Beyoncé, Bruce Willis and Tina Fey are among the Million Dollar Contractor star's clients

By Mackenzie Schmidt
August 01, 2018 04:22 PM
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Credit: Stephen Fanuka Instagram

Contractor to the stars Stephen Fanuka attends to his clients’ every need — even in the middle of the night.

Bethenny Frankel called me the other night. She’d just come home from being away and her TV wasn’t working,” he tells PEOPLE. “I wasn’t gonna wait until the morning. I got on the phone with the AV people and we walked her through it so she could watch television with her daughter.”

The Queens, New York-based builder and host of DIY Network’s Million Dollar Contractor has built an empire by catering to the often over-the-top design demands of the rich and famous. In addition to the Real Housewives of New York star, he counts among his clients Bruce Willis, Tina Fey, Michael J. Fox, and Beyoncé and her mom, Tina Knowles Lawson.

Though he rarely reveals the details about which stars’ made what requests — keeping these things under wraps is part of his business model — he did share with PEOPLE, some of the craziest asks on his multi-million-dollar projects.

“Some people want locks on their dresser drawers, so their underwear could be locked away and stuff like that,” he notes while speaking about an unnamed supermodel. “You’d be surprised. People walk in and they’re like, ‘I want to steal this person’s underwear.'”

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Undergarment security is nothing compared to some other James Bond-worthy installs, the former cabinetmaker and master craftsman has executed. Most of his celeb clients “live in buildings where they have a doorman and security downstairs. But we’ve done security where you have to use the eye retina scan or thumb prints,” he says on a call promoting his do-it-yourself campaign for Gold Bond Cracked Skin Fill and Protect Cream. “That would be the most extreme. It’s not cheap either.”

One client even insisted on security for their beloved pet. “I’ve had to guard a cat. It was a diabetic cat, 17 years old, on its last legs. And the clients were afraid that if they displaced the cat for two long, they would lose it,” he recounts. “So I was paid to hire two bodyguards to walk around and follow the cat — for 8 months!”

The two secrets to his success? Go above and way beyond.“Whatever they want I will do for them if it’s humanly possible,” he says. (He once flew to France every 10 days to give a client an update — “We’re good.” — on his project.) And, don’t lose your cool in front of your favorite star. “The thing I learned early on is to be yourself. Don’t be starstruck. If you’re starstruck, celebrities are uncomfortable. They have to trust you. And if they don’t trust you, you’re just another person that wants something from them,” he explains.

And if you do mess up, “You’re not going to be told you made a mistake, you’re just going to be let go,” he says. “That’s the big leagues.”