Aces of Hearts
Our Annual Pick of Boston’s Most Eligible Singles
According to the latest statistics (i.e., a careless Google search), the online dating business in the U.S. alone generates more than a billion dollars a year. Then there are all the other ways of profiting from the unattached: matchmaking and wingman services, the promoters who sell overpriced drinks to lovelorn clubbers, the whole industrial dinner-and-a-movie complex, and Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger screaming at you from her dragon’s lair at Bravo.
But, of course, most desirable singles don’t care that they’re single. They’ve got plenty else going on in their lives. They’re grounded, well-rounded individuals who, if they perhaps haven’t embraced singlehood, at least haven’t had singlehood thrust upon them.
That’s the premise behind this issue. Our eclectic group of 20 unspoken-for’s was, as always, compiled scientifically. We used a complex algorithm of readers’ votes, friends’ suggestions, a meddling in-law or two and countless Facebook searches. Then we threw them a party at the glamorous, sexy Storyville nightclub. There, under the soft lights and the muted fleur-de-lis motifs, with the music tuned just so and the bartender pouring silky Belvedere Vodka cocktails, we let the sparks fly. It was a stimulating evening. A night in a beautiful room with 24-carat drinks and fascinating, attractive people is the definition of time well spent.
We hope you enjoy getting to know our bachelors and bachelorettes as much as we did.
Without further commentary, we proudly present The Improper Bostonian’s Most Eligible Singles, class of 2013.
Steve Napoli, 26
Owner, Snap Top Market
Last fall, this fourth-generation green grocer opened one of the hottest spots in the South End, selling a meticulously curated selection of fine produce and gourmet goodies. After graduating early from UConn, he set out to see the world, visiting six of the seven continents, working at a winery in California, building barns in Montana and backpacking across Europe. Indifferent to fashion and admittedly underdressed most of the time, he considers an ideal date a baseball game (yes, he’s a Red Sox fan), eating food you’ll regret later, anything cultural (especially if it’s off-the-wall) or sampling something (whether it’s food, music or an experience) he’s never tried before. Despite his free-spiritedness, he’s a solid businessman and loves talking start-ups and how companies came to be. For fun, he puts in his earbuds and blisses out mountain biking or running. Although he claims not to be particularly romantic, he cites sipping a glass of red wine in Italy or Argentina as nice things to do. A member of a secret minority—country music fans from Mass.—he’s also a coffee connoisseur without being a bore about it.
Kate Beaman, 30
Director of operations, the Cronin Group
She grew up on the Cape but can’t swim. That said, she was a star athlete in soccer, track & field and road races. A 4.0 GPA in high school didn’t stop her from painting, singing in the chorus or playing violin. At Colby-Sawyer, MassArt and Cambridge College, she studied fine arts, graphic design and business management—which merged into a job as director of operations at the Cronin Group, the restaurateurs behind Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill, Temazcal Tequila Cantina, the Boston Beer Garden, etc. In her spare time, she models and does freelance design work. Her desire to please everyone 24/7 is key to her success in the hospitality industry, but she recognizes the downside, which is being driven, determined and sometimes stubborn. Her friends tell her she intimidates men, and her nicknames—MacGyver, Kate Middleton, Wonder Woman, Queen B, Mrs. Fixit, and most frequently, Boss Lady—are telling. She doesn’t date much, but she’s a firm believer in fate.
David Ng, 36
Co-owner, Hops N Scotch & Coolidge Corner Wine & Spirits
Born and raised on Long Island, he was peeling onions for his family’s restaurant business before he could ride a bike. Six years ago, he and a partner opened Coolidge Corner Wine & Spirits and turned it into an instant success. When the space two doors down became available, they launched a restaurant, Hops N Scotch. After a mere six months in business, it’s another homerun, and they now have roughly 30 full- and 20 part-time employees. He takes pride in the carefully curated and constantly updated inventory of his store and makes a point of having fun despite all his hard work. “I try to have a fun in life to make up for a lost childhood,” he says, and his outgoing, exuberant personality is proof. Determined to succeed and highly motivated, he believes that you have to get up in the morning and move your life in the right direction. He credits his parents for his impressive build and himself for his “life of the party” joie de vivre. Bonus points for having “lucky earlobes.”
Meghan Brady, 29
Events and marketing manager, Trade
After graduating from McGill, this Maine native traveled a bit (working at bars in Dublin) and settled here, where one of her first gigs was at this magazine. She moved to New York to build her resume, working for clients like Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and Perez Hilton. Now, she’s the events and marketing manager at the sizzling Waterfront restaurant Trade. After eight months, her Bay Village apartment remains largely undecorated. She’s of the school that nothing beats a handwritten note, and that if a guy asks her out, the first date is on him. Tolerant of her married friends who constantly try to set her up, she’s the classically conflict-averse middle child. That also means she’s low drama, and the Maine in her keeps her grounded. An admittedly bad driver, she walks or rides her bike everywhere (hence the fabulous legs). Last August, she helped raise more than $75,000 for Dana-Farber by riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge. A girl on the go, she likes making game day decisions and guys who can take an impulsive weekend trip. Her ideal date: Dinner and wine. Even more ideal? Dinner and wine that you have to fly somewhere to enjoy.
Kim McLarin, 40+
Novelist/assistant professor, Emerson College
If her life were made into an Oxygen network documentary, it’d look too good to be true. This Memphis native won a scholarship to Exeter, which produced both her lifelong ambivalence toward snow and her first novel. After graduating from Duke, she worked as a journalist for the Associated Press and eventually The New York Times. She’s now published three novels and is an assistant professor in the writing, literature and publishing department at Emerson College, with a kind-of memoir called Divorce Dog: Men, Motherhood and Midlife coming out in March. All the while, she’s raising two kids and still has the time to chair the board of a charter school, serve as a regular commentator on WGBH’s Basic Black and practice yoga often enough that it shows. Her ideal date is a walk in the Arboretum, wandering a bookstore or a glass of wine with French fries. She has a quick, dry wit and arresting eyes and prefers the ocean to almost anywhere. As for romance, she says, “Being seen—really seen—is the most romantic thing in the world.” Want to know more? Read her books.
Vyda Bielkus, 36
Cofounder, Health Yoga Life
One of four sisters raised by a single mom, this blonde beauty attended the all-girls Dana Hall School and Wellesley College. Thank God for her uncles, she says, since they turned her into a huge Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics fan. After three years at a high-tech start-up, she kicked off her heels for the barefoot life of a yoga teacher. Now she runs her own show at Health Yoga Life, a wellness and yoga studio she founded with her three sisters in Beacon Hill. A vegetarian with a fondness for tall men, her idea of romance is 4 pm on the beach, when the sunlight is just perfect, or walking along Comm. Ave. when the magnolias and dogwood are in bloom. Her ideal mate would be an alpha male with the goods to back it up, especially since he’d be entering a highly matriarchal family. Admittedly not terribly gifted in the kitchen, she does make a mean plate of nachos, and her winsome smile would melt the heart of the frostiest gentleman. The Bond-girl name doesn’t hurt, either.
Erin Butner, 28
Art director, Arnold Worldwide
A recent transplant from California, this West Coast girl studied fine art and journalism, but after working as a digital art director in San Francisco, she accepted a job at Arnold Worldwide in Boston, despite knowing no one here. Her ability to laugh at most things and her keen sense of adventure are hallmarks of her personality, and she loves exploring New England or traveling to new places, especially if it involves the outdoors and good food and drink. Her high-powered job occasionally spills over into her personal life (she admits to art-directing her cupboards), and she maintains a positive attitude about the singles scene, saying, “A bad date makes for a good story.” At the end of the day, she says, “I’m a simple girl. All I need is good food, great people, some libations, a bike to ride and a pen to draw monsters with.” That easygoing, happy-go-lucky charm is what makes us think she’s such a great catch.
Paulo Arrais, 25
Principal dancer, Boston Ballet
Bringing sexy back is something Brazil has never had to do, and he’s proof. This multilingual modern-day Nijinsky studied at the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Ballet schools, won numerous prizes and danced with the Norwegian National Ballet before being snatched up by Boston Ballet, rising through the ranks to stardom. What he likes in a guy? Not a dancer, and someone who’s comfortable with himself. His boyish charm belies a confident, sensual and nutty (in a good way) person who’s passionate about the arts and has a fiery Latin side (in a good way). He can be impatient—not surprising for someone who can do a split in midair while filing his nails. It also comes as no surprise that his body should be cast in bronze, but men who can’t see past this bore him. The place he feels safest is on stage, but don’t mistake him for a drama queen. He’s probably the most upbeat person you’ll ever meet. In the romance department, he deserves props for knowing Paris like a native, although he considers Capri a decent alternative. The twinkle in his eye earns him bonus points.
Michelle O’Neil, 29
Director, Keller Augusta Partners
This delightfully bubbly brunette graduated from Thayer Academy before studying economics at Trinity College, where she was captain of the women’s hockey team (her other sports include tennis and golf). Unashamedly preppy—Nantucket is a favorite spot, and she has her fair share of Lilly Pulitzer in the closet—she embodies the work hard/play hard ethos and admits that she sometimes spreads herself too thin with social obligations. Days are spent handling new business development for a boutique real-estate–executive search firm, a position that takes full advantage of her people skills, and she’s been described as “Boston’s commercial real estate industry matchmaker.” Despite the demands of her career, she’s involved with charities like Heading Home, Building Impact and Young Friends of the Public Garden. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and has no problem telling it like it is. A therapist to all her friends, she’s like the girl next door with a business mogul’s savvy, not to mention gorgeous hair.
Darrius Barnes, 26
Defender, New England Revolution
Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man, and when he’s a star defender for the New England Revolution, he’s even more irresistible. Born and raised in Raleigh, N.C., he has impeccable Southern manners and the smarts that got him into Duke University, where he majored in sociology. His senior year, he earned All-ACC honors, and he helped lead the Blue Devils to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his four seasons, while serving as a key contributor to the teams that won the ACC championship his freshman and sophomore years. In 2008, he was named to the Duke/Nike Classic all-tournament team. In the 2009 MLS draft, the Revolution picked him up, and he was a candidate for rookie of the year. Despite a few injuries, his performance since has been stellar. He volunteers his time with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, is self-effacing and quick to laugh at himself. Naturally, one of his requirements in a lady is that she’s tolerant of sports. Devoted to his family, he earns bonus points for a smile as dazzling as the diamond studs he’s fond of wearing.
Jeanne Ficociello, 35
Veterinarian, South Shore VCA Animal Hospital
A native of Wilmington, she went to Phillips Academy Andover and then Harvard, where she was captain of the women’s lacrosse team and made First-Team All-Ivy. After graduating cum laude in 2000, she got her advanced degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, did her internship at a private practice in Los Angeles and her residency in small animal internal medicine, receiving her master’s in 2011 and twice being named resident of the year. Obviously, one of her requirements is a love of dogs, as she dotes on hers, while also delivering superb care to other canines at a large veterinary hospital south of Boston. A stunning redhead with a quick wit, she sparkles even after an exhausting day of curing animals. Self-reliant and successful, she loves the outdoors, dotes on children, travels extensively and is equally comfortable hiking in the woods or sipping a glass of wine at a chic restaurant.
Brendan Shea, 31
Cofounder/project manager, Recover Green Roofs
For more than a decade, while getting his degree in environmental studies and political science and then post-graduation, he worked for an environmental engineering company. Then, in 2009, a piece on NPR about green roofs piqued his interest. With a friend, he took the leap and started Recover Green Roofs, making ends meet by waiting tables, catering and doing paid blind surveys while the company found its niche. Now his client list includes pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Phillips Andover Academy and SUNY, Newburgh. A Union Square resident who likes the neighborhood’s diverse vibe, he considers the word “weird” a compliment and revels in the unconventional. His fantasy woman would be “someone who appreciates all the great benefits of living in a city, like art shows, basement music venues, riding bikes in traffic and international foods, but who also values and wants to spend time hiking, skiing, snowboarding or on a farm.” Easygoing and naturally curious, he knows how to work hard but also enjoys sucking the marrow out of life.
Michael Cahill, 40+
Cofounder/owner, Reebok CrossFit Back Bay
After paying for college by building high-end homes on the North Shore, he signed on to work on the Big Dig before making a small fortune in real estate development, which he lost in 2009. CrossFit training helped him battle the depression that followed, and—fast-forward three years—he’s now the cofounder/owner of one the world’s largest Reebok CrossFit gyms. Needless to say, he’s jacked. In his spare time, he volunteers helping build homes for Habitat for Humanity. With a million-dollar smile and a heart as big as the great outdoors, his ideal mate would be a woman with whom he feels comfortable being silent. When it comes to Irish step-dancing, he can bust a serious move. A jeans-and–T-shirt type, his perfect date is hiking down into Bryce Canyon National Park with a six-pack and watching the sun set, but his idea of romance is spending time in Aix-en-Provence. The perfect balance of sophistication and earthiness, his rags-to-riches-to-fulfillment story proves that you can’t keep a good man down.
Christie Leigh Bellany, 37
Singer/songwriter, director of sales and marketing, Big Night Entertainment Group
In addition to being an accomplished singer/songwriter, she’s the president of CNC Music Productions and the director of sales and marketing at Big Night Entertainment Group, which operates nightclubs and restaurants like the Estate and Red Lantern. In January, she released a full-length album of 11 original songs, Deep Down Damned, which she recorded in Nashville with top-notch talent. Making it was a dream come true. A go, go, go type who can’t sit still for 10 minutes, she loves to travel, most recently visiting Australia. She’s an unusual mix of businesslike efficiency and charming spontaneity, juggling her two careers with aplomb and excelling at both. Her ideal date would be dinner at a nice restaurant, followed by canoodling on a beach blanket—she finds the simplest things in life to be the most romantic. Small gestures, like “flowers sent by a secret admirer,” are the way to her heart. And we’re guessing that after this issue comes out, her desk is going to be covered by them.
Jared Bachellor, 28
Pastry chef, L’Espalier
A hipster with impressive hair and an edgy, urbane style that friends describe as “swaggy chic,” he grew up on the North Shore and in New Hampshire. His mother was an avid baker and sold cakes out of their house, igniting his lifelong passion for pastry. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he returned to Boston to work at the Ritz-Carlton. A three-year gig as assistant pastry chef at L’Espalier followed, during which he staged at many of the best restaurants in the world. He moved to Denmark to study under some of the globe’s most innovative and renowned chefs, and, upon his return, he went back to L’Espalier as full pastry chef, a job that demands both a scientist’s precision and an artist’s panache. Although he admits to taking longer than a girl to get ready for an evening out, the end result is worth the wait. Just like one of his confections.
Bryan Eustis, 31
Strategic operations specialist, Partners in Health
A Boston native, he serves as the strategic operations specialist for Partners in Health, an international NGO that provides quality health care to the poorest of the poor. He also founded and operates a public health consulting firm that specializes in emergency planning, response and program development. But this dedicated do-gooder knows how to cut loose. “I love to travel,” he says, “so any date that involves getting on a plane sounds pretty ideal to me.” A sports fan and accomplished runner, in 2010, he completed the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, a 54-mile race in the KwaZulu-Natal Province which runs through the aptly named “Valley of a Thousand Hills.” A staunch believer that health is a human right, he has a lighter side and considers laughter essential to any relationship. He’s a social chameleon who can mingle or chat with anyone, and he’s been described as “gracefully honest” by one of his closest friends. That sounds charming to us.
Riki Shaffer, 32
Software consultant, eVerge Group
Outdoorsy yet sophisticated, she grew up in the mountains of Maine and remains close to her family. A champion cross-country skier who qualified for the Junior Olympics all four years of high school, she moved to San Francisco on a whim after college and worked as a hotdog vendor. She now travels extensively for work as a software consultant, so during her weekends at home, she likes to enjoy and experience Boston. She volunteers for the Maine-based organization Healthy Hometowns, teaching people how to cross-country ski, and she’s an avid sports fan who’s still smarting about the Patriots. Sarcastic and quirky, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her ideal date is a lazy Sunday brunch followed by a walk in the Arboretum and a glass of wine. Her perfect woman, meanwhile, is active and loves the outdoors, is strong both physically and mentally, family-oriented, kind and a tad nerdy. Her idea of romance? “Lying in bed, talking… or not talking.”
Tony Perry, 26
Lead guitarist, TAB the Band
What girl can resist a soulful musician? And when he fronts a band like TAB the Band, all the better. A Duxbury native who studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at Boston University, he also runs a supplement company called Lucid Elixir. But it’s being the lead guitarist for a band that’s been featured in Rolling Stone and Spin that makes him swoon-worthy. He’s opened for Jane’s Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots, Modest Mouse and (his personal favorite) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, while his songs have been featured on Entourage, Jersey Shore and the video game MLB 2K11. He takes pride in his open-mindedness and will try pretty much anything at least once. Unfailingly upbeat, he’s an adrenaline junkie who enjoys skydiving, racing cars and riding motorcycles. A warning to any woman who wants to date him: Go with the flow or get out of the way. In his spare time, he likes to retreat to his family’s farm in Vermont. A true free-spirit, he’s a rock star who doesn’t try too hard.
Erin Dunn, 30
Hairstylist, James Joseph Salon
On first glance, her look may bring Katy Perry to mind, except this girl’s got a whole lot more beauty and talent. An Andover native, she studied interior design and cosmetology, and is now one of the hottest hairstylists on Newbury Street. Oddly, this sexy lesbian claims to have more male clients than any of her colleagues at the James Joseph Salon. As big-hearted as she is beautiful, she’s participated in such hair-related charities as HairRaising for Children’s Hospital, the breast cancer Beauty Bash and Animal Umbrella. She manages the delicate balance of being both edgy and feminine in her personality and her style, and idles on high with the energy-level of a kid. She admits to occasionally being overly dramatic, but that’s part of her charm. Her creativity, meanwhile, is obvious from the well-coiffed heads of her clients. Her drink of choice is a dirty martini, and she admires a fine tattoo. She continuously shops for home decor, and her idea of romance is an evening at home with the lucky girl she loves.
Stephen Martyak, 28
A Southern gentleman with killer style, this gay bachelor has already accomplished a staggering amount, despite his tender age. Last fall, he launched studioTYAK (the “y” is silent), and he’s already left his imprint on the city with restaurant projects like the Sinclair in Harvard Square, the new OSushi in Cambridge and the refreshed Da Vinci in the Back Bay. Born in Nashville and raised in North Carolina, he came to Boston to study architecture and fell in love with the city the moment the plane hit the tarmac at Logan. That’s why, after earning a master’s at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, he came right back. A foodie who loves bourbon but can’t abide gin, he’s an avid snowboarder and a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He has a savant’s knowledge of musical theater and even wrote a play about his experiences working at the Pottery Barn on Newbury Street. His fresh vision and immense talent come in a handsome package topped off with an enviable head of hair and, if you listen to him closely, he has the slightest hint of a charming Southern accent.
For more images of the Bachelor/ette photo shoot, click here.
We also took video of the mixer at Storyville.