"If you were my client, you'd have six hours of my time. If it's about me, forget it. In a service-oriented career, you've got a lot of clients' needs to meet first."
She's not kidding. Pinning down interview time with real estate agent Sharona Alperin is like trying to re-bottle a liberated genie. Sharona is a blur, always working on a sale or on her way to a house. Even God, her maker, needed a seventh day to rest. But not Sharona.
Then again, Alperin is no ordinary realtor. She is the broker that many of Hollywood's biggest players have learned to put their trust in. That's why Alperin is still fuming over the feature Entertainment Weekly ran on her in their June 5 issue, where several of the rich and famous were outed as her clients. Alperin did not condone or cooperate in supplying the names dug up by EW's writer, which included young superstars du jour Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes; "Heathers" screenwriter Daniel Waters; New Line's President of Production Michael De Luca; and Dave Navarro, guitarist of Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers fame.
"I was so upset. It was pretty traumatic," recalls Alperin. "I actually called up Entertainment Weekly and yelled at them."
Nevertheless, the tireless, husky-voiced Dalton, Brown, and Long agent exhibits a work ethic so supernatural, it's no accident that Los Angeles Homes & Open Houses ranked her No. 1 in sales for the past three years.
As it turns out, Alperin is somewhat of a celebrity in her own right. Anyone under the age of 40 can tell you that her first name is one of the most famous in pop music history. In 1979, an L.A. pop group called The Knack, billed by Capitol Records as the next Beatles, burst onto the scene with the No. 1 hit song, "My Sharona," the culmination of lead singer Doug Fieger's infatuation with a teen-age Alperin. The song has remained an enduring hit ever since (most recently exploited on '80s revival radio and the 1995 Winona Ryder-film "Reality Bites").
Alperin, now 37, grew up in L.A. and attended Hillel Hebrew Academy. She was a senior at Fairfax High School when she fell for Fieger and became Fieger's muse, inspiring the hormone-saturated smash single that skyrocketed the "Get The Knack" album to chart-topping heights and landed her on the cover of the Knack's poorly received follow-up, "...But the Little Girls Understand." Alperin and Fieger became a serious item, but like the Knack's popularity, the couple's engagement eventually fizzled (although they still remain friends).
It was during this epoch -- tooling around Los Angeles with a house-hunting Fieger -- that Alperin discovered her knack for finding prime real estate. She honed her home-scouting skills, landed her license and, over the last 11 years, has cultivated the trust of some of Hollywood's most reticent celebrities.
Has the "My Sharona" association ever been a detriment to her current trade? Not in the least.
"I will never get tired of [the connection]. People get excited with the correlation to the song. It helps people pronounce my name. It has definitely not hurt."
Today, Alperin specializes in snagging hot properties in L.A.'s most sought-after neighborhoods -- Malibu, Los Feliz, Venice, Hollywood Hills and the west end of the Sunset Strip. Alperin describes her customers as savvy, sophisticated and varied in their home-shopping aesthetics. A view and security tend to top their priorities. And her priority is to fulfill the buyer's individual needs.
Says Alperin, "Seventy percent of my friends are in the entertainment business. My godson's father is a major agent at ICM... Business is all about the referrals. It's not the sale, it's the repeat business... If you sell them the wrong house just because you're aggressive then you're gonna pay..." she said.
The lengths that Alperin has gone for her client pool has become legendary. She routinely encodes information on her celebrity deals to protect their privacy and, in one case, found herself in the unlikely position of dissuading the purchase of a home deep in an isolated part of canyon country.
"They were more excited about it than I am..." laughs Alperin. "They thanked me for my concern but went ahead and bought it anyway. I just wanted to make sure that they're happy."
"The whole object to success [in this business] is to feel what the buyer is telling you... and not imposing something on them... Especially in entertainment, an individual's time is so valuable. One client I have, she's getting married in two weeks. I've got four houses to show her."
An aficionado of traditional architecture who is "learning to love contemporary," Alperin's services are such a hot commodity that she rarely has time these days to lounge around her own Spanish-style home. Although she has managed to leave town here and there -- a few weeks in Italy, a couple of days in Hawaii -- Alperin battles to carve out some free time (don't even mention vacation).
"My girlfriend just had a bris [for her son]," she says. "It was impossible to take off at 3 p.m. on a weekday. But I did it. You find a way."
So what has catapulted Sharona's name from the top of the pop charts to the apex of the real estate game? Alperin herself supplies the answer:
"When I'm not working, I'm networking."