Confessions vs. Millionaires (Matchmakers, that is)
The shows A&E's Confessions of a Matchmaker and Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker couldn't be more dissimilar in style. They're like different sides of the same coin: heads you're schmoozing in a hot tub with a Malibu millionaire, tails you're riding a Zamboni with a guy who works at a suburban ice-skating rink. That's how diametrically different these matchmaking yentas are! Aside from their passionate desire to make matches that work, the only other factor linking the Confessions' matchmaker to Millionaire's is that they share the same name, Patti!
Of the two shows, Millionaire Matchmaker has all the glitz and glamour. The main attraction, the diva of dating, is matchmaker Patti Stanger. Forceful, knowing and determined, Ms. Stanger is a tough cookie when it comes to making love matches, albeit with champagne taste. Both her grandmother and mother had been matchmakers before her, so fixing people up comes naturally to Patti. But her angle is unique. She founded the Millionaire's Club in January 2000, choosing to only sign up male clients who have the hefty bankbook to gain entry into the group. She then lines up a bevy of eligible ladies, usually a dozen or so to choose from, with the intent of getting these rich but challenged daters matched up. In Patti's eyes, every guy with a seven-figure stash is a great catch. As for the women, well, she promises them a good time for their trouble, assuring them all that she'll find them suitable dates -- if not millionaires.
How can I describe Patti Stanger without resorting to cliché? I can't. She makes Joan Rivers seem subtle. She's like a brunette bulldozer in stiletto heels. Her whine is a very Kosher vintage, but you'd never call her sweet and smooth. Still, there's something compelling about Patti. Her energy is undeniable and she simply won't take no for an answer. The ultimate know-it-all when it comes to matchmaking, she's a formidable woman when confronted with self-possessed men who have their own ideas about what they want in a love match. Patti pushes the envelope, forcing the guys to have makeovers if necessary, criticizing their choices, and insisting that no man gets nookie until he's in a committed relationship. And you gotta love this lady because she's charging these men an arm and a leg to be yelled at like this! That, my friends, takes talent!
Across the continent, in Buffalo, New York of all places, is Patti Novak. She's the star of Confessions of a Matchmaker, a no nonsense, salt-of-the-earth, hard scrapple dame who deals with the realities of dating, not the fantasies. Millionaire Matchmaker is all Hollywood, with sunset cocktails on a yacht and private dinners at exclusive clubs on the Strip. In Buffalo, Patti Novak is pairing off Average Joes and Plain Janes with real world dates to Italian restaurants that still have red and white checkered tablecloths. Unlike Patti S., Patti N. takes on all kinds of people, not just the rich. And with searing honesty, she analyzes what's wrong with her clients and how they have to change if they want to successfully get matched up.
Patti Novak understands the matchmaking business, and since she's a Buffalo native, she knows the terrain and the people living there. Six years ago, after taking a job with a well-known, national dating service, she decided to open Buffalo Niagara Introductions. It's not as catchy a name as The Millionaires Club, but it's a success nonetheless. Like Patti Stanger, Patti Novak doesn't pull punches with her clients. She's brutally honest. Her bio refers to her as the Simon Cowell of dating. I think she's more like Bea Arthur without the punch lines. "And then there's Patti, that uncompromising, analyzing, matchmaking maven, right on, Patti!" She'll tell a client he has b.o. if necessary, and she won't mince words. If a girl comes in with a mullet, Patti sends her to the beauty parlor for a new 'doo.
Whether you like Patti S. or Patti N. could come down to how you like your empty calories? If you go for chocolate soufflé and hundred-year-old brandy, you'll like the Hollywood matchmaker. If you prefer a deep-dish pizza with a pitcher of beer, Buffalo Patti is the matchmaker for you. If you're on a diet and have no time for this kind of confection, get a copy of Fiddler on the Roof and sing along with "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch..."