooty private members’ club, there is a strict vetting system — only eight per cent of applicants are successful.
Just ask Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison.
She told how she was given the red card, revealing: “I tried to join Raya and they replied saying they’d get back to me.
” Even with 3.3million Instagram followers, I wasn’t allowed on — I think they decided I wasn’t fit enough.”
One telly star who was deemed “fit enough” is Bake Off winner Candice Brown.
We told last week how the 35-year-old had joined Raya after splitting from her husband Liam Macauley, 34, in July.
Another person to have been accepted is?.?.?.?ME. But it took two years of trying and a temporary relocation to Los Angeles before I was finally accepted.
I’m not famous or super-rich, but I was writing about stars and Hollywood — which I think made me at least sound interesting.
It was around midnight on a Saturday, just weeks after returning from LA, when I received the message: “Welcome to Raya” on my phone.
I was doing what any serious A-lister was probably doing at the time — attending a hen do at Center Parcs.
I instantly became unashamedly excited at my news, blurting out to my drunken mates: “Yes! I’ve done it! I’m on the A-list dating app.”
The next morning, feeling a little embarrassed, I fielded enquiries as to what exactly this mysterious dating app was.
“Amy Schumer met her husband on there!” I said. “Harry Styles is on it!”
Most of my hungover mates agreed that, while intriguing, this all sounded pretty preposterous — or as Kelly Osbourne (a former member) once said of Raya: “It’s kind of obnoxious if you really think about it. A dating app for the elite? Really?” Quite.
Raya — meaning “friend” in Hebrew — was launched in 2015 and it wasn’t until 2018 that the founder, Daniel Gendelman, revealed his identity in an interview.
Speaking about his desire to connect people of the same social standing, he said his aim was to “try to solve a big problem for a small amount of people”.
Until then, the origins of the app, much like the app itself, were shrouded in secrecy.
‘LIKE FIGHT CLUB’
Today, little is still known about Raya — the company has never revealed details of its investors, nor disclosed financial information.
Members often joke that Raya is so secretive it is like Fight Club: “The first rule of Raya is you do not talk about Raya.”
I have been told of sightings on Raya of an A-lister who is still one half of a very-much MARRIED Hollywood power couple.
Joining Raya is notoriously tough — and not just because of its tiny intake. Firstly, you have to have two existing members nominate you.
Then your social media is assessed in terms of followers, profession, lifestyle and, of course, whether you look the part. A blue tick — meaning you are a public figure — will get you fast-tracked.
Applications are sometimes accompanied by press cuttings and glowing reviews from fellow celebs — I heard of one desperate guy who even offered $10,000 in cash to join.
I am not exaggerating when I say it took relocation to Los Angeles before I was eventually accepted.
Having failed in London, it was during a three-month stint living in LA that two of my Hollywood mates who are members — and both relatively famous — nominated me.
After paying £23.99 for a six-month subscription — or £7.99 a month — you first have to choose your preferred “soundtrack” to accompany your slideshow of up to six photos.
This, members report, can be stressful as you are judged on your choice of song. One socialite, who is pals with Prince Harry, had a very public meltdown on Instagram trying to decide on her perfect theme tune, finally settling on “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book.
I plumped for something fun and lively — I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston, which went (cheesily) with my profile statement that “I just wanna dance” — well, you get my drift.
Raya claims that OTT displays of wealth are not accepted on the app.
I beg to differ — many of the profiles I see verge on parody, with plenty of champagne-popping-on-a-yacht shots and men posing with Lamborghinis or on private jets. (Taking screenshots of members’ profiles will get you chucked off.)
As for celebrities, I only ever spotted one — comedian Jack Whitehall, before he hooked up with Roxy Horner.
I quickly swiped right, but alas we weren’t a match.
While that did give me a little thrill, it’s a bit like going on a safari and only seeing one zebra.
I had expected to see the big five! Where was Channing Tatum? (His profile reportedly reads: ‘Yes, I used to be a stripper. Sorry’ — a reference to his job before he became an actor and role in Magic Mike.)
I ask other members I know about their experience on the app and quickly realise I’m not alone in feeling underwhelmed.
Jennifer, 44, tells me: “Most of the people I came across were in different countries. It’s bad enough wasting an evening on a bad date, without having to travel to Miami for it.”
Indeed, out of the 25 profiles you’re matched to daily — you only get to see this number because of the app’s “exclusivity” — I counted on average only three in London, where I am based.
A geolocator tracks your whereabouts so you can see the proximity of members and possibly meet up at nearby venues.
I found myself laughing out loud at the London map as the only locations listed were either achingly hip, or playgrounds for the super-rich, such as Harrods or exclusive eatery Nobu.
Certainly no Nando’s or Wetherspoons on there. Tom, 41, a radio presenter, tells me he likes the fact that everyone is “like-minded”.
Tessa, 30, a manager to famous musicians, agrees. She says: “I don’t want to sound like a snob, but it does save time trawling through profiles on other apps of people you would never connect with.”
Yet I hear of three pals who have recently unsubscribed. Matt, 35, says: “No real talent, just boring posers who thought it was cool to talk about private jets and air miles.”
But then I hear of one success story — Georgia, 34, who works in fashion and is in a relationship with a British household name (she wouldn’t reveal who) that she met on Raya.
“I initially joined as a joke,” she tells me. “When we matched, I obviously knew who he was but didn’t think anything of it. But then we met for a drink and two years later we’re living together.
“What’s nice is that we both say we’d never have approached each other in real life. He says he would never have thought I’d be interested.
“There was a thing in the papers saying we’d met through friends, but most of our friends know the truth.”
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As for me, I’ve only managed to land one date with a decidedly non-famous gallery owner who — after suggesting we meet at his posh private members’ club in Mayfair — proceeded to grill me about my accomplishments, all the while checking his two mobiles.
Suffice to say we didn’t hit it off and he texted me the next day: “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re on the same life level.”
While it might work for the A-list, somehow, I don’t think I will be finding my life partner on Raya.
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