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.
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.