The Marriage Fantasy Camp, funded by an astonishingly successful Kickstarter campaign and founded by an unhappily married man attending a New York Mets Fantasy Camp, has collapsed in a series of criminal charges and investor lawsuits.
Alan Lindenman, a Little Neck, New York attorney whose adult children had given him a five-day Florida Mets Fantasy Camp experience, developed the idea for Marriage Fantasy Camp, or MFC, when he and some fellow equally unhappy married campers were closing a popular Port St. Lucie adult nightspot after a day of chasing ground balls in the sun.
"Sports fantasy camps are based on the idea of being around the players you idolized as a kid," Lindenman says. "So we thought, why not do a camp around the idea of marriage? Because for a lot of us, the reality has fallen short of the ideal."
Lindenman says he put the basic ideas for MFC together "in a drunken haze" but that the idea "still looked good the following morning.
"Let's face it. What do you want from a spouse? Companionship. Someone to build a life with. A partner. And of course, the physical.
"But what often happens? There's stress over money, in-laws, kids or whatever, and the physical part diminishes. You get on each other's nerves. You grow apart."
The idea behind Marriage Fantasy Camp was to provide men a five-day period in which they achieved their fantasy relationships just as sports fantasy camps teamed them with the athletes they had always admired.
"The guys all loved the concept," Lindenman says. "It came together quickly."
Lindenman arranged favorable terms with the all-suites hotel where the baseball campers stayed, along with nearby restaurants and golf courses.
The fantasy "wives" came from the same strip club where the idea was initially conceived.
The program for the MFC was based on Lindenman's canvassing of his fellow fantasy baseball campers and included "home cooked meals, pleasant conversation in which the 'wives' took a high degree of interest in the men's work, no talk of anything stressful, daily golf, and, of course, a lot of sex."
To avoid running afoul of state laws regarding procuring, Lindenman described MFC as "Marriage and Family Counseling" in his Kickstarter campaign, but those in the know understood the exact nature of the venture.
Kickstarter provided more than $42,000 in funds, double the amount Lindenman sought.
The first MFC, marketed solely by word of mouth to fellow fantasy Mets campers and their friends, sold out in two hours despite a hefty $7,995 price tag. Married men told their wives that they were going for a multi-day marriage counseling seminar; their wives reported that they did, indeed, come back happier.
Single and divorced men told no one anything.
A waiting list of more than 450 men soon developed, and Lindenman was running MFCs on a monthly basis.
The end came quickly, however, when one attendee bragged about his experiences in a Malverne, Long Island brewpub.
He was overheard by a Newsday reporter, who investigated and did a feature cover story on the Camp.
Florida prosecutors indeed viewed Lindenman's efforts as procuring and are currently negotiating a plea deal.
Investors, meanwhile, are suing Lindenman for an accounting, especially of the $1,500 down payments extracted from potential campers in exchange for a position on the waiting list.
"The idea had merit," Lindenman still argues, having posted $250,000 in bail and currently unable to leave the State of Florida. "I was only giving men what they wanted. If that's a crime, then put me in prison. Hey, marriage is an institution, too."