Matchmaker, Matchmaker . . . Edited by Kathy Khoury

Singleness is at an all-time high since the beginning of the century. Experts report that a whopping 41 percent of the people in Phoenix over the age of 21 are lovelorn. So how do the 800,000 unattached people in Maricopa County find each other?

Meet Roseann Higgins. With a king-sized Rolodex jam-packed with business cards and a schedule as tight as any corporate president, the owner of S.P.I.E.S. (Single Professional Introductions for the Especially Selective) has made it her business to make introductions. And while she welcomes word-of-mouth referrals, Higgins is also brazen enough to approach anyone, anywhere – handing out her business card with that perennial question: “Are you single?”

At a Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce mixer, the 6-foot blonde carrying a fedora hat – a S.P.I.E.S. trademark – pushes her way through the crowd. Eyeing her S.P.I.E.S. name tag, a 30-something man with dark curly hair, horn-rimmed glasses and an olive-colored designer suit approaches.

“What’s S.P.I.E.S.?” he asks.

After explaining the acronym, Higgins asks, “Are you available?”

For $2,000, Higgins will spend however long it takes (sometimes years) prowling around conventions, restaurants, health spas, professional association meetings and church groups to find one of her many “friends” that dream girl or guy.

Working the crowd, she approaches a petite woman in her early 30s who works in Scottsdale as a personal banker. “Someone told me there was a gorgeous woman at a Scottsdale bank I should meet,” Higgins flatters the woman with a fringe of dark eyelashes. The woman listens raptly as Higgins explains she has about 100 paying clients at any give time and more than 2,000 contacts from which she searches for matches. “Would you be interested in meeting some of my male clients?” Higgins asks.

The possibility of romance is an irresistible icebreaker for this crowd, as it is wherever Higgins goes. “It just pays to know me,” Higgins says, “whether you want to be one of my clients or be eligible to date one of my clients.”

The “romance headhunter” (a title she is federally trademarking) will become an even more familiar face in the months ahead. Higgins, whose mother died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, has just been named the Leukemia Society’s Woman of the Year. Her face will be appearing on billboards around the Valley.

So tell me, are you available?

For more information, call 602-241-1800 or email roseann@especiallyselective.com.

–Lori K. Baker