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

As the Netflix reality show returns, its stars descend on the urban Australian city of Yass to record a mini episode and explain the secrets of their enormous success

Jonathan Van Ness screams- and then starts crying. The Queer Eye superstar 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 only 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 of whom is the retired Olympian figure skater.

His co-star Karamo Brown poppings his head into chassis:” Oh, Michelle ,” he coos, tenderly scratching his friend’s arm.” You prepared our baby’s dream come true !”

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

Van Ness( 31, the prepare expert ), Brown( 37, culture ), Antoni Porowski( 34, food ), Bobby Berk( 36, layout) and Tan France( 35, mode) 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 shows to the taciturn George: “‘ Yas queen’ is a major motto for the homosexuals and the brunch-going ladies of the world .”

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

As the 12 -hour shoot unfolds, it becomes clear that the satisfy they take in each other’s companionship- expressed through constant impres, giggling fits and flatteries- is real. After they met at auditions, the lore departs, they started a group chat designation “Fab Five” before they even knew they had built it through.

Berk and Brown are the papas of different groups, loading everyone’s luggage into the van, enter into negotiations with farmers, checking on belongings and ironing out the sequencing of scenes throughout the day. France, Porowski and Van Ness seem to have the most enjoyable, slathering each other in implication and captivating everything on their telephones.( A few weeks later, they run through the lavish hallways of a ocean liner at Sydney harbour in lounging robe, chuckling like brats .)

The original form of the see, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, passed from 2003 to 2007. In it, five gay souls with varied expertise utilized their flairs to make over( or “make better”) a straight man in need. It was something of a awarenes in the heteronormative TV scenery of its day, but it barely skipped the surface of its five presenters- which led to the loss some critics to ask whether it was subverting stereotypes or continuing them. Netflix’s reboot was received with health scepticism, very: how would this dated intuition fit in the arouse new world of 2018?

But Queer Eye had undergone its own makeover, declining the “Straight Guy” from the deed and becoming little catty and more affable; the first line was responsible for some of the most heartwarming situations of the year. Crucially, it brought in the new cast’s own relations, upbringings and coming-out tales and did not shy away from politics. Shot in the conservative US state of Georgia (” turning the pink territory pink” was the initial notion ), 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 appearance, but its aspirations are much greater. In one escapade of the first sequence, the team worked their expertises to help a young blacknes gay being “ve been coming”; in the second series, which is due to be liberated on Netflix on 15 June, they help a trans follower in one episode and a black baby- the show’s first woman- and her lesbian son in another.

In the webisode kill in Yass, though, the subject is a classic of the genre: George is a farmer and former bull rider, rough at the edges, who speaks his few statements through a roughly unintelligible ocker accent. The shed refer to the makeover subjects 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 pub; France and Van Ness hold George a new look; and Karamo gets him to open up about “whats missing” from his life.

Van Ness is the biggest temperament of the sequence- 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 objectives, neighbourhoods and even sometimes whiskers alluded to as “she” and “her”.( Van Ness is also a “she” sometimes, depending on her feeling .) George, says Van Ness, has not got a spot of sunburn- he has ” a babe chip of scalp dike “.

George
Down on the farm … George ( right ) and his son, Levi, who elected 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 epoch spa. Mainly, George grunts noncommittally, so Van Ness purposes up riffing wildly from believe we guessed.” 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 labouring seven days a week with no fucking sunscreen on your face , not giving yourself any love, because society told you that you didn’t need it … You’ve went to take attention of yourself !”

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

Brown’s ability to open up each hero is the lifeblood of the demo. Berk, who has to renovate and load entire homes in a week, thinks Brown has the hardest job:” It clearly 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 a challenge ?'” So they” drawn person in “, Brown says, and he proved it.

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

” Most people have never been listened to and they’ve never been asked questions that they want to be asked ,” he says.” I simply don’t shy away from asking those questions immediately. When I assure George had a reaction to my question, I didn’t speak. A lot of parties feel like they need to fill that silence and I don’t. I prop 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 gay blacknes follower on reality TV.Three years later, he was notified by an ex that he was the father of a 10 -year-old, Jason. He accepted 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 used his platform to speak publicly about firearm violence. In one of successions one’s most talked-about backgrounds, a police officer draws over the direct and expects Brown, who is driving, to step out of the car.

He reviews panicked: a black boy drew over by a white-hot policeman in a red-faced territory knows exactly how quickly things can escalate. Eventually, the officer discloses it was a prank and the two espouse for the cameras, but the scene has been criticised for being a tone-deaf stunt.( In fact, the shed draw straws to decide who gets to drive each day; the ethnic dynamic to the scene was unplanned .) But Brown says the conversation it raised- 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 numerous neighbourhoods. Nicole Godding, the owner of a clothes accumulate in the city, has been a fan since the show’s first iteration. The day the crew arrived, she tried to lure them into her browse by “pumping” Kylie Minogue at full volume. She debated inviting Porowski with a basket full of avocados, or going her” hot younger husband” to pose out front. When I tell Porowski this, he clutches his chest and sobs in mirth.” Oh my Goooood! We must Converge HER !”

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

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

” I’ve clearly had my share of internalised homophobia and I’ve read a lot of gay lit 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- particularly Van Ness- had contributed to him grow more comfy with who he is.” There’s something extremely 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)

[ queer attention]
jonathan: a little lip scrub proceeds 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: 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 fix, he is the only member of the shoot whose expertise is not professional: a former performer and representation, 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 cook ,” he says, admitting to a dread of” not being good enough to be able to cook for people and teach them how to cook “. It did not help when, after successions 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 wails in mock frustration. Series two showcases a lot more of his fix; his new motto is not to read anything unless his agent or manager mails it to him.” It’s a curated life now .”

The cast get a few moments to break loose from the change and explore. The Yass neighbourhoods who recognise them are given selfies and hugs. People 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 invested 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, employs in the most 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 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” wasted every Sunday crying and pleading God to not obligate me gay “. When he was outed at 16, his mothers, 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 love the appearance !” But “hes not” to cope with his former church.

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

” One of the things I told[ the product company] when I get cast was:’ I’ll do anything, but exactly don’t ask me to go into a religion ,'” 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 time the chapter .'” In the end, he decided to do it for” all the little Bobbys” still sitting in those religions” sounding the abhor a lot of them preach “.

Brown, who is religious, facilitated Berk through that time with a number of speeches that Brown describes as more difficult than any he has had on the reveal.” 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 regarding 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 follower recovering after top surgery- the rules of procedure to create a male-contoured chest- who has not yet worked out how to present himself to the world.

Berk says” Skylar was psychological for all of us”- but it was especially so for France. In the occurrence, the mode expert- known for favouring French tucks, cropped pants and wheeled sleeves- says he is ” daunted ” by the prospect of garmenting a trans man.

” I dislike to admit it, but I’m not immersed in the gay community and therefore I’m ignorant- I don’t know the remedy pronouns ,” he says to Skylar in the occurrence.” How would you feel if I were 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 numerous parties from the trans community. It was important for him to be honest about that, he says.” Some people were saying that I’m out of my sentiment, that the community is going to chastise me for not being woke enough. Nope !” he says, with a definitive clap.” I ponder the rest of the world is going to watch, saying:’ Finally, somebody’s expected the questions we wanted to .'”

Skylar dissolves up “il smile at” the mirror while assessing himself, his figure finally taking the shape he has always craved.” That was my proudest minute ,” France says.

As the day airs down in Yass, the cameras record some of George’s final ponders as the Fab Five pack up their material. Brown passes back in, apologising to the cameraman for ending the film as he reclines in for one last-place hug with George. It is a sweet, genuine minute between them- and a smart part of the information contained, too.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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