Film Revives Cowboy's Matchmaking Business

Ivan Thompson and Gary Childs i i

'Cowboy Cupid' Ivan Thompson, left, and his client, Gary Childs, at a hotel in Casas Grandes, Mexico. Childs, a rancher from Michigan, says he came to Mexico to "find a slim, attractive young lady that appreciates a good man." John Burnett, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John Burnett, NPR
Ivan Thompson and Gary Childs

'Cowboy Cupid' Ivan Thompson, left, and his client, Gary Childs, at a hotel in Casas Grandes, Mexico. Childs, a rancher from Michigan, says he came to Mexico to "find a slim, attractive young lady that appreciates a good man."

John Burnett, NPR

Ivan Thompson's cross-border matchmaking business has dwindled in recent years, under competition from the Internet. But a new documentary about "Cowboy Cupid," who arranges marriages between American men and Mexican women, has boosted interest in his services.

Thompson's life had never been much of an advertisement for his own business. Seventeen years ago, he put an ad in a newspaper in Juarez, Mexico, for a wife. He was astonished when he got about eighty responses. One of them led to marriage, but it only lasted nine years.

'Cowboy Del Amor'

Watch scenes from the new film about 'Cowboy Cupid' Ivan Thompson.

Rick and Francis

One of Thompson's matches: Rick, a Texas truck driver, and Francis, a hard-working young woman from Mexico who's looking for a man who will love her forever. Theirs is one of the stories in Cowboy Del Amor. Cowboy Del Amor hide caption

itoggle caption Cowboy Del Amor

Despite his failed cross-border marriage, the former rodeo cowboy and horse trader realized there was a plentiful market of lonely American men who were tired of American women — and lonely Mexican women who were tired of Mexican men.

What they lacked was an introduction.

Thompson charges about $3,000 for his personalized matchmaking service. The business is not incorporated, it doesn't have a name, and there are no contracts. Just a handshake.

It's really only a sideline. Thompson lives mainly on his Social Security. He says his business dwindled as the Internet became a more popular meeting place for couples.

But he says things are starting to turn around. A new documentary about Thompson, Cowboy Del Amor by Israeli filmmaker Michèle Ohayon, has received favorable reviews — and Thompson's phone is beginning to ring more often.

Ohayon says her film has been generating clients for Thompson in the unlikeliest places, including retirees who saw the documentary at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

"There's a lot of lonely guys out there who want to be matched, and they want somebody they can grow old with," she says.

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