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

As the Netflix reality show returns, its aces descend on the rural Australian town of Yass to record a mini chapter and explain the secrets of their massive success

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

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

His co-star Karamo Brown daddies his head into chassis:” Oh, Michelle ,” he coos, tenderly chafing his friend’s limb.” You made our baby’s dream come true !”

The resulting post, which has had almost 1m viewpoints at the time of writing, is solid Queer Eye content, encapsulating not only what fans of the reality show love about Van Ness( his inexhaustible exaggeration ), but also the whole cast’s feelgood earnestness, the pleasure they take in each other and their eagerness to play up every charming moment and transport it straight-shooting to social media.

Van Ness( 31, the train expert ), Brown( 37, culture ), Antoni Porowski( 34, meat ), Bobby Berk( 36, blueprint) and Tan France( 35, fashion) 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 pub. The orientation was selected thanks to the pun: as Van Ness interprets to the taciturn George: “‘ Yas queen’ is a major motto for the lesbians and the brunch-going ladies of the world countries .”

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

As the 12 -hour shoot uncovers, it becomes clear that the delight they take in each other’s firm- expressed through constant hit, laughing fits and praises- is very real. After they met at auditions, the legend departs, they started a group chat named “Fab Five” before they even knew the government has prepared it through.

Berk and Brown are the pas of the group, loading everyone’s luggage into the van, negotiating with farmers, checking on belongings and ironing out the sequencing of incidents throughout the day. France, Porowski and Van Ness seem to have the most enjoyable, slathering each other in implication and capturing everything on their phones.( A few days later, they run through the lavish hallways of a cruise liner at Sydney harbour in dressing gowns, giggling like children .)

The original form of the show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, passed from 2003 to 2007. In it, five lesbian soldiers with varied expertise applied their knacks to make over( or “make better”) a straight man in need. It was something of a sensation in the heteronormative TV landscape of its day, but it scarcely skipped the surface of its five presenters- which led some critics to ask whether it was subverting stereotypes or perpetuating them. Netflix’s reboot was received with health scepticism, more: how would this out-of-date project fit in the awake new world of 2018?

But Queer Eye had undergone its own makeover, discontinuing the “Straight Guy” from the claim and becoming little catty and more amiable; the first series was responsible for some of the most heartwarming vistums of the year. Crucially, it brought in the brand-new cast’s own ties-in, upbringings and coming-out stories and did not shy away from politics. Shot in the republican US state of Georgia (” turning the ruby-red territory pink” was the initial abstraction ), it boasted a Trump supporter and various committed Christians, with the cast touching on the issues this presented for the homosexual community.

Queer Eye remains the feelgood makeover prove, but its desires are much greater. In one episode of the first series, the team utilized their abilities to help a young black lesbian guy “ve been coming”; in the second series, which will be released on Netflix on 15 June, they facilitate a trans husband in one chapter and a black father- the show’s first lady- and her gay son in another.

In the webisode fire in Yass, though, the subject is a classic of the genre: George is a farmer and former bullshit equestrian, rough around the edges, who speaks his few paroles through a roughly incoherent ocker accent. The cast refer to the makeover topics as “heroes” , Brown tells him. George chortles 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 local tavern; France and Van Ness yield George a new look; and Karamo gets him to open up about “whats missing” from his life.

Van Ness is the biggest personality of the series- 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 prospers: “maje” entails “major”, his castmates are “booby” and “boobers” and most inanimate objectives, targets and even sometimes beards alluded 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 newborn bit of scalp dam “.

George
Down on “the farmers ” … George ( claim ) and his son, Levi, who chosen 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 date spa. Largely, George grunts noncommittally, so Van Ness points up riffing wildly from thought to reputed.” 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 toiling seven days a week with no fucking sunscreen on your face , not giving yourself any charity, because culture told you that you didn’t need it … You’ve get to take charge of yourself !”

This idea is at the crux of Queer Eye and most episodes aim in joyou snaps- but it is hard to see it working on George. So, when Brown takes him for a walk-and-talk around his property, it stuns all of us- including the production team – when, within hours, George starts crying.” What are you thinking about ?” Brown questions him, before to move in for a hug. George rebuttals quietly:” I’m thinking about Mum .”

Brown’s ability to open up each hero is the lifeblood of the evidence. Berk, who has to renovate and crowd entire homes in a few weeks, feels Brown has the hardest job:” It surely takes a toll on him emotionally- and mentally and physically as well .”

Karamo
‘ The delight they take in each other’s company is very 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 key challenges ?'” So they” accompanied person in “, Brown says, and he proved it.

Brown speaks with a gravitas that could lend emotional weight to even the emptiest cliche. A mas 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 precisely don’t shy away from asking those questions promptly. When I read George had a reaction to my question, I didn’t speak. A mint of beings feel like they need to fill that stillnes and I don’t. I prop him and I say:’ What’s going on ?'”( Later, George tells me that exchange was ” a mind-changing deal “.)

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

Brown was friends with one of the educators killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February and he has expended his pulpit to speak publicly about firearm violence. In one of series one’s most talked-about scenes, a police officer gathers over the shoot and requests Brown, who is driving, to step out of the car.

He ogles panicked: a black male gathered over by a white-hot policeman in a colour district knows exactly how quickly things can escalate. Eventually, the cop reveals it was a prank and the two hug for the cameras, but the scene has been criticised for being a tone-deaf stunt.( In point, the casting draw straws to decide who gets to drive every day; the ethnic dynamic to the scene was unplanned .) But Brown says the conversation it created- 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 key challenges ?”‘ … Karamo Brown. Photograph: Carly Earl/ The Guardian

Yass’s Tripadvisor page schedules its information centre as the No 1 thing to do in the town; no wonder the Queer Eye visit is a big time for numerous locals. Nicole Godding, the owner of a invests accumulate in the cities, has been a fan since the show’s first iteration. The epoch the gang arrived, she tried to lure them into her shop by “pumping” Kylie Minogue at full volume. She debated seducing Porowski with a basket full of avocados, or getting her” hot younger partner” to pose out front. When I tell Porowski this, he clutches his chest and groans in gaiety.” Oh my Goooood! We must Satisfy HER !”

Porowski comes into our interview chamber wearing a cocked smile and a note jacket. His mouth curls playfully as he talks about why he is drawn to taste and reeked everything he looks, from licking decompose meat to sniffing his foot after a workout. (” I’m a sensory party !” he laughs .) As the New Yorker’s food writer Helen Rosner wrote of his appeal:” He is never shown accommodating a puppy, but he seems at any time like he might be .”

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

” I’ve emphatically had my share of internalised homophobia and I’ve read a lot of lesbian light 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- had contributed to him grow more comfortable with who he is.” There’s something extremely free-spoken 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)

[ fag eye]
jonathan: a little lip scrub get 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 mirror and say something u like about urself
bobby: “ive had” constructed 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 cooking, he is the only member of the throw whose expertise is not professional: a former performer and representation, he was introduced to the Queer Eye producers by Ted Allen, a neighbour of Porowski who was one of the original show’s cast members.

” I’ve never formerly referred to myself as a cook ,” he says, admitting to a panic of” not being good enough to be able to cook for beings and school them how to cook “. It did not help when, after sequences one launched, people began noticing the self-evident clarity of his meals: a cheese toastie, here; guacamole there; a sliced grapefruit served with avocado.” The guacamole was just a side !” Porowski hollers in lampoon exasperation. Series two showcases much more of his cook; his new motto is not to read anything unless his agent or manager communicates it to him.” It’s a curated life now .”

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

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

Berk, who runs his own interior design company, gives 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 more days per week than the rest of them ,” he declares,” 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” spent every Sunday crying and requesting God to not form me gay “. When he was outed at 16, his parents, who had adopted him, scorned 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 TV.” They’re really cute- they affection the picture !” But he has not reconciled with his former church.

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

” One of the things I told[ the yield fellowship] when I got cast was:’ I’ll is everything, but only don’t ask me to go into a faith ,'” 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 chapter .'” In the end, he decided to do it for” all the little Bobbys” still sitting in those faiths” hearing the hate a lot of them urge “.

Brown, who is religious, helped Berk through that minute with a series of speeches that Brown describes as more difficult than any he has had on the establish.” I was trying to say:’ You’ve gotta let go of of the hurt and forgive. Because the fact that you haven’t forgiven yet is impounding 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 lines two’s episodes focuses on Skylar, a trans human recovering after top surgery- the methods used 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 occurrence, the mode expert- known for favouring French folds, capri pants and reeled sleeves- says he is ” frightened ” by the prospect of dressing a trans man.

” I detest to admit it, but I’m not immersed in the gay community and therefore I’m ignorant- I don’t know the correct pronouns ,” he says to Skylar in the occurrence.” How would “youre feeling” if I “re gonna have 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 beings from the trans parish. It was important for him to be honest about that, he says.” Some people told me that I’m out of my memory, that the community is going to chastise me for not being arouse enough. Nope !” he says, with a definitive applaud.” I imagine the rest of the world is going to watch, saying:’ Finally, somebody’s expected the questions we wanted to .'”

Skylar culminates up smiling at the mirror while assessing himself, his body lastly taking the shape he has always missed.” That was my proudest minute ,” France says.

As the day breezes down in Yass, the cameras record some of George’s final guess as the Fab Five pack up their stuff. Brown extends back in, apologising to the cameraman for ending the fire as he leans in for one last hug with George. It is a sweet, sincere moment between them- and a smart-alecky part of the information contained, too.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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