By C. Molly Smith
June 03, 2015 at 06:20 PM EDT

Mariah Carey’s “Infinity” music video turned heads when it debuted online on Tuesday for a number of reasons — its tie to Match, tour of Carey’s closet and a few unlikely guest stars — but director Brett Ratner says the whole thing happened organically.

“She played me the song in its early stages when it was just a rough mix and I said, ‘Oh my God, I love this song,'” Ratner tells EW exclusively. “We were going back and forth a lot on ideas for the video and she said ‘Why don’t you come see my show in Vegas?'”

And it was there, at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace where she has a residency, that inspiration struck. “When I saw the show, I thought it was so spectacular,” he says. “It’s a big, big song. The theater that we were shooting it in is so big. I was like, ‘We got to shoot the video here.'”

The show, “Mariah #1 to Infinity,” became a major part of the music video, which kicks off with Carey in a plunging, shimmering, silver dress crooning the powerful, post-breakup anthem to her enthusiastic fans. (Yes, those are actual fans.) But the off-stage scenes turn the video into a hilarious dating parody, as Carey searches for love via the dating site Match.

“We needed one of those brands to get the guys to the door,” Ratner says, noting that the partnership with Match and the real profile Carey uploaded to the site came after they decided to have the star entertain male suitors in the video. “Why are they showing up at the door? So we came up with the idea.”

Together, Carey and Ratner fleshed out the story further, adding a trio of potential dates, played by model-actor Tyson Beckford, Beacher’s Madhouse creator Jeff Beacher and Empire star Jussie Smollett in very funny cameos (see Beckford’s, err, nipple play).

“We all went to a Chippendales’s show and we saw Tyson there,” Ratner says of Beckford, who was a celebrity guest host at the male dance show as of a few weeks ago. “We were like, let’s put in the video. That’s the fun part about working with [Mariah] is we come up with spontaneous ideas. And Jeff Beacher is a staple. Beacher’s Madhouse is part of Vegas, integral to the culture of Vegas, so we put him in. And then we put Smollett in, he’s such a great actor. He was so great, so we made the nerdy guy the guy who got the girl in the end.”

The music video, which Ratner says took two days to shoot, marks yet another venture in a long line of partnerships between Carey and Ratner. “She always offers, if I’m available, an opportunity to work with her because we have such great collaboration,” the director says.

As Ratner explains, Carey knew of him through then-teen pop singer Brenda K. Starr, whom he says he dated at about age 15 or 16. The two spoke for the first time, though, when Carey and Diane Martel, another of the songstress’ long-time music video collaborators, prank called him. He later directed her music videos for “I Still Believe,” a cover of Starr’s song, as well as “We Belong Together” and “Touch My Body,” among many others. Not to mention, he’s also co-producing an untitled Carey Christmas movie, which is in the works at New Line. (For the record, Ratner once again denied that he and Carey are dating, calling the rumors “totally ridiculous.”)

All things considered, Ratner thinks the video conveys her prowess at a very unique time. “It’s capturing a moment, the moment of her. I think for her it’s a seminal time to be taking over for Celine and Elton and these great performers in Vegas. She has more number one hits than anybody since Elvis. I saw that, and wanted to capture that memory of that.”