a match made in heaven

Standing in a night club, feeling like a prat? Fabienne the fairy can put an end to that. Ben Osbourne on magical new ways to pull
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strip away the state-of the-art lighting, the strawberry flavoured smoke machines, the lavish decor and the two kilowatts of sound system, and night clubbing has always been little more than an elaborate mating ritual. But as you would expect in a country famous for its reserve, the sexual content of British clubbing has remained very much in the background. Until now.

Increasingly provocative flyers have become a familiar feature of the clubbing scene, and now one club has take this a step further. At London's Heaven night club, finding someone to go home with is no longer a potential thrill that may happen at the end of the night, it is virtually guaranteed, thanks to the intervention of Fabienne, the matchmaking fairy.

Fabienne is slight and wears her hair in ringlets, piled up like a Rastafarian beehive. She has a soft, seductive Scottish accent, a vixen's twinkle in her eye and grins mischievously as she talks. Her role in life is to bring people together, a raunchier night club version of Cilla Black, and her method is direct: "I greet people at the door with kisses and find out if they're single or a bit shy, and say that if they see someone they like to come and find me.

"If there's someone they fancy I cast spells for them. Once a boy wanted to go home with a woman [not easy in a predominantly gay club] so I cast a spell for him. He ended up going home with two women," she says, turning on an ever-so-innocent smile.

"I go round the club to check if people have seen someone they really like - especially if someone is on their own. I approach people and introduce myself, find out who they like and find out about each of them; then I introduce them. I get them talking - often people are so shy and embarrassed - then I leave them to it. Half an hour later I see them kissing - it's the greatest job satisfaction knowing you've helped someone get a shag."

But her role is not confined to fixing steamy sex sessions. "It's so friendly. People make a lot of friends through me. It's not a meat market so much as a part of an overall kitsch, ridiculous night. People love it because it's so flamboyant."

Fabienne may be a fairy but she is also a bit of babe, so doesn't she attract a fair amount of attention from lustful boys and girls? "A lot of people want to be matchmade with me but I'm afraid I'm not on the menu. There were once three people, two straight guys and a bisexual girl, trying to make me go home for a foursome, so I had to hide," which is not easy when you have large, white wings. While fairies may be experts at the art of love, there are limits to the magic they can work: "A guy who I did a spell for the week before wanted know where he could get some drugs - but fairies don't do drugs. I only ever cast good spells."

So what kind of people use her services? "It's a really friendly crowd, not serious or cool but quite ridiculous. A good mix of people from different countries, dressed in different ways."

Charlotte is a 23-year-old dancer who went to the club to keep her cousin company. "The first night I met Fabienne we had the same shoes on and we got talking. She was asking me about the sort of guys I like. I'd been matchmade loads of times by friends, but not by someone who does it for a living. If anything it probably felt more relaxed because I didn't known Fabienne, I didn't know the guy and they didn't know each other. It makes it more of a laugh, like it is when you're flirting but a lot more fun. My cousin is gay and she set him up with this guy." That left Charlotte on her own, but not for long. "Fabienne said someone wanted to meet me. I thought she was joking until she actually did it. She went off and got this guy and made me sit down at a table and have a chat. He seemed really nice - not my type, but nice. I felt really relaxed because she stayed and chatted with us. She said: `This is Charlotte who likes this and that' - then she left us to it."

Gabriel Ibrahim is a 24-year-old student and is gay. He has been matchmade by Fabienne five times and says her services are a necessary antidote to English inhibitions: "In England you need it because people are very cold and they don't relax. It makes the club so much better. They should do it everywhere.

"Sometimes it's hilarious. I've said `I like him' and I've hidden while she's gone to talk to him. Then she's come back saying `yeah, he likes you' and he hasn't actually seen me."

Despite this Gabriel says her technique works because she only matches people who are likely to get on, even if they haven't seen each other. "She makes sure you're compatible - that's why she talks to you first. If it's the kind of person you're looking for she'll bring them over. If they're not she'll come back to me and say `he's nice but ...'

"Then she talks with you and tells you to give each other a kiss, so you do, and then she leaves you alone for a while and after 20 minutes she comes back to see if you're getting on. It always works, apart from with one guy - he didn't speak English." Fabienne insists her matchmaking powers work because she's a genuine fairy. But surely real fairies don't work in night clubs? She looks despairing of my ignorance of fairy culture: "The days when fairies could live in a grotto at the end of the garden have long gone - even I've got to pay the rent these days."