In its second season, Bravo had a clear hit with The Shahs of Sunset. The series about a group of Persian-American friends living in Los Angeles has managed to double its audience since its debut last spring, thanks to a mix of lavish real estate, glimpses at Persian-American culture and a group of compelling personalities that included openly gay realtor Reza Farahan.
Reza has been a reality TV jack-of-all-trades, delivering witty commentary, dramatic fights and personal drama, all while making sure his friends are getting the care they need amid the drama. Whatever role The Shahs of Sunset needed, Reza has filled it with flair, making him a vital part of the hit series.
So far this season, viewers have met Reza’s new boyfriend, Adam, seen him start to acknowledge that he’s getting too old to keep partying so much (which Raza called a “gay life crisis”) and met Lily, a client of Reza’s that he introduced to the group. We talked with Reza about what’s coming up on the series and how things have changed since the show aired.
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AE: The show has been such a big hit, how have things changed for you since the first season aired?
Reza: Life isn’t that much different. I get recognized more, I have more people following me on Twitter, but for the most part life is pretty much the same.
AE: How has the Persian community reacted to the show?
Reza: Yeah, the president of the Persian community called me yesterday… no, I’m kidding. The Persian community has been a mixed bag, some good, some bad, some in-between. I take it in stride. I’m not going to make everyone happy.
Reza: That’s the best part of being on this program. I’ve heard from a countless number of gay Persian men as well as their relatives who’ve reached out to me via social media outlets to let me know they didn’t commit suicide, it helped them come out to their family and a million other beautiful, beautiful messages that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
AE: That’s amazing. It’s such a powerful thing to see someone else like you on TV or anywhere.
Reza: At the end of the day, to expose myself to all the backlash that comes from just putting all your stuff out there, from people following you around and you’re living your life. You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, you’re going to make mistakes and people are going to react to it but it’s because of the gay Persian men and women that I did this. All of the backlash that I get or the negative comments, pale in comparison to the difference I feel I am making.
AE: You’ve got a new boyfriend this season. How much are we going to see of him?
Reza: You’re going to see more of him. He’s definitely not someone I would have considered dating. I didn’t even notice him, but he was sitting next to this guy and he looked like a barnacle, he would not go away and he was super persistent, he would talk to me every time he saw me at the gym until he finally broke me down and I agreed to go out with him.
AE: That’s sweet. Do we get to hear that story on the show?
Reza: Yeah, especially the barnacle part, I’m sure I said that at some point.
AE: Whose facial hair requires more grooming? Adam’s beard or your mustache?
Reza: My mustache for sure. My mustache is so bushy. It likes to be combed, cut, conditioned. If there’s a white hair in there, he wants it gone immediately, he’s real bushy.
AE: In the second episode, you mentioned that you’re in the middle of a “gay life crisis” is that something you’ll be dealing with?
Reza: I’m going to be dealing with it and, unfortunately, in episode four you’re going to see how I decide to deal with it and I’m still traumatized. I watched episode four recently to do a blog for the Bravo webstie and I’m still traumatized.
AE: I was wondering about your business, are we going to see you do any more real estate deals? It looks like you’re going into business with Mike this season?
Reza: Yes. I do go into business with Mike this season and, knock on wood, my business has been on fire but I have to be honest with you as far as the cameras this is something I’ve decided to embark upon, a personal experience for myself. I put my sexuality out there, I put my family out there, but I feel that in a really high-end real estate market with a clientele that’s incredibly, incredibly private. I have celebrity clients, a lot of high net worth people who don’t really want their lives exposed just because I’ve decided to be on a reality show, so that aspect has been really difficult for me, and I don’t and cannot put pressure on my clients to expose their homes. You know, people see that and everything’s on the internet so I show a house and then people know where the house is and it can lead to a lack of privacy. I’ll tell you this, the house you saw on episode one, my client was really happy for me to share it with the world. I actually found it for him, it was in terrible condition. It was a foreclosure, she fixed it up, put it on the market, we ended up selling it to a celebrity, and I didn’t have to sign a confidentiality agreement. I represented the seller, so I’m happy to say Jamie Lynn Sigler from The Sopranos bought that house that ‘s on episode one.
AE: It looks like there’s going to be some tension between you and MJ. Does that mean you’re going to be doing less business together?
Reza: You know, MJ and I had a relationship that we worked out of the same office but we kind of stuck to our own things. She has her own clients, I have my own clients and we were running our business out of the same brokerage house.