Globe and Mail

How to marry a millionaire

Retro as it sounds, mating for money didn't stop with Marilyn Monroe. Today's marriage-minded mercenaries are lining up for lessons.

GAYLE MacDONALD
Arts Reporter
The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 6, 1999

Toronto -- Marrying rich is an idea with a distinctly retrograde whiff: It conjures up the scheming sisters of Jane Austen novels, the golddigging showgirls of Busby Berkeley musicals, that Simpson woman driving a fairy-tale prince from his throne, or Marilyn Monroe cooing and sashaying her way through the 1953 film How to Marry a Millionaire.

But look around -- in this age of instant Internet tycoons, the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? game show, casino gambling and stock-picking mania, it seems everyone expects to get rich quick. And what could be an easier way than marrying into it? It worked for Barbara Amiel (Mrs. Conrad Black), Hilary Frayne (Mrs. Galen Weston), and the indefatigable Ivana Zelnicek (the former Mrs. Donald Trump). So why not you?

Why not, indeed. And if you need some pointers on how to walk the walk, and talk the talk, of the uber-wealthy, have we got the course for you. It's called How to Meet the Rich, it only costs 52 bucks, and it gives pointers on everything from spotting the rich, gaining access to their favourite hangouts, dressing like them, talking like them, titillating them and, of course, marrying them.

Last Saturday, in a meeting room of the Colony Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ginie Sayles, America's self-proclaimed "foremost" authority on how to meet and marry the stinking rich, gave a three-hour spiel on how to bag the Big One: the mate with millions -- maybe billions, baby -- and all the toys, memberships, and connections to land you on Easy Street.

About two dozen people came to hear Sayles's three-hour spiel last Saturday, nearly all women (there were two men), aged anywhere from mid-20s to late 40s. They were an ordinary looking group, dressed conservatively (except for one young woman in bright pink lycra) and not one of them fit the old-world stereotype of the well-coiffed femme fatale or the well-groomed dandy. But get below the surface of this demure troupe of mostly middle-class professionals and you'll meet the -- how to put this delicately? -- truly mercenary.

These are guys and gals who have tried love, but found it a bust. Call them narcissists. Call them schemers. They don't really care. This go-round, they're approaching marriage like a job. One with a major signing bonus, lots of perks, and a whopping payout if either party terminates the partnership.

"We decided to approach this as a business," says Zoya (not her real name), a 44-year-old mother of grown kids, who works for a major oil company and is now divorced, attending the course with a friend, Mary Anne. "We were looking at ourselves, and realized we had to do something to get a life," she says. "We're both pragmatists. Not opportunists. This course is about starting to lay the ground work to find eligible men, with the right credentials."

"After all, the clock's ticking," interupts Mary Anne, 42, an attractive blonde with a nervous giggle. "The guys we're meeting in bars aren't working out. The last one I dated offered to treat me to a movie, and said I could buy the popcorn. Well, the jerk had free passes. I'm fed up. And if I can meet somebody rich, it certainly would help."

Amen, says Sayles, a bottled blonde and born-again Christian who hails from Texas and won't divulge her age (a good guess, late 40s): "If the rich call you mercenary don't listen to them. Don't let them buffalo you!

"The rich are the most mercenary people on the planet," she insists in her lazy, Southern drawl. "The rich want to marry rich, too. Remember, they get the most exclusive memberships and live in the most exclusive neighbourhoods because it buys them the best, highest-class friends.

"Mercenary doesn't mean selling out for money," says Sayles, who has written How To books on marrying rich, flirting, winning beauty pageants, and writing a novel in three weeks or less. "It means being your own best friend."

Dressed in plaid, hunter-green culottes, a gold scarf around her neck, and her pageboy hairdo pulled back in a ponytail, Sayles's image is wholesome, all-American. She looks more like a Brownie leader than a 13-year veteran of baiting traps for the well-to-do. She's been to the altar three times herself, and on the last trip, she bagged herself an oil heir of an undisclosed net worth from Texas, Reed Sayles, who now travels with her on a speaking circuit and introduces her as "the love of my life."

Sayles's career got started after a Texas paper did a story on her uncanny knack for dating wealthy guys. Since then, she's been featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, wearing a slinky red dress, with her dark brown hair worn shoulder-length. She's done Donahue, Oprah and 48 Hours with Dan Rather.

Call her a bottomfeeder and she'll turn up her nose and laugh all the way to the bank. Sayles is a hard-headed businesswoman and she's built a healthy little industry by tapping into a social trend, one in which people seem to increasingly value bucks over brains, money over morals, and luxury over love. "I call it fishing for dollars in the big sea," says Bob (not his real name). The 37-year-old salesman from Toronto is blatant about his desire to procreate with money. "I'd marry money if she was good looking," he says, then adds quickly that he's joking. "But honestly, if I'm dating a woman, and if she's rich, it's icing on the cake. Money makes life a lot easier, and that's tempting. All my buddies agree, whether they'd admit it or not."

To a diehard romantic, this tidal wave of narcissism and materialism is alarming, and depressing. Anton Allahar, a professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario in London, says it's also reality. "We live in an advanced industrial-capitalist society," says Allahar. "The reality is we judge people to be successful not by who they are, but by what they have. The bumper sticker that says it best is 'He who has the most toys, wins.' "

Allahar's colleague at Western, James Côté, points to a 35-year study of 300,000 freshmen students in California who were asked to choose what was most important to them. In the mid-1960s, he said 80 per cent of the students polled endorsed having a meaningful philosophy of life as being very important, while 40 per cent cared more about being rich. In 1997, Côté says, 70 per cent of the 300,000 young adults surveyed put money at Number 1, while only 40 per cent believed a meaningful life philosophy mattered.

Allahar, who has co-authored two books on materialism and consumerism with Côté, says how-to sessions like Sayles's are refreshing because they're honest. "Let's be frank, none of us wants to go out and marry poor, to be materially deprived," says the professor. "While we like to entertain the notion that money cannot buy happiness, you and I both know that's bullshit. Certainly, there are miserable rich people. But they're not miserable because of their riches."

So true, says Sayles, who speaks in 25 cities in the United States and Canada on why it's, in her words, "A-Okay" to marry money. "Even Cinderella had to have a makeover," she tells her disciples. "Cinderella didn't wait for her prince to come to her, she crashed the party.

"Realize this. In order to get in to where the rich are, you must look as if you belong there. You must act as if you belong there." And Sayles is like Cinderella's fairy godmother. "I'm going to give you some Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo's so you, too, can go to the ball."

Some students snickered at the fairytale analogy, but dug deep into purses and briefcases for pens to start furiously taking notes on how to find rich mates, or RMs, as Sayles calls them. Men have the highest success rate with rich divorcées, she says, but cautions the males in the class "to make sure this RM is living on income from assets, not income from alimony."

Women have the best crack at self-made RMs, like gazillionaire Bill Gates. These men "know faster than anyone on the planet what they want and they go for it." As proof, Sayles tells a story about golfer Greg Norman who met his bride-to-be when she was a stewardess. He turned to a buddy on that flight and said, "I'm going to marry that girl." He did a few weeks later, and Sayles says, they've been together ever since. Happily? Who knows, and who cares.

Other must-dos to snag Mr. or Mrs. Rich: Change your hair style every six months. Pick a high-falutin' sounding name (Archibald Leach didn't get Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton until he changed his name to Cary Grant). Wear tasteful, classic clothes in natural fabrics. Crash big parties (but wait until 10 p.m., when people are well into their drinks). Work in politics and at celebrity golf and tennis tournaments. Hang out at Whistler, Mont Tremblant or the horse track. Go to exotic pet shows. Get on the mailing list of auction houses. Rent a hovel if you have to, but make sure it's in the right zip code.

"All marriages end in death or divorce so you might as well take the best deal you can in life," says Sayles. And she's a big fan of signing a prenup, any prenup, no matter how puny. Case in point, she says: Ivana Trump, dumped by The Donald, still managed to walk away with more than $20-million (U.S.) cash after their marriage crashed spectacularly.

"Ivana settled for one measly per cent in her agreement," says Sayles. "But she now has her own TV show, her own line of luggage, clothing, perfume and her own advice column. Her marriage to Donald Trump may, or may not have been, the pits. But her life is better off for having married him."

As she nears the end of her lecture, Sayles voice starts to go, and her hubby goes to fetch her a tea. She's had a rough couple of days, battling a cold, and says she's pushed her vocal chords to the limit teaching The Seduction Mystique (the do's and don'ts of flirting) earlier in the day, and a seminar on How to Meet Rich Clients the night before.

Two women who attended both the Flirt and Marry Rich classes said they came because they were curious about the content and desperate to get out of a rut. "We want to meet classier guys," says one. "The guys we usually meet," adds the other, "are either broke or already married. I figured this time I might as well start at the top, and if I don't like anything there, I'll make my way down. I started at the bottom last time."

Two other women, both in their early 40s, had a more nefarious goal in mind. Seems they're throwing a party for rich men in a few weeks. Problem is, they only know a few, so they came to get tips on how to track down more with seven-figure bank accounts. "My mom always said you can marry rich as easily as you can marry poor," shrugs Lisa, who works in the film industry, and has never been married.

Sayles has recreated herself many times in her career, as a publicist, teacher, a stockbroker, a restaurant hostess, and now devout Episcopalian. As she wraps up the course, she tries to inject some spiritualism into her subject matter. Have faith in yourself, she preaches. Release pettiness, she pleads. And "give, give, give, especially to the old, the young and handicapped, who are so often ignored in this world."

Then she snaps out of it.

Follow her advice, she says, and you'll meet Mr. Rich in 18 months. Continue to play your cards right, and you'll be engaged a year after that. "Whatever you do, though, don't drag out the engagement," she warns. "Keep it to three days to three weeks. Never, absolutely never, wait longer than three months to be married."

Why the rush?

"Because they're rich." Obviously.

GOLDDIGGER'S GUIDE

Mating tips from self-styled get-hitched-quick guru Ginie Sayles.

Move into the "right" zipcode, even if it's a hovel.

Change your name.

Never wear designer labels that show.

Change your makeup and haircut every six months.

Go to opening nights of major arts events.

Get your name on the mailing list of major auction houses.

The rich can always be found around horses, water and snow. Hang out or work at places like Mont Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Banff, or Woodbine racetrack in Toronto.

Get weekend jobs in corporate terminals at urban airports. Chat up anyone getting off a private plane.

Gamble. Women should frequent the dice and roulette tables. Say things like, "Boy, am I lucky for you." Men should scout out the blackjack tables.

Politics and money are bedfellows. Stuff envelopes for your local mayoral candidate.

Pretend you have a job you like. The rich are into "work chic" and want mates with careers they'd never dream of giving up. Journalism's a good bet -- you can always invent a reason to interview a prospect.

Lunch regularly in the best restaurants. It's half the price of dinner. Go early: The rich eat at 11:30, when crowds are thin and food is freshest.

Crash parties in the major ballrooms of big hotels. Wait until 10 p.m. or later, since by then the cocktail set won't notice any "irregulars."

Don't try to impress the rich in the boudoir with kinky or exotic acts. They'll think you're trying to audition.

Always, always sign a pre-nup.

ALTARED STATES

Other gems on the how-to-marry book circuit:

How to Find & Marry the Person God Has for You

How to Marry a Black Man: The Real Deal

How to Marry a Marquis

How to Marry a Beautiful Woman: Even if You're a Frog

Gold Digger's Guide: How to Marry Rich

How to Marry a Count, Duke or Prince in Europe

The Marriage Plan: How to Marry Your Soul Mate in a Year or Less

How to Marry a Reluctant Rogue

How to Marry Somebody Else's Housebroken Husband

How to Marry Super Rich: Or Love, Money and the Morning After

How to Marry the Boss: With No Experience Necessary

How to Marry: One Hot Cowboy

How to Marry: The Bad Boy Next Door

How to Meet & Marry Mr. Right (. . . and live happily ever after)

Beyond Cinderella: How to Find and Marry the Man You Want

(Source: Amazon.com.)

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