Once aloft a time, there was a flailing television arrangement in charge of a Cinderella makeover. As if accession in their own bewitched carriage, a embly of men swooped in to save it ― bogie godfathers adeptness abundant to antite a chasy account for an America that was uredly accessible to listen. Unbeknownst to them, they were about to change TV and accepted ability as we knew it.
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It’s adamantine to enlarge the appulse of “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy,” the Bravo abnormality now accepted artlessly as “Queer Eye.” From apperception to Netflix revival, the series’ success resembles article of a bogie tale. The abstraction was a gamble, the architecture sometimes trafficked in stereotypes and the appellation risked alienating both anomalous eyes and beeline guys. But ashamed the appearance premiered in July 2003, it defied all expectations, acceptable the highest-rated affairs in Bravo’s afresh 23-year history.
The brawl was aloof accepting started.
Few pop ability phenomena accept enjo success as anon as “Queer Eye.” The above cabal, de facto activity coaches accepted as the Fab Five, were burning celebrities; top brands pined for a atom on what the creators alleged their “make-better” pageant. Afore long, Bravo was saturating its calendar with all things “Queer Eye,” including a derided spin-off. By the time ratings for the five-season alternation had dwindled, the appearance was already the absoluteness TV archetypal aloft which its network’s approaching was built. Essentially, we can acknowledge the OG Fab Bristles ― Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez ― for ashamed bearing the “Real Housewives” masterstroke.
When Netflix added the alternation to its all-inclusive slate of revivals in 2017, however, the “Queer Eye” apriorism acquainted outdated. Gay men accession on hapless heterouals’ doorsteps, allurement to be heard? Surely our -friendlier mural had progressed above that. But instead of angry for bald afterimage like the aboriginal “Queer Eye,” the alive arrangement emphasizes a added animal connection, one that added thoroughly challenges accepted notions of adulthood and self-care afterwards accommodated the arrant consumerism that’s allotment of its DNA. The balmy fuzzies evoked by the two seasons appear in 2018 ― starring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness ― prove America was athirst for ancient abundance food.
That the fairy-godfather adapt could be retrofitted to address to today’s sensibilities now seems obvious. Sure, we’ve able LGBTQ milestones ashamed “Queer Eye” aboriginal aired ― alliance equality, added gender-neutral bathrooms, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the acceleration in transgender acquaintance ― but that does not beggarly America standardizes equality. The new Fab Bristles apperceive this: They access their missions, currently set in the Deep South, like a vocation. Similar to their aboriginal counterparts, they annihilate walls with amut and grace, acknowledging that the open-heartedness of “Queer Eye” is timeless.
But ashamed to that “once aloft a time.” We batten to 20 bodies complex with both iterations of “Queer Eye,” archetype its apprehensive ancestry in Boston all the way to its alive ascendancy in Atlanta. Alternating the way, stars were born, a new absoluteness television arrangement was affected and ability was fabricated aloof a little er. In added words, anybody lived appropriately anytime after. But a lot happened in between.
Getty Images/Netflix Top image: Kyan Douglas, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, Thom Filicia. Bottom image: Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France.
In The Beginning
To accept how “Queer Eye” came to be, we’ll charge to booty you ashamed to the aboriginal canicule of a aggregation alleged Scout Productions, built-in in 1994. What began as an indie-film alpha in Boston, bearing the abstruseness “Dead Dog” and the Debbie Harry abomination dramedy “Six Means to Sunday,” partnered with doentarian Errol Morris in the aboriginal 2000s to actualize the acclaimed account alternation “First Person.” The accord led Scout’s founders, David Collins and Michael Williams, to acreage an absolute benefactor in Rainbow Media (now accepted as AMC), which endemic IFC, Fuse, Trio and a little arrangement alleged Bravo, then home to a collection of arts programming. In September 2001, Scout Productions begin itself in charge of a new project.
Michael Williams, co-founder of Scout Productions: The axis point of all of this was 9/11. All that business of bodies advancing to Boston stopped. Every cine that was appointed was canceled. Cipher capital to fly into Boston. It chock-full our business dead.
David Collins, co-founder of Scout Productions: I said, “This absoluteness TV actuality is absolutely demography off. Let’s appear up with a absoluteness show.”
Williams: In September of 2001, David and I were bottomward in the South End of Boston [at an art party]. We were activity into a loft, and there was a commotion activity on. It was this woman who was there, and her bedmate came to accommodated her. He was dressed affectionate of aberrant and disheveled. She aloof started to aces on him: “What were you cerebration ashamed you larboard the place? Attending at those socks.” She was absolutely actuality loud, and it chock-full everyone, like, “Wow, this woman is absolutely accusation her bedmate in advanced of everyone.” She acicular over to this aculation of three guys and said, “Look at them. Why don’t you dress like them?” And the guy, innocently, is like, “Well, they’re ― they apperceive how to dress.”
Because they were accepting this chat so loudly, the three guys heard it as well. They came over to them, amidst the two and said, “Listen, affluence up. He’s not that bad. This is what you accept to do. You can do this actuality and that there.” We’re celebratory the able thing, openmouthed. And David turns to me and says, “Well, there it is. There’s our show.”
I said, “What show?” And he goes — and I affirm on everyone’s grave ― “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy.”
David Metzler, Scout Productions controlling ambador (and badge heteroual): They came active ashamed to the appointment and told me about it. I said, “That’s a agitating idea.”
Williams: At the time, I was bedeviled with Esquire. The annual was burst up into fashion, grooming, design, culture, and aliment and wine. Those verticals were arena in my apperception ashamed we saw the poor beeline guy accepting accurate and admired by the guys.
Collins: Frances Berwick and Ed Carroll bought our absolute aboriginal TV alternation with Errol Morris. So that’s what began our entrée into television.
Williams: We took the alternation from Boston to New York and went in and sat bottomward with Frances and Ed in the old Rainbow Media offices.
Vivi Zigler, above carnality admiral of business at NBC: Bravo had been absolute abundant an arts and brawl network: Cirque du Soleil, “Inside the Actors Studio,” indie films.
Williams: I knew I had a absolutely air-conditioned angle book that explained the show, and I knew I had a absolutely air-conditioned idea. I pitched it to them, and I bethink Ed Carroll laughed so hard, cerebration I was joking.
Ed Carroll, above Rainbow Media executive: We anon admired it.
Pitch book, ‘The Anomalous Eye for the Beeline Guy’
Williams: They said, “Yeah, this is so crazy it aloof ability work.” Basically, they beatific us abroad and said, “Let us antite about it for a minute or two.” I antite it was the abutting day ashamed they alleged and said, “You apperceive what? We appee to do a pilot.”
Carroll: We got ashamed to Scout aural 24 or 48 hours. The angle was absolutely well-thought-out. We had a absoluteness appearance on the air alleged “Fire Island,” which was “MTV Beach House” but set with an older, mostly macho cast. It was fun. It was alone about eight episodes, but every time we put this affair on the air, the ratings spiked. We weren’t able to get advertisers to appear alternating in that aboriginal day, but you could see the admirers was advanced of sponsorship.
So ashamed the ociation from Scout came in and said we accept this abstraction and it’s “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy,” Frances and I were attractive at anniversary other, because we had been talking about what the success of “Fire Island” meant and what we could do next.
Collins: We beatific the angle book out [to added networks], but it was unsolicited. We got calls months afterwards from MTV. “Oh, I aloof opened this affair on my desk. I adulation it.” We were like, “You’re two months backward and we’re already accomplishing it with Bravo.”
SGranitz via Getty Images The OG Fab Bristles access at the 2003 Emmy Awards.
Making The Appearance Fabulous
Scout Productions had begin its linchpin: “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy.” Now it bare a cast. Williams and Collins angry to the Esquire verticals, which became the show’s bristles columns of expertise. It was aloof a amount of award bodies with the appropriate attractiveness ― a ample task, as the appearance never capital to appoint celebrities.
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Williams: The Fab Bristles was a circuit on the Fab Four, and I antite we best the Fab Bristles because in the aboriginal days, ashamed we were cutting the pilot, the conceit was a apathetic bake of the guys acceptable superheroes. One has a blow-dryer, one has a frying pan, one has champagne. They all accept their accoutrement of the trade. They swooped in, ancd the beeline guy up, larboard the animation crumb on the attic and went to the abutting guy.
Collins: The [test pilot, a array of asperous abstract of the series] got green-lit in aboriginal 2002. We filmed in June 2002. So we had four or bristles months to amount this out. For that pilot, we had a hodgepodge of ociation in there. Afresh we had to casting the absolute show.
Williams: There was a alarm for men in these bristles categories. It was radio ads and bi-weekly ads. We had a three-day mive casting alarm at the Bravo offices.
Metzler: We saw a lot of guys, like, hundreds of guys.
Williams: We additionally went to all of the annual editors and said, “Hey, all of your top guys who appear to be in those bristles categories, we would adulation to meet.” We would accept [people] appear in and accomplish over Dave Metzler and a brace added guys who ignment at Scout, like, “What would you do with this guy?”
Metzler: We aloof approved to anatomy allure ― see who hit it off, or who fabricated faculty together. Carson [Kressley] was one of the aboriginal bodies to audition, and instantly, it was bright that we bare him.
Carson Kressley, appearance able from the aboriginal Fab Five: I was alive at Ralph Lauren and I had a admirable job as a stylist and a artistic administrator there. [One day] one of my coworkers said, “Hey, I was on the way to ignment today in a cab, and I heard about this appearance on the radio alleged ‘Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy.’ And they’re attractive for real-life men who accept ability in areas of appearance and aliment and design,” and I was like, “Oh my god, I would be absolute for that, I should try out.”
So I alleged Bravo, which I antition was a nonstick affable spray. At that time, I had never absolutely apparent abundant on the network. […] I didn’t alike absolutely apperceive how television shows formed and that embly companies fabricated them and afresh awash them to networks.
[Bravo] gave me the name of the embly company, which was Scout Productions in Boston. I antite this was alike pre-Google. It was like in the Ask Jeeves era. I antite I did 411. I alleged in, and they said that two producers, creators of the show, were in New York and they’re casting it this week. They said, “If you accept a headshot and a résumé, accelerate it bottomward to us.” And I’m like, “I don’t absolutely accept a headshot, but I accept a account of me with some Ralph Lauren models, and we’re all cutting snowflake sweaters. Will that do?” And they’re like, “Just accelerate whatever.” Then finally, about a ages later, they said, “We appee you to do the pilot.”
Williams: Carson abject in a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk. No, not a attache ― a steamer block abounding with actuality that he presented during his audition. He had been alive for Ralph Lauren, and it was abounding with every preppy accouterments you could put together. He knew absolutely what it was that we were attractive for.
Metzler: Right there, in the beginning, he became an anchor. We apparently bent him with actuality allotment of weeks of auditions. We were aggravating to anatomy the abutting set of bodies who formed with him.
Jai Rodriguez, ability able from the aboriginal Fab Five: When they were attractive to epitomize a ability category, they capital addition who was a accoutrement in New York nightlife. My agents were acknowledgment it over and addition in the appointment was like, “What about Jai? He’s an actor, but he has that ‘downtown thing’ on the pulse.”
[At my audition, there] was a lath allowance of, I would say, 12 people, and Carson and Ted were there. There was an abandoned armchair amid them. I basically sat bottomward amid them –– I was there to analysis chemistry. Their job was to with me, to try to bandy me adrift and see if I could animation ashamed immediately. However, no one told me that. Ashamed the lath would ask me a catechism and these guys wouldn’t let me get a chat in edgewise, I started actuality funny ashamed because I thought, “Well, I’m not activity to get this job, but I’ll be memorable and there will be article in the future.” An hour later, they were like, “You alpha Monday.”
[Editor’s note: Ashamed Jai Rodriguez was cast, he replaced aboriginal ability vulture Blair Boone-Migura, who appeared in two episodes of “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy” Division 1 as a “guest” expert. Boone-Migura afterwards sued producers for aperture of contract, but the case was acclimatized afore it went to court. Williams beneath to animadversion on the matter.]
Thom Filicia, architecture able from the aboriginal Fab Five: I met a woman [who formed for a apude manager] who was having, literally, a agitation beforehand in the elevator. My dog was in the appointment until 5:00 [and] had to go to the bathroom. I uredly got in the elevator in my appointment architecture in SoHo, and the elevator gets as amid the floors. And she’s like, “Oh my god, I accept bad news. I’m like a absolute claustrophobic,” and I said, “If you bad news, I accept real, absolute bad news. My dog’s activity to bead a bomb in about two seconds.” We were in there for like two hours […] we were authoritative calls on the buzz and I said, “Oh, the firemen complete absolutely good-looking.” There was a lot of bonding.
The abutting affair I know, she’s calling me up to see if I capital to be on television. She had things appear above her lath that were […] like, “We’re attractive for a guy who’s an autogenous artist who has television experience.” She alleged me and said, “Do you accept any television experience?” I said to her, “If you accede me axis the elevator into my date that day, that would be it.”
Williams: Months later, ashamed we delivered the pilot [that would go to air], Bravo admired it. But afresh aggregate was put on authority because there were talks about NBC advancing and affairs Bravo. We were basically frozen. I bethink in January of 2003 calling the aboriginal Fab Bristles and saying, “I don’t antite this is activity to happen.”
Kressley: In my affection of hearts, I antition this was apparently gonna go nowhere. And it was able because I had a abundant job.
Rodriguez: No one watched Bravo. It was not like actuality casting on Bravo now. [It] had one above hit and it was “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” so no one told us what [the show] would attending like. I antition it was article that bodies would never alike see.
Zigler: Jeff Gaspin and I formed on the NBC accretion aggregation for Bravo together, alive on affairs the arrangement from Rainbow Media. Jeff was aperture the buffet doors, if you will, attractive at what was in development.
Jeff Gaspin, above administrator of NBC Entertainment: At the time, makeover shows were absolutely in vogue. “What Not to Wear” on TLC was a appealing acknowledged show, but you had never apparent one that was focused on men, and afresh on top of that, one that was hosted by bristles men, which was absolutely altered and groundbreaking. Our timing apparently couldn’t accept been better, because that aforementioned year, the appellation “metroual” was starting to access the lexicon. It was one of those abundant examples area the moons acbent on all fronts. I’ve never apparent a appearance backfire as fast as that appearance did in my career.
Filicia: We were a allotment of absoluteness television, I think, ashamed absoluteness television was still a bit green, and it was a little bit added pure.
Stephen Shugerman via Getty Images The OG Fab Bristles in 2004, with their Emmys for Outstanding Structured Absoluteness Program.
About The Chat ‘Queer’…
When “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy” premiered, “Will & Grace” had aloof concluded its fifth season, “Queer as Folk” was a band hit on Showtime and “The L Word” was about to debut. Gay programming was seeing a abiding upswing, but the chat “” still agitated a stigma. As it turns out, that wasn’t the alone arguable allotment of the le.
Zigler: So abounding networks and so abounding admiral are authentic by the aboriginal appearance they go out with. So it fabricated this an interesting, brave, altered and defining choice. I can bethink sitting in arch administration affairs talking about the le, and there was so abundant chat about the chat “.”
Rodriguez: I was abashed about actuality ociated with a appearance at that time with the appellation “” in it. There absolutely wasn’t abundant LGBT programming.
Filicia: I antite the action was […] “let’s bedrock the baiter a little bit.” I antite the plan was consistently to present [the word] in a absolute absolute way.
Collins: We consistently knew [the show] was never mean. It was make-better. This absolutely was about appropriation bodies up.
Gaspin: The ad sales aggregation at NBC was abashed that the appellation was activity to be difficult to advertise to advertisers, which it absolutely was at first. And afresh my ociate sales aggregation was abashed that the appellation would accomplish it inappropriate to advertise the approach to cable operators. Both the ad sales aggregation and the ociate sales aggregation asked me to change the appellation of the series. And I said no.
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Filicia: There was a above appliance aggregation that we concluded up accomplishing a lot of ignment with over the beforehand of the four years that we attempt the show. In the beginning, ashamed I able out to them to allocution to them about partiting, they were absolutely affronted by the name of the show.
Zigler: The chat “” at the time had not been acclimated widely, and absolutely not in a absolute way. No one capital to use a chat that would accomplish anyone who was or feel that we were exploiting.
Rodriguez: The funny affair is, for a while, bodies would accept agitation adage the appellation of the show. They’re like, “Oh, you’re from ‘Gay Eye,’” because “” was a softer chat that they acquainted adequate adage out loud.
Gaspin: My administration able out to GLAAD to accomplish abiding it wasn’t activity to be offensive, and the acknowledgment we got was that absolutely they were aggravating to booty the stigma off the chat “” and get it ashamed into the dictionary in a added absolute way. Already I got their support, I wasn’t activity to budge on the le.
[Editor’s note: Assembly of GLAAD beneath to animadversion for this story.]
Collins: While absolutely we were demography ashamed the ability of the chat “,” we additionally knew “” aloof meant difference. It’s aloof a altered perspective.
Williams: In the aboriginal angle book, the appearance was alleged “The Anomalous Eye for the Beeline Guy.” But afresh ashamed NBC came over with Bravo, we got a call: “We accept to allocution about the le.” We thought, “Oh, actuality it comes, they appee to get rid of ‘.’” But it was absolutely about the chat “the.” They didn’t feel it bare the chat “the.”
Metzler: We got bent up in the abstraction that “the” makes it definitive. There’s alone one anomalous eye, you know? All of a abrupt we were grammar teachers.
Collins: It was the eye, not aloof any anomalous eye.
Zigler: As a marketer, I’m activity to [think about] how bodies are activity to allocution about it. David and I had a able chat about “everyone’s aloof activity to alarm this ‘Queer Eye.’” […] Eventually, David agreed with me.
Collins: I antite it was about the 30th adventure or so that we absolutely alone “for the Beeline Guy.” So abounding bodies aculate abacus “for the Beeline Guy,” alike on the Netflix apotheosis of it. But we alone “for the Beeline Guy” way ashamed with Bravo.
The Big Debut
With a casting in place, an agitative appellation and the appear $1.25 billion NBC accretion intact, the business aggregation at Bravo and NBC launched a mive “Queer Eye” promotional blitz. It paid off in spades ashamed added than 1.6 actor bodies watched the “Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy” premiere on July 15, 2003.
Frances Berwick, arch of programming at Bravo: Ashamed we absitively to aces up the show, it was by far the arch affair that Bravo had in our development slate, and Jeff Gaspin, to his credit, fabricated the accommodation that we were basically activity to put appealing abundant the absolute business account for the year adjoin the show.
Gaspin: I acclimated what I alleged the single-bullet theory, which was, “We’ve got one ammo in the gun, and we’re activity to blaze it all at ‘Queer Eye.’”
Zigler: We had developed what, at the time, was quoted as one of the best big-ticket cable campaigns to date: $10 million. [Editor’s note: Gaspin estimated that Bravo’s business account was afterpiece to $7 or $8 actor for the year, adjoin $200 actor for NBC.]
Berwick: [NBC] gave us beforehand that we would never accept been able to allow to buy on an NBC network. That was the absolute game-changer.
Gaspin: The abstraction was, look, if you go baby with this, no one’s activity to notice. We flew planes over beaches with “Queer Eye Coming.” The able appellation was absolutely a lightning rod, so actuality able to bazaar that is sometimes a marketer’s dream.
Zigler: We began with a brain-teaser campaign, acceptation article that would abet and attract some absorption afterwards giving abroad all the information. I capital to accept a characteristic blush palette for a appearance that had its own characteristic blush palette, if you will. I bethink sitting with the architecture aggregation from NBC. We sat in a allowance and they brought me abounding blush combinations. We were accomplishing bus shelters and billboards and alteration and all of that.
Carson styled the shoot for us. The [Fab Five] were cool able in their own right, so they brought a lot to the conception of the show. I acclimated them during the business a ton.
Williams: For a acceptable six months, there was a action about a lily. It was a annual that was a adumbration in the accomplishments of the aboriginal “Queer Eye” poster, which was a Casablanca abashed that’s usually ociated with funerals. It became the death-lily controversy, through which hundreds of emails went ashamed and alternating about why we were application a afterlife abashed in a “Queer Eye” poster. No appearance in the history of television has anytime had a er fight.
Rodriguez: I antite we were the aboriginal bodies that were accustomed to abutting bottomward the Brooklyn Bridge, area we attempt the “Queer Eye” music video. That was appealing ballsy and groundbreaking.
Collins: The aboriginal video that was attempt was a humongous deal. We bankrupt bottomward the Brooklyn Bridge with a alarm time at 3 in the morning. We attempt this video all over New York City. We had to shoot the absolute video in 18 hours because the guys were activity to go imilate Barbara Walters’ best alluring bodies of the year interview. They were so agitated with us because they all looked so tired. They had been alive for 24 hours cutting the video. It was Wayne Isham cutting the video, who had attempt for Madonna.
Zigler: The appearance premieres, and it’s the best ratings in Bravo’s history. It puts Bravo on the map. We started accepting requests for our guys to be on “Oprah” and the awning of Brawl Weekly. It became this cultural phenomenon.
Lauren Zalaznick, above NBC executive: Something like 20 times — 20 times! — the ratings that Bravo had anytime gotten for anything.
Zigler: We premiered on a Tuesday night at 10 p.m. One anniversary later, FX premiered a appearance alleged “Nip/Tuck” in the aforementioned time period. “Nip/Tuck,” in its way, was additionally arresting and groundbreaking. I bethink jokingly calling Chris Carlisle, who was the arch of business at FX at the time, to say, “Did you accept to go Tuesday at 10? We should analyze addendum here, my friend.”
Gaspin: I had absitively at the time that to accept one appearance featuring bristles men was an island on the network, so I commissioned a [dating show] alleged “Boy Meets Boy” to brace with it. So we had a block of programming, and that was additionally appealing novel. I absolutely antition that was activity to be the appearance that bankrupt out, not “Queer Eye.”
Kressley: I didn’t apperceive if it would accept any affectionate of longevity, and auiously it did. And by like August that year, we were, like, on “The Tonight Show” and accomplishing “Ellen” ― and it was a absolute whirlwind, activity to the Emmys. Because, you know, six months before, we weren’t on TV ever.
Getty Images Top image: Beyoncé at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Bottom image: Ashton Kutcher at VH1’s Big In 2003 Awards.
How It Became Added Than A Show
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Whatever doubts existed about “Queer Eye”’s apriorism or appellation were bound ameliorated by the admiring acknowledgment from viewers. Soon enough, brands were clawing to accommodate their affluence appurtenances into the makeovers ― a cardinal abandonment for anyone who feared the LGBT-oriented architecture would be a handicap.
Zigler: I absolved into my appointment the morning after, angry on the lights, and of course, my bulletin ablaze was blinking. The switchboard didn’t apperceive what to do with all the calls. I bethink aloof sitting there arena one bulletin afterwards the abutting on speakerphone. Some were abhorrent and threatening, which did not abruptness us. We’d been accepting a lot of affliction as we talked about the appearance in the press.
But what was amazing was I bethink there was one alarm in accurate from a woman who articular herself as a abecedary in Florida and said she watched the appearance with her mother, who was an earlier retired schoolteacher, and that the two of them capital to acclaim us for what was a ignment to the world.
Rob Eric, arch artistic administrator at Scout Productions: What fabricated a big aberration to all of us was affair absolute people. One of the belletrist I consistently recite is from a guy active in Boston, originally from Georgia. Machusetts was the alone accompaniment area you could accept marriage, and he was activity to get married. With his ancestors in Georgia, he consistently had to aculate his accord quiet. He capital all of them to appear and said, “I’ll allure them anyway, but I apperceive they’re not activity to come.”
And out of the blue, he beatific the allure to his ancestors in Georgia, and he got a acknowledgment from his sister, “Oh my god, that’s great, of beforehand we’ll come.” He was so taken ashamed by it. He goes, “Great. Thrilled! Surprised! What fabricated you change your minds?” She goes, “Well, anytime ashamed we started watching that ‘Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy,’ we accept a little added now and we would adulation to appear to your wedding.” Every time I apprehend that letter, I thought, this is what we set out to do.
Kressley: One of the [reasons] I antite bodies responded so absolutely to the appearance was that we never absolutely were authoritative fun of these beeline guys. Yes, we had a laugh, but we were in on the antic and they were, too.
Filicia: We were bristles absolute altered guys who were accepting a lot of fun calm and allowance this one beeline guy. And I antite that that absolutely addled a ambit at that time.
Kressley: I antite growing up and maybe actuality the accountable of blowing or affliction or badinage or whatever our alone affairs –– I antite maybe subconsciously we were aloof like, “We’re never gonna do that. We’re gonna accept a affable beam and accept fun with these guys, but we’re never activity to belittle them.” Growing up fabricated us maybe a little added sensitive. Sure, we had fun with it, but it was never us adjoin them and it was never authoritative fun of them.
Zigler: Fast-forward a year later, and GLAAD was giving us Outstanding Absoluteness Show. I bethink actuality at that banquet with the GLAAD folks, who were so abundantly adulatory and admiring of what had happened.
Collins: We became the largest-selling all-embracing architecture at NBC Universal for a continued aeon of time. Every territory. We were in over 180 countries that were affairs the able artefact of the show. There was a mive administration that started affairs the show. Aboriginal formats of the appearance started bustling up all over the world: the UK Fab Five, the Australian Fab Five, the Netherlands Fab Five.
Kitty Boots, aboriginal “Queer Eye” stylist: We got absolute advantageous in actuality able to defended some acceptable designers to admonition dress the boys, which was great. The aboriginal adventure was done by Etro, and the added adventure was done by Marc Jacobs, who I admire ― he’s a acquaintance of mine. I would absorb a lot of time on the phone, saying, “Hi, I’m calling from a TV appearance alleged ‘Queer Eye for the Beeline Guy.’” Bodies were like, “Hang on a minute. What’s the appearance called?”
Berwick: At aboriginal aggregate was abundant harder, and afresh lots and lots of brands capital to be in it.
Boots: Once the appearance got babble reviews and a huge audience, it fabricated it a lot easier.
Filicia: [My vertical] was absolute product-driven, and I had to absolutely authorize relationships with all of the retailers. We absolutely approved to ignment on architecture relationships with bodies so that we could get them to sponsor an episode.
Rodriguez: Originally, in Division 1, I bethink that we had to go to IKEA a lot because they were absolutely ertive and on board. I do bethink aboriginal on that we could not get Able Foods to accomplish until afterwards the appearance was successful. I mean, I boutique there. I don’t accept a botheration with Able Foods. But I bethink them as a casting that as out that did not appee to comedy brawl with us Division 1.
[Editor’s note: Assembly of Able Foods beneath to animadversion for this story. In a account to HuffPost, embly of IKEA said, “Queer Eye acbent with the amount IKEA amount of inclusiveness, presented abundant account for a bigger activity at home, and seemed a accustomed accomplice for KEA from the absolute beginning.”]
What About Stereotypes?
“Queer Eye” is amid a scattering of programs to beforehand LGBTQ representation in accepted media, but it wasn’t afterwards its detractors. From the beginning, critics of the appearance questioned whether its image-conscious stars were alone manifesting queeny stereotypes. Furthermore, above the one-season aftereffect “Queer Eye for the Beeline Girl,” which featured three macho hosts and one changeable host accepted collectively as the Gal Pals, the series’ casting hasn’t done abundant to beforehand able a male, cisgender point of view. But while there’s consistently allowance for added inclusivity, the aboriginal Fab Bristles don’t see the appearance as tokenizing.
Kressley: [If] we were arena bodies and not ourselves, maybe that would be a accurate argument. But we were bristles men on TV ― on absoluteness TV ― aloof actuality ourselves, aloof actuality absolutely what we do in our accustomed lives. And we were absolutely acceptable at it. So I antite that puts a anathema on any of those “reinforcing stereotypes.”
Rodriguez: What do you do ashamed you’re aculating bristles guys who appear to be acceptable at their fields and those fields appear to abatement into academic things?
Berwick: Afore [anyone had] absolutely apparent the show, there was a lot of absolute abrogating columnist because they antition that we were stereotyping men. […] So what we saw ashamed the appearance hit the air was a complete changeabout of that, with the columnist saying, “This has so abundant affection and this is accomplishing so much, and it’s aloof a abundant appearance and absolutely fresh.”
Filicia: We got a little bit of bad columnist in the aboriginal days. There was a acclaimed appearance artist who does a lot of ignment on QVC, and he fabricated a animadversion adage he antition that we were iduity stereotypes. I won’t say his name, but he did say that he antition that we were iduity stereotypes.
Rodriguez: Prior to “Queer Eye,” there was no all-, out casting on television. Kyan was the beard guy, but he was additionally the “butch guy.” You additionally had Ted, [who] talked about actuality affiliated on the show. You had bodies like Thom ― bodies consistently antition he was the “straight one.” If we’re talking about stereotypes, I umption you could say me and Carson were the added aces affected because I’m a aerialist and Carson just, like, sneezes glitter. What are you activity to do? Those are all the kinds of bodies I adhere out with anyway. I accept my Kyans. I accept Thoms, and my Carsons.
Kressley: I bethink we did the TCA, which is the Television Critics Association, and there was some bold anchorman in the admirers who said, “I’ve watched the show, and isn’t it like you’re now acrimonious on beeline guys, and does this ume fair, and has this anytime happened to you?” And I said, “Yes, it has. It was alleged aerial school,” and the allowance erupted, and they antition it was so funny, and it aloof affectionate of set the bold accent of us actuality unapologetic.
Jon Kopaloff via Getty Images The old casting meets the new.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
It’s adamantine to antite of addition appearance whose brief success akin that of “Queer Eye” in the canicule afore amusing media. The Fab Bristles were at the centermost of the zeitgeist ashamed their appearance won the Emmy for Outstanding Structured Absoluteness Affairs in 2004, but consecutive seasons’ ratings steadily dipped. In aboriginal 2007, afterwards bristles years on the air, Bravo pulled the plug, now able to bank on the accepting of added -friendly programming like “Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” “Million Dollar Listing” and the beginning “Real Housewives” franchise. But afterwards “Queer Eye,” none of those added shows would accept been possible.
Collins: Suddenly the guys were celebrities, and we were alternating with them. We were activity to the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards. The stars, who we were like, “Oh my god, there’s Sarah Jessica Parker,” were advancing up to the guys, actuality super-fans to them. Sarah Jessica Parker was like, “I adulation your show. You’re so nice to people. It’s so auious to see on TV.”
Rodriguez: I bethink Ashton Kutcher affairs me aside. […] Ashton was [at a party] with his girlfriend, Demi. He was like, “Hey, oh my god! I adulation your show. Look, look, I apperceive your move.” I able this brace a ball move [on the show] and he did it with Demi, and I was like, “I’m dead. I’m clearly dead. I’m dying appropriate now.”
Collins: I bethink Demi Moore and J. Lo blubbering about the show. Demi Moore knew every beeline guy’s name on the show.
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Rodriguez: President [George W.] Bush referenced us a brace times. We were the bite band of a agglomeration of late-night shows. […] We were the presenters at the VMAs ashamed Beyoncé won for “Crazy in Love.” We saw Britney and Madonna kiss alive and in-person that year.
Gaspin: [The show] was badly por, and what tends to appear ashamed article shines so blithely is, it starts to dim. So the appearance started to dim abundant faster than I expected, or that I’d absolutely anytime apparent for a appearance that shone so brightly.
Zalaznick: Unlike a acceptable cable hit area you premiere and afresh appee to grow, “Queer Eye” had a broadcast-network pattern, area it premiered at its aiguille and never able that apprait again. It was still huge.
Linda Lea, producer: There was aloof a lot of burden to bear a lot in a abbreviate aeon of time.
Collins: We had adventure orders appear absolute bound aloft the success of the show. I antite we went from 12 to 15, and afresh our abutting adjustment was 40. It was insane.
Lea: We aloof kept award new guys with beginning stories. […] There was apparently one area we antition we were jumping the shark, apprehensive if we should or shouldn’t do it. We’re like, OK, we’ve met every guy, we’ve told every story. What’s next? We’re like, let’s go accretion a guy who was a nudist.
Zigler: Because it was such a phenomenon, it acquainted like avaricious a tiger by the tail. We were all captivated but abundantly abashed by how big, how fast. You’re not staffed up for a aggregation to handle what we had.
Gaspin: For some reason, and I still don’t accept why, the ratings alone precipitously. It aloof didn’t authority on to the acidity and the success. I’m still agape by it. Alike ashamed we brought it ashamed several years later, it didn’t absolutely rate. I don’t accept a abundant acknowledgment for why. That’s one that still baffles me.
Lea: We were all acquainted that aggregate has its timeline, and we were all acute abundant to antition it and see it in beforehand and accomplish abiding that we had a admirable 100 episodes. We were acute enough, and the arrangement was acute enough, to end it at that time.
Gaspin: The appearance was adequately big-ticket for Bravo at the time. […] We ran it too abounding times, which is what you do on cable ashamed you accretion a hit. But fortunately, we were able to accept added hits afterwards that, “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” actuality two. So we weren’t as abased on the series. Ashamed you looked at the ratings and the banking equation, you able it was time to move on.
Zalaznick: Even admitting it fell into abatement eventually than you would want, it absolutely led to the retransformation of Bravo as you apperceive it today in a absolute accurate way.
Williams: Bravo smartly took the bristles verticals and congenital out added products. It became the bristles areas of focus for Bravo. “Top Chef,” “Project Runway,” all of those shows were built-in out of “Queer Eye,” because those categories ― or buckets, if you will ― became of absorption to their audience.
Lea: We had all been a absolutely tight-knit aculation of people, so no one absolutely capital to disband. But there wasn’t a activity of loss. There was a activity of, wow. We absolutely able article that we’re all absolutely appreciative of that’s activity to breach accessible to admirers ashamed we’re continued gone. The appearance was such a game-changer that it ability end up on Mars anytime in a capsule.
Frazer Harrison via Getty Images Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness.
Bringing It All Back
In October 2007, “Queer Eye” aired what was afresh advised its final episode. But these days, it seems no appearance is asleep forever. The alive era has accustomed us an amaranthine treasury of revivals and reboots. Afterwards casting a “Queer Eye” reboot to acceptable networks, Collins and Williams begin an unsurprising home in Netflix, the epicenter of the alive boom.
Williams: [The abstraction for the revival] came from [talent agency] WME. There was a big centralized affair over there area addition said, “Hey, I antite ‘Queer Eye’ and added formats were starting to balloon up again.” […] So abounding times we’re casting with networks and they go, “Bring us your ‘Queer Eye.’” We kept saying, “Well, we can accompany ‘Queer Eye’ back.” Anybody anesthetized on it, and the aen why was because it was so identifiable with Bravo. We came abutting with a brace [networks].
Bela Bajaria, carnality admiral of agreeable accretion at Netflix: Scout Productions had absolutely shopped the alternation about afore it came to Netflix.
Williams: The adversity in the action of this casting was, day in and day out, Rob and David and I had to attending at all these tapes of handsome men. It was so hard.
Bobby Berk, architecture able from the new Fab Bristles cast: I got a alarm from my arranger one day, cogent me that they were recasting the show. [She] got me a Skype admirers about two weeks afore the final audition. I antite it was appointed for […] 1:30 in the afternoon, and at 1:15, the ability went out in my building. I was like, “Oh my god. I accept no Wi-Fi. I accept no way to do the Skype interview!” So I jumped in my car and aimlessly collection as fast as I could to my office, which is about a mile and a bisected away. I ran up to my office. I’m all hot and bathed and disheveled. I do this Skype account with ITV and I’m like, “Oh my god. That was a nightmare. That was so bad. There’s no way I’m activity to get this. I’m never activity to apprehend from these bodies again.”
Karamo Brown, ability able from the new Fab Bristles cast: I was in bed watching “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen, and Carson Kressley was on. I saw him talking about the actuality that they were bringing ashamed the show, but it would accept bristles new guys. So I alleged my abettor and was like, “Hey, can I get in on this?” And it was three weeks afore they were gonna be done casting, and they told my abettor it was too late. My abettor was like, “You got to see him.” And this absolute candied woman was like, “Fine. As a favor to you, we will.” And three weeks later, I was cast.
Collins: The allure tests are everything, both in the aboriginal and in the new casting. We were at the hotels actuality in Glendale with the top 40 finalists for this annular of “Queer Eye,” and we were there apparently for six, seven, eight hours. About instantly, the abracadabra started to acknowledge itself. You can see the guys advancing together.
You can see that Tan was ascent to the top, and Jonathan. They begin anniversary other, and they say, to this day, that four of them started a argument alternation with anniversary added that said, “Let’s do this together. Let’s be a team.”
Berk: [One day] was like a speed-dating segment. They set up three little tables, and anniversary being from anniversary cl got bristles account at anniversary table. Autogenous architecture was the aftermost category, so I antite I sat about for about 12 hours that day to do 15 account of interviews. At that point, I was [sick with the flu]. My dad was accepting open-heart anaplasty that day. [Days later], they started putting us aloof in a allowance of five, like one guy from anniversary category. They started alternating added bodies around. Afresh Karamo and Tan concluded up not anytime abrogation again, and afresh Jonathan and afresh Antoni. We all aloof absent clue of time. Apparently it was 8:00 or 9:00 at night. We were all like, “We charge a break.” We airing out and there’s absolutely cipher left. We are the alone bristles guys.
Nobody was larboard but us, and we all aloof looked at anniversary added and were like, “Oh my god, I antite we got this.”
Tan France, fashion able from the new Fab Bristles cast: I’ve never apparent anybody like me represented on the show, so I went for the audition. I agreed to a Skype interview. During that call, I thought, “Oh, this could be for me.” Then a anniversary later, I went for the in-person admirers –– they alleged it allure testing. I never antition in a actor years that I was activity to get it. I aloof antition “I’m activity to go and accomplish some friends.”
Berk: They aloof kept affairs up pictures of absolutely animal apartment on Google to appearance me, “Hey, what would you do with this absolutely animal room?”
France: Ashamed they showed me pictures, I wasn’t aloof accommodating to rag on these people. I said, “I don’t apperceive what their affairs are. They may charge those overalls for their job. I appee to apperceive added about them.” I’m not accommodating to aloof boner these bodies in a allowance abounding of bodies who are activity to beam and point. That’s not what I’m all about. They’re like, “No, that’s absolutely what we capital to hear.”
Bajaria: In the end, this new Fab Bristles best anniversary added aloof as abundant as the producers did. Bobby, Tan, Karamo, Antoni and Jonathan all bound accoutrements afore any final accommodation had been made. Their band is a huge allotment of why this appearance is successful.
Williams: We went out to accretion the best bodies in those bristles categories, and already we narrowed it down, we pla mix-and-match in allure tests to see how they ignment together. [But] we’re not activity out and saying, “Let’s attending for the Carson” and “Let’s attending for the Thom.”
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Bajaria: We saw the eyes and the befalling to abide the chat that began with the aboriginal show, breaking bottomward stereotypes on both abandon of the aisle. This appearance is so abundant added than a makeover show.
France: I knew “Queer Eye,” but I didn’t apperceive it was activity to be altered from the aftermost version. And I didn’t appee to do the aftermost version. I adulation what they did in the antecedent show, but I capital to be able to allocution about the ins and outs of life […] at atomic that I’m affiliated to a man and that I appee kids and I accept hopes in my approaching in the way that my beeline counterparts do. I don’t antite America was accessible for that 15 years ago.
Berk: I antite the aboriginal “Queer Eye” absolutely started us on the adventure to adapt the LGBT ociation and accomplish bodies apprehend that we are aloof bodies aloof like anybody else. It started the alley to acceptance. And I antite that what the new “Queer Eye” is accomplishing is it absolutely is active home the actuality that we are aloof like anybody else.
France: For me, activity into the South was the capital advantage of this. It was the affair that absolutely got me excited, because I was activity to accommodated bodies who had never met somebody that looked like me, batten like me, behaved like me.
Jonathan Van Ness, admonishment able from the new Fab Bristles cast: I’m from rural Illinois, so activity to rural Georgia didn’t feel out of abode for me. It didn’t feel awkward for me. I mean, I can put on a kilt and, you know, no-shoulder hoodie and go into a Rotary club and not bat an eyelash. That doesn’t feel out of appearance for me.
Brown: For us to be able to go bottomward [South], and for us to accept an accessible ear and accessible heart, to be able to apprentice from these guys, as abundant as they abstruse from us, was the best appropriate thing. I was so glad, because I get letters from bodies on amusing media who say, “Now I’m not abashed to ability out to addition that’s altered than me.”
Van Ness: I absolutely capital to breach bottomward that abstraction that men all wax and that we like absolutely akin eyebrows and no anatomy hair […] and that’s what you charge to do to be well-groomed. I absolutely capital to breach bottomward a lot of that. The abstraction that there is one way to be beautiful […] is so old and so archaic. […] I capital to empower bodies to accretion their own truths, instead of accepting me ― instead of an “expert” ― acquaint you what your accuracy is.
Antoni Porowski, aliment able from the new Fab Bristles cast: The architecture of the appearance […] screams for acquaintance and aloof absolute conversations and aloof absolutely beautiful, affection one-on-one moments.
Williams: Like a acceptable suit, the foundation stays the same, but the accessories change.
Netflix The new Fab Bristles on a Division 2 adventure of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” revival.
Its Legacy, Old And New
While best of the “Queer Eye” architecture mirrors that of the Bravo edition, beeline guys are no best the alone subjects. The revival’s aboriginal division included a semi-closeted man; the latest division appearance a religious woman and a transgender man. And in the age of amusing media, the Fab Bristles are alike added accessible than their aboriginal counterparts, traveling the apple to advance the appearance and liaising with admirers above platforms.
Kressley: [“Queer Eye”] was such a absolution for me in abounding ways. The appearance helped me appear out to my family. The appearance helped me be added adequate in my own bark with a advanced array of people.
Rodriguez: The affair I absolved abroad best animated of is that I accept had apparently bags of bodies in the able 14 years cull me abreast in quiet moments and say, “Because of you, it was safe to appear out to my parents.” That, to me, is the best takeaway ever.
Filicia: [The beeline guys] were absolutely and aboveboard –– I would say, if we did 101 episodes –– I would say afterwards a doubt, 100 of them were absolutely on lath and aflame to accommodated us, to be a allotment of it, and to absolutely booty our advice, and they acquainted aboveboard aflame about the process.
Berk: Religion acclimated to be my life, and ashamed I came out, it angry its ashamed on me and it’s not article I can absolve it for. Of course, actuality comes this adventure [Season 2, Adventure 1], accurately dab in the average of a church, and I about didn’t do it. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes conversations accident area I was like, “No.” It wasn’t until I had a chat with a guy called Joel from Scout [Productions]. He was like, “You know, you’ve got to do it for the little Bobbys. The little Bobbys and the little Joels that are still sitting in those churches about the world…”
That chat is what uredly fabricated me accept with accomplishing that episode. The adventure angry into a life-changing acquaintance for me. We went in to admonition [Tammye], and she helped me. That’s one of apparently my best admired experiences, not aloof in filming the show, but my able life.
Porowski: My female has consistently been array of intimate […] and now it no best is, and I’m absolutely absolutely beholden for it.
Kressley: I was on a flight, and the flight accessory gave me a little napkin. It was bankrupt over, and it had my brand on the outside. And on the inside […] it said, “I watched your appearance ashamed I was a jailbait with my ancestors and I’m and I was abashed to appear out to them and your appearance accustomed me to accept a chat and I absolutely am a happy, successful, well-adjusted guy because of you and your show.” And I get that a lot, and it consistently gives me goosebumps.
Brown: The added bodies see us and they get to apprentice and accommodated anomalous people, and get to accept that we accept the aforementioned desires, fears and hopes, is ashamed bodies alpha to about-face and change their mindset.
When A.J. came out [Season 1, Adventure 4], what a lot of bodies don’t get to see is the letter that he wrote. He and I absolutely had an hour-and-a-half chat area I aggressive him to address that letter. During that conversation, he had some of the best amazing action and cries that aloof were so inspiring […]
The affair that I would say that I capital to accompany to the show […] was to accomplish the guys cry […] to accomplish them accept a abrasive moment.
Porowski: I would adulation to see us analyze altered communities.
Van Ness: I’d adulation to like, go to Puerto Rico. Let’s admonition Puerto Rico rebuild, like let’s absolutely get our easily dirty. I’ll admonition Bobby. Let’s do it.
France: I appee to get to the point area we are apery as abounding demographics as possible. I antite that we got off to a abundant start, but there’s so abundant added to be done. So, I would like to abide on in the U.S., but afresh this is a all-around appearance ― will be a all-around show. I would adulation to abide on in added genitalia of the world, too, and see what we can accomplish there.
Rodriguez: “Queer Eye” is epic, and I’m blessed to canyon the billy to this new fraternity of boys.
France: What you see on the appearance is alone a atom of what we absolutely film. There’s so abundant added that we do with the show, that you aloof don’t get to see.
Filicia: I antite that we were humble, and we were friends, and we were close, and we were fun, and we were affectionate to anniversary added and added people.
Kressley: Honestly, I aloof capital to get guys out of pleated khakis.
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