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RUSSIA - Chicago Tribune (TRIB) STORY 5
KISS HER, SHE'S IRISH TOUR GUIDES BACHELORS TO OVERSEAS ROMANCE
Charles M. Madigan, Tribune Staff Writer.
In his worldwide search for available women, Raymond Campbell
settled on Ireland as a likely place for the hunt.
He has his reasons.
Put yourself in his place. You are a single, available
American man at the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow, surrounded by lovely
Russian women who are here just to meet you. You turn to your
interpreter, Igor, and tell him:
"Tell Irinia that her eyes are like lovely, limpid pools and
that her lips have the color of the first red flowers of summer,
that her hair shines like the sun and that her body has the grace
and form of an hourglass and that I would happily open my heart for
"She is a knockout."
So Igor turns to the woman and in Russian he tells her
something like this:
"Your eyes are running with water and your lips are like
early weeds with your hair so yellowing. Your body looks like a
clock. I would have bleeding coronary bypass for you.
"I have been hit hard on the head by you."
Clearly, the language of love does not translate easily,
which is why Campbell, 43, a Houston bachelor, businessman, world
traveler and seeker of a wife, decided two years ago that Russia
wasn't the place for major-league woo pitching.
"The primary obstacle was language. The second obstacle was
more difficult to identify, but the more time you spent there and
the more time you spend with the ladies, you realized the cultural
difference," said Campbell.
First, there were seven decades of communism to deal with,
which would warp the culture of just about any man or woman. Then
there were some other differences, money being a big one.
"The Russian women don't understand when an American man
starts talking about the need for saving money for retirement and
for investment and income and savings for the future," Campbell
said in a telephone interview from his Houston office. In Russia,
"you buy assets or consume the money when you have it. That could
be a real problem."
And that is why, for a fee of about $900 or so plus a couple
of thousand more in costs, Raymond Campbell will plug a longing,
love-hungry American male into his Irish Sweetheart Tours program,
shipping him off to Dublin for a good time, a good drink and the
chance at building a relationship with a real Irish woman.
Does this sound a little creepy to you?
Aren't there enough available women on the home front?
Are these men such losers they have to leave the country to
find a date? Are they so upset about American women and their
independence and struggle for identity that they just can't hack
the great conquest contest stateside anymore?
The bottom line of it, according to Campbell, is that he puts
men in search of women in the same place as women who are in search
of men, then lets culture and nature take their course. He says he
does not view himself as a modern-day matchmaker, but as a tour
guide operator with a difference.
"What they are expecting is to meet some lovely, charming
Irish ladies. Hopefully they will meet that one that is very
special for them. At a minimum, they will have new friends and a
good vacation and be very well received by very friendly people,"
Campbell has already sent two small tours of men off to
Dublin and plans two more, one in September and one in December. He
is working on his database of available Irish women. He is going to
videotape some of them soon so his clients can get a better look at
what Ireland has to offer.
Just like Sears
He also has published his own "Gentlemen's Catalog of
American Men," the February 1997 edition, which potential Irish
sweethearts can thumb through in search of an ideal American mate.
Take Dave, for example, a 35-ish guy from California, never
married, who is a banking executive and in search of an Irish woman
"age 21 to 41, somewhat educated, good-hearted, wants kids (kids
OK), supportive, hard-working, tall, inner and outer beauty."
Or R.W., 40-ish, from Lincoln, Neb., who is quite specific
about his ideal Irish woman:
"Intelligent and has quick-witted humor. Curious,
compassionate, enthusiastic, and knows how to have fun wherever she
goes. My lady should want to have 1-3 children, possess good
maternal characteristics and be proud of her role and femininity.
She should be sincere, non-materialistic, faithful and able to
enjoy the company of an affectionate and romantic partner. If she
has a profession or career, I will truly respect her abilities and
support her wishes. I prefer someone under the age of 36 who is a
non-smoker with an even temper."
His program has not produced any marriages yet, but Campbell
believes it is only a matter of time. He looks forward to the day
because it will give him something to brag about.
But wait a minute. In this era of political correctness, is
it really prudent to advance the cause of lonely American males who
spend money to head overseas in search of friendship and, perhaps,
And isn't there a little of the meat-market component at work
here, the promise of a chance to "connect" (nudge nudge) with a
lovely Irish lady who reflects "traditional values," whatever they
are, and who will come back to America to be your idealized love
Maybe. Maybe not.
The fact of the matter is this collection of guys, for
whatever reason, doesn't like the terms of the game in the United
States. So they go searching elsewhere.
What about sex?
"None of the fellows has ever expressed that to me," said
Campbell. "I always represent this as a service to both parties.
They are meeting each other for the purposes of friendship or
All that is really promised in Campbell's promotional
information is a vacation with a good time attached.
And after all, who cares? In an era in which people advertise
their sexual availability in mass-circulation newspapers and
magazines, how creepy can it be to spend a couple of thousand
dollars on the chance of getting a date?
People obviously are not shy about these things.
The overseas dating and maybe mating business is very
healthy, with all kinds of magazines offering potential
relationships with, for example, the women and men of the former
Soviet empire via special tours.
Or, they can actually go to Moscow to try to pitch woo-ski
through a translating Rooskie.
That is, after all, where Campbell, a businessman who has
tried his hand at investing, teaching and mergers and acquisition,
got his idea about the Irish Sweetheart Tours.
"I just said there has got to be a better way to refine the
concept. I thought, well, there are lots of English-speaking girls
in different parts of the world and they would probably have
similar cultures," he said.
"I did some more research and I found out that Ireland and
England don't have visa requirements, and that is a big advantage.
If someone meets a lady and wants to invite her over here to get to
know her better, it's a piece of cake. It's a passport and a plane
The Irish media have greeted Campbell's tour with warmth and
a certain amused curiosity.
Martina Devlin, reporting for the Irish Independent in March,
wondered just what it was that would lead a relatively good-looking
collection of available American men to Ireland in search of love.
Cornering one of Campbell's touring bachelors on a Dublin visit,
she asked him what Irish women had over their American counterparts.
"American women have a zest for work; Irish women have a zest
for life," he is quoted as saying.
The available bachelor also told her it was family values
that made the Irish women so attractive -- that and the fact they
weren't so competitive with the men.
"We're doing our best," quipped Devlin in reply. "We just
haven't had as much practice as your women."
Campbell said he was surprised about the reception his tours
received from Irish men.
"We were a bit skeptical," he said. "But they are very
friendly fellows. They all had a little chuckle over it. But we
never heard a single cross word from any of them."
Campbell said he is making a living, but not a fortune, with
Irish Sweetheart Tours, which is his full-time work.
"I could go bankrupt," he said. "But I enjoy going out on the
trips very much, meeting different cultures and different people."
He, too, is still looking for a wife.