After Ryan Serhant gets done with a photo shoot at the top of the Empire State Building, he gets pulled aside by a group of female Asian tourists asking him for a picture.
They don’t seem to know who he is – and most people outside the New York real estate scene wouldn’t recognize him, either. But he — with fellow brokers Fredrik Eklund and Michael Lorber — are about to be the poster boys for the high-stakes world of luxury real estate as Bravo rolls out the New York version of the popular “Million Dollar Listing” show.
Like its Los Angeles predecessor, the show gives a behind-the-scenes look at the drama and crazy personalities behind multimillion-dollar transactions. Viewers get a chance to look inside palatial spreads most would never have a chance to visit.
Ryan Serhant, of Nest Seekers, does business while riding around the city (RENE CERVANTES/BRAVO)
“There is something mysterious about New York City real estate,” explains Lorber in the show’s premiere episode, which debuted Wednesday. “It is up in the sky, and you have hundreds of billions of dollars of real estate stacked upon each other.”
Bravo culled the agents from a large pool of applicants and found guys who pop on screen. Serhant had a stint on “As the World Turns” as a prodigy biochemist gone bad. He worked as a hand model before transitioning to real estate full time.
(At left, 95 Greene St. is one of Ryan Serhant’s listings, at $25 million, that will be on an upcoming episode, EVAN JOSEPH)
On the show, Serhant brags about his ability to flirt with clients to get what he wants. He tells a girl on 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.” Later, he’s given a surprise present at his office from an ex: a pet snake with a note that says, “When I saw this, I thought of you.”
Eklund is the veteran of the group, having moved from Sweden nine years ago to work in real estate. He claims to have closed more than $1 billion in deals.
“I’m a closer and a listing machine,” Eklund says in the first episode. “What makes me better is I work harder than anyone else. … I thought if I wake up two hours earlier than everyone else and be in the office two hours later, I’ll be No. 1.”
In a scene that plays up the rivalry, Eklund encounters Serhant while trying to woo a client during lunch at Cafeteria in Chelsea. Eklund points out Serhant’s inexperience, and Serhant mentions Eklund has “done gay porn.”
Eklund, smiling, tells the camera in an aside, “Ten years ago I did some movies — gay porn — and I think you can see in my eyes I don’t regret it.”
While he’s often painted as the shark who steals other clients and boots brokers out of his listings, it’s juxtaposed with a sweetness that shows when Eklund sings folk songs in Swedish, does goofy high kicks and wears a knit sweater emblazoned with reindeer.
Lorber is the first to point out that he doesn’t look like his tall cast mates, whose gymed-out bodies are shown showering, saying self-deprecatingly that he’s “5-feet-8 … maybe” and “Jewish fit.” He’s aware that one reason he was picked was because his father, Howard Lorber, owns Prudential Douglas Elliman, the largest residential firm in the city with 4,000 agents across the country.
Michael Lorber chats at Cipriani in Midtown (JEFF BACHNER FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
While grabbing coffee at Cipriani , where his father dines every day, Lorber admits to being nervous that he will be portrayed as a spoiled rich kid. There are plenty of shots showing him on a boat or talking about how he enjoys expensive watches and pricey art. But he’s also endearing as he talks about checking out open houses as a kid, and viewers can see his nervousness on a date in the second episode, as he worries he has food stuck in his veneers and tells the woman that he had horrible teeth and didn’t “smile until I was out of college.”
Lorber said his dad was reluctant about his participation on the show, but the law school grad wanted to show how challenging a career as a real estate broker is.
One of Michael Lorber’s listings, on the market for $22 million (PRUDENTIAL DOUGLAS ELLIMAN)
“To most people, it’s perceived as a fall-back career, for soccer moms or empty-nesters. One of the reasons I did the show is to get rid of that stigma,” he said. “Especially in New York and L.A., real estate brokers are highly skilled professionals. You’re part accountant, part banker, part lawyer — and can be part architect and decorator and therapist.”
While it’s not a gig you’ll see at a college career fair, this glamorous-yet-gritty profession is getting a moment in Bravo’s spotlight to grab some of the growing interest in shows on how the rich live. HGTV has a slate of real estate programs, including “Selling New York,” and Bravo is going for its first all real-estate night, pairing “Million Dollar Listing New York” with “Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis,” a spinoff of “Flipping Out” that debuts next Wednesday. In it, real estate flipper Lewis goes into other people’s spaces and points out flaws and how to fix them.
“Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis,” with Jeff Lewis, a family featured in an upcoming episode, and Jenni Pulos (VIVIAN ZINK/BRAVO)
“The whole core DNA of Bravo is strong personalities and people who are experts at what they do and joining them on their creative process,” said Jerry Leo, executive vice president of Program Strategy and Production for Bravo. “You see the good, the bad and the ugly in these people. They don’t always look great. But the story lines you see are compelling.”
At a premiere party that Serhant threw last week at Catch Roof in the Meatpacking District, he got up to introduce the show and talked about how far he had come since being hired by Nest Seekers CEO Eddie Shapiro. Back then, he was just a “poor hand model” who showed up to the office wearing cowboy boots. With cast members of “The Real Housewives” of New York and New Jersey mingling in the crowd, Serhant told people to get ready to see “the best show that you’ve seen in the history of your lives.”
Perhaps, but one thing is certain: All three brokers give real estate junkies astonishing views from the top.
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