The way Myreah Moore tells it, she never had to carry lunch money when she was a student at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. All the good-looking guys took turns paying her cafeteria tab, in appreciation of the evening they spent with her–on the phone, talking about girl trouble.

Moore had quite a reputation for giving good advice. All the boys knew if they were fighting with their girlfriends or if the cute girl in algebra acted as if they didn’t exist, she was the person to call. “To tell you the truth, that’s been my passion since I was 12 years old,” Moore says. “I was the Lucy of my junior high.”

For years Moore dispensed guidance to friends, men and women alike. Now she’s trading it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Her playbook is a brand-new volume called Date Like a Man to Get the Man You Want!. It’s a how-to loaded with the same pearls of wisdom Moore offered in high school plus a few hard-nosed tidbits about things like blow jobs: “The truth is, honey, a man doesn’t care who’s down there. It could be a man, a robot or a succubus….Besides, he can’t see your face anyway.”

For all her talent ministering to the lovelorn, Moore hadn’t planned on making a career out of it. On the other hand, all of her many careers happened by accident. After graduating from Howard University in 1980, she enrolled in law school at Antioch University. One day she accompanied a friend to a singing audition. She was thumbing through one of her textbooks when a woman with dyed white hair approached and asked if she could sing. “A little bit,” Moore said with a shrug. The woman asked if she could dance. “I guess so,” Moore replied. The woman asked her to come into the studio and show what she could do. After the impromptu audition, the woman said, “We’ve been searching for someone with a certain look to be our third backup singer. You’re it.” The woman was Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics. Moore never opened another law book again.

She spent the next seven years touring and recording with the band, making such an impression in one video that Mick Jagger asked to meet her. But by 1988 Moore was tired of the rock lifestyle. Casting around for a new career, she auditioned to be a contestant on Sweethearts, a relationship game show filmed in Los Angeles. She handled herself so smoothly and confidently that she was offered a permanent job. Moore spent the next year and a half as a contestant coordinator for that show as well as for Love Connection, Perfect Match, and Win, Lose or Draw.

Eventually Moore moved to New York, where she worked on another relationship game show called Love at First Sight. Her office was in the same building as The Maury Povich Show, and she got into the habit of running upstairs to gab with some of Povich’s producers during her lunch break. Just as she had years before, she spent most of her lunch helping people sort through their relationship problems. Povich often ambled by to listen.

One day one of Povich’s guests couldn’t make a taping because of a snowstorm and the host asked her to fill in. “I’m no expert,” Moore blurted out. “I don’t have any book. What do I even call myself?” Povich pondered a moment and said, “How about ‘The Dating Coach’?”

“Within three days, I was booked on seven other shows,” Moore says. “That was in 1992 and the only relationship experts were older women like Dr. Ruth. Talk shows are oriented toward the young. I became the only relationship expert who didn’t look like their mom.”

Since that initial appearance, Moore has done Povich 9 more times, Sally Jessy Raphael 12 times, and Ricki Lake a whopping 72 times. Howard Stern once said he agrees with 99 percent of what she says.

In 1995 Moore self-published a book called My, My, My: Dating in the ’90’s, which she says has sold 52,000 copies by mail order. Then she hooked up with coauthor Jodie Gould and came up with Date Like a Man. Moore also runs monthly seminars in New York at $29 a pop. “Eighty-five percent of the people who come to my seminars are men,” she says. “Men seem to trust me.”

When Moore comes to Chicago this weekend she’ll be looking for another big break. Despite her talk-show fame, she’s never been on Oprah. But some of her producer friends now work for the show. “I’m praying that when I come to Chicago, maybe my dream will come true.”

Moore discusses her book at 7:30 this Wednesday at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster (773-871-3610). It’s free.

–Michael G. Glab

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Eschelman.