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Alex is 27 years old. He lives in or has access to a home with an enormous kitchen and granite countertops. I have seen his face dozens of times, always with the same expression—stoic, content, smirking.
Absolutely identical to that of the Mona Lisa, plus horn-rimmed glasses. Most days, his Tinder profile has six or seven photos, and in every single one, he reclines against the same immaculate kitchen counter with one leg crossed lightly over the other.
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His pose is identical; the angle of the photo is identical; the coif of his hair is identical. Only his outfits change: blue suit, black suit, red flannel. Rose blazer, navy V-neck, double-breasted parka. Face and body frozen, he swaps clothes like a paper doll.
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He is Alex, he is 27, he is in his kitchen, he is in a nice shirt. But I still find Alex on Tinder at least once a month. I am not the only one.
When I asked on Twitter whether others had seen him, dozens said yes. But men like Alex are not bots.
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Like the internet, they are confounding and scary and a little bit romantic. Like mayors and famous bodega cats, they are both hyper-local and larger than life. Moore hosts a monthly interactive stage show called Tinder Liveduring which an audience helps her find dates by voting on who she swipes right on. They all recognized the countertops and, of course, the pose.
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Alex, in a way, proved the concept. Moore matched with him, but when she tried to ask him about his kitchen, he gave only terse responses, so the show had to move on. When I finally spoke with Alex Hammerli27, it was not on Tinder. It was through Facebook Messenger, after a member of a Facebook group run by The Ringer sent me a screenshot of Hammerli bragging that his Tinder profile was going to end up on a billboard in Times Square.
Read: The five years that changed dating. InHammerli told me, he saw a man on Tumblr posing in a penthouse that overlooked Central Park—over and over, the same pose, changing only his clothes. He posted them on Tinder for the first time in earlymostly because those were the photos he had of himself. They have worked for him, he said. Though his Tinder bio says that he lives in New York, his apartment is actually in Jersey City—which explains the kitchen—and his neighbor is the photographer behind every shot.
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I had heard from women on Twitter, and from one of my offline friends, that Alex was rude in their DMs after they matched on Tinder. I own that. Hammerli works in digital marketing, though he would not say with what company. So I matched with him out of curiosity once and he was real! Read: The rise of dating-app fatigue.
There is something alarming about these persistent men: We live in a culture where persistence is often a euphemism for more dangerous types of male behavior. But there is also something fantastic about them: While the easiest mental response to dating apps is to conclude that everyone is the same, men like Tights Guy and Craig take up space in local cultures, and remind bored daters that people are specific and surprising.
The thrill of a Tinder celebrity is the moment of surprise and recognition among people who are accustomed to drudgery. Finding that hundreds of other women had the same fascination with Granite-Counter Guy provided me with a brief reprieve from the bleak, regular chore of looking for someone to date.
But talking to the man himself was not the same fun because, in that conversation, I was alone again. It was time to work on a new gimmick.
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