The Top Singles in St. Louis 2011
Photographs by Kevin A. Roberts
(page 1 of 3)
You submitted nearly 300 singles nominations, which the SLM staff worked to narrow down to 12 finalists and 16 semifinalists. Then we opened things back up to readers online at stlmag.com, with two rounds of Readers’ Choice voting to determine our last four finalists. Read on to learn more about the 2011 class of Top Singles, a talented group that includes an architect with an archery range in his loft and a roller-derby girl who’s licensed to embalm. Plus, see stats from our September Single in the City Readers’ Choice poll, read a selection of unfortunate first-date stories, and get the skinny on online dating.
Dr. Joseph Grunz
Pediatric radiologist // 48 // Ladue // Seeking Women
Dr. Joseph Grunz is well aware that the lifestyle of a physician can be tough not only on those who accept the challenge, but also on those who choose to spend meaningful time with them.
“What you accept is that you have to be available for emergencies,” admits the Mercy Children’s Hospital doctor. “Just as you’d want your own doctor to not have excuses, I’m on call about a quarter of my time. Fortunately, I work with very responsible people. I’m really lucky in every consideration, surrounded by good people, good colleagues.”
Still, he confesses that while working, he’s missed out on a few opportunities. For example, despite battling what he describes as a lifelong aversion to learning languages, he’s ready to tackle Spanish. For years, he’s wanted to undertake serious travel in South America, visiting off-the-grid, nontourist locations in Peru, Chile, and Brazil. “It might be a little more difficult to do it that way,” he admits, “but those are amazing cultures. It’s worth the extra effort to explore those kinds of experiences.”
Likewise, he was a bit wary of taking part in this experience, but when his office manager sent along the nomination notice, he jumped in. Having seen past Top Singles issues, he jokes, “It’s like being a part of the cool kids in the cafeteria. It’s nice to see what that side of life’s about once in a while, even if it’s a little intimidating.”
Communications manager and Ph.D. student // 30 // Florissant // Seeking Men
*Readers' Choice Top Single
Even before appearing in this edition, Raegan Johnson got a good feeling from our Top Singles Readers’ Choice poll. She wasn’t shy in letting friends know she’d been nominated, and they weren’t slack in putting fingers to keys to make her a finalist. “I felt so loved by so many people,” she admits. “People really, really put it out to their circles. And getting their support was such a great feeling.” The nomination forced her to take some pressure off herself, she says: “This is the first time I’ve really come out and said that I was single, really made myself available in that way. It’s made me more candid about what I want.”
Though school and her work at Monsanto keep her busy, Johnson’s enjoying the new twist in her social life. “I’d like to meet people that I wouldn’t ever get to meet through day-to-day life,” she says. But she’s sticking to her beliefs. Guys, she says, “need to take the first step and approach me.” And height’s a must for this 5-foot-11 gal. A giving, compassionate nature would also be a plus—Johnson’s proud of having donated a kidney to her brother at age 23.
Asked about her dream date, Johnson switched at the last minute from dreamy British actor Idris Elba to “Rams defensive end Chris Long. And we’d go out for karaoke!”
Graduate student and graduate assistant // 27 // Tower Grove South // Seeking Women
Not only is AJ Friedhoff a Top Single, he’s also got bragging rights around the crib for the next calendar year. His roommate, Jason Michael, was a Top Single in 2007. “When I told him I was nominated, he whipped out this old magazine,” Friedhoff says, laughing. “I told him he was old news, that I’d have the honors in this house. That took him down a notch.”
Friedhoff takes a lighthearted approach to dating—and life in general. A fan of the underrated sweater vest–and–bow tie combo, he says workouts consist of “watching any movie that Ryan Reynolds is in.” His deathly fear? “Harry Potter finding and destroying my horcruxes.”
Working and studying at Saint Louis University maintains his youthful mind-set, and he listens to his share of dubstep, but he keeps his work and professional lives separate. Undergrads need not apply. “I’ve steered away from ever dating on campus,” he says. “I even veer away from social activities where I might run into students.”
You will find him out enjoying the cultural amenities of Forest Park, his favorite spot for a date, or at a low-key club where he can read a book, whether for school purposes or pleasure, while tipping back a Stag.
If you see him out December 1, you might buy the former Eagle Scout a brew: The date was once proclaimed AJ Friedhoff Day in Greendale.
Producer, The Bernie Miklasz Show // 25 // Soulard // Seeking Men
“I think St. Louis sports fans are better educated on sports than most fans in other cities; not a lot gets past them,” says Michelle Smallmon, who produces The Bernie Miklasz Show on 101 ESPN radio. “I produce the show, book all the guests, do production work, and babysit Bernie,” she jokes.
Job highlights have included a trip to last year’s Super Bowl, which presented some real challenges. “To be a producer, you have to be very Type A and have your ducks in a row, to have everything set up in advance,” she explains. “But at the Super Bowl, all the hundreds of stations there are going after the same people, and nothing is booked in advance. You can spontaneously interview 10 different people in three hours. Grabbing Hugh Jackman and then trying to corral Mark Sanchez—it was kind of surreal.”
Smallmon thrives on the pace, but she always takes time out for a weekly Sunday family dinner, at which her entire extended Italian-American clan gathers at an uncle and aunt’s house for a raucous, lavish meal. “The food is better than any restaurant,” she avers.
The former sorority girl, who says she’s just about the only woman working at her sports-radio station, has just one caveat for potential dates: “They’d have to like sports, or they couldn’t really date me,” she says.
Dr. Kaveer (Kavi) Chatoorgoon
Pediatric surgery fellow // 34 // Tower Grove // Seeking Women
*Readers' Choice Top Single
When our Readers’ Choice poll was live, there were moments when Dr. Kavi Chatoorgoon was intently moving through SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, “trying to read an X-ray, and people were coming up and wanting to talk to me about this.” Hospital staffers turned out to be key supporters—and it was a coworker’s spouse who initially nominated him.
But to some degree, he says, friends are still surprised “that I’d do something like this at all.” As a surgeon who’s done humanitarian work in South Africa and who hopes to set up a yearly mission trip to rural India, Chatoorgoon has a life-and-death serious side, with a self-described talent for “problem-solving in disaster situations.”
Still, we discerned a sharp wit behind his worst fear (“Republicans, women without a sense of humor, and especially Republican women without a sense of humor”) and his vow never to date someone who likes Brussels sprouts (“I don’t trust people who like eating little green brains”). And now that he’s in with the win, he’s glad that his single status is out there. Lately, he’s been busting out of the house even when he’s on call.
It sounds like he’s ready to get to know the town in new ways. Ladies, get ready for zip-lining—or an elaborate six-course meal, cooked by the doctor himself.
Saxophonist, teacher, and Chamber Project St. Louis artistic director // 35 // Benton Park // Seeking Men
Adrianne Honnold takes plenty of flak for being the odd one out in Chamber Project St. Louis. Many people have trouble imagining a sax in a concerto. “I play jazz as well,” she explains, “but I studied classical saxophone in school, and it was actually invented to be a classical instrument… Sometimes the St. Louis Symphony needs a saxophonist, and they call me. It’s just that once the Americans got their hands on it, the sax became a jazz and pop instrument.”
But don’t think she’s a music snob. “I once blew out a speaker in my car listening to Tchaikovsky,” she says, “but eventually I went a different route and found Björk. Almost everything I listen to now is rock and pop.” She currently teaches college courses on the history of rock ’n’ roll.
Given her many musical pursuits, Honnold has dated a few fellow musicians. “Actually, I haven’t dated very many nonmusicians,” she says. “It’s not a requirement, but it kinda helps if people understand the crazy life that musicians have. You’re teaching and performing and you need time to practice, and it’s a job with unpredictable hours.”
She keeps her life in balance with daily long walks with her dog, and she also golfs (she’s played since age 7) and cooks “a mean chicken piccata.” Her vice? A dirty martini—perfect to share with celeb dream date Daniel Craig.
HOK Architect // 39 // Washington Avenue // Seeking Women
Ask Jason Wandersee about his work, and he speaks passionately about creating better jails and other high-security spaces. “Anybody can build something secure, cheap, and fast,” he says. “We’re trying to take things to another level. I saw an opportunity for social change that could be applied to the built environment in a field that doesn’t typically get a lot of thought.”
He seems to put that level of thought into most things. His Top Singles questionnaire, for instance, included answers from his best friend, his mother, and even an ex, “the one that got away.” The responses were amusing—and illuminating. “It’s an interesting view of looking at who I am,” he says, “without having to talk all about myself.” What really got us, though, was mention of his “reef-tank addiction” (his friend’s wording), as well as the 35-foot archery range (!) in his loft.
Today, Wandersee’s training his sights on the city’s social structure, which he notes has some tight groups. He’s an expert in keeping people out and letting them in, but it’s the latter that he’s all about here. He doesn’t fear cliques—or anything, really. “The few things in my life that have generated fear, I have actively sought out,” he says. “I don’t understand how people live in fear.”
Fixed-income trader // 27 // Soulard // Seeking Men
Ashley Carlisle’s dream date is Ryan Reynolds—but the list of those she’d invite to dinner includes former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton, Ben Franklin, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson. As for the last, says the fixed-income trader, “He was the Treasury secretary during the fall of Lehman Brothers, a very dramatic time for financial markets. He’d be the ultimate person to talk shop with, and I’d have plenty of questions about the dynamics of the financial crisis.”
High drama is something Carlisle’s sought out and challenged herself with for fun, too.
“I’ve bungee-jumped and cliff-dived in Mexico, and they were both absolutely terrifying,” she says. “I’m terrified of heights. But the thing is, I’m an extraordinarily picky eater, too, but if someone says, ‘You have to try this,’ I will. I’m open to trying new and crazy things… I’ve moved seven times, and feeling uncomfortable until you try a new experience is just par for the course.”
The adventurous (but fiscally responsible) Carlisle has also made peace with being the only redhead in the room.
“I like being a redhead; there’s not a lot of us out there,” she says. “You have to own it. And I’m totally pale and fair-skinned. I’ve never had a tan a day in my life, except for the day I got a spray tan, which must not be discussed. I looked like an Oompa-Loompa.”