SHIRLEY MOSES fidgeted with her blazer's collar, smoothed down her black hair and took one last look at the mirror as she prepared to have her photograph taken. She smiled nervously, stared dead-straight at the camera and gave her biggest grin.
"It's not easy to go and sell yourself," she said afterward. "That's what you're doing."
Re-entering the singles market at age 51, the bail bondswoman from Baltimore and widow of eight years is in search of "a person who's easy to get along with, who likes movies, fishing and traveling."
The price she paid for an opportunity to meet her Prince Charming was no small change. She plunked down $150 to pose for the portrait for her ad in a new local magazine due out mid-November called iSO -- in search of, inc.
Targeting the lonely-hearted and the lovelorn, iSO will present biographical information on more than 250 single men and women in the Baltimore metropolitan area in a 72-page, catalog-style listing. It's the brainchild of Jill Saltsgaver, a 22-year-old Cockeysville entrepreneur who used to work for two dating services.
The $3.95 magazine will include articles about entertainment, sports, fitness, singles life and the environment. More than 6,000 copies of the first issue are scheduled to be sold at 300 local convenience stores and supermarkets.
"You've got your teen magazines, your fashion magazines, your sports magazines, but there's really nothing for singles out there," Saltsgaver said.
Her advice for single people:
"Quit feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it."
For $150, singles write a 40-word, from-the-heart autobiography and a 30-word description of what they're looking for in the opposite sex. The ad runs with the photograph in one issue, and for $100 more, it'll be included in the next.
"We feel the way it's set up is safe," Saltsgaver said. "There are no addresses and phone numbers given. Only their first name is given."
Readers who want to contact an advertiser will send their letters to iSO's headquarters on East Pratt Street. The advertisers will be free to decide whether or not to respond.
As Saltsgaver sees it, the sky's the limit on the number of singles who'll be exposed to this magazine, scheduled to come out about every other month. Magazine buyers will read it and pass it along to other friends, thus increasing the number of chances one person will meet the right person. But there is no guarantee on the number of responses a client's ad will attract.
Deirdre Long, iSO's executive vice president, said the magazine takes the guessing out of the personal ads game.
"When you read a personal ad, you're going to guess what the person looks like," she said. "Here you have pictures. This way, you have more to go on."
Long, engaged to be married, said many single people don't put the right effort into finding the right partner.
"People don't look at meeting somebody like they go through looking for something in life," said Long, 30, who met her match at a dating service. "When you look for a job or a house, you take some time and don't wait for it to happen. You make it happen."
For singles who want to meet peers, advertising isn't the only option. There are dating services and singles events held by health clubs, church groups and even shopping malls. However, these serve relatively small audiences (in the case of dating services, they're usually limited to the company's clientele) compared to the potential market a magazine can reach.
Although she met her soul mate at a health spa three years ago, Saltsgaver says "People just don't go knocking on your door anymore.
"They're out there. You've just got to know they're out there."
The magazine is not targeted at any age group, but requires that the advertiser be older than 18. Many who have come forward aren't fresh out of college and looking for a first spouse. Baby Boomers and older clients are increasingly looking for a companion.
"I can't say it's a trend, but it's something that we're seeing," said Long. "We've gotten quite a few phone calls from them. They're having a much younger attitude. They're realizing that any age is a good age to enjoy your life."
Those who advertise in the magazine have already painted a picture of their ideal match, Saltsgaver said.
Al Whalen's dream mate is someone who's a "good listener, easy to get along with, has great sense of humor and is outgoing." Like others who are willing to take a chance with the new magazine, he's had no luck in his search elsewhere.