Prisoners of love - Web site offers captive dates
BANGKOK Feb 12 (Reuters Life!) - Still searching for a Valentine's date? Have a penchant for muscular torsos, crew cuts and tattoos?
Then www.hotprisonpals.com is the Web site for you.
These guys won't appear on your doorstep with a rose between their teeth, whisk you off for a fancy dinner or lavish you with kisses.
But some of America's most desirable felons are lining up to send you love letters, poems and even proposals of marriage.
Look at it as an investment for the future. Many of the prisoners, like Keith Virgil Dunaway, posing topless in blue jeans, are due for release this year.
If Randy Sands in Florida takes your fancy, you'll have to wait a little longer for that first embrace. Due for release in 2023, he's looking for an easy going, open-minded woman over 30.
The idea for www.hotprisonpals.com came from New York pop artist Sam Wagner, who began writing to a friend in jail several years ago. The prisoner then asked Wagner to write to his cellmate who had stopped receiving letters from his family.
Requests for letters from lonely prisoners kept coming, until Wagner was sending a monthly letter to more than 100 inmates.
With no access to the Internet, letters are often the only contact U.S. prisoners have with the outside world.
"Prisoners have real abandonment issues. Friends and family often stop writing after a couple of years," said Wagner's business partner, Jason Rupp, who built the Web site in 2003.
"The letters they get through the site are crucial to their well being. They need to know someone on the outside cares."
MURDERERS AND RAPISTS
Inmates, both heterosexual and gay, pay $19 to post their photograph and a short note on the site. Women inmates are also invited to join hotprisonpals, but none has applied so far.
"We don't require that prisoners say what crime they committed," said Rupp, a 30-year-old photographer who runs the site from his home in the Thai capital, Bangkok.
"We take everybody. If they are murderers or rapists they are not going to put that in the ad."
"HOT" is the one-word message posted by Tommy DeWayne Cox, posing in tight swimming shorts and one of the site's most popular inmates.
"Sometimes the messages get a little racy and we like that," said Rupp. "We pride ourselves on having the hottest prisoners on the Internet."
Pen pal friendships often lead to prison visits and serious long-term relationships.
The prison marriage of Erik Menendez -- convicted with his brother Lyle of the 1989 murder of his wealthy parents in Beverly Hills -- has helped generate interest in prisoner dating.
Menendez married a woman with whom he had corresponded for years from jail. A book by his wife Tammi, "They Said We'd Never Make It," heavily romanticizes the unconsummated relationship.
"It's a thrill for women. These are good looking guys and they can seem really exotic from the outside," said Rupp. "It's a fantasy. You don't see any of their flaws."
If you're still interested, Adrian, Jarvis, Jason and LaRon are waiting for your letters.
"We have scoured the prison floors and checked each bunk bed, both top and bottom, looking for the men that you have dreamed about," the site says. "Don't have a Valentine yet? Well you do now! Happy Valentine's day!!!"
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