In my opinion, the most cringe-worthy episodes (AKA the best) of The Bachelor are group dates. What's that? Ten dudes are forced to try standup comedy or a gaggle of gals have to race each other on skis in bikinis? Sign. Me. Up. While I would call any kind of group date or mass speed dating situation my personal hell, some New York Tinder users would simply call it their Sunday evening, thanks to Natasha Aponte's live Tinder spectacle. (Elite Daily has reached out to Aponte for comment.)
Yesterday, dozens of men arrived at Union Square with the same plan: Meet a Tinder match named Natasha, watch a DJ set, and then head out for a drink. But these hopeful Bromeos were in for a different kind of performance, because at showtime, Aponte herself took the stage. Supported by staff and several security guards, she proceeded to conduct a sort of live version of Tinder-ing with the men she personally matched, messaged, and invited via Tinder.
Aponte's live Tinder-ing experience included physically swiping left on actual human men, asking them to compete against each other by doing push-ups and sprints, and telling guys with specific characteristics to leave. Nicholas, 28, from Union City, New Jersey, told Gothamist that Aponte "started calling the different characteristics she doesn't like... 'If you have a long beard, leave.'" While the majority of her matches were uncooperative, unimpressed and actually left, several men played along. I imagine the people who were game for a live swipe line or a sprinting contest, as captured below, would also be down for a televised standup comedy bombing or a bikini ski race.
While the video evidence shows a generally playful and friendly vibe, this Twitter thread from @bvdhai offers a different perspective. I personally found this thread delightful, mostly due to A+ turns of phrase like "fallopian fortitiude." @bvdhai gets real as he expresses dismay at the state of modern dating, and warns "vanity will be the demise of humankind."
While clearly some of Aponte's matches were fine with being duped and willing to drop and give her 20, some men were actually looking forward to meeting her... Perhaps namely the guy leaning on the barrier in the photo below?
According to her Instagram bio, Aponte is an "actress, model, singer," and she's about those "positive vibes ✨." But the Sunday spectacle left some of her matches feeling less than sparkly. One of her miffed matches is Spencer Mullen, a 22-year-old social media intern, told Gothamist that after the scam show, he's been talking to some of Aponte's other matches. "It's like a support group now," he said. In the same interview, he also related that once Aponte took the stage and he realized what was up, he left. "I'm not saying that I have the most self-respect in the world, but who the f*ck would stay?"
Thousands of men did stay, according to producer Rob Bliss. As it turns out, Bliss claims he produced Aponte's mass date stunt, as well as the 2014 viral video of a woman being catcalled during a 10-hour walk through New York City and a 2015 viral anti-bullying video. Bliss heads Rob Bliss Creative, a marketing and ad agency, and insisted that thousands of Aponte's hopeful suitors attended and stayed for the event, according to Gothamist. He provided photographic evidence to back up his claims, refuting a source who told Gothamist that only a hundred or so people attended the event.
Elite Daily's own TV editor, Steph Ironson, just happened to pass through Union Square on Sunday. Around 7 p.m., she and her boyfriend headed through the crowd and approached one of the security guards in black suits and matching sunglasses. She says, "My boyfriend asked one of them what was going on, but they were totally stoic and didn't answer. There were tons of camera people there, who looked like a paparazzi or a film crew for a reality show." Ironson overheard someone say they thought it was something for the VMAs, but the scene was "definitely super crowded and a lot of people looking very confused."
Super crowded and very confused is how I would usually describe both dating apps and my brain, but it's up for debate what the purpose of this spectacle really was. Was it a social experiment? Performance art? A sincere attempt at efficient dating? Since all of the eye-witnesses available left before the conclusion of her performance, it's unclear if Aponte actually achieved her goal. Either way, she has both added to the conversation and to the confusion and we can all tip our hats to her "fallopian fortitude."
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