On Monday, Patti talked to Reality TV World about where and how she finds her well-off clients and the women who want to date them; why her Bravo reality series seems to feature so many guys who don't really appear to be looking for a real love match; how she plans on expanding her business; and why she feels she's been racking up credits in heaven.
Reality TV World: Why is your business called a "club?"
Patti: Because I wanted a place where people could be relaxed and felt like protected -- like a country club. And country club usually cater to the elite, so that's where I got the idea from.
Reality TV World: Bravo's aired three episodes of the show so far. How often do you do use "open casting call"-type events to find the women for one of your guys and how often do you just set him up with some women that you already have on file?
Patti: Ninety-percent is what we fix-up on file, or [we] go outside of the database -- there is a personal search membership -- 10% of the time.
We always do the roundtables once a year in October. But we reserve those right now for Bravo. Usually it's 25 millionaires and about 50 to 70 women. But the women don't pay. The men pay $3,500 a pop. Each person gets gift bags, they get champagne at the brunch. So the men in essence are paying for the women and all these components that go with it, such as the facility, etc.
Reality TV World: Your bio states The Millionaire's Club currently has over 10,000 women "available" for its members...
Patti: We've got 25,000. They need to update that. We're opening in the U.K. and Canada too.
Reality TV World: Okay, so if a woman goes on a date with a client but it doesn't work out, do you still keep her on file for another guy?
Patti: I fix her up until the catch or release is over, which means he releases her back into the pond, he moves onto somebody else and she gets fixed up with somebody else provided I have a match for her. Remember, she's not guaranteed a date. He is. He's the client.
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But we do have millionairesses that work in the reverse. They pay the same amount of money as the men and they get as many dates as they want for the year. So it works both ways.
Reality TV World: I see. So you do have clients who are millionaire women?
Patti: Yes, we do... Not a lot -- a few -- but not a lot. Because it's really difficult because most women want to date up, not down. They don't want to take care of anyone.
Reality TV World: What type of professional backgrounds do the women typically come from?
Patti: Some Ivy Leaguers.... [Women] from other countries, like Canada and Europe. They've got major educations. They speak six, seven, eight languages. They travel the world. They're a lot more smarter and much more... How do I want to say it? Grown-up more? They're much more refined and cultured and worldly than the United States. Our education system is not as great.
But I do have a lot of Ivy Leaguers. I do have girls that went to USC, UCLA. I have girls that went to the University of Michigan, which is a very good school. The University of Maryland, places like that. They're home-spun chicks, they get out of the city, and they go west. Or they get out of Miami, and they go north. They land in big cities all over the country depending what their interests are and what their careers are.
Reality TV World: What type of women are you looking for?
Patti: I'm looking for beauty, brains, class, refinement, [and women] who are interested in monogamy. Women who want a serious relationship. I take all different ages, all different ethnic backgrounds, all different religions. There's no prejudice here in this business. I don't care if you're 55-years-old, I'll take you. Because if I have a match for you, I'm going to fix you up. My job is to get the man and the woman off the markets so they never have to date again.
Reality TV World: How well do you and your staff get to know the women?
Patti: We get to know them pretty well. You spend a lot of time on the phone with these people after you meet them. And I have eyes and ears -- I have 25 screeners around the country that screen the women in person to make sure they are who they say they are. They check their IDs for age, their photos, their weights not out of whack, their pictures aren't out of whack.
But you know my job really is to make sure it's the perfect fit. A lot of time we spend on the phone, we counsel them, we get the feedback on email. We're constantly in the throws. The matchmakers -- our staff -- have gone through a very strong, 90-day Millionaires Club matching program. They have to follow the formula, they're tested on it orally and written as well as verbally. So there's these tests they go through because it's about body language. It's about reading and looking at the body and noting if their pupils are dilated, are they interested -- not just by their words and their actions -- but by their body. It's a process that we go through.
Reality TV World: What percentage of the women that come in do you reject?
Patti: We don't reject anyone. We always put the registration on file. And if they want to get better photos, we recommend a photographer. If they want to lose weight, we wait until they get their weight off. We keep those photos on file. We don't throw anybody out.
Because I don't know when somebody's going to come in wanting somebody. Like I was talking about these women in the Dove commercials, some people consider them chubby. Well what if a chubby-chaser came in and wanted them and I didn't have them on file? That's crazy! I have a lot of plus-size models.
Reality TV World: During the show, you talk about how you screen out the "gold diggers," but it looks like women always know the guy is a millionaire before they show up for your "casting call." How do you "screen out" the "gold diggers?" Wouldn't it be easier if you kept the part about the guy being rich a secret for a while?
Patti: Basically there's three ways. They sign $10,000 affidavits saying that they won't ask for anything financial. We tell the men not to give them cash, not to pay their rent, not to buy them a car. You can buy gifts, jewelry, pretty much anything you want as long as it's out of the goodness of your heart and no one has swayed you or tipped you off to do it.
Then the four-to-one rule is the most important rule. Every four times he gives to you, you have to give back at a lesser value. Whether he takes you to dinner, drinks, dancing, whatever -- you have to give back by making him dinner, baking him cookies, something domestic that would be appreciative to him that he can't do for himself or he doesn't want to do for himself. So you just give back at a lesser value.
I'll give you an example. I do my boyfriend's taxes every year. I enter it into his computer on his spreadsheets. Now he has two apartment buildings, and he hates to sit at the computer and do this. Every year -- at tax time -- I spend a full day doing this for him. Now that's a way to give back to him. I buy the groceries and he takes us out for dinner. I cook during the week, and he takes us out for dinner during the weekend. So we find a balance.
Now I make more money than my boyfriend, but he has more invested -- he has real-estate investments. But I have more liquid cash. So we have to balance it out where I feel like the girl because if I feel like I'm paying for everything I'm not going to want to have sex with him anymore, and that's the problem.
Reality TV World: Obviously they're all millionaires, but what type of guys do you normally cater to?
Patti: Mostly we cater to various different types. Ten-percent are entertainment guys, what you saw on Bravo. That's not the norm. Most guys are hedge-fund guys, real-estate developers, lawyers -- I cater to legal eagles left and right. I specialize in lawyers. My entire family is lawyers, so I know what their needs are. Doctors are kind of on the low-end -- unless it's plastic surgeons because the HMOs kill them -- but we're dealing with investment bankers, brokers. It used to be real-estate was it. Now with everything going on, it's not as strong as it used to be. But the hedge-fund industry is swinging high!
So you got through cycles. Silicon Valley is a HUGE market for me. These guys come down to LA and they get the LA connection. We have them coming from Seattle, because of Microsoft... So there's a lot of market that you wouldn't think about.
In New York, it can be anything from Madison Avenue all the way down to Wall Street. And the garment center's a huge market for me. So any high-end luxury products, people that own jet companies, dentists... dentists make a fortune by the way. Dentists make more money than doctors!
Reality TV World: How do you get your clients? The show's shown you talking about your "sales" process.
Patti: Well we've been in business over nine years so we're branded. I've been on every reality show, NBC, Fox, Marie Claire magazine... So people know me.
It was funny, I did this really great story in an Australian magazine called New Women four years ago. This guy was on a boat, deep-sea fishing in the middle of the barrier reefs, and they had the magazine onboard. He was 40, he took a break [from fishing] opens it up and there's me in America. He calls me from the boat phone, hocked a plane ride over, got married through me, had a baby. He's staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel the last few weeks and we had dinner with him -- I went to his wedding -- and he said, "Honey, had I never read that magazine I would have never known about you."
So we're pretty branded. People know us. You say The Millionaires Club, you say Millionaire Matchmaker, people know who we are.
Reality TV World: How many clients do you work with at once?
Patti: I only take on about 15 or 20 a year, but the rest of the staff takes on the rest. A lot of the staff is not on camera [on the Bravo TV show]. So there's other matchmakers not on camera. But I can take up 15 to 20, maybe 25 at the most. I take a lot of heavy-hitters, guys who like who wanted a specialized membership, like one of the $100,000 [packages we offer]. Not because they're spending so much money, but because they need a lot of undivided attention. They call you 16 times a day, they want to break the bread all the time and fly in and eat dinner with you. So it's time consuming. I'm on call, and I'm on call seven days a week.
Reality TV World: How did the clients that we're seeing on The Millionaire Matchmaker find you? Did the producers find them or did they just call up like any of your other customers?
Patti: Several were referred, and a lot were cast [for the show]. But they did work-out a deal with NBC [Bravo is owned by NBC Universal], so I can't talk about that because it's an NBC issue. The reason is, NBC has contracts with them. But I am working with some of them right now. Whether they joined in the beginning or joined later, they're still working with me.
Reality TV World: You already mentioned you work with a few female millionaires, what about branching out to gay men?
Patti: As a matter of fact, that's the No. 1 request. I'm doing [The Ellen DeGeneres Show] on Friday, so maybe she'll be my business partner because I'm looking for a gay business partner. I own gaymillionairesclub123.com -- I own the trademark -- I own the mark on Gay Millionaire's Club. And I'm looking for a gay partner because I don't want to think that I'm prejudice enough to think that I can do the right thing by the gay man or the gay woman. They're two separate entities.
If we get picked up for Season 2, we're doing gay dating on [the Bravo show] -- gay and women. So that will happen, we've already talked about it. But I'm looking for a gay business partner to put us on the map.
Reality TV World: What type of background information do you acquire on your clients before catering to them?
Patti: There's a lot of stuff I can't tell you. They're trade secrets and I don't want my competitors knowing. But I will tell you this, I do a thorough check on them. It's not a background check like you and I would do, it's a background check so I can tell where the money is, how generous you are, what true essence of lifestyle you want to live or lead, and -- most importantly -- do you want a monogamous relationship. I find out more dirt than the IRS, because it's not just about money, it's about do you open the car door? Do you pay the valet? Do you call in advance for a date? I'm more concerned about your manners than anything. You could be a gazillionaire, but you'll be Ebenezer Scrooge. So it doesn't matter to me how much money you have, it's what do you spend the money you have on.
Reality TV World: Do you take on any certified millionaire that's willing to pay for your services or do you have your own acceptance criteria? If so, what is it?
Patti: I have acceptance criteria. I have to have what you want in stock or be able to find it. I have to have somebody who's not a sexual predator or demon, meaning like you can't ask me sexual questions, like screening for breast implants or bisexuality. Don't cross that road. And the other thing is if your expectations are out of whack and it's something I can't give you, I refer you to another club or tell you to hit the streets.
So it's got to be somebody who's a good fit for us. It's got to be a match for me as well. It's got to be a business match, or else it's not going to work. I've never been sued, I don't want to get into lawsuits with anyone. I'd rather not take your money and refer you elsewhere. I'm very credible at what I do, that's why you can't find any dirt on me because I'm the real deal. I'd rather make less money and have good sleep at night.
Reality TV World: Do you ever attempt to determine whether a guy is legitimately looking to find love and reject those who aren't [because some of these guys on the show]...
Patti: I can spot an agenda in five minutes. What you see on the show is not really what's happening in the real business world. [The] guys on TV are extroverts. They want to promote their business. They want to get the girl, they want to play the field, they want the attention. Ninety-nine-percent of my men are like [in the] Hitch [movie] -- confidential, low under the radar. They're the quiet millionaire. You wouldn't know he has money but he has $5 million in the bank and lives a low-key lifestyle. Or maybe he's a billionaire on the go, and God forbid the media ever found out he joined my club! His reputation would be ruined. Then there's the middle of the road guy. He's divorced, newly back on the market. He's sick of the singles scene, doesn't want to have his friends fix him up. So what do you do? You go to someone who screens for you -- like a headhunter for love -- like you do for your business.
So that's what it is. Most people are private and confidential and doesn't want anybody knowing about this. It's still a dirty little secret to hire a matchmaker. But you'll go on match.com and throw your picture up there. It makes no sense to me.
Reality TV World: A lot of viewers are skeptical that some of these guys, especially Lonnie Moore, [whose actually the business partner of Big Brother 7: All-Stars winner Mike "Boogie" Malin] ...
Patti: He did it for business, because he's Ashton Kutcher's partner. He's launching his Dolce Group restaurants all over the country. But at the end of the day, he called me and said he learned a lot that he didn't know about. And his mother thanked me, so obviously I did something right! (laughing)
Reality TV World: What's the longest you've ever worked with a client?
Patti: Five years. He was a serial dater, renewal guy, just like George Clooney. Every year he would trade-up to a bigger and better one and he finally got married in October 2007. But actually, his mother is from Britain and thanked me at the wedding, and said, "I don't know what I would have done without you." he had given up hope. He was 50! At 50, you should get your game plan down.
Reality TV World: You said you became a matchmaker to "understand men." Has it worked?
Patti: Yes. I opened a Pandora's Box, but it really hurt.
I used to cry myself to sleep at night going, "Who would ever want me because I'm not a perfect 10?" Then I realized there's more than meets the eye. My boyfriend loves me to death, and the secret is a lot easier than I thought it would be. It was basically accentuating on the positive, good stuff in me. Like I didn't date for personality, I could lose 20 pounds, I'm 134 and five-foot, eight [-inches]. I could lose 15 pounds for television. I could look like all these little skinny waifs on TV. But I like to eat and I like to socialize and I like to have my glass of wine every once in a while. So there were things about myself I wasn't happy about and I'm older, I'm in my 40s. I'm like ancient! I'm a dinosaur in LA! But my boyfriend loves me to death and he's 50.
It's like I learned it's not exactly about the looks. The looks are just the entree to get you into the club. It does not secure you the husband. It's so much more than that. Chemistry is not definable because it's not just about looks. That's something people forget -- they think it's just good looks. I said, "You know what? There are plenty of girls on the street, that smile pretty, gain five pounds, let their hair not be perfectly highlighted, and they've got the hottest husband in town." They're doing something right! You know what it is? They've got the confidence to know they're the deal, not the guy.
That's what's going on, and when they act that way, men line up. I see it in New York all the time, I don't see it in LA. But I see it every time I'm in Manhattan. I'll see a girl and a guy in a restaurant and say, "How the hell did these two hook-up?!" My mother goes, "Because look at her confidence! Look at her body language!" My mother's the first one to point it out. "She doesn't act like he's something special." She's not loose, but she's not kissing his ass!
Reality TV World: Can you talk a little about your policy of the men not having sex with any of the women?
Patti: The policy is this: I don't care if you need to have your pipes cleaned out. Go have back-up sex, find the ex-girlfriend you know you're not going to marry and shtuk her all you want. Or go buy it in Vegas, just don't do it on my turf, because my women are here to be courted. It takes 90 days to know someone pretty well and to see if you want to be in an exclusive, monogamous relationship.
Now if you're the type of guy who likes to spin the car around the block before buying it, fine. Go ahead. Just don't do it in my club. I need you to court her so that she feels relaxed enough so that when you do get monogamous and you do have sex, the sex is through the roof. I'd rather you wait and have better sex than have bad sex in the beginning. Don't do it early on to get it over with -- it's not something to get over with. It's something to cement the relationship on.
Reality TV World: How do you decide what type of events to hold when you introduce the clients with the potential suitors? What are you trying to learn at the events?
Patti: We don't do smaller events. We do the roundtable, but what we've done in the past is gone on location to various places like Aspen and Miami. Chelsea does that a lot... she'll go out with your sidekicks to woo the girl in the local markets -- and I'll send some of these people to other countries who speak the language.
We can create an event. Like if you're a billionaire, we can create an event in your home, we can create an event at your country club, we can rent out a restaurant. We can create an event, we've done that. We've had like 10 guy friends come in and one guy pays for it.
I'll tell you what we did do recently. We did a dinner party called Ring the Bell. Back in the 1950s they used to play this game where you ring the bell and you change your position at the dinner, and each course you switch. We had a 10-course wine pairing dinner, we all laid-out five girl, five guys -- Chelsea and I ran it -- we were at the end of the table to make sure everybody was moving right. Basically, each girl would hook-up with a guy. We got three pairings from it. So three out of 10 is pretty good odds. And we ring the bell, and we create a menu based on your needs. We basically had different wine pairings and a chef and they talked about the food together, so we have done that dinner at people's homes.
Guys like that with their guy friends. They won't do it in the general population -- it won't work -- they don't want anyone knowing they're doing this. So we brought the girls to them, we set-up the dinner party, we decorated it, we made everybody wear cocktail attire, and it was really a nice atmosphere. We did it for... It wasn't Halloween, but we did it for September. I've done it for Valentine's Day in the past. It's called Ring the Bell.
Reality TV World: What do you do when a client seems to be attracted to you -- ala Jeff -- or one of your staff members, like Jullien with Chelsea?
Patti: (laughing) Well I have a boyfriend, so it's easy now. But back in the day when I didn't it was harder if I was attracted, and I've only been attracted once. You know you're meeting with your negative -- it's like a therapist -- could you really get attracted to this messed-up guy? You can't get really attracted to them. So the truth of the matter is, I don't really look at them like candidates.
Chelsea on the other hand is harder. She's 26, she impressionable, she really likes guys that like her. When they flake like that, it doesn't make you feel wanted. She stopped dating the clients because of it. She really got hurt and said, "I'm not doing this anymore because it's not good for my ego." because you still have to fix them up and honor their contract. That's the hard part, especially figuring what women they'll be dating.
Reality TV World: Do your clients pay a bonus if you make a successful "love match" for them?
Patti: They've offered it to me but I turned it down a lot. I always go to the weddings. I don't push it, but they can if they want. I haven't had like the billionaire who's offered me the big money, so for the guy that offers me like five grand, I'm like, "You know what? Just keep it. Put it towards your kids' college education." It's funny, I don't put it in my contract like any of these other competitors that are copying me. It's not about making $1 million. It's about paying my bills, making my staff happy and keeping the business afloat. I put all my money back into my business.
Reality TV World: Seeing as how you're dealing with millionaires, how open to your personality and style suggestions are they?
Patti: Usually it will take three or four dates for a girl to cut them down to size, for them to get wise to them telling them the truth. Usually it's because I give them the hottie, so they realize, "Okay, if I want to get this girl I better start listening to her." But I'd say 45% listen to me from the get go, and they're my favorites. They're like, "Change my wardrobe! Decorate my house! Can we go buy a new car together?" They're very open to my suggestions...
Reality TV World: How many successful, long term "love matches" have you made?
Patti: We have a raw [number], but I don't give out my numbers. There's a reason for that, because most matchmakers lie. I am very, very successful -- I've been to a lot of weddings. I have a lot of people living together, which I consider that successful. But I don't give out numbers. It's a waste of time.
Reality TV World: How does it feel to make a "love match?"
Patti: That's the best. When you get that call, it's worth everything. It's better than sex... It really is a great, great orgasmic feeling because you got someone their soul mate. I don't think there's anything better. And you know you're getting your credits in heaven because God's watching and he's going to send you a little bonus too.