As a queer living in London, I have seen and matched with so many micro-celebs at this point I honestly feel like I could start a niche gossip column: influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, Turner Prize-nominated artists or even just those model/DJs/party planners who are big “on the scene,” but whose job title you would find impossible to explain to your straight friends.
But while all this has brought me close to becoming a WAG (why should the straights have everything?) at points in my life, it’s also brought a lot of drama. Being left alone all night in a corner at industry events, having your romantic evening ruined by gushing fans coming up to your date every five seconds, or even just contending with someone’s travel-laden work schedule and the fact you will never be more important to them than their manager, even if you met them first.
It’s not for the faint-hearted but, if you want to find out for yourself, you’re going to need some advice – which, luckily, I’m on hand to give with a little help from some experts. So, if you match with a VIP on an app or happen to vibe with them in person, here is everything you need to know about how not to make it a horrible experience for everyone involved.
First up, what’s it really like dating these people? Well, as it turns out, celebrities are just like us – some of them are cute, some of them are weirdos.
Angelica recalls briefly dating a famous actor who she met on dating app Raya, who “told me he loved me after our first date”. Like every celeb dater to whom I spoke, she wanted to remain anonymous while dishing the dirt. While the actor was pretty keen straight off the bat, she still felt like she had to pretend she didn’t know who he was as a way of redressing the power dynamic.
“I pretended I had no idea who he was,” she explains. “I think it helped my anxiety more than anything because I didn’t want him to think I was some weirdo fangirl.” Ultimately things didn’t work out, but it had nothing to do with whether Angelica let on if she knew him or not. “We broke up a few weeks later,” she explains. “He freaked me out by saying he wanted to have my baby and move me to America.” Yikes!
On the more banal side of close encounters of the VIP kind, Louise once ended up going home with a celebrity chef she met at White City House, a Soho House member’s club in west London. “I had fancied him and thought he was fit for years, so when I saw him at the bar, I died,” she recalls. “The next thing I knew, he was buying me cafe Patrón and I was dying even more.”
Just like Angelica, she decided not to let on that she recognised him. “I was like, ‘So… what do you do?’ Even though I knew his whole life story.” Her approach and presumably sparkling conversation led to her staying the night and him giving her the “boyfriend experience” the next day but, sadly, he didn’t contact her again after that point. At the time, she was disappointed it didn’t lead to something more long-lasting but she knows she’ll always have the memories: “It was like the best night of my life at the time.”
It’s a mixed bag, isn’t it, this whole dating celebs thing? But despite the differing results, both Angelica and Louise’s accounts bring up an interesting point: Should you be admitting you know who your VIP date is or should you feign complete ignorance of their status? Well, playing it cool paid off for the both of them (to varying degrees) but it’s probably not the key to a long-lasting relationship, let’s be real.
This at least is what Michelle Elman, a five-board accredited life coach and boundary-setting expert (yes, that’s a thing) argues. “Pretending you don’t know who they are starts the relationship off on dishonesty,” she explains. “There is a difference between acknowledging who they are and fangirling over them.”
And what if you are, in fact, tempted to fangirl over them? Elman’s answer is simple - it’s time to back off. “If you are at fangirl level, then you shouldn't date as the power imbalance will be too great.” Enough said, really!
So if you’re reading this and want to try it at home, you’re probably wondering where (apart from Raya and a Soho House branch, ofc) you can actually meet these people? For the LGBTs out there, I can tell you that regular dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Feeld have been the source of encounters with queer micro celebs, and that they can also be found in community-friendly spots like Dalston Superstore.
For those not in London, things are a bit trickier – as, realistically, the capital is where most celebrities are concentrated sadly! However, in the process of researching this story and fielding accounts from people across the UK (and even Germany, we’re international huns), I learned that Newcastle-dwellers may be in with a shot of matching with their local breed of niche micro celebs: Geordie Shore cast members have been known to happily swipe away on Tinder up there. Do with that what you will.
Now we know some more about where to find our VIP and what it’s like to actually date them, it’s time to change tack. What’s it like to be on the other side of this exchange? What’s it like to be the VIP faced with the expectations and preconceptions of the normies who want to date them?
Simone Murphy, a DJ, model and influencer with 115,000 Instagram followers, has recently returned to apps like Hinge after a long dating pause – and she has a few words of wisdom to impart. As she explains, returning to regular apps after dating people in her industry has been quite an experience: whether it’s being recognised by fans while on a date or potential matches referencing her work.
One thing that’s a particular struggle is dealing with people’s expectations. “I’ve met people that have had preconceived notions about me [based off my work], I don’t enjoy that as I think it adds a strange power dynamic and makes getting to know someone on a genuine and intimate level quite challenging,” she explains. “I find it quite embarrassing if people reference my work to me, it adds another layer of anxiety because you’re not only analysing how you are coming across to them but you’re also quite self-aware of the fact they may have already formed an image based off a two-dimensional version of you.”
So how not to completely weird out your potential VIP love interest? The answer is quite simple - remember that just because you know their work, doesn’t mean you really know anything about them. “The key is to remember that just because they are a public person doesn't mean you actually know them,” explains Elman. And whatever you do, don’t research them before you meet them! “Avoid googling them to find out more information and instead ask them questions directly the same way you would get to know anyone else.”
And a last thing to remember? Keep in mind that if they swiped on you, they probably fancy you a bit too, so stop obsessing over whether they like you and start approaching them with the same interest, good patter and respect you would offer to anyone you’re keen to take out for drinks. “You are overfocusing on the fact that you matched with them, but you also have to remember that they matched with you,” Elman explains. “It might be a cliche, but they are human like everyone else!”