In Issue 35
The third season of Bravo’s hit series, “Flipping Out” returns with everyone’s favorite obsessive-compulsive house-flipper, Jeff Lewis. The economy has taken its toll on his business, but if anyone can figure out a way to flip things around and go from chaos to clarity, it’s Lewis, one of Los Angeles’ most colorful creative renovators and real estate speculators. I was happy to be part of a phone interview with Jeff Lewis and his assistant Jenni Pulos that was filled with laughs and honesty.
What do you do when you can’t flip a house?
Jeff: I was paralyzed last year when I realized in this economic climate I could not buy properties to flip. After much soul searching I went back into design and remodeling which means I have to work for other people, which is really not my favorite thing to do.
Jenni: Jeff’s coping skills are really being put to the test.
Jeff: Yes, that’s true, and I have had a lot of therapy.
Jenni: Actually I have had a lot of therapy also. The only guy I am really dating these days is my therapist.
What are your plans for the near future?
Jeff: Currently there is no financing in the larger homes so I am going to start picking up as many small properties as I can and then flip them into larger ones. Basically I have to get back to my roots. Until I get to that, my clients are benefitting from all the tricks I have learned over the years. A lot of people are dressing their houses up to sell rather than renovating them.
You seem to have a family dynamic with your staff. Do you feel that way?
Jeff: Well I have a small office, only 6 employees so its important that people get along and personalities mix together. As you have seen from the show we have a lot of employee turnover; sometimes by my doing and sometimes on their own. But we are a close knit group and we do hang out socially.
Jenni: There really is no choice but to become a family.
Jeff: Jenni and I even share a computer and a desk.
Jenni: After 7 years I should have my own desk.
It seems like people’s perception of you has changed. Do you agree?
Jeff: After season 1 a lot of people disliked me and after season 2 a lot more people understand me. I am a perfectionist, but at 6:30 I make martinis and we have fun. I don’t like being the bad guy, but nice only gets you so far.
Jenni: You will see this to be true more this season. By the way, I have a lot of respect for Jeff and how much he puts into his work.
Jeff: When I got sick this season and Jenni had to take over I think she gained a lot more respect for me and what I do.
Do you like what you see in yourself?
Jeff: It’s a work in progress because I never really like what I have seen. I am in a quest to be happier.
Jenni: Reality has put a microscope on things that would not normally play out so quickly.
Jeff: Having the crew around also puts me more on edge because they bang into things and bang my walls, and as I said earlier, I am a perfectionist.
Some people think the show and what you do is unethical. What would you say to those people?
Jeff: We take homes and make them much better. We are not doing swap shop work and trying to con people.
Jenni: Watch this season and see how much Jeff saves his clients money.
What’s the biggest argument you guys have had?
Jenni: Watch this season!
Jeff: I think it was last season with the camera situation. It was definitely the biggest hurdle we ever had to get over. I did what I had to, but I definitely understand why she felt betrayed.
Are you paid for the show?
Jeff: Yes, I am paid quite well. I would not do it otherwise. I am certainly not into the fame or notoriety.
Are either of you dating anyone?
Jeff: I am dating someone now. The relationship is young but it is going quite well. I think because of my personal growth I am drawing in a different type of man.
Jenni: As I said before I am dating my therapist…LOL!
Jeff, are we going to see your new beau on the show this season? Jenni are we going to see any of your dates?
Jeff: He is not comfortable with the cameras, and besides it has nothing really to do with the show, so I keep that separate.
Jenni: You see me talking about all my failed dates.
Jeff: The show is really about the workplace, and not outside of it.
Define the perfect guy.
Jeff: A smart guy with a sense of humor.
Jenni: I want a guy who is interdependent and wants to be with someone, not one that has to be with someone. Oh yeah, and a good sense of humor.
Catch Jeff and Jenni and the whole crew in the third season of Flipping Out every Tuesday at 10pm on Bravo.