If you’re a fan of Bravo TV’s line up of Top Chef, Project Runway or Real Housewives of any area, chances are you already know The Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger. The fast-paced, in-your-face personality of one of TV’s hottest stars is what keeps her at the top of her game. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner we with talked with Stanger about The Millionaire Matchmaker, her high-end clientele, and the give and take that makes a millionaire relationship work.
As a third generation matchmaker, Stanger confessed that following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps wasn’t the first career she had in mind. “[I wanted] to be a screenwriter; I went to film school and I never dreamed I was going to be on TV or that reality was going to happen,” she confesses. But even between corporate jobs Stanger was matchmaking on the side, helping men with everything from finding a date to planning their wedding. “My mother was like, ‘you need to charge.’ I would redo their homes, decorate them female friendly-wise; I would get them a whole new wardrobe, help them go buy a new car, set up their travel, all the way through the wedding—I’ve done many weddings in my past,” she explains.
Her true professional career as a matchmaker started when her mom saw an ad for Great Expectations and suggested she pursue the family tradition. “She saw an ad…which lead to me being a matchmaker—a business matchmaker, where you make money,” she adds. Stanger worked there for five years, serving as Director of Marketing and worked up a reputation for being an excellent matchmaker—especially with their wealthier members. “I was really good with the millionaires at Great Expectations—just the pain in the asses, the screamers in the offices, and I kind of had the nuts and bolts to say 'shut up, put up or get out.'”
Stanger carried that same attitude over to her own business, The Millionaires Club, where she works with clients on everything from personality adjustments to cooking classes—teaching both the men and women how to best behave in their traditional societal roles. “We make women be domestic. We send them to cooking school; we teach them how to be good wives, it’s not like Stepford, because every woman is working as well as the man, but a man loves a home-cooked meal,” she explains. “If he’s taking you to Paris on a private jet and bought you a full wardrobe, he would like a cooked meal. A little meatloaf goes a long way.”
And while we might not see every little thing she works on with clients over the course of the show, she admits that we do see quite a bit of her real methods. “Everything is happening in real time; we are not scripted. Nobody tells me what to say,” explains Stanger. When asking about her private business clientele in comparison to the men we see on the show, she readily admits there is a very big difference. “The millionaires are casted for the show. My real clients—the billionaires, the Forbes 400—they would never go on camera. My actors, my models, my sports guys—they have to keep their lives private,” she says.
With certain celebrities, she admits she doesn’t have to do too much actual matchmaking. “Sometimes they know who they want to go out with and I have to make the call to the other person; whether it’s a model or another famous person,” she explains. “A lot of times, you know, they’re guys on the down-low dating outside of Hollywood and they don’t want anyone knowing their business.” While her big name clientele may not be popping up on her show, she still has a few familiar faces on screen every now and then like Top Chef’s Stefan Richter and Olympian Allison Baver—even Denise Richards enlisted the help of the famous matchmaker to help find her dad a wife.
The millionaires on the show can vary from the extremely sincere, to the men who oogle every woman in the room, but Stanger insists that for the most part her clients are people truly looking for their soul mate. “I have serious men who want to get married, I have serious women who want to get married, it works both ways—as well as gay men,” she added. “Marriage is now, in almost a lot of states right now, and in California as well as, you know, New York, Connecticut, whatever—you can get married now! So like, they’re thinking that way as well as my lesbians—even though they’re hiding under a rock somewhere, they still, once in a while, come forward.”
As Stanger seems to work mostly with males looking for a new wife, we were curious about the differences between the male and female millionaires. Most women, it seems, she hands off to other matchmakers or brands, rather than offering them membership at her club. “Women millionaires are usually over 40; they’re older and they’re not as attractive. A lot of times they don’t take care of their appearance until it’s too late—and they’re complainers,” she explains. “Men generally don’t complain and that’s why I like working with them.”
But for the men that do make the cut, a uniquely tailored experience is waiting for them—a membership that will allow them to find exactly what they’re looking for in a woman. Personalized programs, party mixers and private dates are all customized for a perfect match. “We have a personal membership which is based on your needs, and it’s, like, loosey goosey until we decide what we feel you need—and then there are add-ons,” she explained. For example, “you know, you like Asian petite women and you want to be the first guy in my club to get a glimpse of the ones you want to pick, you’ve got to pay $30,000 additionally for that.”
So what exactly does it take to be one of the chosen few? “I don’t give away too much of my screening process because—you know, where I come from, where it’s a very wealthy neighborhood, who has money—it’s not about that, it’s how are you going to treat the girl and how is the girl going to treat the guy. We don’t have gold diggers in the club, they sign affidavits saying that they can’t ask for anything financial or we’ll revoke their membership,” she explains.
But Patti understands that there’s a good amount of give and take in any relationship—especially when one is a millionaire. Women who are dating these wealthy men can, of course, expect to be lavished with gifts, taken on luxurious vacations and wooed with more than a few jewels, but they should understand that giving works both ways. “It’s the little things you pay back; you do his shirts, you become maybe sometimes his personal assistant where you’re making the reservations and he’s giving you the credit card,” Stanger explains. “You make his life easier—besides being pretty and having sex with him.”
On that note, Stanger brings up her new jewelry line, JaT’aime, a collection she’s just finished creating and is available on her website. “My true love has been luxury and fashion, and all that stuff,” she explains. “I just launched a jewelry line; all the jewelry I wear this season is from my collection that I designed.” Stanger infused her personality into each piece, opting for big, sparkly, colorful options that include rings, earrings and necklaces in an vast range of hues; the line is priced from $45-$330. “I say to men, you don’t have to go to Tiffany’s or any of the major jewelers to get a girl to give it up on Valentine’s Day,” she says. “Bling is Bling. You bling, and we’ll let you schwing.”
Trying to find a balance between her career and her personal life, Stanger admits it can be difficult, considering how intimate matchmaking can be. “It’s hard,” she says. “But my boyfriend works in my house and he’s actually running my e-commerce division, so we’re going to start working together.” She met her mortgage banker boyfriend David Krause online, and says that can definitely be a way to meet people for those who can’t afford her services.
As far as The Millionaire Matchmaker goes, Stanger has high hopes for the show and can’t wait to get started on new endeavors. “I think there’s going to be more spin-offs from it and there’s going to be, maybe if I get lucky and Bravo’s really nice to me, I’ll get to show more of my personal life,” she says. “I’d rather see it more of a Housewives, kind of, Millionaire Matchmaker [with] my friends who are single. That kind of show would be awesome; I’d love to do that.” But even without a Housewives-esque spin-off, Stanger keeps busy with her show, blog, podcast, website, jewelry line, DVD’s and self-help books. “I want to turn my book into a movie,” she says hopefully. “I have an idea on how to do it—and I’d rather not say because I don’t want someone to steal it.”