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In Los Angeles, film and TV writers on strike watch each other, not just out of solidarity.
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run throughGina Chelles
insidethird roundIn this column, Gina Cherelus explores the joys and horrors of sex, dating and relationships.
LOS ANGELES — "I'm not here for love necessarily — I'm here for a strike dad," said Brett Maier, with a blue thread tied around his wrist.
Mr Meyer, a 35-year-old television writer, recently arrived at the picket line outside Universal Studios, where dozens of writers had gathered for the ninth day of a writers' strike that has brought Hollywood productions to a standstill. . But although the Writers Guild of Americakeep the laser sharpAlthough they get better compensation and protection from the studio, the members are only human: After going around in circles with the same group for a few hours, a bond has definitely formed.
"It would be great if things happen and the strike is over," Meyer said of his would-be strike father. "But if someone could come here with me for four hours every day and talk and then go home, I'd be happy."
Around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, a large crowd, mostly members of the Writers Guild of America, gathered for a singles event at Roadside Taco, a studio city taco joint just steps from the Universal picket line.
In the restaurant, the line to order food was out the door, making it difficult to move. At least 200 people attended the event - cheekily titled "Start a Romance" - for about an hour late at night.
"It's like traffic," said filmmaker Diego Ramirez. "The denser it is, the harder it is to move."
Anabel Iñigo, 28, was waiting to grab a table outside when she had what she called a "very flirtatious" conversation with a man, who she says eventually provided his own contact details.
"I accidentally texted me from his phone and ended up misspelling my name because I was so tired from walking for four hours," she said. "My last name is I-N-I-G-O and I added a D. I don't know why I did that."
Michael Robin said while trying to "save the business from itself" earlier in the day, someone on the picket line caught his eye and he wanted to see her in the restaurant.
"I was standing in the crosswalk," Mr. Robin recalled. "She wore an orange vest and a WGA captain's baseball cap. She saved my life from oncoming traffic. Sparks flew."
"She said she'd be here so we'll see," he continued. "I asked her if she knew about singles, and she said, 'Oh, yes, I'm asking for this service.'"
Protesters filled the sidewalks outside the gates of Universal Studios in the hours before opening, marching in circles, chanting slogans and waving signs. At a table on the other side of the picket line, organizers hand out yarn in different colors: blue, you're interested in men; pink, women; purple, you are fluent. Many stopped at tables to grab one to strap around their wrists, elated at the news that the bar was open.
One person can be heard sharing a hopeful thought, "Maybe I'll meet someone."
"Let's see," someone replied.
When asked about their dating lives before the shutdown, several writers described being too busy, working long hours in a writer's room or on set to have time for a relationship. A silver lining of the strike: they now have more time for platonic and romantic connections.
Varta Torossian, a television writer from Bulgaria, says she prefers to date someone in the industry who understands her lifestyle but finds it difficult to find the time.
"I seriously think WGA should have its own OkCupid — OkWriters or something," she said.
She added: "We try not to be squeezed out of our lives and savings, but to have a personal life and to have a sustainable life and time to ourselves."
Earlier Wednesday, Ashunda Norris, a 43-year-old filmmaker, took a break at Paramount Studios after the parade. She said she had been single for years and recently tried Her, a lesbian dating app, but mostly stopped dating, calling the process "overwhelming."
"If I was in pre-production or production, the dating wouldn't happen," she said. "When I'm on set for eight hours, 10 hours, sometimes 12 hours, I don't have the energy to go on dates."
Outside the Paramount gates, dozens of pickets waved signs, while others carried open pizza boxes for members to eat a slice to refuel. The meeting was also the first official gathering of black writers hosted by the society on the picket lineCouncil of Black Writers(A friend on the picket line admits she scoured the area for eligible black men. She knew some mixers, but passed, and she preferred her opportunities outside the gates of Paramount.)
Back at Roadside Taco, the outdoor seating area was packed and there was a long line waiting for a drink at the curved open bar. Picket boards hang upside down on every corner so people can keep their hands free for margaritas and tacos.
The mixer is the brainchild of Jaydi Samuels Kuba and Lauren Rosenberg, two industry experts who have developed amatchmaking businessTogether; "Lopez vs. Lopez" showrunner Debby Wolfe; Marcos Luevanos, one of the show's writers; and author Deanna Shoemaker.
Ms Wolf said she kept hearing that people were interested in meeting other singles on the picket line, and was inspired to host a mix inspired by the latest strike: "We've heard the legends, the writers. The last strike was in 2007."
Hunter Covington and Stacey Traub, whofound during the last strikeAt the single themed picket organized by Mr. Covington in 2007, Wednesdays are online. They recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary.
"Everyone here has a lot of time — they only have time," Ms. Traub said. "You only have to peck four hours a day, the rest of the time is free."
TV writer Nye Littlejohn stands on the side of the road keeping an eye out for a cute boy she met at Paramount while meeting with black writers.
"I met a really nice guy there, but he's not here, so he's not single," she said.
Actor and writer Mushad Moore sat alone in the back patio of the restaurant, away from the crowd. After spending most of the afternoon on the picket line, he just wanted to rest.
"I'm exhausted," he said. "Now the mix has to come to me."
Max Larsen and Phillip Walker are really starting to spark. Mr. Walker was on strike outside Universal Studios when he heard someone yell at him, "Oh hello blue," referring to the blue yarn on his wrist.
"I looked and there was a really nice man and that was Max," Mr Walker said. "That was a few hours ago!"
The two later met on the sidewalk after exchanging glances across the bar, eventually meeting at a table and starting to talk about how they came from Chicago. At one point, they even exchanged a kiss.
Mr. Meyer waited outside for a cocktail on the side of the road, but there was still no sign of a beating father: "I've been in line for an hour, so I haven't found him yet," he said.
Ms. Samuels Kuba, one of the organizers of the mixer, said the evening's event far exceeded her expectations. "I think people know we're going to focus on pickets, and then I'll get to the guy by a taco later," she said.
Romance attempts aren't limited to picket lines: During its short existence, the Twitter account @WGAStrikeBaes has pledged to help bridge missed connections on picket lines. The page was later taken down after being outraged for sharing opinions that contained gender speculation and racial stereotypes, such as "feisty Latino" and "Nubian goddess." The creator of the account declined a request for an interview.
Some strikers also took to the internet to criticize others for expressing an interest in dating the picket line, fearing it would obscure the strike. But others argue that events such as singles events and black writers' meetings will help maintain WGA membership during the expected protracted strike.
The strikers were at full strength on Thursday, the second day at The Mixer, at Disney Studios. Some circled all over campus, while others sang karaoke and sang songs like "Survivor" and "Hey Ya!" from Destiny Child. Via OutKast.
Michael Rodriguez, 28, reflected on his time in the singles mixing room while standing on the picket line at Disney the night before. "It was packed," he said. "The location wasn't right for us. A lot of writers are interested in finding love. I think that's what it means."
Actress Shakinah Starks said she wasn't looking for anyone, but found what she called a "half".
"Someone accidentally knocked me out with a plate," she said. The man apologized, but a friend of hers saw an opportunity. "My friend said, 'Now you owe her a drink,'" Mrs Starks said. "I was like, 'I don't want to put pressure on him because he's not getting paid either.'"
Writer-producer Tash Gray, who led the planning for Black Writers' Gathering the day before, said on the Disney picket line that she had received several messages from people expressing their gratitude, and others asking her for a Black singles- compile a remixer.
"I've had two such requests, one from a man," she said. "So I was like, 'You know what? I'd love to do this.'"
Matthew Rasmussen admitted that he sometimes checks Grindr on the picket line to see who's around. He and a CBS picket hit it off and they spent most of the afternoon getting to know each other. When Rasmussen asked him out in front of colleagues, he hesitated and they eventually broke up at the end of the day.
After not being able to find him on Grindr and social media, he almost gave up looking, but the man quickly messaged him.
"It was actually a mirror image of what I felt," Rasmussen said in a telephone interview on Saturday. "He said, 'Man, I'd love to ask you out, but I don't want to do it in front of my colleagues.'" They met at a bar for the weekend and hit it off.
"I think maybe we'll see each other," Mr. Rasmussen said.
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Gina Cherelus is a reporter on the Times Styles desk covering a range of topics including culture and trends. @jeanuh_
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