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For example, viewers of the special — which airs Sunday, a decade after the debut of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy — will learn that two of the Fab Five once hooked up.
“Two of us actually very briefly had a moment of passion in a van when we first started working together,” design doctor Filicia tells The Hollywood Reporter, declining to name names.
Quips fashion savant Kressley: “I didn’t know this. But why didn’t anyone want to make out with me?!”
The Andy Cohen-hosted special also will feature flashbacks as the Fab Five — who also included food and wine connoisseur Ted Allen, grooming guru Kyan Douglas and “culture vulture” Jai Rodriguez — reunite to discuss the show’s impact on viewers and its legacy, 10 years later. Viewers also will get updates on past recipients of their makeovers — or “make-betters,” as the stars called them — and be treated to some highlights from the show’s 2003-07 run on Bravo.
“You’ll see some of the scariest houses and apartments we walked into — and some of the crazy hairstyles I had,” jokes Kressley. “Every week it was different. Most weeks, I’d flat-iron it and look like a blond Judge [Glenda] Hatchett.”
All five of the show’s stars have remained friends and kept in touch, but the reunion marked the first time they all have been in the same room together since filming ended six years ago, due to busy schedules and geographical differences. Filicia says he does make plans with two or three of his former colleagues a few times a year.
“I think what people are really going to see is the real, sincere and honest relationship between the five of us,” he says of the special. “We fell right back into the same place we were in while shooting Queer Eye. Even before we went on set, when we were still in hair and makeup, we went back to our old shenanigans.”
Adds Kressley, in reference to Bravo’s popular Real Housewives reunion specials: “Unfortunately, there was no hair-pulling, and no one called anybody a slut, but other than that, it was all good.”
The reunion came about as a result of “several forces coming together,” including strong interest among the fans and the stars themselves, says Kressley, noting that Allen had a conversation with Bravo and Oxygen Media president Frances Berwick a year ago. “[Allen’s] math wasn’t so great,” he jokes of Allen’s timing, noting that it was then the ninth anniversary. But all parties thought it was a “great idea.”
Then, in March, Filicia appeared as a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, which airs on Bravo’s corporate sibling NBC. Fallon then brought up the idea of a reunion to Filicia, which renewed interest in the idea. Not long after, he bumped into Cohen — who also serves as executive vp development and talent at Bravo — at a charity event, where the two discussed the idea of a reunion, and “it all steamrolled from there,” Filicia says.
Asked about their favorite Queer Eye moments, both Filicia and Kressley mention how rewarding it was to be able to help people transform their lives. Filicia also says he has fond memories of the series winning the Emmy for best reality program in 2004, while Kressley remembers one guy in particular the quintet was able to help.
“He was an older gentleman who had lost his wife, and I think he was at a crossroads and didn’t know if life had a lot to offer him,” Kressley says. “We came in and gave him a fresh perspective, and we may have helped save his life.”
Both Filicia and Kressley use the word “groundbreaking” when describing the show’s impact on TV — and society.
“I think it was probably the first time [viewers had seen] openly gay guys on television just being themselves, and for a lot of people across the country, we were the first gay people they got to know,” Kressley says. “Getting to know somebody helps bring down prejudice. When you know somebody and care about them, you think a little differently about the group that they come from. We also changed so many people’s lives for the better. In the end, the [straight] guys were so thankful.”
He adds that when he was growing up, he didn’t have any gay role models on TV — “except for the Skipper and Gilligan — I had an inkling,” he jokes. “It’s amazing to know we helped somebody find their place in this world and not feel bad about who they are.”
Filicia agrees that the show had a huge impact on young people, who were emboldened to open up about their sexual orientations.
“I think it allowed a lot of people to make really bold decisions about feeling comfortable with themselves,” he says, adding that he still is approached by viewers who say they or a friend or family member found the courage to come out as a result of the show.
Filicia and Kressley also note that the TV landscape has changed quite a bit since Queer Eye debuted; both Glee and Modern Family recently featured gay marriage proposals, for example. (A recent GLAAD study found that the number of LGBT characters on TV has dipped from last year’s high, but that there are an equal number of male and female LGBT characters.)
“There is still a lot of homophobia,” Kressley adds. “[But] looking back over the last 10 years, things are getting better every day. We have the right to marry in many states. There are two gay dads on Modern Family. When people see it [on TV], they realize, ‘Hey, it’s not that scary. It’s another way of being human.’ And that leads to progress.”
Filicia, meanwhile, laments that there aren’t more “kindhearted” and “inspirational” series currently on the air in the vein of Queer Eye.
Asked if there might be a Queer Eye series revival, Kressley says: “I think the reunion is where this stops for now. We have amazing chemistry and respect for one another, and had a great time together. It’s certainly something that could happen, but I don’t know if the show would work today. Times are different. There was that little bit of tension between us and the straight guys that made for great television — but thankfully, maybe that tension doesn’t exist anymore.”
Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, Oct. 20.
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