What kind of person is Barbara Corcoran? She founded New York City’s most gargantuan realty brokerage (which she sold on September 9, 2001 for about $70 million) and has written a best-selling business book, If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails. Plus, she’s a pixie-like TV personality with an upcoming CNBC star vehicle.
And she knows just what kind of person you are.
Last week, the 58-year-old finished a draft of her second book, titled Nextville, which is due out in autumn 2008. It opens with a personality questionnaire that puts readers into groups—then recommends places for them to live.
She says she was paid a $200,000 advance from publisher Springboard Press.
“Of course, it’s about places,” she told The Observer from a summer home in Saltaire, Fire Island, “but more important than that, the idea of the book—I have a good feeling about it, but then I don’t know I’d admit it if I had a bad feeling—but I suggest 70 places broken down into nine chapters of where you should move if you’re a certain type of person.”
Ms. Corcoran knows her real estate, but she’s sharp with boomer taxonomy too. There are chapters for people who want to live young (“things from college towns to up-and-coming cities that have not yet been discovered,” she said); live green (“I thought it was a fad, but there’s a lot of conviction about it”); live for a purpose (“from rain forests to orphanages, so many places that need help”); or lose themselves (“start a totally different life”).
Then there’s a chapter on building a community, i.e., “a nudist colony in California that I think is the single best.” But she hasn’t gone bare: “Sadly, no, I’m too shy, and I don’t look good enough to take my things off, no way! Maybe when I was younger, but even then I wouldn’t. No.”
In fact, despite her six-figure payday, she visited only a third of the recommended places—thanks to a co-writer named Warren Berger, who did all the technical research and much of the writing. Does she dislike authorship? “Real estate is all talk, half bullshit. Writing is lonely work and totally unsociable.… I’m a good talker, but a slow writer.”
That’s no problem. “I will have my own TV show this fall,” Ms. Corcoran said, “It’s a real estate show on CNBC.” And it’s on Saturday night.
But if she’s spent her post-Corcoran Group days as a likable, auntlike gabber on the Today Show and Good Morning America, does the souring national realty market hurt her joys-of-real-estate shtick? Is the empowerment-through-property message too 2005 (a year when her old firm did $11.9 billion in sales)?
It helps that her executive producer is Susan Krakower, famous for Jim Cramer’s much-watched kookfest Mad Money. “It will be a relatively wacky real estate show,” Ms. Corcoran said. That means there won’t be much news or interviews, just giggly advice.
And there’s this: “Barbara alter-egos! A happy doll, a confused doll, and a sad doll. I’ll be talking to the dolls. This sounds godawful terrible, doesn’t it? But for some reason in my mind I know this is going to be good.”
If a cult-of-personality TV career takes off, which is quite possible, she won’t have to pen anything else. “I’m not writing another book for years, it’s too goddamn exhausting,” she said.
On the other hand, checks from cable can’t compete with the Corcoran Group windfall. “The pay scale is terrible, it really is,” she said when pressed for contract details with CNBC. “I couldn’t get it out of my mouth.”