Updated at 6 p.m. Dec. 9, 2012
SAN DIEGO, CA—Marc Paskin says he has received 2,000 email notes from people responding to his “All I want for Christmas is a Latina girlfriend” billboard in Barrio Logan.
The La Jolla millionaire’s attention-grabbing act has gone viral as well—with nearly 1,000 websites noting the holiday wish. But sometime Friday the board was defaced—with someone ripping off the bottom half that shows his email address. And over the weekend, the entire sign was removed.
“The blunt billboard stirred up some controversy in the neighborhood. While some residents found it lighthearted and comical, others thought it was slightly offensive,” said the local NBC affiliate.
“Latina women are beautiful, kind, sexy,” Paskin told Patch via email Friday. “I love their culture and a strong sense of family. Without a doubt they make the best wives or girlfriends.”
Asked whether he’s answered any of the notes, he wrote: “Too early to tell. Will take a lot of time to go through them and respond.”
Paskin, 63, a former reality TV star via his Secret Millionaire stint in Detroit, gave a plug to the bulletin board industry in explaining his choice of advertising.
“I don’t like Internet dating,” he said. “There is no doubt that the best way to meet someone is with a billboard, but it takes some time and money to do it. Not everyone is on match.com or Craigslist, but 200,000 cars a day drive by my billboard.”
He said the billboard rental will cost him $4,000 and be up only through the end of this month. The 2,000 responses were from only the first two days.
“I’m not trolling for somebody,” Paskin told U-T San Diego: “Am I a rich white guy? Yes, I am, and I’m not ashamed of that. … I started with nothing, and I became a multimillionaire by working hard, and I’ve got a brain. And I’ve become very successful. I have all these things that money can buy.”
This isn’t his first billboard, he told the U-T. Thousands left voice-mail messages after he posted a number, and “one was a Chinese woman he dated for a year.”
His current billboard was inspired by the “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” which he recently heard on the radio.
It shares his email address: ChristmasLatina@aol.com.
Paskin knows no shame, however. He earlier gained YouTube fame singing Tom Jones and as the world’s worst Elvis impersonator.
A YouTube summary reported:
“Marc Paskin's Solid Gold Rock & Roll show at the old historic Guild Theater in the late 90's (San Diego) A diversified audience packed the place every night for this Rock & Soul extravaganza/ Featuring a stand out performance by Gino Walker as Aretha Franklin, also featuring Pete Peterkin as Little Richard & Stevie Wonder with Greg Wolf as Rod Stewart.”
As U-T San Diego noted Thursday: “Paskin, a real-estate mogul, appeared on the ABC-TV reality show Secret Millionare in March 2011 and quietly handed out $125,000 in a Detroit neighborhood. He generated a local buzz five months later when he handed an El Cajon woman a check for a ‘free apartment for one year’ at a fundraiser following the death of her daughter and mother at the hands of her estranged husband.”
Marsha Paskin, Marc’s wife and mother of two adult children, died in 2002 after undergoing ear, nose and throat surgery, according to online records. She succumbed to infection three weeks after surgery.
In March 2011, Patch quoted Paskin as saying the following about this Secret Millionaire experience: “They put me in the slums of Detroit. I stayed in a beat-up house. They gave me an old car and $40 to last a week on food. They want you to be immersed in poverty.”
The profile went on:
For a week, Paskin bounces from charity to charity under the pretense of shooting a documentary. Organizations like Really Living Corporation and Young Detroit Builders opened their doors to Paskin to come in, lend a hand, and see their efforts in helping people.
Paskin has lived in California for the last 25 years. Being a native of Madison, Wisconsin, however, his stay in Detroit was like going back to his Midwest roots.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin. His humble beginnings began when he put $1,000 down on a $15,000 duplex in Madison—a risky move considering it was his life-savings. He earned a profit, reinvested, and eventually built a large portfolio. He currently runs his business as the president of Paskin Properties, a commercial real estate investment company.
“Money’s not an issue,” Paskin was quoted as saying by the U-T. “If I meet the right person, it’s priceless. … I think I’m going to meet somebody,” he said. “That’s my goal: to start the new year with somebody to share my life with. That’s what I’d like to find.”