A new pro-Trump dating app backed by right-wing tech billionaire Peter Thiel has not even launched yet, but it’s already facing lots of rejection.
The Right Stuff, scheduled to debut this month, was co-founded by former Trump body man and aspiring matchmaker Johnny McEntee, who recruited the sister of former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to help launch the app.
Kayleigh’s sister, Ryann McEnany, is particularly suited for the job. She has 146,000 Instagram followers—mostly young conservatives—and has been assigned a particularly tough task: convincing attractive, conservative women to sign up.
Her basic pitch, according to Instagram messages reviewed by The Daily Beast, is a mix of flattery and exclusivity: “Hi, I’m working with John McEntee’s team on an exclusive conservative dating app called The Right Stuff that’s expected to launch this summer! We would love to get you on our list for early access to the app.”
But despite the aim of enlisting female Capitol Hill staffers and right-wing politicos, the startup is already facing some problems.
For one, there’s an emerging legal dispute with another dating service, also called The Right Stuff.
That “The Right Stuff” has existed for more than two decades, but it has nothing to do with conservative politics.
The company is planning to send a cease-and-desist letter to the Thiel-backed operation, according to Michael Feigin, an attorney working on the case. The existing “dating service is for people that have higher levels of education, and many of them are left-wing, so they don’t like the confusion,” he said.
The founder of the original The Right Stuff dating app, Dawne Touchings, claimed to The Daily Beast she holds the trademark to the “same name” the conservative dating app has poached. “There are a lot of other really good right-wing names that they could choose,” she said. “They are very smart, I am sure they could come up with something!”
“I have a lawyer, and he is contacting them,” Touchings continued. “That is my incorporated name.”
The Daily Beast independently verified there was a trademark application for the name, but couldn’t verify that the application had been approved.
Still, another issue is actually getting users. Instead of drawing singles, the app has thus far largely drawn mockery, according to female Republican operatives who spoke to The Daily Beast.
Two Republican staffers in Washington, D.C., said many young conservative women have ignored McEnany’s outreach and have instead jeeringly passed around screenshots of her messages to group chats.
Other Republican staffers in D.C.—the sort who boast about downing drinks at the Navy Yard watering hole Mission and claim their pronouns are “Yee” and “Haw” on their Instagram profiles—told The Daily Beast the app has an array of possible problems, like liberals masquerading as right-wingers and the awkward potential of matching them with conservative staffers they already know.
“It’s all of Mitch McConnell’s staffers,” a female Republican operative said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because she still works in pro-Trump politics.
But that same conservative operative, who was invited to the app by McEnany, said launching in the swamp—the MAGA nickname for Washington—is a mistake.
“If they’re just going to start in D.C., like, good luck,” she said. “I think they would be better off starting out in other parts of the country,” she added, suggesting deeper red states like Florida and Texas.
McEnany and McEntee did not return requests for comment, nor did a Thiel representative or lawyers that have represented him and other Thiel ventures in the past.
Even before its launch, The Right Stuff—not to be confused with the white nationalist-affiliated site of the same name—has already generated other controversy. Upon release of a McEnany-led promotional video in August, the venture was derided on Twitter over its fixation on making a right-wing dating safe space free from pronouns.
The invite-only app reportedly will only permit heterosexual matches at the outset. As the LGBTQ+ website called “Them” pointed out, Thiel—who is gay—is therefore funding a product he wouldn’t be able to use. It remains to be seen whether the app catches on; other right-leaning startups, like Truth Social, Righter, and AlignPay, have not been able to fully compete with their mainstream counterparts.
There have been other causes of skepticism. “I feel like it could be vulnerable to people trolling,” a female Republican staffer told The Daily Beast.
She also questioned why The Right Stuff was even necessary. “You can meet other conservatives on normal dating apps. It’s something you can filter for,” she noted. More established applications, including Bumble, have long offered the ability to their users to filter out potential matches based on political leanings.
Others have said they are worried about limiting their prospective dating pool, particularly in the politically incestuous D.C. area.
“I don’t exactly want the world I work in knowing my dating status,” a D.C. reporter for a conservative publication told The Daily Beast.
That same reporter in The Right Stuff’s target demographic lamented that dating apps feel antithetical to “traditional” conservatism. “The internet seems to interfere with biological tendencies, like men courting women,” she said. “This isn’t like Alexa telling you the weather. You can’t upend the natural mating process and call it traditional.”
Meanwhile, a pre-launch, unpaid app ambassador that lives in Tampa, Florida, Savannah Dudzik, who met the startup’s representatives at a Turning Point USA gathering, added that she has historically disliked dating apps (such as Catholic Match), partly because men on the platform were just looking to hook up. She is hopeful for a more positive experience with The Right Stuff—serious romance only—and is excited to see it get off the ground. “I think it’s going to be a hit!” Dudzik said.
Except there is one catch: Dudzik hopes the app will ban right-wing males on the platform looking for “hookups.”
McEnany, for her part, has been busy promoting other right-wing causes as well. In recent days, she has championed a Google alternative that highlights “censored” stories, posted a beaming image of MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, and shared a movie scene featuring a Mexican mariachi band—in mocking reference to the Venezuelan migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida officials, allegedly under false pretenses.
Evidently, The Right Stuff thinks its users will be attracted to that kind of ideology—or at least not alienated by it.
In one of its video advertisements harkening back to the values of the 1950s, three actresses ridicule the “crazy” world of modern dating, including fictional men who don’t want children for environmental reasons, ask a date to pay for a meal after forgetting their gift card in a fanny pack, and show up to a date on a bicycle.
“Download The Right Stuff today,” the advertisement concludes, “and start going out with normal guys.”