Whether she's writing about becoming your own matchmaker in books, talking about finding Mr. or Ms. Right on her XM radio show, fixing singles up with millionaires in the real world or on her popular Bravo reality show, Patti Stanger clearly has a knack for knowing who belongs with who. Stanger started her Millionaire's Club matchmaking business back in 2000 and, according to the site, the company has a 99% success rate. With all that going on, it's easy to see why Stanger, who recently became engaged herself, is becoming more and more the face of matchmaking with a recent appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show ("my mentor," Stanger exclaims) and the third season of "The Millionaire Matchmaker." To find out the intricate business of matching people, how to know if someone is a gold digger and why Stanger doesn't consider marriage as the sign of success in her business, our Jim Halterman chatted with the 'Millionaire Matchmaker' last week.
Jim Halterman: When did you realize you had a knack for matchmaking?
Patti Stanger: My grandmother and mother did it and I kind of ignored it and then in the seventh grade I fixed up my best friend. I just knew I had no fear of it. It's just something that comes naturally introducing people to other people. People make it way more complicated than it is and then you kind of know who belongs with who. You just know.
JH: Los Angeles has a bad reputation for being one of the toughest towns to date in. Why is that?
PS: It's the worst! Everyone is so good-looking and they're so jaded and they're so shallow and superficial. Let me give you an example. I watched American Idol and I was watching Posh Spice (aka Victoria Beckham, who was a guest judge last week). You know, I like her. I think she's very interesting person and character but every five seconds, and I don't know if they selectively edited this, but all she talked about were people's looks. It wasn't even about the talent. I was like 'What about the talent, girl? What do you care what they look like? You can clean them up later! If they can sing, they can sing!' And that's what it is - it's a very superficial, shallow place. You're judged by your looks first. You aren't judged by your pedigree and your education.
JH: How has your Millionaire's Club business changed since the show gave you so much more exposure?
PS: It's a little bit more selective. If you look at all the online services and all the matchmaking services, private or open to the public, people are getting a little more serious and doing more due diligence on Google and really assessing who needs a therapist, who needs to be institutionalized, who has a restraining order because you're allowed to look at criminal stuff. We have a form that [our applicants] fill out so if they miss anything on the form because they just want to get in the club I have the right to throw them out. So I'm a little bit stricter in my skill set because now I'm open to the general public and I'm in the media so I'm afraid who comes through the door. I don't want to fix my girls up with the wrong guys.
JH: From what I've seen on the Bravo show, it seems that what people want and what they can get are two different things. Do you agree with that?
PS: Yes, always. Their perception of reality is out of whack. I like to ask them 'Would you date you if you were in the real world?' And if you want a 10 and you're a 2, it's not going to happen. You're too many worlds apart. You can always go two points up and two points down and you better know your rating.
JH: Since you are dealing with millionaires, how do you spot a gold digger?
PS: A gold digger is pretty brazen. She's going to find out which stores you shop at on Rodeo. She's going to find out where you vacation, how many homes you own, what car you drive. She's going to criticize you and say 'A man like you should be driving a Bentley.' And she's going to say 'You got me a Bebe gift certificate when you could buy me Gucci?' Those are the statements to look for. When a girl really cares about a guy, she wants the guy and that's usually because of chemistry. Chemistry will supercede money when you're a real person. It will not supercede the gold digger. Sex comes second for the gold digger, too.
JH: Your personality is very direct and you don't seem to have much of a filter. Have you always been that way or is that something you cultivated over the years?
PS: Oh God, you should have seen me when I was little. I spoke at eight or nine months. I spoke really early and I had full sentences. They called me 'the mouth' in my family. Nobody is telling the truth and I feel like I am the truth sayer. Sometimes I'm not right, I'm not God, but I feel like there are things that are so blatantly obvious out there and nobody ever says anything and there needs to be a shift. The world is coming to this crazy place where everything is just so out of kilter. We have to start being nicer to people and come clean.
JH: You also match same sexy people. Do gay and straight people have essentially the same problems in dating?
PS: They're a little different. Please don't get mad at me but in the gay community - and not every gay is like this, there are no absolutes in life - but [the men] eyelock, they have sex and then they figure it out. In the female community with the lesbians, they move in together because they like each other, they're feeling connected but then they move out two weeks later when they hit a wall. I say 'Why do you move so fast?' and they said it's because there are slim pickings; there's not a lot to choose from. One guy comes out on our show and a guy last year on the last episode came out on our show and he was a Southern gay and that was a big deal down there in the Bible belt.
JH: And now you have found love and are engaged. Did you always believe you would find somebody and has it changed your opinion about love?
PS: No and it wasn't the love I thought it would be. It was more of like a friend love. We started out as best friends and then it became natural, more organic. I think we have this delusion that Cinderella is going to be rescued from the Prince and I keep telling people 'Cinderella and the Prince are dead.' You need to find a really nice person that you enjoy and have company with, want to have sex with and at the same time he'll go out and get you Tampax. You need a real person and not an illusion.
JH: Have you ever walked away from a match because you just couldn't find a good match?
PS: A lot of times. More than once. And I told them they'd end up breaking up and they did. I said this person is not for you but go ahead and get your heart broken and they did. We can read the energy and just know but people are physically driven first and then they look at the other stuff and when it goes toxic they blame the matchmaker. I've warned them on emails, warned them on texts, I've warned them in person and I've got them on tape. You'll see two matches that go bad that I said 'I told you not to pick her.'
JH: Even the guy who wanted to take the girl to haul junk with his junk business to prove they were a match...
PS: You have no idea! I screamed my ass off at him. I was furious. The show is letting him do his thing but in the real world that would never happen. I would have kicked him out of the club. It's like no guy can take you to the Olive Garden or Burger King when he's a millionaire to test you. They do the test dance and nobody is allowed to do that to you and no woman or man should tolerate that. You should always have $100 stashed in your purse if you're a woman so if he drove you can get the hell out of Dodge and call a taxi.
JH: What qualifies as a success in your business? Is it marriage?
PS: We don't base it on marriage because not everyone wants to get married and because, I'll tell you why. I'm for gay marriage and I did the No H8 campaign and until I see you guys getting married I am not basing my success rate on marriage. As long as the two of you like each other and continue to date, that's a success.
The third season of "The Millionaire Matchmaker" kicks off tonight on Bravo at 10:00/9:00c.