From The Desk Of
Natasha Spivack

Founder and President


What Are You Looking At?

In our fast-paced society, we generally associate success with instant gratification. The shorter the timeline between start and success, the better the process. This pervasive attitude is what other agency types depend on to stay in business.

Back in the real world, the process to find your soul mate is neither quick nor easy. Success is obtained by gradually finding out more about a potential mate through correspondence, photographs, and videos. In this Section, I want to discuss the video interview content, use, and most recent enhancements.

At Encounters International the video interviews are an important part of our program's success. Of course, our success is measured by your success! I made the video interviews an integral part of the business model for your success. I am convinced that our program would not have been as successful without the inclusion of video interviews.

Many, perhaps most, clients have made decisions based on the online database still photos only to reverse the decision based on the video interviews. Of course, decisions are also firmed up if he likes what she says during the interview process.

Since we personally meet and screen each Russian woman in our database, asking some questions on camera seemed like a natural course of events. The ladies are already in the agency offices for screening. If she is accepted into Encounters International, we begin the video interview process.

As part of the selection process, male clients will find women of interest in the online database. Each woman's profile page contains from 2 to 4 tasteful, still photos. By the way, we do not have any nudity in the photos in our database.

I feel compelled to mention some additional things about the photos in the Encounters International online database and albums in the Bethesda office. I encourage all women to have their photos taken by a professional photographer. First, this demonstrates a commitment to the process on her part. Second, it attempts to place all women on an equally fair footing. In that, women with professional photos may have an advantage over women with amateur photos taken by a friend or family member in the home.

I have a current copy of an address seller's catalog on my desk as I prepare this Handbook section. I quickly realized that each woman is represented by only one photograph. Further, that single photo features all the women in very sexy clothes or a bikini striking very provocative poses. It's true that 'sex sells.' It is also true that many agencies overseas require sexy, bikini photos as a condition for acceptance!

It is interesting to note that I have personally talked with several women, who were concerned about my photo requirements, during their initial calls to Encounters International. They tell me that if bikini photos are required to join my agency, they are not interested. The women related stories about how the requirements are explained to them by other agencies.

For unscrupulous agencies, the highly undesirable side effect of implementing this method of featuring women is that the men, reading the catalog or surfing the web, become blind to the women themselves. Men begin to see just the women as sex objects and not life partners. They don't see a wife on the page or screen. Instead, men start to see very attractive women that they can go meet, touch, and date!

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that these agencies select only one photo because it presents the woman in the best possible light for the benefit of the agency. Additional photos provide a risk of showing a woman as a less-than-perfect image. The sexier a woman looks in a bikini or evening dress, the more times her address will be sold. That is the goal of the address seller after all! Whether she is interested in marriage or not, her address will be sold to the unsuspecting masses.

A still image is just a frozen millisecond of time. In the overall picture of life, it cannot be used as the only basis to select your soul mate. The women at Encounters International are real people, not photo models posed for a perfect and seductive image! I require the women to provide multiple photos for our database. Above all, I encourage them to provide images that they are comfortable with first.

Since, the Encounters International database has multiple photos for each woman; you may see some less flattering images. If I removed all photos, except for the best one for each woman, I could improve the appearance of the online database by 50%.

Like I mentioned above, using one photo allows male clients to become attached to that single still image. Later, when they meet, he may be disappointed by seeing more of her. Thus, I know that it is very important to have multiple, tasteful images for male clients to view. After the database images are viewed, my male clients follow up by watching video tape interviews.

After looking at the still photographs, you will probably want to view some interviews. I believe our video interviews are an extremely important tool available to all Encounters International clients. I want to stress that I am referring to our video interviews. What's the difference?

The difference is that some agencies have videos of recent socials where women simply pass by a camera in a tripod and say, "Hello America" or "Come and visit me in St. Petersburg soon!" While this is nice bait to get you go attend their events; it does absolutely nothing to help you learn more about your potential wife.

During our video interview process, we ask the questions that you would ask if you were sitting there face-to-face with her. For example, we ask why a woman wants to find a husband in a foreign land? We also ask what she wants to do when she is married and living with you-work outside the home or stay at home and raise a family. Of course, we get the basic personal information as well, like name, age, previous marital status, number of children, employment, hobbies, other family members, etc.

The length of the interview will vary quite a bit. Some women may not feel comfortable in front of the camera (despite our best efforts to get them to relax). Some are not comfortable with their spoken English skill. In these cases, they simply exchange their answers for our questions. In other cases, women will be more very comfortable and/or have a good mastering of English. They continue talking without the need for additional questions or prompting. In other words, some interviews are 2-3 minutes and others are 7-8 minutes.

The Encounters International office managers usually conduct the video interview during a woman's initial visit to the office (assuming she is accepted). Therefore, the interview will take place inside our agency offices. The video interview is generally an interactive process between the office manager and the woman. As I mentioned above, there is a series of routine questions that we ask each woman to answer on camera. The answers are very spontaneous because we don't rehearse the women to provide 'correct' answers. We will translate to and from English and Russian as needed during the interview.

The Encounters International video interviews provide additional insight to the woman of interest. You will be able to judge for yourself her ability to speak and understand English. There is no need to rely on someone's arbitrary English ability rating system.

Often, a woman will have changed her hairstyle between the photos and in the video interview. Therefore, this will not be a surprise to you later. Our clients get to see a glimpse of a woman's personality well in advance of a visit. Perhaps there is a mannerism or attitude that you like or dislike. You will likely see this in the video interview.

As with the database still photographs, there is no nudity in the video interviews. Encounters International is not in the business of providing adult entertainment. I do not appreciate those marriage agencies that believe it is acceptable to encourage and/or permit women to undress or strip on camera for their male clients. You don't need to go to Russia or Ukraine to see that. Besides, these are not the type of women I want in my agency meeting my male clients.

I am very pleased and excited to announce that the online database now contains RealVideo format video interviews of all 400 Russian ladies! For the past 8 months or so, my staff has been working extremely hard behind the scenes to make this dream a reality. At times, it seemed more like a technological nightmare than a dream of improved service for my clients. With every hurdle passed, the vision became clearer. Today, Encounters International has yet another cutting edge service available only for our clients as well as our "Get To Know Us" members.

Until now, local clients had to come into the office in Bethesda to view the video taped interviews of interest. Out of state clients received tapes containing the requested interviews by mail. We did keep a few AVI files in the database for a very short glimpse at an interview. But, these files were very large. Quite frankly, it was a pain to wait for the file to download before it could be viewed.

Nevertheless, even with this seemingly low-tech solution, Encounters International was still ahead of the competition. Now, that the online video project has been completed Encounters International once again has demonstrated its leadership role as the premiere personalized matchmaking service.

I selected the RealVideo streaming format because the player is free and the largest number of players in cyberspace use the RealVideo format. In short, RealVideo seemed more readily available for my clients.

Today, you will find an updated database with links to our RealServer hosted files of about 400 video interviews. There is no more waiting for the tapes to be copied and for the mail to arrive. With a click of the mouse, you will see RealVideo format interviews which will automatically match the speed of your Internet access-V.90, ISDN, or even DSL/Cable Modem!

Converting all 400 plus 4-7 minute video tape interviews from 8mm tape to RealVideo format was no small undertaking. The overall quality of the interviews in RealVideo format is very good. Nevertheless, during the digitization process we learned a lot about how to make the video tape interviews better for a digital format. While some things make little difference for analog video tapes viewed on a television, these same issues present a major impact to compressed, digital video seen on a high resolution monitor. Thus, some of the video interviews are being recorded again in Moscow and Kiev using the new techniques which make the content better suited for our new focus.

The intent of multiple still photographs and interviews is to keep male clients from becoming 'attached' to the wrong woman based on a single 'image.' You need to see and learn as much as possible (about the woman of interest) before setting off to Moscow or Kiev to meet. I want to give as much opportunity as possible to preview your selected women.

I have several male clients who selected a Russian or Ukrainian woman to correspond with based on one still image from and address seller's catalog or web site. When these unfortunate men traveled overseas to meet the women, they were very disappointed when she was not exactly as portrayed in the single photo. In all cases, they were not able to get beyond the disappointing physical appearance and move the relationship forward! This is very unfortunate and something I want to prevent by allowing you to see and hear your potential soul mate.

Natasha Spivack, Professional Matchmaker

Do you understand
a word I am saying?

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10419 Snow Point Dr.
Bethesda, MD 20814 USA
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