Don't call us. We'll call you.

As a publishing venture, Harlequin Enterprises has almost everything going for it that a business could hope for. Except, perhaps, one. It cranks out more romance novels than any of its competitors. Last year, it sold 131 million copies in 94 countries. In the US alone, an estimated one-third of women have read at least one of its titles. What's more, these readers fit one of the most desirable demographics; most are in their peak spending years. So, where could Harlequin possibly be lacking? Well, in attracting "real men" to pose for its covers. Thus, in Toronto, its base, a casting call went out for "iconic ... sensitive, beautiful, and fit" males to audition as models. Said company representatives, "We want exactly what you think [of] ... when you're imagining that ideal man." Some of the heroes in Harlequin's stories are captains of industry – in other words, hard-charging, high-earning types. In contrast, "A lot of the models were too young – in their 20s. Our audience likes men a little older, a bit bigger than the runway models." Anyway, last Saturday, roughly 200 hopefuls showed up to audition as a panel of judges watched via closed-circuit TV from an adjacent room. Several were invited to return for an opportunity to complement the heroines and earn up to $215 an hour.

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