By Susan Josephs
Photo: Tommy Garcia/Bravo
In episode eight of this season’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, Bravo’s reality TV hit, matchmaker Patti Stanger had zero qualms about kicking her client Dave off the show for “creepy” behavior displayed toward his date. In episode nine, she burned a list her fortyish client Andrea had kept since she was a teenager, detailing the type of man she wanted to marry. “What are you, 12?” Stanger asked, as her client watched the list’s fiery destruction in horror.
Stanger specializes in these brutal wake-up calls to her wealthy yet clueless-in-love clients, which have turned her into a television celebrity and the most famous matchmaker in America. The off-screen Stanger, however, is “much softer. On the show, we have to hit certain beats,” she says. “I have 45 minutes to wake people up, so I have to look tough. If I was sweet and nice, nothing would ever happen.”
Though soft-spoken during a phone conversation, Stanger exhibits the same disarming bluntness as her TV persona. On the subject of what ails the Jewish single population, for example, she says: “A lot of Jewish men have issues with their mothers. They might be good breadwinners, but there’s this first-born Jewish son syndrome going on that has to do with the general symptoms of narcissism in America.”
And: “I’m really upset with the bashert theory. The rabbis really need to get their act together on this topic. There’s only one soul mate for you? Come on!”
Raised in Short Hills, N.J., Stanger, 49, is a third-generation matchmaker. She picked up many tricks of the trade, she says, by watching her mother and grandmother make matches for friends and family free of charge. “I learned from them that it’s about reading energy and vibration…it’s not just ‘he’s a doctor, she’s a nurse.’ You have to really see the person and figure out if they’re ready for a relationship,” she says.
Stanger also credits many “virtual female mentors” with helping her establish her own Los Angeles-based matchmaking company, the Millionaire’s Club, in 2000 and become a successful television star and producer. These virtual mentors include Madonna, Oprah, Hillary Clinton and the celebrity astrologer Terry Nazon. “All of these women walk to the beat of their own drum and follow through on their intuition,” she says.
These days, the Millionaire’s Club has never been busier, and Stanger accepts about one client per 100 applicants who contact her. “So many people just want to be on the show and want to be famous,” she says. “Plus, I will fire clients if they’re disrespectful or have a sense of entitlement beyond what we normally see.”
Stanger also has her radar out for “potential abusers” and does her utmost to ensure her clients treat their dates with respect. She learned how to speak up for herself and others, she says, by growing up with an alcoholic father. “I never knew what was going to happen. I had to develop a tough spine.”
Currently single, Stanger practices what she preaches, having recently hired a matchmaking friend for herself. “I’m getting older and it’s getting harder,” she says of romance and meeting men who only want to date her because she’s famous.
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