Seven months ago, Glamour introduced us to 27 year-old Lera Loeb, a Ukranian girl who found love and a rich American husband through a marriage brokerage service. Now she's working on a book and a television series. What's her secret?
Persistence, for one thing: Loeb emailed us way too many times this week with a link to a video for a novelty Hanukkah song put out by a singer named Chevonne, who is one of her clients (she works as a PR rep for, among other things, a lesbian porn site.) A quick Google found that our email pesterer was none other than the subject of the most-discussed Glamour article about mail-order brides of the summer. (Note to all of you other PR people: sending four emails about the same thing does not work at all unless you are a famous mail-order bride.)
The Glamour article was picked up all over the place—by AOL, MSN.com, a British lady-mag—and spurred numerous blog posts on the merits of marriage brokerage services. (Including this rather lukewarm take from our BFFs at Jezebel.) Lera's story hit a nerve.
So we thought we'd turn the lemons of being annoyed by all those emails into the lemonade of checking in with Loeb, who is now very publicly "out" as a mail-order bride seeing as it's the first thing that pops up when you Google her.
When she was 21, Lera married New York music producer Steve Loeb, 44 at the time, after they met through a marriage brokerage service (AKA "Mail-order bride" service). The Glamour article details her childhood in a "smoggy factory city" in Ukraine and her desire—shared by many Ukrainian women—to escape by marrying a Westerner. So Lera created a profile on a marriage brokerage service, got messaged by a bunch of creepy fat Americans, then eventually connected with Steve and moved to New York. And it all ends so happily ever after. Six years later and they're still married. "I didn't expect to find love when I signed up with that agency, but I did," Loeb says in the article. "I feel very, very lucky."
Unsurprisingly, Loeb and her husband were swamped with all sorts of offers after the article was published: "Tyra Banks, she called up. But I'm not corny enough to go on Tyra," Loeb said. They got an offer to appear on the CBS reality show "The Amazing Race," which her husband nixed. (Lame, Steve!) But now Loeb says she's in talks with a major cable network to develop a reality show or comedy series based on mail-order brides.
She also snagged a literary agent and is planning to write either a memoir or a story about some of her mail-order bride friends. "My story is mellow compared to my friends," she said. "Some of my friends married Arab guys, and they had to wear full-on Burqas at their wedding." Loeb added: "That's my story—you can't use that!" (Sorry!)
She did take a bit of an issue with the tone of the Glamour piece, which played heavily on a presumed incredulity about the idea that a woman could find marital satisfaction in a husband who basically bought her for $20,000, give or take:
In my part of the world, in Russia, that's considered cool if you marry a foreigner. That's every girls' dream. The age difference is not a big deal. It's: "I'm not saying I'm a gold-digger but I'm not fucking with no broke you-know-who." That's the attitude.
Which doesn't mean she's super comfortable with the label "mail-order bride"
I say it as a joke. It's sort of super-ironic. That's the attitude I've developed to it. I can brush it off to being really young...and wanting to get out of Ukraine.
If there's one thing that all us struggling media folk can take away from Loeb's story, it's that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. Wait, actually, that's not the lesson at all. It's basically: Be a smart, attractive young woman with a knack for promotion and a compelling story that manages to engage everyone from the radical feminist anti-sex trafficking crowd, to sentimental Glamour readers, to immigrants, to dudes who think you're pretty. If that TV show ever gets made we're predicting a hit.
We're happy for you, Lera, but please stop sending us emails about this novelty Hanukkah music video: