Life & Culture

Finding lipstick love the modern way


If you’re a gay Jewish woman trying to navigate the choppy waters of modern romance, you might need a dating site. Or a matchmaking service. Or both. Which might bring you to Pink Lobster Dating — “For Women Who Like Women”.

Describing itself as “the only online dating network in the UK designed specifically for lipstick lesbians/femmes”, it is also the only one run by two Jewish women, Juliette Prais and Emma Ziff. The pair draw the distinction between “butch” lesbians, who are, they say, “more aggressive and full-on”, and the more feminine variety (“femme”). They do not formally operate a Jews-only service but have found that increasing numbers of their customers are Jewish.

“For me,” reasons Prais, 37, “being Jewish isn’t necessarily who I am. I don’t believe you need to meet another Jew if you’re Jewish. I was just looking for a sex therapist and I happened to meet and fall in love with her.”

Emma, 42, was that sex therapist: Juliette invited her to write a column back in February 2013 and they subsequently began dating.

The women have quite different backgrounds, in terms of religion (Prais’s upbringing was liberal, Ziff’s conservative) and sexuality. Ziff was born into a wealthy Jewish family — her late father was a director of Barratts shoes, while her mother ran a nanny agency. Until the age of 40, she had only ever been in relationships with men, and was married for 18 months. How did her mum react to her becoming involved with Prais?

“She wasn’t that surprised,” she replies. “No, she didn’t faint. There was no invoking of God and the Bible.”

Prais — for whom Ziff also represents a first, as she is her first Jewish girlfriend -— was born in Israel and moved to Scotland with her family when she was five, coming out in the last year of her teens. She used to teach history in Tewkesbury before her career change. So, what do her parents think of what she’s doing now? “They love it,” she says.

“They support me 100 per cent. My mum goes to Pride [an annual gay festival and parade] and does all the flyer-ing.”
They run Pink Lobster jointly, alongside a team of therapists, stylists, consultants and writers. Prais says that Ziff has broadened out the site’s approach to include women who don’t necessarily consider themselves gay or straight, but are simply open-minded.

“The LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender] world is quite complex,” muses Prais. “When I set up the company, it was just lesbians and bisexuals. Then it expanded and now there are 64 categories of sexuality: asexual, pansexual, ‘greysexual’ [people ‘who only experience sexual attraction very rarely’ according to the online Urban Dictionary]… Emma recently added ‘I Just Like Women’ and over 50 per cent of visitors to the site have chosen to select that. They’re not lesbian, they just like women.”

How about Jewsexuals: people only attracted to others of the same persuasion? Prais indulges the JC with a laugh but there is a serious point here about Pink Lobster Dating’s increasing accommodation of Jewish women specifically looking for a female Jewish partner.

They do this via the site’s latest addition: a Personal Elite Matchmaking function and Ziff notes that this is largely being used by Jews. It’s a high-end service: for anything between £2,000 and £10,000, women, often CEOs of companies too distracted by the demands of work and international travel to find love, are afforded bespoke personal treatment including makeovers, photo shoots, fitness sessions, confidence coaches: the works.

“We turn their life around,” declares Ziff, proudly. “We want to spend time finding them partners.

“It’s funny,” she adds, “because the women using the matchmaking service don’t know we’re Jewish but when they find out they’re like, ‘OMG!’ Jewish women are more accepting of the idea of going to a matchmaker. It’s better than trawling a bar, which is horrendous. And they want to find someone of quality, with a similar background. We can help you narrow it down.”

It’s interesting that gay Jewish women ­— a sub-sect of a minority sub-sect, far from what might be deemed “conventional” — would be sufficiently concerned about fitting in that they would seek out someone of the same faith.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s about convention,” argues Prais. “If I wasn’t with Emma, I’d probably be looking for someone Jewish because of the cultural rather than religious connection. It’s a very different upbringing, being brought up in the Jewish way. ”

She and Prais have already had success stories, couples (Jewish, noch) who have set up home together as a result of their meeting on Pink Lobster Dating. They talk excitedly about their regular events, which range from the normal — speed-dating, for example — to the rather more esoteric, including a paranormal lesbian ghost hunt.

“It was really fun,” recalls Prais of their Halloween happening. “The reason we decided to do this is because Emma had a theory that, if you have a date and you’re scared or laugh a lot, your endorphins are heightened and you have a stronger connection to somebody.”

But do they believe it’s still difficult for young Jewish women to come out these days?

“Definitely”, says Ziff, who has heard of instances where families disown their gay daughters.

“The most important thing is to be yourself and live your life and no one else’s,” she adds. “I meet people who have waited 20 to 30 years to come out and they get there and think, ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier? What a waste of time!’
“The worst thing in the world is to go down the route of ‘coulda-shoulda’. Young people need to realise it’s okay to be gay. There are support groups. Make those friends, go on a site like ours, and meet people for friendships.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are going to be there for you. You’ve got to make the right decision for you, not your family.”

To book tickets for upcoming events around the country or enquire about private matchmaking, see

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive