The Untold Truth Of Queer Eye

Netflix's Queer Eye is the reinvention Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy with all the life-changing makeovers and ugly cries you remember. Premiering in February 2017 and immediately renewed, the beautiful and heartwarming reboot has become a pop culture phenomenon — earning millions of fans and making instant stars of its new cast. Still on a quest to educate clueless men on what it means to be a man with French tucks and roasted peaches, let's meet the new Fab Five: Tan France (style), Bobby Berk (interior design), Karamo Brown (culture), Antoni Porowski (food), and Jonathan Van Ness (grooming). 

Filming in Georgia instead of the original's liberal enclave of the Big Apple, the makeover reality series sets its sights on a much loftier goal: "The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance," Tan proclaimed. Well, congratulations on your first-round knockout. Now, put down those avocado recipes and sit back with some soul comfort food, because the name of the day is glam. Here's the untold truth of Queer Eye.

How the cast came to be

The stars of Netflix's Queer Eye sat down with Vulture to reveal the ways they first learned about the reboot and how they secured a spot as members of the new Fab Five. Antoni revealed a manager friend called him since he was friends with "the OG food and wine guy" Ted Allen on the original Queer Eye For The Straight Guy

Tan claimed he was found by "a friend of a friend on social media" and said he never thought he would get the chance to audition, much less be on the show. 

Karamo was lying in bed enjoying Watch What Happens Live when guest and original Fab Five-er, Carson Kressley, announced the series was coming back. He immediately called his agent and exclaimed, "I gotta be one of those gays!" At first, they declined since the casting was closed, but luckily he and his agent worked it out. 

Jonathan says he was "power walking" to his NYC salon when it leaked online, and in typical fashion, he asked himself, "Why didn't I know about this? I was born for this." 

Bobby was scheduled to do a Skype interview, but the power went out in his building. He hopped in his car and sped to his office leaving him "sweaty and disheveled," but he got a call two weeks later and "the rest is history."

All for one and one for all

Whether it be friends or family, the subject of money can have a damaging effect on any relationship. So if the guys of Queer Eye seem like BFFs onscreen, it's because they made demands and fought to make sure they would stay that way. 

Talking to Metro, grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness, the former high school cheerleader from Quincy, Illinois, claimed the guys fought for "matching wages." And if Netflix didn't agree, they could find another cast. He explained, "We're homies. We'd all feel resentful if one of us was getting more than the others. It would create a very, like, not cool work environment."

2003's original Fab 5 made a reported $3,000 an episode (per Entertainment Weekly) when they first hit the small screen, and immediately negotiated for more once Queer Eye for the Straight Guy became a breakout hit. By using collective bargaining to get extra cash, everybody walks away happy. An exec at Warner Bros. who was around for the cast of Friends now historic salary negotiations said, "If Jennifer Aniston had come in on her own and Matt LeBlanc on his own, the deal would have been radically different. It's bargaining power."

Tom and Abby almost didn't happen

Anybody down to raise a redneck margarita to toast Tom and Abby? Well, we wouldn't have had the pleasure if Antoni's superb listening skills didn't save everyone's favorite Queer Eye couple. In the very first episode of the Netflix reboot we met Tom Jackson, the lovable lug who kept insisting "you can't fix ugly." The guys went to work improving his look and self-confidence after he fell into a rut since divorcing the "love of his life," Abby. Kamaro had already revamped Tom's online dating profile to help him move on, but a conversation in the kitchen with Antoni changed everything. 

While going through Tom's cabinets, Antoni noted he should lay off all the candy bars — which he assumed belonged to Tom's grandson. The grizzled car lover offhandedly revealed that it was Abby who had been buying the chocolate bars for him. "We see each other now and then," Tom said. Then it happened. "Wait, why did your face twitch?" Antoni asked. "Talk to me about that." "I love her more than anything. I wanna spend my life with her," Tom replied.

The guy's mission turned instantly: get Tom and Abby back together. "Antoni shifted that episode," Kamaro told Entertainment Weekly (via Stylist). "All of a sudden we are on a bench and I'm like, 'Call your ex-wife!' [to invite her to the car show]." The couple are now happily married

Tan and the Mormon cowboy

You wouldn't expect a gay, Pakistani, Muslim immigrant from England to find love with a Wyoming-born Mormon cowboy, but Tan France and his husband, Rob, have been happily married since 2007. The couple, who live part-time on a ranch in Salt Lake City and met on a dating site, started dating because their seemingly different religious upbringings gave them a lot in common. "I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke," says Tan told The New York Post. "We practice some of our religions' practices. We don't practice them all. We practice what works for us."

Formerly a pediatric nurse, Rob now works as an illustrator. In 2015 interview with Salt Lake City Weekly (via OK!), he said, "I'm passionate about women's fashion, oddly, and horror/sci-fi films. I married a European, which is the best thing that ever happened to me, and though the world still intimidates the small-town kid in me, I try to get out and travel often." These two sound adorable. 

A reality star inspired Karamo to come out

During press rounds before the show's premiere, the guys of Queer Eye sat down with Bustle to discuss their coming out stories and how they've come a long way to be the confident and proud men you see today. Bobby talks about how he ran away from home at 15, Tan reveals he faced bigotry in the Muslim world, and Jonathan and Antoni spoke their truth. But Karamo Brown had help coming out from an unexpected source: drag queen superstar, RuPaul. 

Talking about his experiences growing up in a Jamaican family, Karamo recalls how his father "subscribed to the homophobia" prevalent in the Caribbean island nation, but seeing RuPaul allowed him to come terms with his sexuality and slowly start to "test the waters" with friends and family. He said, "It was something about seeing this African-American man be confident and talk openly about being part of the LGBTQI community."

Antoni knows what you say about his cooking

Look, we love Antoni Porowski, but one time his big contribution to a show was making hot dogs. And he makes a lot of dip. A quick Google search can fill your plate with hot takes about the celebrity chef's cooking skills (or lack thereof), but it was one specific criticism that caught the ire of the food and wine guy. 

In an article on Junkee called Does The Incredibly Hot Food Guy From Queer Eye Even Know How To Cook?, the author lightly roasts Antoni like he does tomatoes. Calling out Antoni's propensity to teach men how to make basic dishes like guacamole and cheese sandwiches — and the time he "literally places cut avocado next to slices of cut grapefruit and pretends it's a salad" — the author openly wondered what the "hot food guy" learned during his time in the restaurant industry. 

To the author's surprise, Antoni stepped on stage at UCB's 'Night Late' event in NYC and "as he's reading out the title of my article, he literally says "'I know this by heart.'" He began, "First off. Can I cook? Yes, bi***, somebody hired me to cook on TV!" He goes on to claim he only cooked two avocado meals in the first season and chided the producers for putting the episodes so close together. He continued, "Good job calling me 'incredibly hot' before insulting me — what are you, some kind of finance guy?" In the author's defense, he did say his article was "80 percent thirst."

They've had some trouble connecting

The fab team call their makeover subjects "heroes," but sometimes showering them with love and support doesn't get them to open up right away. Speaking to Variety, the guys talked about the challenges and personal biases they faced when attempting to understand how to communicate with a few of their human molds of clay. 

Bobby described one instance as like "pulling teeth" to get the guy to open up, but they soon realized that he wasn't scared or shy, he was just "taking all this in." He went on to say that usually "within an hour we're connecting," because it's hard for a person to not accept the love the cast brings. He added, "It broke walls down really quick."

However, some situations weren't as easily resolved. In the now famous episode "Dega Don't," where the cast gets pulled over by a Southern white police officer, Kamaro revealed he didn't feel comfortable during the remainder of filming due to who the guest voted for in 2016. But he thanked the show for allowing him to have "open, honest conversations" with people he doesn't agree with, in hopes others would follow suit. "It gives me so much hope for our country. It gives me so much hope for us as a community," the culture expert said. "I think that was important for people to see around the world."

Pete Davidson + Queer Eye = Ariana Grande?

In March 2018, Tan helped Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson upgrade his "Guido Trash" look with a shopping trip through Saks Fifth Avenue. Critical of Davidson's penchant for overly baggy clothes in wild colors, Tan asked the comedian if he "put this kinda stuff on for attention." Ouch. "I thought I was like kind of dressing well, but it's so nice to know I've been dressing like s**t the entire time," Davidson joked. "Someone has to tell me. You know people who have like s**t in their teeth? It's the same thing—I have s**t all over myself."

Well, the fashion-forward makeover must have worked, because a mere two months later, Davidson was engaged to pop star Ariana Grande after only two weeks of dating. So if you're a regular dude and want a chance with a beautiful pop princess, give the guys of Queer Eye a call.

Karamo's unexpected path to fatherhood

Karamo was the first gay black man to appear on MTV's 2004 season of The Real World, and unbeknownst to him, his son was watching. But two years later, after receiving papers demanding overdue child support, Brown called the Texas attorney general's office and learned that the mother moved away shortly after becoming pregnant at 15.

He immediately jumped on a flight from Los Angeles to Texas and eventually met (with permission from the mother) his then 10-year-old son, Jason. He received custody in 2007, and in 2010, Karamo adopted Jason's half-brother, Chris, so that the siblings wouldn't be separated. Citing the broken relationship he had with his father, Karamo didn't want his son to grow up the same. "People say, 'You saved his life,'" he told The Advocate about Jason. "And I say, 'No, he saved mine.'"

At the time of this writing, Jason is 21 and Chris is 18, but when Kamaro is your father, you get a front row seat for a daily culture class. Instilling the value of living in the moment, Kamaro gave his sons a rule: no phones after 7 p.m. "I think it's imperative that we start to figure out a way that kids can learn how to disconnect," he told People. Same applies to concerts. He continued, "I want them to be in the moment."

Miss Tammye is just like us

The long-awaited second season of Queer Eye returned with one of it's most memorable and tear-jerking episodes yet right out the gate. The cast descended upon Gay, Georgia, right into to the arms of breast cancer survivor, Tammye Hicks — making it the first time a woman received a makeover from the guys. 

Nominated by her neighbor Gene who described her as "more sweet, loving and caring for others than she is for herself," Miss Tammye made a lasting impression on the guys, and viewers alike, in an episode all about love and acceptance. By the episode's end her church's community center was renovated, Bobby ugly cried, and Miss Tammye turned her entire congregation into believers with a touching speech about the transformative power of love that made her accept her gay son. Then Antoni ugly cried.

But don't ask her which member of the Fab 5 is her favorite. "Girl, don't make me choose," she told Huffington Post. "Don't make me choose!" Calling the guys a "phenomenal group" with "equal purpose," she finally relented and chose a favorite: "Well. Oh, God ― it's a five-way tie." Same, Miss Tammye. Same.