Tattoo artist Kat Von D wasn? happy when producers told her to hire an all-female staff at her tattoo parlor. Matchmaker Patti Stanger was fed up with millionaires who wanted to get their products on TV more than they wanted to meet a soul mate. The guys from the tanning shop knew they looked like idiots when their show first aired.

Nevertheless, they all say it was worth it. Because letting the cameras turn them into stars on reality TV shows has been very, very good for business.

Indeed, reality programs have become something of an L.A. business incubator, with at least 19 programs ?including ?A Ink,??illionaire Matchmaker?and ?unset Tan??showcasing local business people and their companies.

Local businesses have an advantage because the entertainment companies that make the shows are down the street. But the city? traditional glamour quotient is a good sell, too.

People from all over the country see Los Angeles as a glamorous setting and a creative city,?said Chris Coelen, chief executive of Santa Monica production and distribution firm RDF Media USA Inc., a producer of both scripted and reality shows. ?he city does attract a lot of dreamers and big thinkers. Those kinds of people tend to be good characters in real life, and become great characters for television.?p>Businesses provide producers with built-in storylines ideal for documentary-style shows.

Scott Manville runs an online business, TV Writers Vault, that serves as a marketplace for pitching shows to producers, with the majority of the activity in the reality sector. He said producers are looking for business environments that offer authentic dramatic moments.

?t? the kind of content producers had to reach hard for and manipulate,?Manville said. ?nd now they can get it naturally with a business.?p>

Invaluable exposure

Some business people have gone on shows as contestants and benefited, too.

Stefan Richter, the runner-up on last season? ?op Chef?and whose sometimes abrasive personality made him a standout on the program, said his business, Stefan? European Catering, was starting to decline when he first appeared on the show. Then, as he survived elimination rounds, clients began seeking out his services.

?? about 40 percent up,?he said.

Richter? appearance on the fifth season of ?op Chef?also provided him with the extra push he needed to open his own tapas restaurant and deli, scheduled to open in Santa Monica this summer.

Patti Stanger launched her Marina del Rey matchmaking service, Millionaire? Club International Inc., in 2000 after serving as director of marketing for the Great Expectations dating service.

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