How did you convince the bank to finance you with three roommates?
I go to my three friends and say, "Guys, if I buy this house, will you live with me and would you sign a two-year lease?" They all say, "Yeah, you're going to give us a break in rent, this house is great." So I get them to sign a lease and get their bank statements, then I would go to the bank and say, "Listen guys, this is such a low risk to you. I have three people with these separate incomes willing to pay this much, they have signed this contract. If you add up all these incomes, it's more than what you're charging me, plus some, so you have very, very little risk to lend me the money to buy this house. You can't really argue with those numbers."
That's the way to boost your income. I've got these three buddies who are also going to help pay off this loan with me, funneled through me. That's one way to get a house. That's how I did it.
What effect did that first rental have on reaching your million-dollar goal?
That pretty much set the stage for everything else. What happened is, my mortgage on that first rental house was actually $2,500 a month; my rental income was actually $4,500 a month, so I was being paid $2,000 a month to live in my own house in Brooklyn. That set the stage because all of a sudden I was out of the rat race. As long as I didn't spend $2,000 a month, I didn't ever have to work again. I kept my day job throughout this and was making $100 in passive income renting out my first apartment. It was a lot of work, a lot of due diligence, but basically I had to prove to the bank that I was less risk than they would think I was.
Your experiences as a self-described "fame whore" on reality TV shows like "Queer Eye" and "The Restaurant" seem less than lucrative. Was that simply a way to have fun and free your inner crazy guy, or were you experimenting with building a media brand a la The Donald?
A bit of both. I was hoping to maybe spin it off into something bigger, but at the time it was a choice to either be on TV and make some pocket change, or go home and watch TV and make nothing. I ended up getting hate mail from my appearances, so I don't think the media-branding part worked very well. But I did get free interior design and an apartment full of furniture from "Queer Eye."