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Queer Eye’s Fab Five on how they are changing souls- one makeover at a time

As the Netflix reality show returns, its starrings descend on the rural Australian municipality of Yass to record a mini escapade and explain the secrets of their enormous success

Jonathan Van Ness screams- and then starts crying. The Queer Eye whiz is sitting in a car on a cattle farm in the urban Australian township of Yass, New South Wales. As the rips stream down his face, he begins filming himself on his phone.

” I merely found out Michelle Kwan followed me on Instagram and lost my mind ,” he tells his followers- close to a million of them on the social network, the most recent developments of whom is the retired Olympian figure skater.

His co-star Karamo Brown poppings his head into chassis:” Oh, Michelle ,” he coos, tenderly rubbing his friend’s forearm.” You stirred our baby’s dream is true !”

The resulting post, which has had almost 1m sentiments at the time of writing, is solid Queer Eye content, encapsulating not only what devotees of the reality show been fucking loving Van Ness( his inexhaustible exaggeration ), but likewise the whole cast’s feelgood earnestness, the glee they take in each other and their eagerness to play up every charming moment and move it straight-out to social media.

Van Ness( 31, the train expert ), Brown( 37, culture ), Antoni Porowski( 34, food ), Bobby Berk( 36, designing) and Tan France( 35, style) are in Yass to film a mini webisode to promote the second series of Queer Eye, in which they make over a neighbourhood farmer, George, and a inn. The place was selected thanks to the pun: as Van Ness justifies to the taciturn George: “‘ Yas queen’ is a major slogan for the gays and the brunch-going ladies “of the worlds” .”

Grooming
Getting up close and personal … grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness and style guru Tan France. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

As the 12 -hour shoot uncovers, it becomes clear that the gratify they take in each other’s fellowship- expressed through constant hit, chuckling fits and flatteries- is real. After they met at auditions, the myth travels, they started a group chat entitled “Fab Five” before they even knew the selection board had established it through.

Berk and Brown are the papas of the working group, loading everyone’s luggage into the van, negotiating with creators, checking on belongings and ironing out the sequencing of panoramas throughout the day. France, Porowski and Van Ness seem to have the most fun, slathering each other in insinuation and captivating everything on their phones.( A few days later, they run through the lavish hallways of a cruise liner at Sydney harbour in lounging robe, tittering like progenies .)

The original form of the reveal, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, passed from 2003 to 2007. In it, five lesbian souls with varied expertise exploited their knacks to make over( or “make better”) a straight man in need. It was something of a sensation in the heteronormative TV scenery of its day, but it barely skipped the surface of its five presenters- which led to the loss some commentators to ask whether it was subverting stereotypes or continuing them. Netflix’s reboot was received with healthy scepticism, too: how would this out-of-date suggestion fit in the awake new world of 2018?

But Queer Eye had undergone its own makeover, stopping the “Straight Guy” from the deed and becoming little catty and more affable; the first serial was responsible for some of the most heartwarming incidents of the year. Crucially, it “ve brought” the brand-new cast’s own ties-in, upbringings and coming-out fibs and did not shy away from politics. Shot in the conservative US state of Georgia (” turning the blood-red territory pink” was the initial thought ), it boasted a Trump supporter and several committed Christians, with the cast touching on the issues this presented for the lesbian community.

Queer Eye is still a feelgood makeover establish, but its aspirations are much greater. In one chapter of the first series, the team exerted their abilities to help a young pitch-black homosexual follower “ve been coming”; in the second series, which will be exhausted on Netflix on 15 June, they help a trans human in one occurrence and a black mother- the show’s first girl- and her gay son in another.

In the webisode hit in Yass, though, the subject is a classic of the genre: George is a farmer and former cop equestrian, rough at the edges, who speaks his few texts through a practically unintelligible ocker accent. The cast refer to the makeover subjects as “heroes” , Brown tells him. George giggles gruffly:” You lot must be hard up for heroes .”

The arc of the webisode involves the Fab Five injecting a little colour into the sleepy town: Berk and Porowski do up the neighbourhood inn; France and Van Ness establish George a new look; and Karamo gets him opening hours about “whats missing” from his life.

Van Ness is the biggest personality of the succession- he had a podcast and a show on the website Funny or Die before he was cast- and needs to turn it up only a few notches for the camera. He comes with his own linguistic flourishes: “maje” represents “major”, his castmates are “booby” and “boobers” and most inanimate objects, lieu and even sometimes beards are referred to as ” she” and “her”.( Van Ness is also a “she” sometimes, depending on her climate .) George, says Van Ness, has not got a spot of sunburn- he has ” a babe chip of surface barrier “.

George
Down on the farm … George ( claim ) and his son, Levi, who selected him for Queer Eye. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

Van Ness’s challenge in Yass is to get the Aussie bloke to talk during a stopgap daylight spa. Primarily, George grunts noncommittally, so Van Ness points up riffing wildly from believe we anticipated.” Have you ever seen the movie Crossroads with Britney Spears ?”;” Valentine’s Day 2012 was a bleak day for all of us … I’m still beside myself over Whitney .”

But then he cuts to the chase:” Do you know what toxic masculinity is? That is what has your ass making seven days a week with no fucking sunscreen on your face , not giving yourself any ardour, because civilization told you that you didn’t need it … You’ve got to take caution of yourself !”

This idea is at the crux of Queer Eye and most occurrences point in happy rends- but it is hard to see it working on George. So, when Brown takes him for a walk-and-talk around his property, it surprises all of us- including the production team – when, within instants, George starts crying.” What are you thinking about ?” Brown asks him, before going in for a hug. George reacts softly:” I’m thinking about Mum .”

Brown’s ability to open up each hero is the lifeblood of the see. Berk, who has to renovate and load entire homes in a week, thinks Brown has the hardest job:” It emphatically takes a toll on him emotionally- and mentally and physically as well .”

Karamo
‘ The delight they take in each other’s corporation is real’ … Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness and Tan France in Yass, New South Wales. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

Brown says:” I have a background in psychotherapy and social work. When I came in to auditions, I was like:’ I have to fix the insides .’ They said:’ If you can show us you can get to the core of somebody within a minute, then you can do it .’ And I was like:’ You think that’s a challenge ?'” So they” made someone in “, Brown says, and he proved it.

Brown speaks with a gravitas that could lend psychological heavines to even the emptiest cliche. A slew of his answers begin with:” I have to be honest with you .”

” Most beings have never been listened to and they’ve never been asked questions that they want to be asked ,” he says.” I just don’t shy away from asking those questions immediately. When I examine George had a reaction to my question, I didn’t speak. A slew of parties feel like they need to fill that silence and I don’t. I impound him and I say:’ What’s going on ?'”( Later, George tells me that conversation was ” a mind-changing deal “.)

When Brown was cast on MTV’s The Real World in 2004, he became the first openly homosexual color soldier on actuality TV.Three year later, he was notified by an ex that he was the father of a 10 -year-old, Jason. He adopted Jason that year and, later, Jason’s half-brother.

Brown was friends with one of the schoolteachers killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February and he has expended his pulpit to speak publicly about handgun brutality. In one of series one’s most talked-about panoramas, a police officer draws over the throw and questions Brown, who is driving, to step out of the car.

He seems panicked: a pitch-black humanity attracted over by a white-hot officer in a cherry-red district knows exactly how quickly things can escalate. Eventually, the officer exposes it was a prank and the two embracing for the cameras, but the panorama has been criticised for being a tone-deaf stunt.( In fact, the cast draw straws to decide who gets to drive every day; the racial dynamic to the scene was unplanned .) But Brown says the conversation it caused- cut down to a few minutes on screen- was worth it.

Karamo
‘ They said:” If you can show us you can get to the core of somebody within a minute, then you can do it .” And I was like:” You think that’s a challenge ?”‘ … Karamo Brown. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

Yass’s Tripadvisor page rosters its information centre as the No 1 thing to do in the town; no wonder the Queer Eye visit is a big moment for many neighbourhoods. Nicole Godding, the owner of a robes store in the town, has been a fan since the show’s first iteration. The date the crew arrived, she tried to lure them into her store by “pumping” Kylie Minogue at full volume. She debated tempting Porowski with a basket full of avocados, or get her” hot younger spouse” to constitute out front. When I tell Porowski this, he clutches his chest and sighs in delight.” Oh my Goooood! We must Gratify HER !”

Porowski comes into our interrogation area wearing a cocked grin and a note coat. His mouth bends playfully as he talks about why he is drawn to taste and smell everything he discovers, from licking decompose nutrient to sniffing his feet after a exercising. (” I’m a sensory being !” he chortles .) As the New Yorker’s food writer Helen Rosner wrote of his appeal:” He is never shown comprising a puppy, but he seems at any time like he might be .”

Porowski has had more relationships with women than humen, but “hes been” with his boyfriend for seven years. He describes his virility as “fluid”; he says it took him a while to feel cozy saying the “queer” in “Queer Eye”.

” I’ve certainly had my share of internalised homophobia and I’ve read a lot of gay illuminate to try to access that and understand it better ,” he says. His reading list includes Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair. Meeting his castmates- specially Van Ness- has helped him becoming ever more comfortable with who he is.” There’s something exceedingly freeing and childlike and innocent in the way he is, because he’s so much himself- and he’s only ever known how to be himself ,” he says of Van Ness.

Bob Vulfov (@ bobvulfov)

[ homosexual eye]
jonathan: a little lip scrub moves a long way
antoni: hummus is the guacamole of the middle east
tan: try wearing a short sleeve shirt with a collar
karamo: look in the reflect and saying anything u like about urself
bobby: i have built u a brand new house from scratch

March 2, 2018

Porowski lives with” a lot of imposter syndrome”, he says. While he has a passion for prepare, he is the only member of the throw whose expertise is not professional: a former performer and modeling, he was introduced to the Queer Eye farmers by Ted Allen, a neighbor of Porowski who was one of the original show’s shed members.

” I’ve never formerly referred to myself as a chef ,” he says, admitting to a fright of” not being good enough to be able to cook for parties and teach them how to cook “. It did not help when, after serials one launched, people began noticing the self-evident clarity of his snacks: a cheese toastie, here; guacamole there; a sliced grapefruit served with avocado.” The guacamole was just a line-up !” Porowski outcries in mock annoyance. Series two showcases a lot more of his cook; his new motto is not to read anything unless his agent or manager moves it to him.” It’s a curated life now .”

The cast get a few moments to break loose from the place and explore. The Yass neighbourhoods who recognise them are given selfies and hugs. Beings call into the community radio station throughout the day, speculating where the cast may be- at one point, Berk calls the host, unprompted, to tell them all they are wrong. The show’s publicist, who has wasted the day denying access to all media, throws up his arms in defeat.

Antoni
‘ I’ve never once referred to myself as a chef’ … Antoni Porowski. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

Berk, who runs his own interior design company, makes in “the worlds largest” hours, spending a couple of weeks planning a renovation that will be carried out over five days.” I may work quiiiite a few cases more days a week than the rest of them ,” he acknowledges,” but at least I know what I’m stepping into .”

Berk’s difficult childhood was introduced in series one: he was raised in an extremely religious family and working” invested every Sunday crying and evading God to not build me gay “. When he was outed at 16, his parents, who had adopted him, rebuffed him; he left the family home.” There were many years that we didn’t speak, but it’s been a long time now that we’ve been close again ,” he says. When he was cast, he bought them a smart-alecky Tv.” They’re really cute- they enjoy the prove !” But “hes not” to cope with his former church.

In the second series, the throw make over Tammye, whose life revolves around her faith. At one point, the throw are invited inside, but Berk refuses to set foot through the door. He appears genuinely shaken.

” One of the things I told[ the make companionship] when I get cast was:’ I’ll do anything, but just don’t ask me to go into a church ,'” he says. The Tammye episode was last-minute, after the hero they had planned to feature became ill.” At one point I was like:’ I’m not going to do the occurrence .'” In the end, he decided to do it for” all the little Bobbys” still sitting in those churches” discovering the dislike a lot of them proclaim “.

Brown, who is religious, facilitated Berk through that moment with a series of dialogues that Brown describes as more difficult than any he has had on the demonstrate.” I was trying to say:’ You’ve gotta let go of the hurt and forgive. Because the fact that you haven’t forgiven yet is bracing you back and it’s hurting you ,” he says.” The show is not about us, so you don’t see all that .”

Bobby
Doing it for’ all the little Bobbys’ … Bobby Berk at a wildlife park in Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Don Arnold/ Getty Images

Another of sequences two’s episodes focuses on Skylar, a trans soldier recovering after top surgery- the procedure to create a male-contoured chest- who has not yet worked out how to present himself to the world.

Berk says” Skylar was emotional for all of us”- but it was especially so for France. In the chapter, the manner expert- known for favouring French tucks, cropped pants and reeled sleeves- says he is ” harassed ” by the prospect of garmenting a trans man.

” I hate to admit it, but I’m not immersed in the homosexual parish and therefore I’m ignorant- I don’t know the remedy pronouns ,” he says to Skylar in the escapade.” How would “youre feeling” if I is in order to get that incorrect ?” Both of them be brought to an end in tears.

As an Englishman of Pakistani Muslim heritage who lives in Utah and is married to a Mormon cowboy from Wyoming, France has not been around many parties from the trans parish. It was important for him to be honest about that, he says.” Some beings told me that I’m out of my thinker, that the community is going to chastise me for not being awake enough. Nope !” he says, with a definitive applaud.” I recollect the rest of the world is going to watch, saying:’ Finally, somebody’s requested the questions we wanted to .'”

Skylar extremities up smiling at the mirror while assessing himself, his form eventually taking the shape he has always craved.” That was my proudest minute ,” France says.

As the day breezes down in Yass, the cameras record some of George’s final recollects as the Fab Five pack up their nonsense. Brown leads back in, apologising to the cameraman for interrupting the shooting as he bends in for one last-place hug with George. It is a sweet, genuine instant between them- and a smart-alecky segment of the information contained, too.

Series two of Queer Eye is on Netflix from 15 June. The Yass webisode will be available on social media on 22 June

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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