Matchmaker Tries High-Speed Connections 

"I don't really understand no-pet people," he confesses.

But love cats or hate 'em, he'll help you find someone you like who likes you, fast. Speed dating is like musical chairs, where singles meet and talk for three minutes apiece before moving on to the next candidate. At the end of the night, each person lists the people she or he would like to see again; those with a match — when the interest is mutual — exchange e-mail addresses to talk further and can look at each other's personal profiles on Bowman's Web site. On average, Bowman says, 84 percent of participants get at least one match per night.

Speed dating has become a trend, no longer a novelty, in the dating scene. But Bowman is trying a few new things with his business, the first statewide service of its kind in Virginia.

The big one, he says, is to host the first gay/lesbian speed-dating event in Richmond. The population's there, he says, and he's collecting names one by one as more people sign up on his Web site, www.virginiaspeeddating.com. It's a little tougher than setting up the events for straight people, he says, because you need all men or all women, obviously.

Bowman, formerly a software engineer, uses demographic analysis to decide when the time is ripe to hold an event in Richmond, Hampton Roads or (soon) Northern Virginia. Color-coded progress bars on his site grow weekly to show how many men and women have expressed interest in a certain event; when the bars are full-length, the night is on.

Logistics are difficult sometimes, between acting as host, location scout and Web yenta. Still, Bowman says gleefully, "This is much more fun than corporate information technology."

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