By Howard Koplowitz
More than 1,000 couples have either been engaged or married after enlisting Ying Chen Lee to help them find love, earning her the nickname “The Chinese Cupid of Queens.”A native of Taiwan, Lee came to Flushing 28 years ago, bringing with her the ability to create a match between singles and setting up Ms. Lee's Matchmaking Service in 1982.Back in Taiwan, matchmaking was a hobby for Lee, who worked at a medical school and would set up matches between doctors and nurses. She produced 50 couples who met through her in Taiwan.”My friend said, 'Hey, you're pretty good at this,'” Lee said through an interpreter during an interview at her Prince Street office. “I'm very kind and want to help people.”Inside the office are photos of group outings Lee has conducted between clients with similar interests. The room also features a balcony overlooking downtown Flushing that is used for outdoor parties in the summer for her customers.She works from binders filled with photographs and basic information such as height, legal status and hobbies of her 5,000 clients – a Grammy-winning pianist among them. A client first comes to her office to look at the pictures in the binders and Lee determines if the choice would make a good match. She said she commits to memory other information about the potential match besides the basics in the binders.If Lee agrees with the client and the potential match is interested, they then meet with her and family and friends to get acquainted. She then follows up with a phone call to both parties to see if they want to take it any further. Her business has been successful, Lee said, because it is based on honesty. All of her clients are either referred by relatives or successful former customers, who corroborate information on the prospective client.Lee said her matches have tied the knot as early as a year or even three to six months after meeting.”Sometimes it only takes one date,” she said, holding up her finger.She also said her method “is more approachable” and that it has roots in ancient China, where wealthy families kept young women sheltered and would locate a matchmaker to find a husband.”It's more face-to-face,” Lee said. “With the Internet, you hide behind a monitor and talk and you don't know what kind of character a person has.”Women are charged $200 for her services, while men pay $300, good until Lee finds them a match that ends up in marriage, though sometimes she receives an “appreciation check” from those who have gotten married through her.She said she gets thousands of wedding announcements in the mail. They are kept in a whole other binder.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.