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The Eligibles

They're smart, sexy, passionate, and eligible


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They may be hard to spot, as they cruise through the seas of strollers and SUVs, but there are singles among us. And while they may be looking for love, it’s often their passion for life that defines them. We asked seven sparkling singles—including a pro athlete, a film director, and a winemaker—what makes their hearts race. We bet you’ll soon be saying, “I know just the person for him (or her).”

The Filmmaker
Mabél Valdiviezo,
38, Orinda
Day Job: Film editor, director
Passion: Telling uncommon stories. In her previous job, Mabél, a Peruvian native who immigrated to the United States in 1993, produced Talk Back, a community-based TV show for 18- to 25-year-olds about art and culture in the East Bay. She has spent the last two years creating Soledad Is Gone Forever, a film about a young Chilean photographer who has nightmares after the remains of her missing father are recovered. “I think it’s important for us as filmmakers to raise a voice—a creative voice—and say, ‘This is what we think. I’m coming from this community, and this is what we think about this.’ ”
Why She Loves What She Does: Mabél is excited by the collaborative nature of filmmaking, working with talented people to execute her vision. “We all feel the power and the energy of making the film. It’s truly magic,” she says.
Meeting Mr. Right: “I don’t know if I want to be married. Right now, I’m having a really great creative moment. But, life will decide.”
What She’s Looking For: “When both people are so passionate about each other that nothing else matters. And I’d like to meet someone who’s a really great kisser.”
Relationship Deal Breaker: Someone who puts stock in the usual gender roles. “Latin women, we’re always fighting not to be taken so traditionally. For me, it’s always liberating to see when men are nontraditional and don’t expect traditional things from women. That’s sexy.”

The Winemaker
Karl Wente, 28, Livermore
Day Job: VP of wine growing for Wente Vineyards
Passion: Making great wine. Believe it or not, wine was an acquired taste. Karl worked summers at his family’s 123-year-old winery, but it wasn’t until he studied chemical engineering at Stanford that he became interested in the science of wine. He followed his fascination to UC Davis, where he earned masters degrees in food science and horticulture, and “enhanced my sensory science. That’s when I really fell in love with food and wine.”
On the Road: After grad school, Karl went on a walkabout to Australia. “I bought a tent, a guitar, and a used car, and just lived in the wine country,” he recalls fondly. He spent five months learning from Aussie winemakers, then returned to his native Livermore, determined to take Wente up a notch.
Just Rewards: Karl’s 2002 Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon scored a sensational 90-point rating in Wine Spectator’s 2005 buying guide.
No Time for TV: When he’s not making wine or remodeling his 1880s A-frame house on the Wente estate, Karl plays and coaches basketball, skis Tahoe, and practices yoga—oh, and he plays guitar every day.
What He’s Looking For: “My life has the pace I like, but it’s not very conducive to having a good social and romantic life.” He’s looking for someone who can adapt to his flexible schedule and “who’s happy. And she should ski.”
Ideal Date: “A long multicourse dinner of small bites with different wines, then going to see a great show—a band, the opera, some kind of music—at a good venue.”

The Dancer
Nikolai Kabaniaev, 42, Walnut Creek
Day Job: Co-artistic director of Diablo Ballet.
Passion: Ballet. Nikolai choreographs and creates his own productions. He started attending ballet school in Russia at age 10, but his love for it began even earlier than that. “My mother worked in the theater all her life. For as long as I remember, I was always backstage.” Today, he brings audiences into the fantasy worlds that enchanted him as a child. “To me, the biggest reward is when, after the show, people thank me for just bringing this beauty into their life.”
Current Project: A production to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, debuting in April at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Other Passions: “If I’m not choreographing, I paint or compose music. I always do something artistic, all the time.”
What He’s Looking For: “People who are confident and have a purpose in this life,” he says. Because he’s so active, his partner should probably be in great physical shape. And be passionate. “It doesn’t have to be art. Just for their profession. It’s sad for me when people go to work and they hate it. Persistence and success are sexy things, just as much as a sexy body.”
Why He’s Still Single: Nikolai’s 18-year-old son from a previous marriage just moved to the U.S. to live with him, so he’s enjoying fatherhood. Plus, he says, “When you were in love and you were heartbroken, you take your time. You’re more mature.”

The Jock
Chris Cooper, 28, Dublin
Day Job: Playing defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers. Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2001, Chris signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004.
Passion: Competition. “Playing in the NFL is so challenging,” he says. “It takes so much to be good at it. It’s like a ladder that’s never ending; you just keep climbing.”
Just Rewards: “On Sunday, to see all these people tailgating and having a good time, and they’re coming to see you. It’s a rush to be able to entertain people.”
Other Passions: In Chris’s off time, he loves music and watching movies—and would someday like to get into soundtrack production, matching music to film.
Why He’s Still Single: “Football pretty much takes up all of your time. If you’re not playing football, you’re training and working out.” Also, despite his high-profile career, Chris doesn’t meet many women. “Not nearly as many as people think,” he says. “And when you do meet them, they think, ‘You meet so many girls!’ ”
What He’s Looking For: “I look for personality. Someone who’s cool, sarcastic, and laid-back.” He appreciates women who like to do things on the spur of the moment—a quick trip to Napa or a drive to Santa Cruz to walk around the boardwalk. “My days are already planned out, so I avoid more planning,” he says.
Ideal First Date: “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone and said, ‘Let’s go to dinner.’ For me, it’s more like, you meet someone, you hang out with her, talk to her, and then you say, ‘Let’s go to dinner.’ You have to get to know someone.”

The Arts Aficionado
Jaime Dowell, 27, Pleasanton
Day Job: Owner of the Studio 7 Fine Arts gallery in Pleasanton
Passion: Art. “Since I was young, art has been a part of my life. My mom has been an abstract painter, a ceramicist, and an art teacher, and she always shared this eye for art appreciation. So, now, being able to talk about art all day at work is a dream.”
If Life Could Imitate Art: “I have a painting by Joseph Lorusso called Sunday Afternoon. There is a couple lying together on a couch, and they look so comfortable and peaceful. The colors and their position suggest a most intimate and beautiful relationship. I would love to be in a relationship like that.”
Why She’s Still Single: “I have a big group of friends, and most of them are also single. I think we’re fine with being single, and know that the right person will come along eventually. It doesn’t have to be today.”
Ideal Date: Dancing. “I would love to learn how to salsa. If I could meet a guy who wanted to learn how, that would be neat.”
What She’s Looking For: Religion is important. “I would like to meet a Christian man, to share the intimacy and emotional strength that’s shared through faith.” A tall Christian man would be even better—she’s 5 foot 9. “Then again,” she says, “if he had the right traits but was short, I wouldn’t walk away.”

The Movie Mogul
Joe Pach, 38, Walnut Creek
Day Job: Trader and portfolio manager for San Francisco’s Mellon Capital
Passion: Investing in film productions. He merges his finance background with his artsy side by helping produce movies. His most recent project is a film about the rock ’n’ roll life of New York Dolls bassist Arthur Kane. What’s next? “There are two producers I’m talking to in L.A., and I’m looking to start a consortium of friends and other investors to back films.”
Reformed Rock Star: Joe has played guitar since he was six years old and, until recently, spent most of his spare time rehearsing with Sacramento-based band The Decibels, which toured and released albums in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He recently put the band on the back burner: “It was very difficult to have a steady relationship with that schedule.” Looking forward, Joe says, “I’m all about settling down.”
What He’s Looking For: Someone who shares his creativity.
Ideal Date: “A conversation that goes until the sun comes up, finding the night has gone by in a flash.”
Relationship Deal Breaker: “There was a girl I dated a few years ago, and she was really nice, had a lot of great qualities, but she didn’t know who REM was. And I said, ‘I know I’m kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater here … but you have to know who REM is.’ ”

The Personal Trainer
Kathy Sommese, 36, Walnut Creek
Day Job: Home health nurse manager for Kaiser Permanente
Passion: Fitness. Kathy moonlights as a personal fitness trainer. She got interested in personal training when she was a stay-at-home mom, before her divorce. “It’s very satisfying to see my clients have pride in themselves—see themselves in a positive way,” she says.
Healthy Hobbies: Kathy’s favorite activities—hiking, biking, in-line skating—are all about health. “It helps the way I look, but it’s just as much emotional as physical,” she says. Last fall, she started rock climbing indoors on weekends. Last summer, she even took a turn at dirt biking, which resulted in a notorious crash—something about mixing up the gas and the brake. “Trying new things makes me feel alive. Plus, having two sons—and I grew up with two brothers—if you don’t do it, they’ll call you a chicken.”
What She’s Looking For: An optimist who’s outdoorsy. “If someone likes to sit and watch TV, he’s not going to be compatible with me,” she says.
On Finding a Long-Term Relationship: “I’m not going to just settle. Eventually, I’d like to find someone to have a connection with long-term, but I’m not so focused that I have to find someone today. Still, if I did, that would be great.”
Ideal Date: “A dinner or dessert cruise on the Bay. Chocolate, a man, and the moonlight—what more can you need?” 

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