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One may be the loneliest number, but even if that’s the case, these 16 singles are in good company. From a kickboxing nurse to a sign-language interpreter with a thing for Morticia Addams, there’s no shortage of interesting things to say about this year’s crop of eligible St. Louisans. And we didn’t even mention the lawyer who’s held five state weight-lifting records
Senior account executive for a PR firm | 29 | Central West End
“I can just see what you’re going to write about me—people are going to think I’m awful!” This is what Thompson exclaimed after explaining the documentary on the controversy surrounding “whiteness” studies that she filmed in grad school. (It’s a sociology thing, it’s really not as bad as she makes it out to sound and it has nothing to do with bad dancing.) It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that she would get a little skittish about how she comes off on paper—she is, after all, in public relations.
She doesn’t have to worry, though: It’s hard to find a bad thing to say about her.
1.) She has a thing for traveling, but even when she’s overseas, she’s doing good: She spent most of her first trip to Africa volunteering in an orphanage.
2.) She’s best friends with her mom: “I don’t just see her as my mom—I see her as a person.”
3.) She wants to keep doing the documentary thing—even if she isn’t as idealistic as she used to be. “Now I look at more of the entertainment value,” says the freelance segment producer for STL TV 10. “I’m more of a cultural documentary person.” In other words, you can rest easy, Mr. Moore.
We’re into: Her humility, at times yielding unintended irony: “I wish I were better at not talking, or better put—speaking in shorter sentences. I get way too much crap for this, so yes, being more concise.”
John T. Adams
Sign-language interpreter | 37 | Lafayette Square
Oh, sweet temptation. Demand for Adams’ New York–style cheesecakes was once so high that he started a catering business—Adams’ Temptations—selling the “very rich, mildly heart-attack–inducing” desserts. He no longer caters, but he still makes the cakes.
Like his cheesecakes, Adams’ taste in film stars is a little decadent: Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman takes top honors, with Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams of The Addams Family a close second. (It’s not a Goth thing; Adams is just into strong, sensual women.)
Watching Adams go into Top Model mode at our shoot, we marveled at his ability to strike a pose. He’s done it before: In college, he was a nude art model. Signing also makes him very aware of his movements—once possessed of lengthy locks, he was forced to cut them short to avoid tossing his hair.
Originally an actor, Adams switched to signing after interning at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He now interprets for the OVATIONS! Series at Edison Theatre, St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley and the Gateway Men’s Chorus. It’s the best of both worlds, he says: “I get to play all the great characters, without getting criticized.”
We’re into: His essentials for potential dates: “Gotta have a sense of humor, gotta be able to be a bit wacky, gotta be able to hold hands and skip, to be able to ride the grocery cart back to the car.”
Vanessa Y. Chandler
Executive | 41 | Dardenne Prairie
This Daytona Beach, Fla., native is a force of nature: She raised her two kids as a single mother and tackled the rigors of law school while they were still in their teens. After passing the bar, she snared a position with Bryan Cave in D.C., only to be plucked away a few years later to become vice president and general counsel of a St. Louis aerospace firm. The ride didn’t end there.
“My first year here was insane,” she says. “I started with the company, and about a week later we got an offer. My first week as general counsel we got a letter to buy the company.”
How do you respond to that kind of pressure? Play harder. This tiny dynamo of a woman formerly held five Virginia state weight-lifting records and still lifts and boxes in her spare time.
Then there are her indulgences: a car collection that includes a Hummer, a Spyder convertible and a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. A massive shoe collection. And just a lil’ bit o’ body modification: 22 piercings and three tattoos ... the result of a competition of sorts with her daughter.
Potential partners had best be up for a challenge: Indoor rock climbing at Upper Limits might be on the docket.
We’re into: Her secret passion for archaeology: “I get Archaeology magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic—I’m a closet nerd.”
Actress/author | 28 | Chesterfield
When Radloff was growing up, she says, she looked an awful lot like Ugly Betty—and was so shy she didn’t even get bat mitzvahed. “The television became my friend,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of that. Everything seemed so much fun!”
Conquering a trio of learning disabilities, she graduated from the University of Arizona in 2½ years flat with a triple major in theater, media and journalism, and relentlessly tackled internships with The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, The Young and The Restless … and the Cardinals. Highlights of the last venture: dropping a table on Yogi Berra’s foot and spying a can of Popeye Spinach in Mark McGwire’s locker.
Now an actress on Oxygen’s comedy Campus Ladies, Radloff regularly commutes between her native St. Louis and L.A. The author angle? Well, commingling with the other Top Singles will certainly help her research: She’s in the process of writing a book about dating and relationships.
Her personal dating M.O.? “I won’t tolerate someone who’s not a sports fan,” she says. “I can’t tell you the number of guys who don’t give a rat’s ass about sports.” That should play well in St. Louis.
We’re into: Her decisiveness: Though she hasn’t yet found the right guy, she’s nonetheless already chosen her wedding’s caterers: food from Giuseppe’s on South Grand, cake from Sprinkles Cupcakes.
Jordan H. Strauss
Scrap-metal broker | 29 | Downtown Loft District
You know those people who can just glance at something and tell you what it’s worth? That’s Strauss.
“Someone will look at a scrap yard and say, ‘Oh, it’s just a junkyard, it’s all trash,’” he says. “Well, that whole entire pile could be worth $500,000.”
Talking to us while driving home to Chicago for Rosh Hashanah dinner, Strauss explained the entire steel industry, from the scrap yards to the mills, in 15 minutes flat—without boring us one bit.
That’s Strauss’ gift: He’s memorized the layout of every scrap yard he’s seen, knows baseball, football and basketball statistics going back 50 years—and tells you about them with such genuine enthusiasm that you’re interested, too.
Steel’s the family business—Strauss’ father owns a scrap company in Tulsa—but the charismatic younger Strauss got into it with plans to skip the country. Several European firms made him offers. Then 9/11 hit. After visiting Košice, Sarajevo and Belgrade with his current company, Tube City, he was posted to St. Louis.
Currently, he spends half of every month traveling. So get him while he’s here, ladies: “I don’t necessarily go out there and try to pick up a girl,” he says. “I’d rather sit back and have that happen to me.”
We’re into: This charmer’s birthday goal: “I want to learn to swim by the time I’m 30.” As of November, he has only eight months left.
Nonprofit executive | 27 | Tower Grove South
We’re ashamed to admit it, but we put our foot in our mouth almost immediately when we met Etheridge in person. We just felt compelled to blurt out the obvious—namely, that she’s really tall. Sigh. She’s been hearing that one since she hit the 6-foot mark at age 14.
Etheridge has never been exactly ordinary. Born in Japan (her father was in the Air Force), she logged time in five states before settling in St. Louis to finish high school. Entering pageants to pay her college tuition, she drove more than 40,000 miles in one year, often solo—and in one close call, had two tires blow out on the highway at the same time.
After serving as Miss Missouri 2003, Etheridge leapt to the center of St. Louis’ nonprofit world—the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where she’s since become director of special events.
Etheridge’s background would grant most anyone a fierce independence, and watching her work the room at our Top Singles shoot, we quickly realized she operates on a social level well beyond that of mere mortals. How can potential dates keep up?
Well, call her back—that’s a start. Beyond that? “It’s important to be flexible. I’m looking for somebody who can roll with the punches, so to speak.”
We’re into: Her lesson learned in life’s fast lane: “There are things you deal with, and things you just let go.”
Urologic surgeon | 34 | Town & Country
Hawatmeh likes to fish. Once a year, he’ll go up to Canada with his dad, sit in a boat and catch musky. Admittedly, this is not exactly “stop the presses” kind of information (aside from the fact, of course, that it’s led to his fear of being mauled by a bear). What makes it interesting—and damn near anachronistic—is the fact that he seems, by all other accounts, to be anything but the woodsy type.
Half-Italian (his dad’s Jordanian), he’s got a taste for the finer things from his home country—namely clothing. About twice a year, he jets off to Parma, Italy, with a couple of empty suitcases and a plan to completely refresh his wardrobe. “They hold stuff for me throughout the year,” he says. “Plus, it’s a great excuse to go to Italy, eat well and visit family.” (His Stateside family gets a lot of his time as well. In fact, his younger sister, Barbara, is his personal advisor: “I run everything past her,” he says. “She knows me better than anyone.”)
The second-generation doctor confesses to being a bit of a perfectionist, but given his profession—the oh-so-delicate field of urologic surgery—we’ll give him a pass on that one. “I appreciate the artistic side of surgery and every nuance that goes into achieving the perfect operation,” he says. And we probably speak for your patients when we say we appreciate the attention to detail.
We’re into: His taste in women: “Sophia Loren—she just has a really sophisticated elegance.”
Business-development director | 37 | St. Louis Hills
Talk about jet-setting: This St. Louis native has rafted, sky-dived and bungee jumped in New Zealand; gone on not one, but two African safaris; and traveled to six of seven continents—the only one he’s missing now is Antarctica. “I had the opportunity to do it on my own a couple years ago and didn’t,” he says. “I won’t make that mistake again.”
Boschert’s worst journey: a sailing excursion across the Atlantic from New York to Southampton, England. Crossing one time zone per day, the ship’s passengers lost an hour of sleep every night.
Through his work organizing events for Maritz Travel, Boschert has met numerous public figures, including Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, as well as Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Senator Bob Dole, former astronaut John Glenn, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and musician Ray Charles.
So what can a woman do to wow him? “It’s gotta be somebody who’s willing to travel—and by that I don’t mean going to Cancun for four days,” he says. Sincerity is another key quality: As the youngest of seven kids, Boschert was essentially trained from birth to read people.
We’re into: His incongruous fear of exotic foods: “If somebody said you have to eat this raw food or jump out of an airplane again, I’d jump out of the airplane.”
Graduate student | 26 | Benton Park
Anyone who’ll throw herself headlong into the twisted, delicious journey that is the “Tour de Donut”—a bike race where the more donuts you eat, the more minutes you get off your time—is cool in our book. Dubbed a “custard chick” by Good Eats’ Alton Brown (she’s Ted Drewes’ granddaughter), Verseman’s got a serious taste for fun.
Fun—but also the finer things. Imagining life after winning the lottery, most women say they’d take friends and family on an island vacation. Verseman’s got a better idea: “A $3,000 espresso machine. Maybe a wood-burning pizza oven. And a pied à terre in Paris.”
Paris, indeed. Leaving Visitation Academy a year early (she technically never received her diploma), Verseman decamped to USC for her undergrad years. After kickin’ it in California (she and friends once road-tripped up the Pacific Coast Highway in a “hippie bus”), it was off to France—where she did her poli-sci master’s entirely in French.
Verseman, who turns 27 this month, is now working on a Ph.D. in public policy at SLU. This thoughtful “jock at heart” dreams of dating a Dutch Olympic speed-skater; more realistically, a guy’s gotta share her love of German beer and wicked sense of sarcasm.
We’re into: Her willingness to play along: The sensitive student says she’s “a little bit mortified” to be featured in print, but she’s been a very good sport about it all.
Founder, Rock Uniform | 34 | University City
Remember that guy you knew in college who got invited to all of the best parties and had a knack for effortlessly crossing from one wildly diverse group of friends to another? Carter is that guy, grown-up and successful—and sans the puka-shell necklace. “I wouldn’t say that I’m a party guy, but I do get invited to the party,” says the stylist/fashion-industry PR consultant.
He makes the most of his time when he’s there; while you’re doing shots at the bar, he’s spreading the word about his existing clients and putting out the feelers for new ones. And when he’s not doing that, he’s hitting the gym—what kind of an image consultant would he be if he weren’t concerned with his own?
In other words, he doesn’t have a lot of downtime, and what little he has, he spends cruising MySpace and checking his email—both of which qualify as work for the constant networker. “I’m never not working,” he confesses, “but it’s fun work.”
All of which isn’t to say he doesn’t appreciate having a good time. “I value my friends,” he says. “I will go all over town on any given night, as long as I’ve got a good group of friends with me.”
We’re into: His landlord ambitions: “If I won the lottery, I’d buy a building and let all of my friends live in it.”
Founder, Circa Properties, Inc. | 29 | Northhampton
Completely color-blind since birth, Thiemet managed to make it 2½ years at a design firm without anyone noticing—until he confused mint green and gray in a layout. “I was totally busted at that point,” he laughs. The firm let him stay, but by that time, he was already growing disillusioned with the disposable nature of design.
A former elementary-education major with a fondness for typography—and the youngest (by 17 years!) of five kids—Thiemet had planned to be “the one that flew away.” But moving home into a downtown loft in 2000, he “discovered that St. Louis was more than just North County.” Renovating his first house a few years later revealed a knack for rehabbing, and soon Circa Properties was born.
These days, the real-estate broker says he maintains “a love/hate relationship” with Home Depot: “When we’re fighting, I pay monthly support payments to Nordstrom.”
A self-described “workaholic,” à la Flipping Out’s Jeff Lewis, Thiemet says he’s looking to regain a sense of balance, ideally with the help of a confident companion who’s just as passionate about his own interests. A fondness for kittens and a resemblance to The Office cutie John Krasinski wouldn’t hurt, either.
We’re into: His devotion to his mentor, Metropolis St. Louis’ Rehabber’s Club founder Marti Frumhoff, who passed away in May. He’s created a website, martifrumhoffmemorial.org, to raise funds for a Tower Grove memorial garden in her honor.
Erica Van Ross
TV news reporter | 31 | Downtown
Yes, Van Ross is a reporter, and yes, she’s on TV, but can we change the subject now? “I love what I do, but I hate that it becomes my identity,” the self-professed straight-shooter confesses. “People think I’m at home watching C-SPAN.” For that matter, planning any time in front of the tube isn’t easy; she works the graveyard shift (her alarm goes off at 2:15 every morning), and even when she’s not on the clock, she’s kinda still on the clock. “I can never say, ‘I’ll meet you for lunch at noon,’” she says. “It’s very fluid.”
Let’s see: Doesn’t want to talk about her job, works weird hours, can’t go out often—worst friend ever, right? Hardly. She’s the one everyone calls for advice (“I like to play the devil’s advocate”), and tough schedule or not, she’s bound and determined to have a life.
“I have good friends here,” she says. “We go out and do Pepper and Mandarin a lot, but get 10 or 15 people in a house with wine and good food, and I’m happy.”
We’re into: Her taste in dogs: “Non-menacing ones only, but not the annoying, tiny, ‘celebrities carry me around in a Gucci dog carrier,’ Paris Hilton kind.”
Sports reporter | 26 | University City
Like a lot of guys, Michael loved to play just about every game that involved a ball as a kid. Only problem was that his twin brother, Jeff, got the better half of the athlete genes. “I’m 5-11, and he’s 6-3. He was the number-one wideout and the all-star shortstop in high school,” he says. “I kind of got the Danny DeVito–in– Twins syndrome.” He’s probably exaggerating a little for effect, but it is true that the career in pro sports that he’d dreamt about didn’t pan out. Instead, he’s doing the next-best thing: writing about sports.
After a two-year stint at a small paper in Springfield, Mo., the sports nut and movie buff is back in his hometown of St. Louis, writing for the Suburban Journals—and easing his way into the social scene. “I’m getting to that stage where I feel like I’m a little old to be going out until 3 a.m., but I don’t want to go to bed at 10, either.”
That probably won’t be a problem: He just landed a gig doing play-by-play for high school football games that keeps him busy until bar time on Friday nights.
We’re into: His entrepreneurial spirit: “I made rent in college by writing all of my friends’ English papers, pumping them out in no time. Ethical? No. Profitable? Yes.”
Nurse case manager | 32 | South City
Miller could tell you the difference between an orc and an Ewok, and she’s not ashamed to admit it; see, she’s an unabashed admirer of the Lord of the Rings and Stars Wars movie trilogies. “I do like romantic comedies,” she says, “but I like action movies because you get to experience a different reality.” That kind of admission might earn her a Geek Merit Badge in some people’s books, but it makes her way cool in ours: It’s at least third-date info, and she proudly gave it up without any prodding.
Before you think about giving the diminutive healthcare worker a hard time for her cinematic preferences, though, here’s a friendly heads-up: She knows how to hit—hard. About five years ago, in search of “something new,” she decided to try a gym that specialized in kickboxing. And that little hobby took her to a national amateur kickboxing match. “I didn’t win, but it wasn’t a knockout, either,” she says. “But I had a good time.”
After five years, she has put the rough stuff behind her and is focusing her energies on the three things that matter most: family, friends and her Boston terrier, Mila: “She’s true to her breed—that’s why her nickname is Milaspaz.”
We’re into: Her taste in literature: “Does the book Quality Medical Management sound like a page turner? These are the types of books I’ve been taking to bed with me at night ... and sleeping soundly.”
Attorney | 41 | Brentwood Forest
The abbreviated explanation for why Cosgrove became a lawyer is that he didn’t want to sell widgets. After graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in economics, he interviewed for jobs in the private sector and was less than enthusiastic about the prospects. “That just wasn’t going to satisfy my desire to make a difference,” he says.
So he got his law degree and bounced around the Missouri government for 13 years—chief legal counsel for Governor Bob Holden, head of the consumer protection division—which did wonders for his do-gooder side but didn’t exactly pay the bills. “I turned 40 and had no money,” he says with a laugh. “It was a now-or-never time to get into private practice.”
That brought him to St. Louis about two years ago, and he’s still fighting for the little guy—of the four-legged variety. He got interested in animal welfare after visiting a few dog shelters and joined the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation. “I only have so much time to play with a dog in a kennel,” he says, “but if I can help get a bill passed to reduce the number of stranded animals, I might have less visiting to do”—and more time for Rocky, his 5-year-old Schnauzer.
We’re into: His disarmingly honest description of his workout routine: “Buy membership, place membership card in glove box, think about working out.”
Design and construction coordinator | 29 | St. Louis Hills
Don’t ask Johnson where she’ll be in 10 years—she doesn’t know, and she doesn’t want to know. “I don’t like to put the future in a box,” she says. “What’s the fun in getting there if you already have it planned?” Sure, that may sound like just another wishy-washy mantra from some Gen Y slacker who’d just as soon watch Judge Judy and eat Cheetos as get a job working for the Man, but Johnson isn’t exactly on the couch, waiting for life to happen: “I set goals and am a total planner.”
A degree in interior design led her into a career in design and construction coordination (translation: She helps oversee the construction of new stores for a local stuffed-animal manufacturer you may have heard of). It isn’t exactly picking paint colors or finding the perfect rug to pull a room together, but she gets to do that at home (“I’ve finally rotated out all of my college furniture, with the exception of one piece”) and at a local church, where she volunteers and puts her expertise to work. And where, coincidentally, she just happened to meet a lot of her friends. It’s funny how things work out.
We’re into: Her practical approach to fitness: “I think working out is more fun when it’s a group activity, like hiking or bike riding. The gym just seems like a chore.”
By Margaret Bauer and Matthew Halverson