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Match Point

January 31, 2008 By:
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Patti Stanger
Yenta, you've met your match.

And if her shtetl shimmers with tinsel rather than tzimmes, well, isn't there a lid for every pot?

Patti Stanger certainly knows so. No love-connection stranger, Stanger is a third-generation generator of matchmaking with one major difference: Her mother and grandmother did it for love at their shul; she does it for a living.

And Stanger's is a much bigger stage. Broadcast on Bravo on Tuesday nights at 10, "The Millionaire Matchmaker" is not so much about what she does for love as for legacy.

The millionaires are not one in a million; there are many of them, looking not for a hook-up but for a happy future. Board lions with bored love lives, or CEOs with AWOL heartbreak, they are men on a mission -- and it is very much a men's club, where male members pay upwards from $10,000 annually to belong to this very special men's Hare Club, hoping to outrace time and take in a serious relationship before the finish line.

There is no fee for females -- only if you consider making sure you're well-built, gorgeous and fascinating a price to pay.

It is a man's world, after all.

"Yes it is," says Stanger unabashedly, whose concept of P.C. has nothing to do with being politically correct, and everything to do with using cyberspace and one-on-ones to win hearts for clients.

She has struck gold, but ... "No gold-diggers allowed," she tells women whining for the song of their lives, hoping that that yacht-fleet owner is no yutz when it comes to his out-of-pocket profile and personality.

Indeed, if Tevye were a rich man, he wouldn't have to yeidel-deidel-deidel-deidel-dei. He'd just apply for a gold-haired beauty to die-for through Stanger.

(Don't worry, Golda; Stanger's golden-girl rep comes from screening out men with a ring on their finger and cows to cart home.)

What would Yenta say about all this?

"Yenta would say it's about time!" declares Stanger.

No money, no dowry, no family background, be glad you got a man? Not in Stanger's schematic.

Match point: "You know," she says, on the one hand, talking about the manner in which women apply, and on the other, in which she brings in the millionaires, "there's more than one Lazar Wolf the butcher."

But how many Chavas have you got? Expect millionaires, not minyanaires.

"Here's the point," she says, directly, matter of factly. Well, she made the point once before to Marie Claire: "Maybe you're Jewish and want Jewish. I don't do Jewish, so I'll send you to a local Jewish matchmaker, in your area."

Did that elicit a blush from Marie Claire? Maybe blush-on, but not a blush, because Stanger stings and startles at the same time while, ironically, being soothing simultaneously.

Soothsayer, what sayeth you? Truth be told, beautiful and bristling, Stanger is no oracle of the ornery, even if her clients' crystal balls occasionally seem small.

"The men, they're looking for perfection," she tells me. "And a lot of Jewish girls ... this is not meant as a mean thing I'm saying ... they're a bit diva-esque. Their mothers tell them it's okay to emasculate men."

Ouch, that's like a kick in the ... Watch out for where this Cupid the Conqueror is pointing her arrow. Twang!

"The man may be the big boss at work, but at home he wants to relax. When you let a man lead, it's a sense of empowerment for women, too -- making for a happy marriage. It's Harvard 101."

School's out on that one, although she insists that it's been proved academically in the past. But there is a core course curriculum, in which she advises clients what to do; call this one stage presents: "For every four times a woman gets a gift, she has to give him something."

In this Super Bowl of bowling over sweeties, Stanger takes the offense while, at times, seeming somewhat offensive. But then, there's the decisive defense against a bad image: Cash out on any thoughts of giving money to your date, or for that matter, sleeping with him until a real commitment has been made, she advises women.

Aiding and abedding? Not until it means something!

Something in the way she moves ... alert, on the attack with alacrity, Stanger started the business eight years ago, having great expectations that seem to have been exceeded. (She previously had been marketing director of Great Expectations, the nation's oldest dating business.)

As the Bravo show shows, men are coached -- and women couched in the accoutrements of real courtship. And Stanger is very much the real thing, earning her own bravas, even as she shows others how to reel in romance.

"My mother and grandmother taught me at the age of 15 how to" be a successful matchmaker. "And my aunt, Arlene Rosenberg, was my mentor. She was a real queen, so wonderful."

But bottom line, as the series explains, the men must have a good bottom line, the women a good ... bottom? "I believe in life mates, not soul mates," she says, explaining that she is not solo herself, albeit unmarried.

"I know the Torah talks of basherts (relationships meant to be), but I don't believe in that. People do change."

That's not the politics of change talking; it's about changes of heart. Indeed, Stanger's not beaming from the bimah with what she considers the bromides brought on by the rabbinate.

Sexist and the siddur? "The rabbis have got to cut it out," she says of talking of soul mates made for each other. "That puts too much pressure on women."

Indeed, she is just as unorthodox in her views when speaking red-face-to-red-face with a rabbi. "I went to talk to this Orthodox rabbi in Miami," and when he told her of his beliefs in bashert, "I told him he was full of it."

And she herself is full of self-confidence that comes with being a successful matchmaker. Shake-it-up shiddach?

"I respect the traditions of my religion. I am a religious person. But it's not always easy."

Neither is making the perfect match. But then, want the date of your prayers guaranteed? You're under the wrong chupah. "I'm Cupid, not God," she says.

But is she the Simon Cowell of the Cupid Clouds, helping Americans not idle away their times dating without direct results?

Contrary and controversial, she is, at heart, alluringly outrageous. But the P.C. police seem handcuffed themselves in keeping her walking the line, especially when you consider who's part of her lineup. "I am the Simon Cowell of the dating scene, yes," she says with a laugh. "I'm the exact same as him."

Indeed, she knows Cowell and his chutzpadick: "We could be brother and sister."

And if her career is kissin' cousin to some great TV, that's a match made in ratings heaven for Bravo. It certainly doesn't hurt Stanger's bravura either; her Millionaire Clubs, based in Los Angeles, boast branches wherever a heartbeat is heard bouncing to a bride/groom march.

Attached in a long-term relationship -- no Miss Match, she -- Stanger understands the power of men -- as well as their imperfections. "If women were given the chance to run the world, like Golda Meir," the world would be better off, she insists.

As for man-made horrors of the past: "How many Nazi women were there in the Holocaust?"

But, alas, "it's a man's world after all," and she bargains and makes a business out of that.

After all, she concedes, "the Man upstairs is a ... man." 

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