Have you heard of the dating app called Raya? No? That’s because it’s never heard of you. Raya is a private app for B, C and D-list celebrities, models and anyone with an Instagram following. My friend who is the host of a relationship advice podcast suggested I give it a try. Thanks to her referral, I used the app for a few months so I could report back.
Here’s how you can join Raya: someone you know who’s also a Raya user has to refer you. Then you get wait-listed while an “anonymous committee” decides whether you’re attractive or famous enough. (If you make the cut you get to cough up $7.99 a month to join.) After extensive research, which included contacting Raya, I couldn’t figure out who’s in this secretive committee or what the exact criteria were for applicants. For all we know, “Raya” is a dude in his mom’s basement who just really, really wants cool friends, you guys.
ARE YOU CREATIVE? NO? THEN FUCK OFF
Raya describes itself as “an exclusive dating and networking platform for people in creative industries” and prides itself on catering to “creatives.” The word “creative” is used very loosely, in the Kardashian sense, if you will. If you’re Paris Hilton’s brother, are you “a creative?” If someone puts a bunch of crappy products in front of you, and you pick which one will have your name on it, is that creative? And who’s to say a doctor or social worker is not creative? Don’t shit on social workers, Raya. They’re doing important work.
These “creatives” roughly translate to bloggers, vloggers, DJs and children of celebrities, sprinkled with a few random ridiculously good-looking people with, I guess, creative faces. You won’t find someone like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber on Raya, but you will find Ruby Rose, Raven-Symoné and Skrillex. However, for every Skrillex there’s also 10 randoms who make you wonder, “How the fuck did that person get in here?!” A good example of this is someone like me. I’m not a model or celebrity, nor do I have a large Instagram following. Sure, there are some famous people on the thing, but the majority are people who work in the entertainment industry and wouldn’t mind being famous (ahem, like me.)
IT’S LIKE FIGHT CLUB
None of the people I personally know who are on the app ever talks about it, and that’s just what Raya wants. One of its rules includes refraining from taking screenshots of someone’s profile. Doing so can result in you getting booted off the app.
Most of the Raya members I interviewed for this article were reluctant to discuss the app and didn’t want me using their real names. Raya’s creators did not respond to requests for comments, and neither did representatives for any of the public figures mentioned in this story. So, yeah, welcome to the Tinder Fight Club.
Raya profiles have music selections that serve as soundtracks to curated Instagram photos, which turn the profiles into a slideshow of hotness. If you’re not an actual celebrity, it’s possible your pretty face or washboard abs probably won over that “anonymous committee” and granted you membership. Personally, as someone who’s not a model, I found this intimidating. I noticed I was tapping the “X” button because guys were TOO pretty. Also, according to my calculations, 70 percent of the guys on the app were allergic to shirts.
The app has a fair share of hipsters. I’m talking goth make-up, piercings in body parts I didn’t know existed and questionable facial hair. I was curious to see what the women on the app looked like, to size up my competition (because I’m judge-y like that). Raya does get some credit for making it easy to switch my preferences from male to female. Indeed, most women were gorgeous. Like the men, the female demographic consisted of models and actors sprinkled with some septum-ring, neon-haired hipsters.
ONCE YOU’RE MATCHED, EXPECT CRICKETS
The Raya user base is small, and after a month on the app I only matched with seven guys. One initiated a conversation. I gave the other dudes a month before I made a move. After I initiated only one got back to me. A guy I know who’s on Raya told me, “I have matched with some people and had some conversations, but I haven’t met up with anyone because who has time to do anything?”
I finally exchanged numbers with my one true match and graduated our convo to texting, because why waste my cell phone data? I scheduled a date. I thought he was a normie because I had never heard of him before, but thanks to Detective Google I figured out he was actually a celebrity chef. Five hours before the date he texted me to say he wasn’t feeling well and asked if we could do it sometime later that week, which I knew meant never. Even the Tinder illuminati stands people up.
SO, SHOULD YOU?
I was never able to verify what “R-A-Y-A” stood for so I decided it’s probably: Really Affluent Young Assholes. It’s basically Tinder for semi-famous people, friends of semi-famous people and people who think they’re semi-famous. Before joining Raya I understood the allure. I was the unpopular kid in high school, and even today as an adult I feel like the uncoolest person in the room. For example, I’m still not verified on Twitter even though the editor of this article is, because he’s way cooler than me. (Editor’s note: The editor of this article owns nine Jimmy Buffett albums. He is not cooler than anyone.) So when I found out Raya accepted me, I couldn’t resist feeling a little giddy. But like other exclusive clubs, once you’re in, the sexiness fades. You finally get a seat at the cool kids table, only to realize it’s no different from any other table, and you get to pay $7.99 a month to sit there.
Eden Dranger is a standup comedian in Los Angeles.