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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 stellars descend on the rural Australian municipality of Yass to record a mini chapter and explain the secrets of their huge success

Jonathan Van Ness screams- and then starts crying. The Queer Eye hotshot is sitting in a auto on a cattle farm in the rural Australian town of Yass, New South Wales. As the snaps 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 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 daddies his head into chassis:” Oh, Michelle ,” he coos, tenderly chafing his friend’s arm.” You prepared our baby’s dream come true !”

The resulting post, which has had almost 1m beliefs at the time of, is solid Queer Eye content, encapsulating not only what devotees of the reality show love about Van Ness( his inexhaustible extravagance ), but also the whole cast’s feelgood earnestness, the euphorium they take in each other and their eagerness to play up every charming moment and transmit it directly to social media.

Van Ness( 31, the prepare expert ), Brown( 37, culture ), Antoni Porowski( 34, nutrient ), Bobby Berk( 36, intend) 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 point was selected thanks to the pun: as Van Ness shows to the taciturn George: “‘ Yas queen’ is a major slogan for the lesbians and the brunch-going ladies of the nations of the world .”

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

As the 12 -hour shoot reveals, it becomes clear that the gratify they take in each other’s companionship- expressed through constant handling, chortling accommodates and compliments- is very real. After they met at auditions, the legend departs, they started a group chat titled “Fab Five” before they even knew they had reached it through.

Berk and Brown are the fathers of the group, loading everyone’s luggage into the van, enter into negotiations with farmers, checking on belongings and ironing out the sequencing of panoramas throughout the day. France, Porowski and Van Ness seem to have “the worlds largest” merriment, slathering each other in innuendo and captivating everything on their telephones.( A few weeks later, they run through the lavish hallways of a ocean liner at Sydney harbour in dressing gowns, chuckling like babes .)

The original version of the prove, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, flowed from 2003 to 2007. In it, five homosexual gentlemen with varied expertise utilized their knacks to make over( or “make better”) a straight man in need. It was something of a perception in the heteronormative Tv landscape of its day, but it barely glided the surface of its five presenters- which led to the loss some reviewers to ask whether it was subverting stereotypes or perpetuating them. Netflix’s reboot was received with health scepticism, too: how would this dated opinion fit in the arouse new world of 2018?

But Queer Eye had undergone its own makeover, plummeting the “Straight Guy” from the entitle and becoming little catty and more amiable; the first line was responsible for some of the most heartwarming backgrounds of the year. Crucially, it “ve brought” the brand-new cast’s own relations, upbringings and coming-out storeys and did not shy away from politics. Shot in the conservative US state of Georgia (” turning the pink territory pink” was the initial theory ), it featured a Trump supporter and several involved Christians, with the cast touching on the issues this presented for the gay community.

Queer Eye remains the feelgood makeover display, but its aspirations are far greater. In one escapade of the first succession, the team related their talents to help a young black gay boy come out; in the second series, which will be secreted on Netflix on 15 June, they help a trans boy in one chapter and a black mom- the show’s first woman- and her gay son in another.

In the webisode fire in Yass, though, the subject is a classic of the category: George is a farmer and former pig rider, rough at the edges, who speaks his few texts through a roughly meaningless ocker accent. The cast refer to the makeover topics as “heroes” , Brown tells him. George shrieks 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 inn; France and Van Ness grant George a new look; and Karamo gets him to open up about what is missing from his life.

Van Ness is the biggest identity 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 flourishes: “maje” signifies “major”, his castmates are “booby” and “boobers” and most inanimate objects, situates and even sometimes whiskers please refer to as “she” and “her”.( Van Ness is also a “she” sometimes, depending on her mood .) George, says Van Ness, has not got a spot of sunburn- he has ” a newborn chip of surface dike “.

George
Down on “the farmers ” … George ( right ) 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 makeshift epoch spa. Primarily, George grunts noncommittally, so Van Ness culminates up riffing wildly from thought to supposed.” 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 cultivating seven days a week with no fucking sunscreen on your face , not giving yourself any ardour, because society told you that you didn’t need it … You’ve get to take caution of yourself !”

This idea is at the crux of Queer Eye and most occurrences aim 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 surprises all of us- including the production team – when, within instants, George starts crying.” What are you thinking about ?” Brown expects him, before going in for a hug. George reacts calmly:” I’m thinking about Mum .”

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

Karamo
‘ The delight they take in each other’s firm 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 significant challenges ?'” So they” created person in “, Brown says, and he proved it.

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

” Most parties have never been listened to and they’ve never been asked questions that they want to be asked ,” he says.” I only don’t shy away from asking those questions soon. When I insure George had a reaction to my question, I didn’t speak. A batch of parties feel like they need to fill that silence and I don’t. I support 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 lesbian pitch-black guy on reality TV.Three years later, he was notified by an ex that he was the father of a 10 -year-old, Jason. He chose 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 exploited his pulpit to speak publicly about firearm violence. In one of successions one’s most talked-about panoramas, a police officer attracts over the shoot and questions Brown, who is driving, to step out of the car.

He appears panicked: a pitch-black serviceman plucked over by a white polouse in a cherry-red nation knows exactly how quickly things can escalate. Eventually, the cop divulges it was a prank and the two embracing for the cameras, but the situation has been criticised for being a tone-deaf stunt.( In point, 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 developed- 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 rolls its information centre as the No 1 thing to do in the town; no wonder the Queer Eye visit is a big minute for many locals. Nicole Godding, the owner of a clothes accumulate in the city, has been a fan since the show’s first iteration. The daytime the gang arrived, she tried to lure them into her browse by “pumping” Kylie Minogue at full volume. She debated seducing Porowski with a basket full of avocados, or getting her” hot younger spouse” to constitute out front. When I tell Porowski this, he clutches his chest and groans in delight.” Oh my Goooood! We must Match HER !”

Porowski comes into our interview area wearing a cocked grinning and a character case. His mouth bends playfully as he talks about why he is drawn to taste and reeked everything he witnesses, from licking decompose food to sniffing his hoof after a exercising. (” I’m a sensory person !” he titters .) As the New Yorker’s food writer Helen Rosner wrote of his appeal:” He is never shown impounding a puppy, but he seems at any time like he are likely to be .”

Porowski has had more relationships with women than husbands, but he has been with his lover 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 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- specially Van Ness- had contributed to him becoming ever more cozy with who he is.” There’s something very 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)

[ gay seeing]
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 reflect 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 disorder”, he says. While he has a passion for fix, he is the only member of the cast whose expertise is not professional: a former actor and simulation, he was introduced to the Queer Eye creators by Ted Allen, a neighbour of Porowski who was one of the original show’s cast members.

” I’ve never once referred to myself as a chef ,” he says, admitting to a fear of” not being good enough to be able to cook for people and teach them how to cook “. It did not help when, after serials one launched, people began noticing the apparent simplicity of his banquets: a cheese toastie, here; guacamole there; a sliced grapefruit served with avocado.” The guacamole was just a side !” Porowski screams in taunt annoyance. Series two showcases a lot more of his cooking; 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 change and explore. The Yass neighbourhoods who recognise them are given selfies and hugs. Beings call into the community radio station throughout the day, theorizing 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 invested 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, introduces 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 more daylights a few weeks 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 requesting God to not build me gay “. When he was outed at 16, his mothers, who had adopted him, accepted 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 enjoy the show !” But “hes not” to cope with his former church.

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

” One of the things I told[ the creation firm] when I get cast was:’ I’ll is everything, but precisely 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 episode .'” In the end, he decided to do it for” all the little Bobbys” still sitting in those religions” hearing the abhor a lot of them urge “.

Brown, who is religious, helped Berk through that moment with a series of speeches that Brown describes as more difficult than any he has had on the substantiate.” I was trying to say:’ You’ve gotta let go of the hurt and forgive. Because the fact that you haven’t forgiven hitherto is harbouring 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 series two’s episodes focuses on Skylar, a trans humanity 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 chapter, the pattern expert- known for favouring French folds, cropped pants and rolled sleeves- says he is ” daunted ” by the prospect of dressing a trans man.

” I dislike be acknowledged, but I’m not immersed in the gay parish and therefore I’m ignorant- I don’t know the remedy pronouns ,” he says to Skylar in the escapade.” How would you feel if I is in order to get that wrong ?” Both of them end up 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 told me that I’m out of my memory, that the community is going to chastise me for not being awake enough. Nope !” he says, with a definitive applaud.” I reckon the rest of the world is going to watch, saying:’ Finally, somebody’s requested the questions we wanted to .'”

Skylar expirations up smiling at the reflect while appraising himself, his person ultimately taking the shape he has always required.” That was my proudest instant ,” France says.

As the day jazzs down in Yass, the cameras record some of George’s final imagines as the Fab Five pack up their material. Brown extends back in, apologising to the cameraman for ending the fire as he leans in for one last-place hug with George. It is a sweet, genuine moment between them- and a smart-alecky portion 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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