Money can't buy you love, but it can hire the "The Millionaire Matchmaker," who will work day and night to find you the love of your life.
Bravo's latest docudrama features Patti Stanger, who began The Millionaire's Club to help men with a knack for making money but less success meeting and wooing a future wife. Hooking people up is in Stanger's blood. Not only is she a third-generation matchmaker with hundreds of marriages to her credit, but she began getting couples together at an early age.
"It was when I was in seventh grade actually," Stanger tells Zap2it.com. "We went to a community dance. The girls were on one side, and the boys on the other, and I was like, 'This is stupid.' There was this cute little Jewish boy. My friend was looking at him, and nobody was saying anything. I just walked over and said, 'What's your name?' He said, 'My name is Steven.' I'm like, 'Steven, meet my friend Gail.' And that was it. They dated for like a year."
Even though Stanger provides an innovative service for the new millenium, the knowledge she learned from her mother and grandmother about male-female relationships still apply.
"The rules never change. Men are men, and women are women," she says. "No matter how many times you think you're going to be equal to a man or you're going to become more the man, you're just going to emasculate the man. Then you're going to have a child on your hands. You really have to be a woman, a feminine woman. People think that's anti-feminist, but it's not."
Being traditional is one of the keys to success that Stanger instills in her clients, who are coached on an individual basis. This means that chivalry is alive, the man pursues the woman and oh yes, no sex on the first date. In fact, she emphasizes that sex shouldn't happen at all until the couple is in a committed relationship that could lead to marriage.
Naturally, abstaining may be difficult for her clients to accept, but she drives home that they're seeking love and commitment, not an escort service. The millionaires pay big bucks to be introduced to smart, accomplished and attractive women, all of whom are accepted to the service free as long as they fit the requirements and aren't gold diggers.
On the show, Stanger's staff -- VP of Matching Chelsea Autumn, Business Development associate Alison Standish and Office Manager Destin Jude Paff -- bring likely female candidates to her attention through headshots sent in the mail, via email and through recruiting sessions if a bachelor has specific tastes to be met. It's a bizarre casting process in which the ultimate role to land is wife.
"Men are so picky when they're millionaires. They have a wishlist that most people won't meet because they're so critical," reveals Stanger. "I have a lot of good-looking guys, successful super guys, but a lot of times you get the nerd, like the Danny DeVito types. The zero that he is, he thinks he deserves a 10 and thinks he can do a lot better just because he has a lot more money. They think that it's a given that they should get the cheerleader they never got in high school. That's the hard part: giving them the reality check."
Age is also an issue with the older men who may prefer women 20 years younger. One of Stanger's latest clients, a 48-year-old widow, initially agreed that she should select from a pool of 30- and early 40-somethings for him, but as soon as he paid his membership fee, he asked for the early to mid-20s.
"I screamed my ass at him yesterday on the phone in the middle of CVS drug store," Stanger confesses. "I'm like, 'Who the hell do you think you are? You're not Brad Pitt meets George Clooney. You're not a big wheeler-dealer on TV, loaded and gorgeous. Get over it.' He was like, 'Don't get mad at me. Okay, I'll do what you say.' That happens a lot. Tough love has to work. They're like children."
In the show's premiere (Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 11 p.m. ET/PT, before moving to 10 p.m. ET/PT the following Tuesday), the viewers meet Harold, a 47-year-old multi-millionaire who has the same preference. He describes his ideal woman as "Cindy Crawford ... from 20 years ago." At a mini-VIP event set up by the Millionaire's Club, he ends up selecting a stunning 25-year-old brunette for his first one-on-one date, which turns out to be an enlightening experience.
Along with the cradle-robbing Harold, the premiere also introduces "Sex Toy" Dave, a man who made his millions selling vibrators and such on the Internet. His "illness" that Stanger must "diagnose" is that he doesn't want to give up his partying lifestyle in order to settle down. This includes hanging out with hot women on a daily basis, throwing pool parties and keeping a stripper's pole in his apartment.
The men also get the benefit of dating coaches, relationship counselors, image consultants and even hypnotherapists to aid their quest for love. This means that Dave was advised to remove the stripper pole from his bachelor pad, and in later episodes, other bachelors are taught how to conduct better conversations, how to dress and even how to hug appropriately. Sometimes, however, the men reject the offered help until they're forced to face their own shortcomings. Recently, Stanger planted Chelsea Autumn on a "shill date" with a client from Chicago to determine his dating style.
"He treated it like a corporate business deal: He asked 21 questions, he wouldn't let the girl talk, he analyzed," says Stanger. "She said she liked astrology. He said, 'I don't want to date a woman who likes astrology.' Ninety percent of women read their horoscope. Get over it. He started to be so critical and fanatical. She sent me a report, and I sent it over to him, and I said, 'Now do you see what you're doing wrong?'"
Despite these difficulties, Stanger promises at least one love match by the end of the season and has big plans if the show returns for another season. Among her hopes are to feature her boyfriend of four years, gay matches and women millionaires.
"In Season Two, you'll see more women and their side of the story because we're going to do millionairesses," says Stanger. "It's really hard. It doesn't work in the reverse. Millionairesses are over 40 and want Bill Gates. It doesn't really work. They don't want to take care of a man."