Edward Helmore meets a private eye with theories
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The Independent Culture
"The male gorilla has the biggest balls in proportion to his body weight of any species," declares Mike Emilianow, a private detective with the International Investigation Bureau of Lindhurst, New Jersey. "The reason that nature chose to make the testicles big and strong was to satisfy the female, who likes to fornicate all the time." Anna, Mike's sloe-eyed research decoy (and a part-time model), looks up from her vodka-pineapple cocktail and nods in agreement. Mike's face brightens, he relaxes back into the booth and comes to the point. "And guess who falls behind the gorilla in testicle-to-body-weight proportions? The human!"

A gorilla may want to challenge his theories on popular zoology, but there's no stopping Mike, now that he is in full flow on his favourite subject: "When the human egg is fertilised male,'' he propounds, ``the ovaries flush it with testosterone: that affects the left side of the brain, the emotional side, which is why he can't use it."

Sitting in a fast-food joint at Pennsylvannia Station in New York, Emilianow, a rugged, 38-year-old former LA County sheriff with a masters degree in "deviant behaviour and polygraph interrogating", has been explaining his business, which involves helping women discover the hidden habits of their intended partners. "I create a scenario to provide certain stimulae of his fantasy, both sexually and emotionally. I put the character in the situation, and watch how he reacts."

Emilianow began working in this area three years ago, because, he says, ``the most interesting line of work is in dealing with human relationships." Before that, he specialised in the diamond trade, uncovering the inside jobs that are rarely recorded outside New York's Hassidic Jewish community.

He came up with the concept of creating a "situation" while working on cases of matrimonial infidelity. "If you don't hit them on the right night, you get no satisfaction, and the client is disgruntled because they get no results." But now, Mike takes on only clients who are not yet married. "I don't want to feel that I'm breaking up families just because a woman's curious to know something."

The business works like this: a woman, or occasionally a man, will hire Mike to investigate her suspicions about her partner's reliability. Very often these suspicions are confirmed when one of Mike's go-go dancing decoys, like Anna with her rings, amulets, and the dull, do-anything-to-me look about her, "casually'' intercepts the man in a bar, with a microphone hidden in her cleavage and a chat-up line that more or less translates as "I want to go out to the car and make whoopee."

"Phase One: she'll graze him and say, `Oh, excuse me,' and get him to talk and open up about his past." Anna nods in recognition; her jewellery jangles, and she draws on the straw of her cocktail. "Phase Two," Mike continues, deploying the power-stare taught to police recruits in LA, "Phase Two: is he seeing someone? If so, does he talk about her with high esteem, negatively or not even mention her? Thirdly, I want her to come on to him and agree to leave with him or meet later." If the target agrees to leave with the decoy, Emilianow rushes in pretending to be her brother, and they leave together, job completed. Anna earns $200 per hour, plus some field experience towards her masters degree in psychology.

Depending on whether the client wants the scenario taped, transmitted to her live or transcribed, the cost of a sting can range from $600 to $1,000. According to Emilianow, there are two types of client: "There's the one who knows in her heart that something in the relationship is wrong, and she wants to end it on a fact, not just a suspicion; or she's ready to get more involved but wants to know how he acts outside of their situation before she throws more emotion into it."

Emilianow is convinced that he is providing a genuine service, and that there is moral justification for this sort of entrapment. And he believes that a man - unless he is a monk or is mature, self-controlled and unusually in touch with his feminine side - will fall for a straight come-on every time. "For research, we tried 90 guys in three different places. We got 83 willing to go out to the car, and the ones that weren't were waiting for someone." According to Mike's figures, the typical man cannot name more than 60 per cent of the women he has slept with.

The same study on women ("I want to go out, lift your skirt and...") produced a score of zero, and the decoy usually got soaked or slapped. On the basis of this research, Mike is negotiating a deal with the William Morris agency which he hopes will net him a six-figure advance for a nationwide survey, publication, and a round of talk-show appearances that will turn him into a national celebrity - a giant Dr Ruth in a trenchcoat.

"I've been in love and in a serious relationship once in my life," he reveals. "That was it. I was 24 and I messed it up." He is, he admits, much like the men in his surveys, and he occasionally dates his decoys. "I accept, respect and deal with these urges. I date, but I'm not going to commit if I can't be faithful."

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Emilianow has a gloomy view of matrimony, one that is apparently borne out by the psychological evaluation he makes of his potential clients. He asks the women to judge the qualities of their men, giving them marks out of ten for such qualities as being loving, affectionate, honest, family-orientated and so on.

"The bottom line", he concludes, "is that most people settle for 56 per cent of what they want in a relationship, because they are blinded by lust, desire, emotion and passion - they don't look at it rationally."

It's nice to think that gorillas, at least, can carry on philandering in peace.

`Cheating Hearts', a documentary on Mike Emilianow, will be screened on BBC2 on 1 March at 9pm