Lives: 'You Don't Have to Take the Bait'
The New York Times Magazine, May 21, 2000
India – that’s the name she goes by - works undercover for Check-a-Mate, a New York City company that investigates men and women on behalf of their romantic partners. Here she speaks to Robert Mackey about life as a sexual decoy.
I've done decoy work for about five years now. I started out doing it as a favor for my friends, to see if their boyfriends were worth their time. I would try to talk to them, just socialize. If I could get the guy's phone number, I would tell my friend: ''I don't think he's worth your time. I think he's really a player.'' Then I saw Jerry Palace on TV talking about Check-a-Mate. I said, ''Wow, I can get paid for this!''
How it works is, women who are suspicious of their husbands or boyfriends go to Jerry. He asks them what their story is -- are they married or engaged or dating? What kind of women is the guy attracted to? They might see a photo of me to see if I'm the right type. The wives tell us if there's a regular club he goes to; if she doesn't know, we'll follow him and see where he heads.
I just walk in there, I try to make myself visible, maybe smile, have eye contact, let him know that I'm interested. Physically, I have gone as far as kissing, but I don't think there's a need to go that far. I don't do it the way the other girls do -- I don't go in for the kill. I don't think that's fair, because a lot of these guys are in their 40's or 50's, they've been married for God knows how long and here's a woman who's attractive coming on to them. They're like: ''Man, I never got an opportunity like this. Let's go for it.'' It may just be a one-night thing, and he may really not be a cheater.
I have a recorder hidden in my purse. I put it right on top of the bar, or wherever I am, and we can record both of us talking. We go for different kinds of proof, that depends on the wife. We had one at a restaurant where the wife walked in while her husband and I were hugging and I had my head on his shoulder. She wanted to catch him right in the act. I remember looking in his eyes when he got up. You could tell that he felt bad for me, and I felt bad for him, but I knew it was the right thing to do. It's a very strange thing: you know you're doing the right thing, but it's an uncomfortable feeling.
You can definitely tell which man is just flirting and which man wants to get in your pants. And I can also distinguish between a sleazeball and the guy who took the opportunity because he never thought he'd get one again. Those are the ones I'm a little bit iffy about. I feel bad because I know it was just the moment; they didn't think of what the repercussions would be. But still, what's done is done.
I've had more than 100 cases, and I would say out of 100, about 98 fall for it. The main question that people ask me is, Don't you feel bad that you're ruining marriages? And I always say, Well, I didn't ruin it; he did. I don't think it's a trap. A trap takes you in whether you like it or not. I think I am bait. You don't have to take the bait; you have the freedom to walk away. So do I feel bad that he got caught? And his marriage is ruined? No, I don't. Not at all. I feel bad that this woman had to put her life into this man and then realize he's not at all what she thought he was. That's what I feel bad about. And I'm not knocking men -- this goes for both genders. If this person is misleading you, you should know, and get out, and go pursue your life with someone who can offer you a little bit more.
Do I believe in love? I think it's still out there somewhere -- I don't know, I'd like to think it is. But I'm not looking for it, because people play too many head games nowadays. And most people don't know who they are, so they're constantly being something they're not, trying to be everything you want them to be. And then you see the true colors too many years later, and then you've wasted all those years on someone. I can't do that. It's sad, it really is. If you think you're settling, you're better off alone.