image of oz pearlman mentalist

Oz Pearlman made this Oz Pearlman subway ad appear.

“It’s easier for me to show you New York neighborhoods I haven’t lived in than neighborhoods I have lived in,” says renowned mentalist and magician Oz Pearlman. Born in Israel and raised in the Midwest, Pearlman made his way to NYC while in college and has lived here ever since, in a series of sometimes-glorious, often-marginal apartments all over Manhattan. This week, Pearlman will host The Essys, StreetEasy’s first annual industry appreciation event. Before he takes the stage, we spoke with Pearlman about the various homes he’s had in New York — one of which managed to break up a serious relationship — and the one piece of advice he’d give to someone moving to New York City for the first time. (He pretty much read our mind.)

What was your very first apartment in New York?

Crashing on a couch at my sister’s place on the Upper West Side when I had an internship here. In the movie “Die Hard 3,” which is the best New York movie because they go all over the city, there’s a part where they’re in front of a Sleepy’s mattress store. You can see the window of where I lived. Obnoxiously, every time I’d watch the movie, I’d say, “That’s where I lived! Right there, right there!”

And the first place you had on your own?

My first actual apartment was in Herald Square. It was me and my girlfriend, so we were able to afford a 1-bedroom. It was nothing to write home about — it had very bad light; like everything in New York, it was a trade-off — but it was ours and we loved it. I got to enjoy a million tourists every Thanksgiving littering the streets and not allowing me to leave the house.

What was the rent?

I want to say $2100. It was an elevator building called Herald Towers, right by Koreatown and right across from Macy’s.

What was your worst apartment?

In classic New York fashion, I lived in Midtown East. I was on the second floor and I had zero light. It could be the sunniest beautiful day, it could be a hurricane, I would not know the difference. But it was spacious, that was the tradeoff.

But the thing we never found out, because we never went to see it on a weekend, was that the apartment ventilation was directly adjacent to a breakfast luncheonette place that did big business on brunches. On the weekends, our place smelled as if we had just cooked a thousand strips of bacon. So the first weekend we’re there, we just look at each other, it’s me and this same girlfriend, kind of like, “What’s going on? Did you make something?” In the other room it’s just butter and bacon, which smells good for about 10 minutes and then is just nauseating. The air all flowed from their vent system directly through our kitchen. Anyone that ever came over on the weekend, even later in the day, would be like, “Yo, did you just cook bacon?”

How long did you last there?

Less than a year and a half. Actually, the relationship ended after that apartment. With that much breakfast food being inhaled, you just can’t stay with that person anymore.

Have you ever used any mentalism tricks to negotiate for an apartment?

Thousand percent. I get in that room and will use and abuse my skills for gain. I’ll know when I go in there where the number is, and definitely employ my mentalism for negotiating.

Cool! Can you give StreetEasy users advice on how to do that?

You need to know your pecking order: If you’re in a buyer’s market or if you’re in a seller’s market. Who needs who more? Based on that, you know your leverage points. You have to do some sort of a deal that is both good and bad for the other person. With negotiation, whoever speaks first loses. So once you offer a number, if you start speaking, you’re going to somehow negotiate yourself out of what you wanted.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city?

[My wife and I] lived in Greenwich Village, which we just loved — it’s beautiful, it’s diverse, you’re near everything, you’re near the subways, so many great restaurants. It’s just the heart of New York to be near Washington Square Park and Union Square. To me, that is Manhattan.

Tell me about your current place in the city.

It’s a 2-bedroom, 2.5-bath, elevator, doorman building — it’s really nice. Your website was used to purchase this place. Tribeca is … I really wouldn’t recommend it to anybody that doesn’t have kids. It’s like Park Slope and the Upper West Side. These are where the baby factories live. When you go to brunch here, the ratio of humans to strollers is 1:1.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who’s just moved to NYC?

Some the best nights I ever had in New York were unplanned. We went out, we didn’t know where we were going to end up, we weren’t looking at reviews. So just let your legs guide you. Go to Chinatown, go to the Upper West Side, go to Washington Heights, go to places you’ve never even thought of going. That’s where you feel like a New Yorker, when you don’t just stay in your same neighborhood all the time.

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