There’s something about “Claudia,” as she wants to be known here. She’s always meeting men. She’s very pretty, of course, but so are her friends. Yet Claudia’s charm goes deeper than her looks, and appears to inspire the kind of spontaneous exchanges with strangers that leave her girlfriends shaking their well-groomed heads in surprise, and then asking for pointers.

“I just like people,” says Claudia, seated under a large red umbrella at a sidewalk café.

“I think people are interesting and I like meeting them. I’m willing to meet people. I just look people in the eye and smile.”

According to Claudia, 29, it’s this willingness to engage that provokes the otherwise seemingly apathetic L.A. male population to take action.

Take, for example, the sword swallower. Earlier this week Claudia was sitting
in another café and, she says, “a cute boy walked in.” She smiled. He smiled back.
She thought to herself, “I wish that boy would come sit next to me.”
And, he came right over and asked, “Is anyone sitting there?”

They discovered they had friends in common, and soon he was asking her to come to the circus compound in Sonoma where he lives, and learn the flying trapeze.

Yesterday a cop called her at home to offer to replace her car window after she reported that someone had broken it to steal her purse.

The day before that she met a guy while buying makeup at the cosmetic mega­store Sephora. Her eyes met the salesman’s. “One thing led to another,” she says, and the next thing she knew he was giving her a “really good makeover.” Then, when she realized she was going to be late for her friend’s play and her car was parked far away, he told his manager he was leaving, grabbed his keys and drove her to the theater. “He also gave me sunflowers to match my outfit,” she says, picking at a chocolate-chip cookie.

“That was all in the past four days,” she says. “It happens to me every day.”

Why do you think that is?

“In every exchange there is a choice you make,” she shrugs. “To [either] cut it off or keep it going. I tend to keep it going, to see what happens next.”

Just then, as if on cue, the man seated at the table beside Claudia’s interjects.

Excuse me?” he says. “I couldn’t help but listen. Are
you talking about men and women and how they interact?”

Freddie is a blond 32-year-old set decorator from Switzerland who speaks in broken English. Almost immediately, Claudia and he are discussing the dynamics and politics of flirting.

“I think men need to be direct and go up to women when they are interested,” says Claudia, pushing her brown hair behind one ear. “I really like that quality in men.”

“That makes sense,” Freddie agrees. “The female part is the receiving part; the male part is the giving part. Sometimes in society, it gets too much for me, always to initiate. I don’t usually allow for random interaction with people, like this. I’m kinda surprised about how this conversation [is] unfolding. It encourages me. It might change the way I interact with people, now that I think of it.”

Freddie admits that he is flirting now, but he says he usually “doesn’t flirt.” Instead, he “waits for the precise moment to coincide.”

Like, when he met his current girlfriend.

“I saw her in a club,” Freddie explains. “It was 3 o’clock at night. [He means
3 o’clock in the morning.] She was wearing super-tight pants and I saw her ass
first and I was like, ‘Oh my god, she’s what I want.’ But I was
waiting for the moment. And she got out a lollipop and, the lollipop was with
caramel and apples. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this lollipop!’
I told her, ‘That is a really amazing lollipop. I want some of that.’
And, when she gave me the lollipop, it was . . . just on.”

“Were you on Ecstasy?” Claudia asks.

“Yes. I was,” Freddie nods.

Claudia laughs, leans back in her chair and tries to explain the beauty and power of spontaneous exchanges with strangers.

“I think people have rules. They don’t just let things happen. It’s like the encounter groups, where, in early utopian societies, people would get together and create these random interactions, but they weren’t really random. It’s a theatrical concept. Put people together and create situations. It was sometimes an exercise in self-improvement or getting rid of attachment. But those were contrived encounters as opposed to letting things happen in life. I just smile at people and they smile back. It’s nothing new.”

Did you smile at Freddie?

“No. He just overheard [my] conversation. See, it can happen even when you’re not looking.” Claudia laughs. “Maybe it’s magical. Maybe I am magic!”

Do you think?

“A little bit. Yes, I do actually.”

Freddie, do you think Claudia is magic?

“I believe she has some kind of magic going. I do believe if you put out intent for something to happen you attract it.”

So Claudia’s magic is more than just her physical beauty?

“I think there are really beautiful girls who probably don’t have the same effect
on guys. But then you get in the discussion of ‘What is beauty anyway?’
Certainly there is external beauty, but beauty is more than that. It’s your
whole attitude towards life. Are you attracting beauty?
Or are you denying yourself beauty?
Either you choose fear or beauty/love. Are you gonna be
afraid, and limit how much you allow?
How much interaction? Someone that allows or attracts
beauty becomes beautiful.”

“I notice that,” Claudia agrees. “I choose to see beauty in people. When you’re
looking for it, you find it. You become it!”

LA Weekly