Marriage Broker to the Global Gentry

September 13, 2013   ·   0 Comments


Above: Collage by NYT eXaminer.

By Robert Waterhouse:

“Love and marriage,” ventured Frank Sinatra in 1956, “go together like a horse and carriage.” He was in the throes of a stormy union with Ava Gardner soon to end in divorce, which probably helped the huge popularity of the Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen ditty. “Ask the local gentry,” he crooned to the accompaniment of Nelson Riddle, “and they will say it’s elementary.”

Despite decades of social revolution, the International Herald Tribune retains its very own marriage broker to the global gentry still saying it’s elementary. Her name is Gabriele Thiers-Bense. Her Zurich-based agency has advertised “Marriages à la Carte” via the IHT for years. Her use of the English language is as individual as the service she promises her clients.

Take last weekend’s (September 7-8) entry, as usual a three-column x six centimeter bulletin heading the Marriage & Dating Agencies section of IHT Classifieds. Separated by a photo of the smiling Mrs Thiers-Bense, the Her/His descriptions run like this:

47, slender 175 cm tall, she appears to be 10 years younger, is available for marriage, world journeys, golf, nature, architecture & exquisite ancient arts. Her courtesy & caring affection are unique. A fine man of equal interests & qualities will be enthused.

Vigorous 62, 196 cm tall, athletic & sports trained. After a long marriage he again seeks to be with a worldly woman of substance and of his generation, preferably in her fifties. He has licenses for boats & planes, residences in EU & loves wildlife adventure.

Now, about the woman in question. Is she requesting or requiring elegance? Has she the appearance of a person 10 years younger than 47, or does it appear that she might be 10 years younger? Is she available for marriage first then this magnificent bundle of activities, or could the availability for activities lead to marriage? Is she looking for a man who also appears to be 10 years younger than he is, also enthused about such activities?

The man in question is “hands on” – but doing what? Being a global industrialist, a sports trained athlete, or something else? One supposes, but does not know, that his previous long marriage came to a natural conclusion given that he seeks more of the same. Maybe he holds licences for boats and planes, but is he actually qualified to operate them? Does he live or simply own property in European Union countries? What sort of wildlife adventure does he love to pursue? Big-game hunting?

So, top readers eagerly turn to such ads when their freshly-ironed Weekend IHT is delivered on a silver salver and, having decoded them, think “yes, she/he could be for me”. Perhaps. For Worldwide-Elite, however, the prime aim is to attract new clients in a marketplace where discretion is the better part of value. As Mrs Thiers-Bense herself puts it, “be here assured of water proof protection of identity”. It must work, otherwise the proprietress, who has personally interviewed 25,000 potential suitors over 40 years, would have been out of business long ago.

She understands what it takes. Addressing her male clients she says: “I know you wish to have a beautiful, intelligent, uncomplicated, adaptable, independent, accomplished, sophisticated, credible, loyal, supportive, caring, understanding & eternally inspiring – the very best people are here with me. Worldwide Elite presents only world leading persons who request marriage only!”

How about love, Sinatra’s other ingredient? Love is not often mentioned, as Mrs GTB might put it. However, deep down her on website, she says this (alluding to the darker reasons why many come to her): “Comparing allows the liberty of personal choice without being trapped into another fatal destruction... it also allows distinct personal evaluation, which provides self-esteem – and that only enables a thoroughly convincing, stable choice for LOVE & MARRIAGE!”

Be reassured by an email from a US lawyer also posted on her website: “I take comfort in knowing that no matter how off-kilter the world is from time to time, I can simply open the International Herald Tribune and know that the world will be just fine as long as you are continuing your wonderful match making.”

What more could one ask of an advertiser?

Robert Waterhouse is a British-born journalist who lives in France


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