Alex LiMandri certainly has done a lot, including acting, stage work and modeling ( including posing for the cover of The Advocate not so long ago ) .
Recently, Windy City Times spoke with LiMandri, who is also a real-estate entrepreneur in Los Angeles. In a wide-ranging interview, he talked about his specialty ( lofts ) ; the housing market; and the differences between the United States and France ( where he was raised and goes to visit quite often ) .
Windy City Times: You're now involved in real estate.
Alex LiMandri: Yes. When I moved to downtown L.A. seven years ago, no one knew a lot about it and people had negative things to say about it. People asked me where they should [ live ] . I realized that I was referring people to others, so I decided to get my real-estate license.
WCT: So it's Ultimate Life Living?
AL: Well, the real-estate part is called L.A. Lofts Realty; L.A. Lofts is the division that does real estate. Ultimate Life Living does marketing for buildings, events, things like that.
WCT: Tell me what's great about lofts. I've never talked with someone who specializes in those.
AL: When you think about Los Angeles, you think about a house with a pool in West Hollywood or the beach. There are lots of houses and neighborhoods.
[ Only recently ] have people thought about the central part of the city. It's probably the last big city in which the people have thought about the downtown area. There are a half-million people working downtown, and now 50,000 people are living there; people are tired of driving, of traffic and of the cost of maintaining a house. It's better to be in a converted building.
People hear the word "loft" and don't know what it is. You show them a loft and they're like, "Where's the bedroom?" "Where's the door?" I keep explaining to them that a loft space is an unusual place to live. Sometimes it's an old abandoned building that's been converted, so you can have high ceilings and no doors; you can put your bed wherever you want.
There are three types of lofts right now. You have warehouse lofts; there are the brick-wall unit places that are office spaces that have been converted, with pipes you can see; and you have the brand-new buildings that are more like condominiums. [ Those last ones ] we call "soft lofts."
WCT: How would you describe the housing market in Los Angeles?
AL: It depends on the part of Los Angeles. The media says it's all pretty bad, but there are some areas where it's [ improving ] . What I see in downtown L.A. is more demand but no supply, so basically we can see that the market is recovering really fast. That doesn't mean the price is going up; that just means there are more offers, and people need to go fast on the deals. Investment-wise, it's a great opportunity because the prices are still low.
WCT: You call yourself an ally of the LGBT community.
AL: Yesbut I don't call myself an activist. Yes, I've DJ'd in gay clubs and worked in the gay community. I support things but I don't like to be too strong because I don't want to scare peoplealthough the U.S. is pretty fear-based.
WCT: If the U.S. is fear-based, though, what is Europe?
AL: I think the big difference between Europe and the U.S. is that Americans are afraid of government and the system. In France, we're not afraid of the government or police. If a politician does something we don't like, we're going to let them know we don't like it.
WCT: What do you think about the Occupy movements going on right now in the United States?
AL: That's great, but I think that's happening now because people just realized that movements can change things. When I see strikes in the U.S., I'm laughing because I think, "This is not a strike." In Europe, we're going to be blocking the streetsdoing things that stop the economy for a while. I'm talking about healthcare and things like that. The first thing a government should think about is the health of its citizens.
WCT: You posed for the cover of The [ September 2008 ] Advocate holding a sign that read, "I have skinny legs."
AL: Yes. When I did this photo shoot, I didn't know what would be on the sign. There was an interview about what we liked and didn't like about our bodies. They asked me if I had to change something, what would it be; I didn't know what to say in that moment, so I said I'd like to have bigger legs. I know it's my fault because I never work on my legs. [ Laughs ] So that's what they put on the sign.
WCT: Since we were talking about Europe versus the United States, let's discuss sexuality. It seems that we're more conservative here.
AL: It's way more conservative in the U.S. Anything about the bodylike being nakedmakes people crazy. Take the Advocate photo shoot. I knew I'd being holding the sign naked. They told me I could change up in a room; I thought I'd just change thereI was going to be naked, anyway. If you agree to be naked in a photo, just be naked.
Find out more about Ultimate Life Living at www.ultimatelifeliving.com .