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Beautiful way to net your perfect partner.

Byline: By Jamie Diffley

A new dating agency has just been launched which only allows beautiful people to join. Jamie Diffley meets some of its members

A svelte figure glides across the road. Blonde hair glimmering in the sunlight. A figure-hugging black top, designer jeans ( and slippers.

Still it doesn't detract from the fact Laura Linden is beautiful. Official.

The 24-year-old (she celebrated her birthday this week) is one of just a handful of North East members of a new online dating agency set up to celebrate the good-looking.

BeautifulPeople.net is still in its infancy (an official launch party is not scheduled until next month) but already it's attracting plenty of attention.

Since it hit the internet in April, more than 14,000 applications have been received from people desperate to join the ranks. Almost 300,000 people have logged on the site to check out prospective partners.

But being a part of it is not easy. For every 15 applicants who try to get on, 14 are rejected.

Laura is among the chosen few.

On meeting her I thought I would come face-to-face with a prima donna. After all, this is a girl who has joined an agency whose selling point is the fact there are no ugly members.

"I'm not vain," she protests in the front room at one of the trendy flats behind Gateshead's Baltic. "I didn't really realise what it was all about until afterwards. I just got involved through a friend."

New members are put to the sword by existing ones. After filling out some customary details ( name, age, and a few vital statistics ( they must submit a photo and lay themselves at the mercy of their peers.

For an excruciating three days their photos are displayed on the site while other members give their verdict. In the interest of fairness (as fair as it can be, considering the circumstances) the girls are rated by the boys and the boys rated by the girls.

And in a further twist of ignominy, applicants can check on how they are doing at any time during the process.

"I'm not the kind of person to get all serious about something like this," says Laura, safe in the knowledge she is one of the beautiful people. "But I started to think about how I would feel if I didn't actually get in.

"I suppose I would have been gutted."

Laura is not the kind of person you would think needs a dating agency.

She backs up her looks with a warm personality and intelligence. Laura came to Newcastle to study performance at Northumbria University six years ago.

She currently works as a musician, helping to bring on children's development through music at a Sure Start project in Wallsend, North Tyneside.

And when she comes back from travelling in the summer, Laura is set to take a teacher training course back at Northumbria, with the ultimate aim of working with special needs youngsters.

You would think she'd have been snapped up already.

"I had a boyfriend for two years but this past year, I've been single and enjoying it," she says. "I haven't been looking for anyone and I don't think of this as a dating agency really. It's just a way to meet new people and get new friends. I've made some good friends already."

And it just so happens that all those new friends are beautiful.

"I do initially go for looks but so does everyone," admits Laura. "But then they have to have a personality. I've met people before who I thought were gorgeous but when they opened their mouth you think `oh no'.

"It doesn't matter what you look like in the end. You don't marry someone just for their looks."

The agency was set up in Denmark in 2002 by Kasper Lousen, Kasper Hjorth and Robert Hintze, after their own disappointments in meeting attractive women through online dating.

When they spoke to attractive females, they discovered the women were reluctant to put their details on internet agency sites because of unwanted attention from "undesirable, lonely weirdos".

After immediate success at home, they decided to launch it in the UK.

"The community you can see on Beautiful People could appear within the pages of any model agency's books," reckons Greg Hodge, managing director for the site in the UK. "People are fed-up of wasting time and money meeting unattractive people on the net. Until now there has been no online networking service exclusively for the gorgeous. The kind of online community, which you would actually want your friends to know you belong to.

BeautifulPeople.net isn't about political correctness. We simply and unashamedly exist so beautiful people can meet other beautiful people. Anyone who doesn't fit the bill is welcome to join any other online community, which I'm sure will cater perfectly to their needs."

The harsh way applicants are accepted or not doesn't put people off. Every day 500 more members are trying to join the elite.

Even if they are attached.

North East Page Three model Sarah Lou Tottle would arguably get most people's vote.

But the first time she tried to join, the 20-year-old glamour girl was rejected.

The beauty of this agency (or some may say the flaw) is that if at first you don't succeed, you can keep putting a better photograph of yourself on the site until eventually you get in.

"I was just curious," says Sarah Lou, from Chester-le-Street. "The first photograph of me wasn't very good so I sent a much nicer one and I got quite a high rating."

Sarah Lou, who has appeared topless in the Daily Sport and the Sun, as well as reaching the final of a Miss Cleavage competition, has actually got a boyfriend, the handsome (she says) Adam.

"I go for personality just as much as looks. Adam is good-looking but that's because I made him that way. He wasn't when I met him two years ago."

Once accepted, members pay a basic rate depending on the length of time they want to use the service.

A one day subscription is pounds 2 while for a year costs pounds 79.95.

For that you get access to a community that agency boss Greg Hodge likens to Utopia.

Ultimately every member helps to build a perfectly beautiful online community within which they can interact socially, romantically of professionally he says.

"Darwin himself would be proud we have found the perfect way to ensure the survival of the fittest," Greg says.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 13, 2005
Words:1088
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