BRAVO TV’S OUTSPOKEN PATTI STANGER SPENDS HER TIME FIXING PEOPLE UP IN A DISCREET AND CONFIDENTIAL MANNER.
By Linda Marx
The star and executive producer of the hit docu-series The Millionaire Matchmaker (Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m.), now in its fifth season, is busy with a supersonic career matching people with their soul mates through her 11-year-old Millionaire’s Club. Her TV show has gained an international following because she is outrageous and entertaining, and people are looking for love in all the wrong places. (In short, they need help!)
Even though she admits there are not enough hours in the day for her myriad of projects, including the promotion of her bestselling book Become Your Own Matchmaker (now in paperback), does she listen to her own lectures? What is it really like being a single woman in Los Angeles?
“Being single is not cool,” says Stanger, fifty, who broke off her engagement about two years ago to former client Andy Friedman, a real estate executive. “When I told my mom I was coming to south Florida for the High Holidays in late September, she said, ‘Wonderful, maybe you’ll meet someone here. You never know!’”
Despite her interest in playing her own mating game, there is precious little time for dating. Stanger’s TV show ratings for last season were the highest ever among all key demographics, averaging 1.9 million total viewers and 1.3 million adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research.
As a result of these consistently great numbers, The Millionaire Matchmaker has been picked up for a sixth season, and Bravo is so smitten with Stanger that they recently announced a two-year development deal with her. She will find new talent, create and develop programming, and potentially star and executive-produce a new series for the network.
I love the flatness of Florida, the ocean, swimming, weather, shopping, clothes, and the overall feeling of freedom. I want to think of Florida as my home, and I intend to buy a place there so I can always come back
With Patti’s over-the-top personality and savvy business sense, Bravo could not have found a better development partner to execute our vision and who understands our audience,” says Eli Lehrer, Vice President of Development for Bravo.
Stanger agrees, saying “My relationship with Bravo is a match made in heaven. The network’s reputation for delivering high-quality and buzz-worthy programming made it an easy decision to extend our business together.
Stanger is also expanding her Millionaire’s Club with 30,000 women available to its male members who pay from $45,000 to $150,000 a year to find the women of their dreams.
As the former Director of Marketing for Great Expectations, the largest and oldest dating service in the U.S., Stanger says she is a third generation matchmaker who has introduced thousands of couples. “My mom was a matchmaker, and I remember fixing up someone when I was in the seventh grade,” she laughs. “It is in my blood.” Stanger started the Millionaire’s Club in 2000 because she felt that successful men in the dating field needed an exclusive and private club where they could meet the right kind of women.
“I didn’t think this segment of busy men had time to look for a relationship and were not meeting the kind of woman they thought they should be,” says Stanger. “They had dreams of finding bright, beautiful and successful mates. I felt they needed a service where they could meet these kinds of women in a relaxing, discreet and confidential manner.” Since she thought the odds of a beautiful woman joining a dating service on her own were as slim as a celery stick, she decided to recruit them herself from around the world via advertisements, magazine articles, dating scouts and TV appearances.
Stanger knows what men and women want from her years of living as a saucy single roaming the streets from Manhattan to Miami Beach, and from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. She believes her modern approach to dating sets the club apart from other dating services and failed encounters.
For Stanger, dating and mating are more like going to a day spa, stylist, or seeing a shrink.
“In addition to offering a free membership to women, the club works closely with leading psychologists, relationship counselors, date coaches, hypnotherapists and image consultants,” says Stanger. “We also have a batch of top-notch personal trainers and hair stylists.” The Millionaire’s Club seeks to work with each client individually, coaching the person through every stage of the dating game, from the initial meeting to the marriage proposal, by providing defined feedback. Stanger and her staff match every member according to their requirements and preferences, and then follow up on a regular basis.
Quick and blunt, she can be brutal, telling clients to lose fifteen pounds, ordering women with curly hair to iron it straight, or just shouting that a woman over forty-five is too old, or if overweight, an “impossible situation”. Such talk has dubbed her, “The Simon Cowell of Dating.”
“I am not paid to hide my true feelings,” she deadpans. Born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in Short Hills, Stanger’s dad Phil owned a dress company and her mom Rhoda was a housewife and matchmaker. Stanger went to high school in Manhattan, moved to Miami for college at the University of Miami, and then returned to Manhattan in 1983 to work in fashion.
She chose companies like Union Bay Sportswear, Jou Jou Jeans, Cherokee and Saks Fifth Avenue, selling clothing to major sales representatives. The well-dressed woman believes fashion was a good background for her dating businesses. But she missed south Florida, and her mom lives in Sunny Isles, so she came back and held a variety of jobs, including a stint in her family’s bagel shop.
“I am definitely a Florida girl,” laughs Stanger, “I love the flatness of Florida, the ocean, swimming, weather, shopping, clothes, and the overall feeling of freedom. I want to think of Florida as my home, and I intend to buy a place there so I can always come back.” She moved to California where she found millionaires galore who she believed were “messed up” in their values, wants and needs. Her dating business got hot in 2001 when she befriended a guy who needed a girl, and it grew from there.
Since then, she has had many crazy clients including one wealthy man who had been engaged three times by age 60, but never married. “He is a zillionaire who never listened to me,” she remembers. “His mother lives in Palm Beach and cried when none of his relationships worked out. I wanted to help him, but he needed to want to help himself.” Her success has aroused a longtime passion for entertainment— she studied film in college and at one time wanted to grow up to be Sherry Lansing. Stanger recently starred in a film produced by her company’s COO Destin Pfaff called Married in a Year. She has also had parts in Lifetime TV’s Drop Dead Diva and the enduring soap Days of Our Lives. She hopes to take singing lessons in the coming months because she loves music and the life around it.
As spokesperson for Sensa weight loss, which helped her lose 25+ pounds, and the face of Pucker Vodka, Stanger is the right woman to head a general market dating website called P.S.Xoxo, a joint venture with the owner of JDate, and to write a weekly celebrity advice column in STAR magazine.
“I am truly busy but I would love to find someone,” says the self made Stanger, who gives back to City of Hope and Help Adopt.org charities, and needs a man who loves her but leaves her alone. “I don’t think anyone is better off single.”