Marla Martenson was born in Tacoma, Washington, the "City of Destiny." She has a natural flair for acting and a deep interest in reading and writing poetry and short stories. At the age of sixteen, Marla was living in Iran with her family, learning to speak French and Persian, when the revolution forced their return to Washington State. After a year of college here, the pursuit of an acting career drew her to Hollywood and a stint in television commercials and print modeling.
Restless and eager for new challenges, in the early nineties it was on to Chicago, where she discovered that she could use her personal dating experiences to help others. She subsequently turned this talent into a career as a matchmaker back in Los Angeles, where, since 2001, her skills have led many couples to matrimony. She found and married her own, musician and composer Adolfo Jon Alexi, in Mexico City in 2002. A world traveler and culture nut, Marla describes herself as having a French flair, a Persian heart, Italian fire, and Mexican taste buds Marla also works as a life coach and inspirational speaker inspiring people and giving them hope that they too, can find their soul mates.
Marla is the author of three memoirs, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, Hearts on the Line, and The Buddha Made Me Do It. She has been interviewed on the Today Show, WGN Chicago Morning News, San Diego Living, Urban Rush, CTV Calgary, Better TV, KUSI San Diego Morning Show, and over 100 radio shows including Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.
Marla and Adolfo reside in blissful harmony in Los Angeles, where she continues to bring her considerable matchmaking expertise to bear on the singles population of star-studded Southern California while her talented husband serenades them with his own songs and music.
What set you on the path of becoming a professional matchmaker?
It was a fluke. I had been an actress/waitress for 20 years. Unfortunately, more time was spent in restaurants than in front of a camera. Waiting on tables was never my dream and I longed to do something more meaningful with my life. When I was 39 I found myself back in Hollywood after having spent most of the '90s living in Chicago. My father had just died, and I was lost and felt hopeless. My now husband, Adolfo, had a friend who was taking over the management position at a video dating service called Great Expectations and she gave me a part-time job. I really enjoyed helping the singles and meeting so many interesting people. From there, I landed a job at a high-end Beverly Hills matchmaking service as a matchmaker to affluent men seeking beautiful women for marriage. In 2009, I left that job and in 2010 opened my own boutique matchmaking service.
What do you like most and least about being a Beverly Hills matchmaker?
What I like most is all of the interesting people I am fortunate enough to meet, and hopefully infuse some love into their lives. It can be very rewarding. I also love being my own boss and being able to make my own schedule. I can work from anywhere as long as I have my laptop.
The thing I like the least is dealing with the human nature of the affluent man. I'm expected to pull supermodels out of the air. They each have very specific tastes all the way down to eye color, hair color, height and even cup size. I had a couple of men even specify nipple size! That didn't go over too well with me, as you can imagine. So, like any job, there are the downsides and challenges for sure. I write about many of these idiosyncrasies in my memoir, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker.
You describe your dating clientele as, "busy, successful men seeking a relationship with sweet, drama-free, playful and beautiful women to add to their lives." How do you find these men and women, or how do they find you?
The men come to us (I have a fabulous business partner who handles memberships and sales) by referral and word of mouth. We have been fortunate to not have to advertise. Since I've been matchmaking for 15 years, I am very well known in the industry and women come to me every week via recruiters, other matchmakers, their girlfriends recommend them, they read my books, newsletter or hear me on the radio... those are just a few ways women find me.
How do the fees work in your business? Do the successful men pay and the young, beautiful women get your services for free, or...? Can you say what the average fees are for each?
The men are our clients. They are very busy and hire us to do the legwork for them. They pay a fee up front, usually for a one-year contract, but sometimes we do shorter programs. Memberships start at $10,000.
Of the romance/dating experts you've interviewed for your YouTube channel, Conversations With Cupid, is there one that stands out as being most memorable/surprising?
David Wygant is the most outrageous guest I have ever had. He tells it like it is, and even sprinkles in the F word. I got thousands of views on the video we did about older men dating younger women. He is an absolute hoot!
From your 15 years as a professional matchmaker, is there any advice you'd like to give men and women about more effective dating?
Oh my goodness, there are so many things I could say, but the most common faux pas would be: talking about your ex on a date, using the date like a therapy session, arriving late, looking at your cell phone all night, and not using good listening skills.
What is one of the most frequent mistakes men make in dating?
I have a whole list, but one that stands out in my mind right now is not behaving like an old fashioned gentleman. Make sure your date gets to her car safely, open doors, pay her valet ticket, compliment her, and pick up the phone instead of texting. If a man would do these simple things, he will stand out above the rest.
What is one of the most frequent mistakes women make in dating?
There are a few standards, but I would say one of the big ones is talking about their ex and using the date as a therapy session.
On dating profiles, women often request men who are "financially secure". What, exactly, does that mean?
Just as men are hardwired to be visual and can't be with a woman they do not find attractive, women are hard wired from the stone -age to seek a man who can provide and protect. That's why women tend to like men who are tall and financially successful. I have had many women tell me that they want a man who earns more than they do. Many women have been in the situation where they were supporting a guy, and that didn't make them feel good. Women still tend to like the man to take the lead, earn more and be able to provide for her if need be.
I also find that even now in the 21st century, when women don't really need a man for protection or to provide shelter and food, I do meet women who are looking for the "free ride" or "meal ticket." Some people call them gold diggers, or opportunists. Here in Los Angeles, women arrive from all over the world to be near the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. They see the fancy cars; private jets, mansions and red carpet events, and they want to be a part of it. I have met many women who will only date multi-millionaires or billionaires.
You've said, "A man wants to be wanted for who he is, not what he has." But isn't your job locating men who have lots of money and matching them with women who have youth and beauty? Isn't all that matching people with what they have rather than who they are?
Yes, it is true that my clients are affluent men, but that is only because those are the men who can afford our VIP, specialized service. And high- powered men with money who are paying thousands of dollars for a matchmaking service, expect the women to be exceptional looking. Otherwise, why pay 10-25 grand for a service? I would be thrilled if my clients were open to meeting women who are average looking. It would certainly make my job a thousand times easier.
What are Reiki, Life Force Energy Healing, and Crystal Healing, and how did you become involved with them?
I document my whole journey in my memoir, The Buddha Made Me Do It, but the short version is, I started taking classes at a place called The Imagine Center in Tarzana, Ca. and one of the classes was crystal healing. I found out that I could get certified and that began my deep interest in learning different healing modalities.
Reiki/Life Force energy healing:
The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."
A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace and well being.
Reiki has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.
Crystals carry a vibration that activates certain energy centers within our electromagnetic system, thus having a positive effect on our entire body systems.
The energy delivered by the arranged crystals blends and resonates within the chakras to promote self-healing. This form of vibrational medicine allows the body to resolve energetic imbalances and to help facilitate healing. Crystals can absorb, amplify, transmute and balance energies in the body to assist healing on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
In your book, THE BUDDHA MADE ME DO IT: A Field Guide to EnLITEnment, you present your own humorous spiritual quest. Is there an overall insight you received from this quest?
Oh my goodness, this journey was so profound. I not only learned so much about myself and the universe, but also that life is a never ending opportunity to learn, experience and delve into the mystical and the divine.
What else is on your bucket list?
Travel (I have a list of places I want to see) and writing more books.
Your desert island choices for each:
Book: The Buddha Made Me Do It. (I love reliving my adventures with my friend Julie.)
Movie: Love Actually
CD: Anything Celine Dion or Rod Stewart
Famous person throughout history you'd like for conversation?
Edgar Allan Poe
Famous person throughout history you'd like for romance?
How did you meet your own soul mate, and how did you recognize him as such, rather than choosing to continue the search?
A mutual friend called Sabrina introduced us. We met and were together ever since. It just flowed, hard to say why this one worked and the others didn't. I feel that we have had several past lives together and we need to work out some karmic issues in this lifetime.
How have you been able to sustain your own marital relationship for so long?
It hasn't been easy. My husband and I are a real life Ricky and Lucy. There have been many ups and downs, but we love each other and continue to grow and learn.
On your blog, you have an article you wrote titled, "Are We Meant to Eat Meat?" Are we? And what is that article doing on a dating blog? If someone's a vegetarian or vegan, or a gung-ho meat eater, should they disclose that on their dating profile, or during their first meeting?
Over the past couple of years I have shifted my website and blog to be more about loving yourself. I wouldn't call it a dating blog at all. It definitely has a spiritual theme. If you don't love and respect yourself, it will be a challenge to find a great partner or a partner at all. I think it's perfectly fine to add that you are vegan or that you enjoy a good steak in your dating profile. If I were single again and looking as a vegan, I would love to connect with someone who shares my values and ethics of non-violence and respecting all beings. Loving animals and leaving them off my plate is a big part of who I am to the core.
Your website motto appears to be "Love Yourself, Love Your Life". Why did you choose that as your motto? Was there a time in your life when you didn't do one or both of those? If so, how did you turn that around? And how can others turn it around?
I absolutely have grown over the years. I had low self-esteem after having had been bullied as a child and verbally abused for years by men I was in relationships with. As a matchmaker, I see many singles wanting a quick fix. They want to hire me to find them the perfect mate, when they themselves have much healing, growing and work to do on themselves. If you don't love who you are, why should someone else? I turned it around with years of self-help seminars, books, healing modalities and life experience. Others can do the same. I help people clear out blocks and stagnant energy.
I understand scientists are perfecting robots intended for romance. Does this make you nervous about your job security?
Wow, actually, I love the idea. There are some men who are so darn picky that they will never get into a relationship through my service. I would love to suggest that they give a robot a try! At least the robot won't age or gain weight.