Only Ted Allen missed out on the reunion of both “Queer Eye” casts, as the original Fab Five (minus one) sat down to lunch with the new cast to dish about the lasting impact of the show, the importance of representation, and how the original show got one of the new guys fired.
“Well cheers, queers,” Carson Kressley said to kick off their lunch together. He was joined at the table by original cast-members Kyan Douglas, Jai Rodriguez and Thom Filicia, as well as newcomers Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Tan France and Karamo Brown.
Berk kicked things off with the most surprising story of the afternoon, and perhaps a little moment of kismet that sent him on the path to Netflix’s new “Queer Eye.” He worked as the manager at one of the stores the original Fab Five filmed at during their show’s 2003-2007 run on Bravo.
“I was in charge of getting the store perfect for you guys to film the next day,” he explained. “The general manager — because I had forgot to clock out, we were there so late — had clocked us all out at 8 p.m. I was like, ‘Oh that’s not right, we were there until one.’ So I fixed our time, and that was totally against the rules. While you were upstairs filming, I was getting fired.”
The show’s impact was far greater than just getting one guy fired, though, even if the original Fab Five didn’t realize it at the time. They admitted they weren’t even sure the show would be successful. Instead, it became a cultural phenomenon.
“We’re lucky enough, having done the original show, we see the original impact,” Carson Kressley told the new Fab Five. “We’re on a plane and a young flight attendant will give us a napkin that says, ‘I watched your show with my family and it allowed me to come out to them and have a conversation, and it made me feel safe.’ That’s wonderful and literally every time you get goose bumps.”
Van Ness agreed that even though he was able to come out at a young age, that conversation and representation is still important. “We do need to be there telling those people that don’t have exposure in the bubbles of the coasts that there is a safe place and it will get better,” he said.
France echoed that, pointing out that they’re bringing an even greater diversity by having a gay black man on the cast with Brown, as well as a gay Muslim (himself) who is married to a Mormon.
“When we were growing up, we didn’t really have anyone on television to look up to and say, ‘These are queer people and I can relate to that,” Kyan Douglas said. For one generation it was him and the original Fab Five. For today’s generation, it could well be the new guys and the new “Queer Eye.”
“Queer Eye” premieres Wednesday on Netflix.
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