“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” That’s how A-list American movie star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) comes on to normal British bookstore owner William Thacker (Hugh Grant) in Notting Hill. Against all odds, these two astonishingly good-looking people have fallen madly in love, and after a misunderstanding involving the paparazzi she is tearfully asking him to take her back. The film is based on a number of fantasies: that mega-famous actresses fall in love with unassuming, bookish guys rather than oil sheikhs or Los Angeles Lakers, that English men have full and interesting emotional lives, that celebrities read.
But is it that far-fetched to think that a famous person could fall in love with someone whose face has never been on the cover of a magazine? Could someone like me get a date with a celebrity if I really, really wanted to? With the full blessing of my boyfriend, who would want me to mention that he is 6’3 and very smart, I endeavored to find out. Since it was unlikely that I could arrange a Notting Hill-style meet cute with a series of famous people, I decided to rely on social media for my amorous pursuits.
Historically, there is some precedent for “normal” people bagging a celebrity, however it is usually more of a Notting Hill situation, meaning that a gorgeous and talented famous woman will fall for some guy. Julia Roberts herself has been married to her cameraman husband Danny Moder for almost 20 years, Jennifer Lawrence is married to an art gallerist, and Uma Thurman is dating the guy who runs Bloomberg Media. While none of those men are real Joe Schmos, they aren’t Brad Pitt either.
Being a woman going after a famous man is harder. It’s no secret that male celebrities have their pick of the litter when it comes to women, so I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. I was not without hope though. As every woman writer in New York knows, Riz Ahmed met his novelist wife in a coffee shop, Matt Damon’s wife was a bartender when they met, and Patrick Dempsey married a hair stylist he met while stopping into her salon for a trim.
With those paramores as my guiding lights, I began my journey by making a big list of eligible bachelors. Ranging from rappers to comedians to actors to athletes to whatever Tyler Cameron’s job is, I was going to hit all of them up. My plan was simple: I would slide into as many DMs as possible both to see if men were 1) checking their DM requests folder and 2) responding to women who aren’t Insta baddies. As a member of the media I probably could have contacted their publicists, but I believe this falls outside the purview of the normal woman.
I am not exactly a prolific DM slider. In fact, I don’t think I had ever done it with romantic intentions before this experiment. So I googled “how to slide into DMs” and found this helpful Cosmopolitan article with a headline that perfectly matched my search. Congratulations, Cosmopolitan, on your excellent use of SEO.
Their first tip was “ask questions,” which sounded easy enough. My first target was the most eligible bachelor in New York City: Nicholas Braun, who was recently quoted in the New York Times saying, “I haven’t really been in a long-term relationship, ever… I do yearn for it and yet I’m incapable of it.” An emotionally unavailable 33-year-old? That’s perfect. I DM-ed the actor, following Cosmo’s advice and asking a question.
“You gonna be at Ray’s tn,” I asked on a Saturday night, coupled with the side eyes emoji and the smiling devil emoji to convey horniness. For those who don’t know, Ray’s is a fake dive bar on the Lower East Side owned by Justin Theroux, in which Braun is a minor stakeholder (Theroux might be jealous of Braun, possibly because Theroux is much, much shorter). He’s been known to get behind the bar and start serving people, so I figured this was an easy way in. No dice. Not even a “seen.” Although it was a good learning moment, as I realized I would have to follow all of these men in order to end up in their inbox.
Another tip from Cosmo was to never just say “hey.” “This is almost equivalent to saying nothing and has a high chance of being completely ignored," dating expert Melissa Hobley told the mag. Taking this note to heart, I aimed higher and more brazenly. I sent a message to Drake that read, “if you’re ever in nyc and want your dick sucked like crazy let me know.”
Shockingly, this one also went unread.
After debasing myself by flirtily responding to the stories of both David Spade and Michael Rappaport, lying to Adrien Grenier (“You are incredible on Clickbait!!!”), and telling Shemar Moore that I am his “number one baby girl,” I got a little desperate. I called Will Arnett “daddy,” I told number one NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham to feel better soon after his ankle sprain, and in a particularly low moment I told Thomas Middleditch that he was looking “extra hot” recently.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Unrelated to this story, I went to Ray’s one night. In the back of my head, I was hoping that Braun would be behind the bar slinging drinks. I had a whole plan, intending to slip him my number or aggressively flirt with him in a manner that would be embarrassing for both of us. He was not there. Instead it was packed with guys who I imagine “work” as “creative directors” or “entrepreneurs.” While I’m sure some of them have a “K” in their Instagram following count, I had no interest. They might be celebrities in their own minds, but they did not serve my purposes.
So to my normal girls out there, I don’t know if it’s in the cards for us. Barring a magical run-in at a flower shop or hole-in-the-wall bakery, I doubt you are going to get a date with a famous man. You can try your best with getting on Raya, but the last time I was on that dating app it was mostly non-famous DJs and Owen Wilson. I matched with neither.
I do think that this is for the best. Famous people are, as we all know, absolute freaks. There’s a reason they mostly date each other, and it’s because us normals live in a completely different world. I have no idea what it’s like to jet across the globe doing press junkets and red carpets, and someone like Chris Evans probably does not know what it’s like to sit through an hour-long meeting about various health insurance plans.
It is entirely possible that I am saying all of this to tend to the wound of not being noticed by a single one of my chosen bachelors. I had hoped that this would end with one of them responding at the last minute and becoming the hero of this story, the man to whom I could direct all my girls and say, “Hit him up, you’ll probably get a heart-react at the very least.” I am choosing not to take this personally, even though it is my life-long dream to be identified by the Daily Mail as a mystery brunette.
Instead, I have decided to flip this into a positive experience. I am now armed with the information that I can say whatever I want to a celebrity at any time, and you probably can as well. I could start using my DMs with Tom Holland in place of the Notes app. Grocery lists? Passing thoughts? Drafts of risky texts? They’re all going to Tom. That’s a safe space, baby. Do whatever you want. Run free in these people’s DMs. Unless you’re a gorgeous, verified model or something.