Over a decade after the original Queer Eye ended, Netflix gave the series a reboot with a new group of style experts who work with a variety of interesting men and women, who are known as “heroes.” The show has become a cult favorite for its fashionable advice as well as its social commentary.
Read on for some behind-the-scenes facts about the show and its stars: food and wine expert Antoni Porowski, interior designer Bobby Berk, grooming consultant Jonathan Van Ness, fashion designer Tan France, and culture expert Karamo Brown.
Choosing The Right Men For The Cast Came Down To ‘Chemistry’
Casting director Danielle Gervais had her work cut out for her to find the right guys for Queer Eye. Her team auditioned 300 men, then whittled it down to 60 before bringing them to a hotel where they could see what type of chemistry they had.
“Everybody has their turn to come in and we sort of started to see this sort of bond form a little bit with Karamo and Bobby,” Gervais recalled. “And then Tan kind of fell into the mix and then all of a sudden, we brought in Jonathan and then it felt like, wow, and then Antoni came in and all of a sudden it was the five of them.”
Karamo Appeared On MTV’s Real World
Queer Eye wasn’t Karamo Brown’s first reality gig. He launched his TV career back in 2004 on the MTV reality show The Real World: Philadelphia. He was the first openly gay black man on the show. He also appeared in the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II.
Karamo starred on TV One’s The Next 15, which focused on six reality stars. He’s hosted Access Hollywood Live as well as HuffPost Live for the Huffington Post and MTV’s Are You The One: Second Chances.
Tan Initially Didn’t Want The Gig
Typically, people submit applications to be cast on reality shows such as Queer Eye, but Tan France was not one of them. Producers found him through social media, and he wasn’t that keen on joining. “The first day I cried because it was so terrifying for me,” he told ET.
“I thought that they weren’t going to cast me because I made it very clear to the person that told me I got this job, ‘You are out of your mind. Do not give me this job. I get uncomfortable getting my photo taken.’ I went to the audition because I thought I would make some gay friends.”
Jonathan Is A Proponent Of Body Hair
Jonathan explained this during an interview with Vulture. “If you have body hair, I’m like, ‘Have your body hair. Have it sticking up the top of your shirt.’ I’m really about body positivity and self-love.” He also noted that he didn’t think he was going to be hired for Queer Eye.
“Even though I’m a hairdresser and I love doing hair, I feel like I don’t look like a groomer. When I think of how a groomer would look in relation to the first version of Queer Eye, I feel like I don’t fit in that box.”
The Tears Are Real
The love and tears you see on the show aren’t scripted. They’re real. According to executive producer Jordana Hochman, “I think, you know, I think with other productions, or with other networks, maybe there would have been more of a resistance in terms of having such an openly, overtly emotional show.
“But we all collectively wanted to go there. That’s what the show wants to be. And we allowed it to go down that road.” Casting director Danielle Gervais added, “We all cry constantly.”
The Show Keeps In Touch With All Of Its Heroes
The staff makes sure it keeps up with the lives of all of its heroes. “They get very close to the production team. It’s such a heavy experience for people. It’s so transformative that yeah, you can’t help but grow close to them. And they grow close, especially with, I think the team in the field and with the Fab Five,” Gervais told CNN.
The Fab Five stay in touch with the people they help, and you can occasionally see updates on social media about past heroes.
Tan, A Muslim, Lives In Mormon-Dominated Utah With His Husband Of Eight Years
Tan France was born in England to Pakistani parents. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Rob France, whom he married eight years ago. The couple met on a dating website and bonded over their religious beliefs. Rob was born a Mormon, and Tan is Muslim.
“It made it easier to date somebody who had similarities to me. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke,” France told the New York Post. “We practice some of our religions’ practices. We don’t practice them all. We practice what works for us.”
Jonathan Asks All Of His Clients A Very Important Question
Jonathan doesn’t choose a style just because he thinks his client will look better. He also wants to make it is a reasonable adjustment. That’s why he asks them one important question.
He told Vulture: “I really want to know how much time you’re going to spend on your hair in the morning, because I don’t want to give you some experience on camera that makes no sense for you, because why would you do that for the sake of a transformation? I don’t want to do transformations on people for the sake of a visual.”
Viewers Often Change Their Style Habits After Watching The Show
According to Tan, it’s not uncommon for viewers to mix up their grooming and style habits after watching the program. “I want that person watching at home to think, ‘I can wear that and I know just where to get that,” he told The Business of Fashion.
One viewer tweeted “When I get dressed in the morning, I now stop to consider how @tanfrance would critique my color and style choices. #QueerEye hasn’t even been out for a month and it’s changed my life so much.” Other viewers have completely upgraded their wardrobes after watching the show.
Jonathan Van Ness Is HIV Positive
Jonathan Van Ness, now 32, recently revealed that he was diagnosed with HIV several years ago. The star started feeling sick in his early 20s and fainted while working on a client’s hair. He visited Planned Parenthood the following day and received the news.
“It was the moment you dread hearing,” he revealed on the Today show. “It is the thing I had feared … It was something I had been very fearful of as a small child. I was born in 1987, so growing up in the midst of the HIV/AIDS crisis … We lost an entire generation of people.”
Home Makeovers Only Take Three Days
It takes a week to film each episode of Queer Eye, and Bobby Berk has just three days to transform a hero’s home. “On Monday, we have production meetings and find out about the guy and his town,” he told MyDomaine.
“On Tuesday morning, we do the truck ride and meet the guy, and then at about 4 p.m., I get the first possession of the house. I need to get everything done before the reveal at 9 a.m. on Friday.”
Jonathan Feels Pressured To Look A Certain Way As A Gay Man
“I never meant to be on camera, and seeing yourself on camera you’re like, Oh my God,” Jonathan told Vulture. “I definitely have had a therapist that I’ve seen once or twice a week for the last five years…
“But yeah, I do feel pressure. I think all of us feel pressure. That’s so much of what life is, getting through it in a balanced way where you can still look at yourself in the mirror and be like, “Good job, girl. I love you.”
Tan Freaked Out About Meeting One Particular Celebrity
Tan had a tough time getting used to being in the spotlight, but he’s gotten used to the publicity over time. While he was on a Queer Eye press tour, he even got to meet someone that he never expected to talk to. He ran into Jon Bon Jovi and was completely taken aback.
He told the New York Post: “I didn’t try for this life, but having Jon Bon Jovi stop me and say, ‘Tan, can I have a photo with you?’ blew my freaking mind.”
Queer Eye Heroes Must Be Open To Being Vulnerable On National Television
Jennifer Lane, Queer Eye showrunner, meets as many as 20 potential people to star as the hero in each episode. The top questions they consider are, “Who’s ready for change, who’s vulnerable, whose stories haven’t been told before?” Lane also wants to make sure the heroes are family-friendly.
“I know a lot of families where parents and tweens and younger kids are watching the show together,” she told CNN. “My daughter’s 13, she’s obsessed with the show, and so are all her friends. It’s something that we can watch together.”
Karamo’s Contract Includes A Major Stipulation
Karamo wants to make sure people of color are represented wherever he works. As a result, he makes sure he includes a very special stipulation in his contract when working on various projects.
He told AU magazine: “I’m all about being represented and living my dreams. I make sure that in my contract they must hire two to three gay African-Americans to be on crew. I’ve done that now on the past three shows that I’ve been on and that’s important for me.”
Queer Eye Isn’t Paid To Take The Heroes Shopping At Certain Places
Some viewers think Queer Eye is paid to take the heroes to certain stores. However, Tan chooses a location based on how it fits into the hero’s lifestyle. He wants them to have a lifestyle they can maintain and that’s not overly expensive for them.
In addition, Tan finds stores that are not very far from the hero’s home. That way it makes it easier to get the job done. The production team then contacts the various stores to see if they can monetize the arrangement. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
The Show Has Made The Fab Five Social Media Stars (Who Make Good Money)
Between season and season three, Jonathan’s following on Instagram grew from 890,000 followers to 3.8 million, and Tan’s followers increased from 680,000 to 2.9 million, according to data by Hypr. The more followers the better when it comes to making money.
The men are capitalizing on their fame through a variety of endorsements related to social media. Tan has worked with Adidas and Coach, while Antoni has made some money by promoting Calvin Klein and Balmain.
The Fab Five Want A Marie Kondo Crossover
Many fans would love to see a Queer Eye and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo crossover episode, and it appears that the Fab Five is also keen on working with the organizing pro. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tan said he was “praying” for an “Avengers-style” crossover.
Jonathan added that he thought Marie and Bobby would work together really well. Since Netflix has already done a Queer Eye and Nailed It! crossover, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
You Won’t Believe What Home Store Heroes Like The Most
According to Bobby, contestants get to keep everything they receive on the show when it comes to the furniture and accessories. “We get asked that a lot, and, yes, they keep everything,” he explained. That includes kitchen utensils and decorative items. Oh, and most contestants say their favorite home store is Walmart.
Before filming starts, contestants fill out a questionnaire. They talk about their favorite colors as well as their home decor store of choice. “I would say seven out of 10 say Walmart,” Bobby said. “The questionnaire doesn’t give me much to work with.”
Bruley The Dog Belongs To A Producer
One of the regular stars on the show is Bruley, a French Bulldog. And while you may think he belongs to one of the Fab Five, his owner is actually producer Michelle Silva. Bruley is a popular fixture on the show, who happens to show up every time a snack is being served.
The animal is super cute, and it’s hard to resist when you combine him with the incredible personalities of the Fab Five. If you love Bruley as much as we do, you have to check out his Instagram account!