Patti Stanger doesn’t mince words. Dubbed “the Simon Cowell of Dating,” Stanger fixes up love-hungry millionaire men with pretty young things on her popular Bravo reality-TV series The Millionaire Matchmaker, and isn’t afraid to tell her clients or potential matches that they’re overweight, obnoxious, or just plain ugly.
Stanger was born in Short Hills, N.J., and spent her youth vacationing at the Jersey Shore. As it happens, she’s also a massive fan of the MTV reality series, Jersey Shore, whose fourth-season finale and reunion episodes aired Thursday night.
In honor of the finale, and the end to the cast’s splendid Italian sojourn, third-generation matchmaker Stanger has broken down the two key relationships on this season’s Jersey Shore—Ronnie & Sam, Snooki & Jionni—using her trademark, no-bullshit approach. In the process, she also opened up about her own failed relationship, and the time a crazed, violent woman had her fearing for her life on her own show while producers stood by and did nothing.
What would be the initial roadblocks when it comes to dating a self-described “guido” or “guidette?”
Stanger: Well, I mean there’s a machismo factor of “it’s my way or the highway” with the men. I’ve got to be really careful because of my incident a couple of weeks ago, but personally, I love Italian men. And if you mix it with an Irish man, I’m at the wedding. There is a feeling that you will be protected at all costs. You don’t see Jewish men running into the line of fire, but they will buy you the diamonds, you know what I mean? When you do date an Italian, they’re very emotional, they say what they think and feel whether they’re politically correct or not, and they just go a little psycho. But it’s exciting! They’re not boring.
So, let’s start off with Ronnie and Sam, since they’re the original crazy couple of Jersey Shore. When we last left them in Jersey, they were fighting all the time and broke up, and then Sam landed a pretty mean right hook to Ronnie’s chin.
Well, you can’t say the women don’t fight back! I would say: Italians fight and Jews sue. [Laughs] The girls don’t take any shit, which I’m kind of impressed by, but I still don’t think anyone should fight anyone.
They get to Italy and almost immediately try to reconcile their relationship and it doesn’t go well because Ronnie gets drunk and dances with some girls, Sam gets jealous, and then there’s a huge fight when Sam reveals that The Situation told her Ronnie was creeping on girls.
And they’re celebrities. On the show, they don’t take into account when people are screaming their names on the streets as they’re walking around, so there’s, “If you don’t like me, I’m going to find somebody else stat.” That’s not a good thing. They’re always playing with fire to get the other jealous and it’s a toxic relationship. There is an excitement knowing that you like me enough you’ll fight me, fight for me, or try to make me jealous back, so it becomes this perpetual wheel you can’t get off. If she gets volatile, he needs to say, “Listen, I’m not going to engage in this type of behavior,” but he has a temper, so he does engage. And we don’t see it half the time, but they probably go home and screw. We don’t know if they’re f------ off camera afterwards due to MTV’s creative editing, so maybe that’s how they set the romantic table—like beasts in the wild. [Laughs]
Vinnie finally has to intervene and basically says that Ronnie and Sam are driving everyone in the house crazy, so they need to cut it out for the sake of everyone else. After his little spiel, they decide to get back together and it’s been pretty drama-free between Ronnie and Sam for the rest of the season.
I think his intervention was kind of right and he needs to be the voice of reason because he’s calm in that moment, and that’s great in theory, but will they follow through? No. They know the ratings go through the roof when they go crazy and there’s also the dynamic of the relationship—they feed off each other’s psycho-ness, but then they make up just as hard. It’s like a drug—they’re living for the high and the low of it. I think it will wear off when someone gets his or her own spin-off. They have an agenda.
And we enjoy watching it.
Exactly. Didn’t you think that when Snooki got punched the first season, that was it? Who would allow that? And they allowed it. So, how far will the network go?
Do you think it’s irresponsible how much danger they put the women in on Jersey Shore?
In my situation, Bravo placed me in a dangerous situation once. They had kind of a ringer girl come in and cause a disruption. She’d been on the show and had been a pest before, and I was having a brunette mixer and she was a blonde, so I told them to escort her out, and she went to hit me. I screamed, “Don’t touch her ‘cause she’ll sue!” So the producers allowed her to go after me and didn’t stop it. The executive producer allowed her to cross the line into ‘Video Village,’ which is our production zone and only for the crew, and if it wasn’t for my makeup artist and friend who threw me in the bathroom to save me—that girl went to hit me and kept screaming over and over, “I’m going to get my own show out of this!” And then the girls at the mixer called 911. That was in the second season but never made it into the show because it broke the fourth wall. So they do put you in dangerous situations and you need to have your guard up all the time.
Snooki’s desperate for love in a lot of ways, and I’m not trying to put her down, because I notice a lot of myself in her.
Since everyone on the show is a millionaire at this point, what type of person would you find for Ronnie and Sam?
I can’t set them up, because if I throw a third party in, it will become a triangle. Every time you throw someone into the system, they’ll go back to each other when it’s over. It always happens. You need to clean yourself up, go into dating detox—my book, Become Your Own Matchmaker talks about that. They’re too connected emotionally, and until they break that tie for good, it won’t work.
Let’s move on to the other Jersey Shore couple, Snooki and Jionni.
Snooki is an interesting girl. She’s desperate for love in a lot of ways, and I’m not trying to put her down, because I notice a lot of myself in her. When you’re that young, your pheromones are pulsing, and you’ve made that much money and fame, you’re looking for love because everything else is set. She has some sort of daddy image situation going on there.
And Jionni is a rebound from her last relationship with Jeff Miranda, who seemingly used her for her celebrity.
Correct. And with Jionni, I don’t get a sense that he’s using her to get famous, I get the sense that he doesn’t trust her to step out on him. He’s sort of like the anti-guy for her, but he still is the machismo Italian driving the bus. He probably looks at his parents and sees his father driving the bus and his mother paving the way, but she’s a successful businesswoman and can’t be that way. To her, being demure is weak. And when she tries to change it up and be sweet and call him, he’s like, “What is this? What’s going on?” There’s no trust in this relationship. That one will break up.
Situation, meanwhile, has inserted himself in the middle—as is his wont—claiming that he hooked up with Snooki months before the show, and in the early episodes, he tries very hard to hook up with her.
He gives her love and then he pulls away. That is sociopathic behavior and it’s also narcissistic behavior. It is “I will only allow you to see a glimpse of me in order to get what I want. At the same time, I’m going to be passive-aggressive, which will drive you crazy, because you won’t be able to figure me out.”
Snooki does give Jionni a little rope each time she calls him, which gets him frustrated. She alludes to the hookup rumors with The Situation but dismisses them, admits to hooking up with Deena at the club, etc.
Right. She’s trying to get it so that when he finally hears about it, he doesn’t flip out. But her moments that she chooses to tell him—when she’s drunk on the phone—not a good thing! It’s like she builds her courage up and it’s a totally inappropriate moment. But he has to know that she’s going on a vacation and she’s in her twenties—she’s going to f--- around. But it’s the level of, “Did you f--- him?” Because that is his threshold; it’s not kissing, it’s not holding hands, it’s putting the dick inside the vagina. Jionni is all, “I own you bitch, and if you go past this line, I let you go.” If she breaks up, I will invite her onto Millionaire Matchmaker tomorrow—as well as The Situation, who I’m dying to fix up.
So when Jionni finally visits, Snooki dances all over the club flashing herself everywhere, and Jionni flips out, calls her a “whore,” and leaves.
But that’s the attention factor: If I get attention from other men, you will love me. It’s a psychosis. But she’s showing off and embarrassing him, and so it backfires. But then Ronnie came to Snooki and says, “Why are you changing yourself for him? If he can’t love you off-the-wall chains and all, then this is not the guy for you because you are not Miss Quiet Sit in a Box.” I’ve been in that situation before. My ex-fiancé was like that. He wanted me to be quiet and demure like the sisters in his family, but I wasn’t like that, and when he met me I wasn’t like that, but then when I got famous, it accelerated it. It was like, OK, you want Stepford, and I’m not Stepford. And that’s the way it is with him and Snooki. He’s a teacher and he’s small town, and he wants his pizza with pepperoni and pineapple on it, but you can’t change her, because this is who she is. She’s larger than life. She’s Snooki.
And then Snooki goes and sleeps with Vinny.
But why do you think she f----- Vinny? Vinny’s on the show, she can spend every day with him and they’re enduring the same routine. And why do you think Vinny f----- her? Because she was with Jionni. There’s the triangle. Cock smells other cock. But I don’t think it was a good thing for him to f--- [Vinny]. The only thing a woman can give a man is her virtue, so it’s not being a prude to hold onto your cooch until you negotiate a better deal. Crossing the line is cheating, and what she gives is what she’s going to get back karma-wise. She should have broken up with Jionni first… she does drunk a lot, don’t you think? She drinks a ton. She might need rehab, you never know. People make stupid decisions when they’re drunk.
Snooki’s sort of single now, and she’s a millionaire. So…
I’ll fix her up. I’ll do a mixer for The Situation and Snooki, have the rest of the cast be the judges and help pick out the girls for both of them. There’s the episode! But I think Snooki needs a businessman. A manager type. He’d take the alcohol out of her mouth and also, I think she’s looking for a daddy. There’s a daddy issue there. I think the guy needs be in his early thirties, be a businessman—a lawyer, manager—and someone who likes Italian women. Maybe an Irish Catholic—that will push her back.