Chit Chat Gal Gets The Straight Scoop On The Final Season Of 'Queer Eye'
Chit Chat Gal got a chance to speak with the ‘Queer Eye’ guys about their upcoming and final season. Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, and Kayan Douglas were all kind enough to share their thoughts on the past and present of 'Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.’ The final season starts tonight October 2, 2007 at 10/9c On Bravo with a Straight Guy Pageant hosted by Susan Lucci.
Did any of you know each other before you started the show?
Ted – No, none of us knew each other before the show, we all went to the open casting call with about 500 other people and weirdly enough we are the five they chose.
Jai- Four of us lived in the city and Ted lived in Chicago at the time and none of our paths had crossed. I believe Carson and Thom knew each other through a circle of friends but none of had ever hung out before.
Ted- And if you are wondering where we have been for so long. Carson was going through an extensive rehab process which I think ends today (laughing) and Thom was in Asia looking for a baby to adopt.
Kayan – And since you went there Ted, I had heard of Ted Allen before I had actually read a little bit about him on a bathroom wall at one point.
Ted – [laughing] In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
Kayan – Exactly
How important has Bravo been to your success?
Kayan – Bravo has been very important to our success and very cutting edge with our programming and been a really wonderful journey with them.
Jai – When we first started a lot of brands and stores didn't want to work with us because of the title Queer Eye but Bravo was very proud of the program and the title so it is to their credit that we got the success we got.
Ted – I want to echo that. Bravo is an amazing network and you can do things on Bravo that you can't do on other networks. And they have continued to do that in all the shows that have followed us.
What were your initial expectations for Queer Eye before it became a hit?
Kayan – I was familiar with Bravo because of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ so I thought it was a market niche show that was fun but then we received all this national press with Leno and Oprah and all of that it was just mind blowing and overwhelming at the time.
Ted – Looking back on it it was a huge marketing success. The show was a hit before it even hit the air and people were already talking about it and I think that even the first big magazine cover of Entertainment Weekly we did came out just after it started. It felt like a time when being gay in television was a big topic and it was kind of the perfect storm of being at the right place at the right time because I think like Kayan said we thought it would be popular amongst Urban gays and sophisticated women in their 20's who lived in the city and the reach was much bigger than that.
Is there any simple advice you can give to a straight guy who doesn't get to sit down with you and get made over?
Kayan – I think the show in itself has been designed with the hit tips at the end and with the design of the story that guys can kind of pick up on and learn. Anybody can go to a wine tasting or go to a spa and figure it out. I think this show gave guys permission to go and check all of this out because it isn't really rocket science. It is just a matter of saying hey this stuff that gay men and straight women have known about for so long is available to us as well.
What is next for you once this season is over?
Jai – We wrapped in '06 so we have been away from shooting for awhile doing other projects. I told someone the other day that I hope that Bravo does a little In Studio Reunion kind of show and I am not sure if that is in the works or not. I have a new show on Style and I am guest staring on Nip/Tuck this season.
Ted – Are you actually going to have some of that extra girth removed while you are on that show?
Jai – I actually have a deformity
Ted – I am working as a judge on Top Chef on Bravo and on Iron Chef America on the Food Network and I am the host and narrator of a wine show on public television called Uncorked. And I guess I can speak for Ms Kressley who is working on gay standard time. Carson is shooting a great new show for Lifetime in January called ‘How To Look Good Naked.’ I have seen the pilot and it is really sweet and moving and touching and it is about helping women feel good in their bodies.
Jai – And Thom has a show on Style as well called ‘Dress My Nest’ and he is in production of his second season right now.
How has the show made over the five of you?
Kayan – I think the biggest way I have been made over by the straight guys is being more comfortable with straight men and not feeling like they are as scary as I once thought they were. I think that everyone thinks that straight guys are afraid of gay men but I think gay men are also a little afraid of being around straight guys.
Ted – Jai's not afraid of straight guys.
Jai – I am not at all [laughs]
Ted – I think that is a great question. It has changed all five of us in so many ways it has been such an incredibly intense experience because we feel like brothers now or sisters [laughing] as you will. It has opened a lot of doors for all of us and helped our careers.
Jai – For me we got to learn lessons too while we were filming the show because you absorb all of this new information as your co-host is sharing.
Ted – Kayan can throw a ball now, Carson has a mean golf swing [laughs]
What are your guilty pleasures?
Ted – I have a lot of pleasures I just don't feel guilty about them. I like mac and cheese, I like chips and I think if you ask most people in culinary as much as the eat fancy food they will naw on a pigs ear or what not too.
Kayan – As the grooming guy there is all this expectation about appearance and I hear people are nervous to be around me or meet me for the first time because they have this expectation that I am going to be critiquing them but I love to not shave for a month and go camping and get dirty and all that kind of stuff.
Jai – I have a lot of guilty pleasures. But Kayan is right there are a lot of people that have expectations and when people come to my home I am always like okay I really have to clean because people have this expectation of the show that we give advice that we are super anal about everything and I am just not like that in nature.
How do you think that ‘Queer Eye’ will be remembered and what sort of social impact did it have?
Kayan – It is hard to answer the question and Ted can back me up on this one. About a year ago through Ted's website I received a letter from a kid who was 17 at the time and he was coming out and didn't have anyone to talk to and a fan of the show and had a connection with me and just wanted to talk and so I emailed him back and we continued to talk and since that time he has fallen in love for the first time and literally four days ago he emailed me that he had come out to his parents and they couldn't have been better about it. He told them that he had been talking to me and she was really happy and thankful that he had someone to talk to about all of it. So those sort of stories and experiences are the legacy of the show and that is what makes me the most proud. I know for a fact that the other guys have had experiences like this as well with gay youth that is humbling and special and part of our lasting memories of this work.
Jai – For me it is one of those things that the world has changed since the show started, men have more choices at spas and gives them the ability to try new things which is part of this legacy.
Ted – I agree with everything the guys have said. We started out making a show that people thought was all superficial and we didn't really think of it as all important because we aren't activists but the fact is we were ‘out’ on television and there aren’t still a lot of people who are ‘out’ on television. We were just being ourselves and that alone is the most important political act that any of us could have done. Secondly the hundreds and hundreds of letters we have gotten from gay kids is the thing I am the proudest of. That we could indirectly open up the conversation about who they really are. Lastly we have been complicit in the denim industry where before it was only difficult to buy jeans for women and now men have just as agonizing a time. [all laughing]