Frances Reps was looking for a few good men. There were the usual requirements: single, straight, warm, caring, good sense of humor, someone who listens. Handsome couldn't hurt.
But Reps couldn't find a few good men. Or even one good man. Not in Orange County.
So Reps put on her thinking cap. Surely there were other women out there--successful, fabulous women like herself--who pondered this quandary with some alarm.
"And I thought, 'There must be something I can do,' " she says.
It turns out there was. Seems that Reps, a Newport Beach travel agent, has made plenty of connections beyond your average LAX-DFW-JFK variety.
And so, for a mere $3,275 per person, double occupancy, Reps plans to open up a whole new world for 40 American single women.
We're talking men here. Real men, Reps explains. We're talking Aussies. "What I say to people is, come in and and look at my file," Reps says. "They are just terrific. I have a big game hunter that you would die for. He is so handsome! I have a dental surgeon, lawyers--they call them barristers--doctors. . . ."
Reps is talking about the 375 Australian men who wrote to her after she appeared last year on three Australian talk shows scoping out the possibility of arranging her Single Ladies Tour to Australia.
This will be Reps' second Single Ladies Tour. The first group went to Alaska last September in search of the bearded, flannel-shirted variety of rugged Americana. That, too, was fabulous, Reps says, adding that most of the golden moments were captured on film by a crew from the television show "USA Today."
"I took 20-some, and two or three (couples) are already married," she says. "Then there are other women that are writing, so I don't know how many of them will end up getting married."
And that's what the Aussies want too, Reps says. Commitment. They've sent photographs of themselves. Six of them even sent pictures of their houses and another six of their yachts.
How's that for commitment?
Now don't get Reps wrong. She says it's not that there's anything wrong with the men of Orange County--it's just that there aren't too many of them.
Reps relayed the grim news as conveyed to her by Cosmopolitan magazine: Eligible women in the United States outnumber eligible men by a ratio of about 8 to 1. And it is worse in most cities.
"There just aren't enough men to go around," says Reps, who is 55. "And for the women in the 50-year-old group, all the men are dying early. And of what's left, all the 60-year-old men want the 20-year-olds."
What's a Cosmo girl to do?
One woman leaving nothing to chance is LaVonne Propes, 34, a senior legal secretary in Dallas who has already signed up for the Men of Australia tour, which leaves Los Angeles on March 26 (although everyone must be ticketed by Feb. 15).
Propes, who describes herself as a "country girl" from East Texas, is what Reps describes as "absolutely gorgeous."
Propes dates a lot of lawyers and business types in Dallas but says she can hardly wait to get her hands on the Aussies, a sub-genre she describes as well-built, down-to-earth with (she hopes) plenty of hair on their chests.
She also says she's looking for men of more substance than those she knows in Dallas, ones who don't spend all their time at work or "polishing their BMWs."
"Not that they wouldn't have BMWs," she adds.
For the Single Ladies Tour, Reps has arranged sightseeing in the Outback, Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns, bordering the Great Barrier Reef, as well as cocktail parties, a gala ball and even a dinner-dance in the bush. "Dress for that is casual," she says.
So who knows? This could work. Seems there already are all sorts of women signed up for the tour, most of them in their 20s, 30s and 40s, but Reps adds that a 70-year-old also is considering it. "A young 70," she says.