T.J. Paradise is probably the only local broker to ever get a tattoo from the nephew of the monk who tattooed actress Angelina Jolie.

But that’s not the only interesting thing about the 35-year-old who sells luxury homes, often to and for celebrity clients, out of Soethby’s International Realty’s Sunset Strip office.

Eleven years ago Paradise was doing a job he loathed, managing a Redondo Beach Starbucks. Life changed after he convinced his parents to lend him the down payment on a $272,000 loft in downtown L.A.’s Bartlett Building.

A year later, Paradise and his partner, choreographer and musical artist Bobby Newberry, decided downtown’s grit wasn’t really their thing. Property values had increased thanks to early downtown hype, and they put it on the market for $440,000.

“That was my first taste of real estate and it really turned me on,” Paradise said.

The couple flipped several homes together. Then the market crashed and Paradise began working in TV as a design assistant on “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.” He went on to art direct and produce many shows with Green Harbor Productions, including “Homemade Simple,” a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network that he still produces today.

Paradise returned to his real estate interest in 2012 and got his license.

“I saw the market rebound, and knowing I had great relationships with celebrities and production people, I thought I might as well be the one in my circle who sells houses,” he said.

He made just $7,000 his first year. But things picked up. The next year, he sold a house in L.A.’s Melrose District to someone he met at Soho House West Hollywood for $1.8 million. It snowballed from there.

On a typical evening, Paradise and Newberry entertain industry friends at their home in the Studio City hills – and friends often become clients. They have done deals with the likes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” co-creators Michael Williams and David Collins, choreographer and “So You Think You Can Dance” judge Mia Michaels and former Pussycat Dolls member Ashley Roberts.

The couple is in talks to do a reality television show about their careers and life together. They’re also working on a clothing line and a workout regimen.

But, about that tattoo.

Last year, while traveling in Bangkok, Paradise and Newberry saw sak yant on the locals, which are geometric designs tattooed using a steel tip attached to a long piece of bamboo while magical incantations are performed. They decided they had to have them.

Their tour guide, Cheer, had a connection to the highly respected Ajarn Noo Kanpai, who tattooed Jolie. The couple was granted a private appointment at a temple an hour outside of Bangkok with his nephew, Ajarn Nid.

They were forbidden to speak and were instructed to meditate upon entering. Paradise, nervous, was given an elixir to smell to keep him from fainting.

The tattooing only took 15 minutes, during which time Ajard Nid was chanting and casting a spell for good luck and protection.

Today, Paradise rubs the tattoo whenever he needs a lucky break, which you often need in real estate.

Alluring Area

Investors and renters are starting to see Koreatown’s apartment market as alluring, not just convenient as a midpoint between the Westside and Eastside.

A thriving nightlife scene, including the Line Hotel, has played a big part in making people want to hang out there.

Now Sherman Oaks’ MWest Holdings is getting in on the action in a big way.

The company shelled out $66.5 million earlier this month for two 1970s-era apartment buildings totaling 310 units at 136 and 160 S. Virgil Ave. MWest paid the seller, San Diego’s Fairfield Residential, $220,000 a unit for the two adjacent properties, dubbed Emerald Terrace, which it plans to further integrate into a unified development.

The 95 percent-occupied buildings were designed for corporate housing. As they become available, MWest will convert the style to be more “hip … capitalizing on the aesthetic of the ’70s retro look and experience,” said Karl Slovin, chief executive of MWest.

In August, the firm shelled out $32.5 million for the nearby 193-unit Wilshire Royale Apartments. Slovin said he sees Koreatown as a burgeoning market for high-end rentals.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. represented both the buyer and the seller in the Emerald Terrace deal.

More Money

El Segundo retail developer Paragon Commercial Group has entered into a second joint venture with Canyon Catalyst Fund to acquire an additional $60 million to $100 million in retail properties across California. The fund is managed by Canyon Partners Real Estate, the investment arm of Century City investment management firm Canyon Partners, on behalf of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Staff reporter Hannah Miet can be reached at hmiet@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 228.

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