“A lot of women are with a guy socially simply because they don’t want to be at home alone. Don’t you ever wonder, when you go out, What the heck am I doing here? When I interview a client, he tells me exactly what he wants. Then I set up dates. I make all the reservations. I do everything.”
Compared to the reach of the internet, matchmaking seems a painstaking and even fallible process. But technology such as internet dating puts an unnatural spin on romance, France says. She calls it “a really odd way to meet someone.” But, most all of her clients do try online dating before coming to her.
“One client had picked out a date based on a picture, and when he got to the place they were supposed to meet, the elevator opened and this beautiful girl walked out. But the beautiful girl kept walking. She was not his date. Behind her in the elevator was the actual date, and when he saw her, he was, like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ She looked nothing like her picture.”
France frowns on messaging and texting as well. “I’m sure most people don’t say half the things in person that they do in an email or a text. Why? Because it’s easy to text. And it’s very superficial.” She thinks the right way to connect potential love interests is via old-school direct communication and referral: face to face.
“I feel great when I can call a client and tell them I met someone today that I really think they will enjoy meeting as well. When I go to sleep at night, I know that I gave my best that day to finding the right person for my client. I did it, not a computer.”
Where does France go prospecting for potential matches? Craigslist? “Oh, no. All day long, every day, I walk around and I meet people. Right here, in fact [we are at a Del Mar coffee shop]. On a Saturday morning, if I see someone who fits a description, I’ll walk right up and introduce myself. ‘Hi, I’m a matchmaker, and I have a client that I think might be right for you.’
Elle France demonstrates her process.
“I’m on the hunt all day long. I like that. And then, when I do interview them, I have a number of questions, and I get an idea if this person is gonna be anywhere near what my client wants.” Her clients, she says, are very specific. “No nail polish, for example. A lot of guys say they want a natural woman, an all-natural girl. Some guys are so turned off by the high-maintenance woman. Especially in this area of San Diego.” She looks at her own nails. “I don’t wear any nail polish.”
She makes another sporting reference when she compares herself to Jerry Maguire: “Tell me what you want, and I’ll get it for you. I know a lot of matchmakers that give advice, but if I tell a guy, ‘Look, you should be dating 40-year-olds,’ and he doesn’t want a 40-year-old, then why am I gonna give him a 40-year-old? In the end, he’ll be happier with a 30-year-old.”
The client base at present is predominately male, she says, but more women are coming onboard. “I give them a completely different perspective on how men think, different than what their girlfriends say. It’s all about stepping back and listening before jumping in to react with the opposite sex. I like to see the accident before it happens, and prevent people from making the same mistake over and over.”
France notices a reporter eyeing an attractive woman who has entered the coffee shop solo. She laughs. “Want me to go over and see if she’s single?” No, that won’t be necessary. But she pulls out a business card and walks over anyway and introduces herself. She comes back after a few moments, smiling, still with her business card in hand, and sits down. “She has a boyfriend.”
The Studio Engineer
Image by Howie Rosen
Why analog, as opposed to digital, recording? “Because of the sound,” answers Thomas Yearsley, owner of Thunderbird Analog Recording Studio. “It’s super punchy, crisp, and clean.”
“Let me put this record on.” Thomas Yearsley is running about the rooms in a blue sweatshirt and jeans and black Converse tennis shoes. “I use records to set all the recording levels.” A shelf on the wall holds hundreds of old albums, and a jukebox near the front door still plays 45s. In fact, everything about this place is old. For starters, years ago it was the Oceanside Department of Motor Vehicles.
The original DMV linoleum floor is still in place, and Yearsley will show you the wear-spots made by thousands of shoes where lines once formed at a service counter. As a teenager, Yearsley got his vehicle registration at that counter, the same spot where a high-school classmate named Dave Gonzales got his learner’s permit. Both Yearsley and Gonzales would go on to start a band named the Paladins that would ultimately rocket them out of their home base in North County and on to international fame.
This is now Thunderbird Analog Recording Studios in Oceanside. Yearsley is both the owner and chief engineer. Tonight, the Honkys are coming in for their weekly recording session. It’s been going on four years with the Honkys, a roots trio that consists of brothers Bret and Broy Hazzard and bassist Sean McCarty.
The building was also a Mexican record label at one time. It was they, Yearsley explains, who reconfigured the old DMV into a recording studio, now decorated in the sea greens and burnt oranges beloved in the 1950s. Wooden tiki heads and glass jaguars and such line the shelves, along with a San Diego Music Award trophy. The lighting is pale pink and green. The electronic gear is vintage eight-track-tape recording stuff taken straight from a page in recording history.
Earlier in the day, Yearsley cooked up a pot of pastrami, and condiments and snacks and side fixings are laid out on a table in a side room. “The Honkys’ll be here for six hours tonight,” he says. “I don’t want anybody to have to take a break and go out for a pizza.” There is also a full bar at Thunderbird. When the band members arrive, shots of brandy circulate.