'Million Dollar Listing New York' stars tell us tales of NYC real estate
Catfights, ex-gay-porn stars, fierce rivalries, explosive confrontations, exorbitant lifestyles. You might think we're talking about the next season of "The Real Housewives."
Bravo is bringing its show about high-rolling brokers to the Big Apple with the premiere of "Million Dollar Listing New York" next Wednesday at 10 p.m. And though the show promises plenty of ostentatious property eye candy, the real draw is in the drama-filled lives of three brokers clawing their way to the top of NYC's cutthroat real estate game.
The series follows Prudential Douglas Elliman's Fredrik Eklund and Michael Lorber, as well as Nest Seekers' Ryan Serhant, as they try to beat each other to top-dollar contracts.
(A select few of you may be too embarrassed to admit recognizing Eklund from gay adult movies under the name Tag Eriksson. You may also know Serhant from his short stint playing Evan Walsh IV on "As the World Turns.")
amNewYork caught up with the three Bravo stars to get the skinny on the fat-cat world of real estate - and television.
On TV: "Million Dollar Listing New York" premieres next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Bravo.
The Smooth Talker
We get a glimpse of your personal life at the beginning of the first episode, and you seem like a bit of a player! [Serhant tells a date: "I have very little time, so the drunker I get you the faster, the better it is for me and you and the end game."] Do you have to be a player in real estate, too? I am actually very busy with work and have very little time for a social life, but I'm working on more of a work/life balance. Real estate is an incredibly exciting career, and just like any job, it takes hard work and dedication to succeed. I conduct myself and my business with the highest level of morals, values and ethics and feel that good things will always happen to those who do the right thing. I think positively while working to achieve my goals, rather than speculate on issues that are negative and inconsequential.
Clients can be "interesting": You have one on the show who is looking for a home for himself and his pet wallaby. What are some of the craziest things you've seen? I love meeting eclectic clients in the city. I am the kind of person that is not shocked by anything, so I don't consider too many things crazy. I think we are all unique in our own ways, and I celebrate that about this city.
You used to be an actor on "As the World Turns." Which is more dramatic: daytime TV or the NYC real estate world? That is a tough call. Soaps have murders, affairs, scandals, really over-the-top storylines; "Million Dollar Listing New York's" excitement comes from the exhilarating nature of the business. "Million Dollar Listing New York" is more entertaining than daytime TV because it is real, and our objective was to entertain and help you to escape for a while with a glimpse into our fun and fast-paced world.
It seems like you're the troublemaker, getting into squabbles with the other two brokers on the show. Do you have to fight - literally - to land the biggest deals in New York City? I wouldn't say "troublemaker" - just very competitive. I always protect my clients, my deals and my commissions; you have to in this city. Plus, who wants to watch something when everyone is in agreement? I didn't close all these deals and make every client of mine millions of dollars by drinking tea.
Ryan reveals to a potential client on the show that you once appeared in gay porn films. How did you react to that? I have never, ever - not once - tried to hide my past. In fact, I wrote a best-selling novel on the topic. It's a surprise to me if this is news to anyone by now. Once you hear me pitch or see me sell, you forget about all of that.
You claim to have closed $1 billion worth of real estate deals in a year. What does it take to perform like that? The unglamorous answer is: You have to work harder than anyone else _- first into the office and last out. I also own my brokerage in Sweden, which just closed $600 million in sales since 2009. So if you add all of that up, it's closer to $2 billion - but who's counting?
Although you come from a real estate family [his father is Howard Lorber, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman], you're the new kid on the block in the NYC real estate business. Did you feel like you were at a disadvantage because the others were a bit more seasoned? I've been obsessed with real estate since I was a little kid. Most kids read the sports section on Sundays, but I fought my father for the real estate section. There are definitely disadvantages to working for my father, but the advantages always outweigh them. It's always hard being the boss' son - my dad can't take my side, and he would fire me on the spot if deserved.
Is the NYC real estate world as cutthroat as the show makes it out to be? Please remember that this is TV, but I would imagine New Yorkers are aware of how this business works. If we filmed the four-plus-hour closings we sometimes have to work through, no one would watch! I don't think we are any different from someone trying to get a part in a movie, a trade done on Wall Street, or a journalist trying to get the story first.
Is there anything you would have done differently if you could do the first season of the show over? Besides losing another 10 pounds and growing another 10 inches? I would love to explore the areas outside of Manhattan for the show. New York City is more than just Manhattan; I would love to have filmed in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, New Jersey and Long Island. These markets are very important to NYC - not to mention having some of the best views of Manhattan.