The untold truth of Bobby Berk

Bobby Berk does all the work; it rhymes so it must be true. The rebooted Queer Eye boasts the most perfect Fab Five anybody could've ever imagined (no disrespect to Carson Kressley and the rest of the old guard) but its star component is, no question, their resident interior design expert/DIY guy/construction worker, who contributes more in the week the group spends with participants than everybody else combined.

Unfortunately, this also means the lovable Berk blends into the background a bit as he is working away and getting the property sorted, while the rest of the lads flit about town talking hair, clothes, food, and, in Karamo Brown's case, the participants' deepest childhood traumas. But just because he isn't as flashy as Jonathan Van Ness or as quietly intense as Tan France doesn't mean Berk is boring.

Hell, anybody who can turn someone's grandmother's place into the coolest bachelor pad on earth in the space of a few days clearly has more to offer than just a cool hat every now and again. This is the untold truth of Bobby Berk.

Bobby Berk really does do all the work

Even casual Queer Eye fans know Bobby Berk is the hardest working Fab Five member, spawning numerous memes about how much blood, sweat, and tears he puts into the project while the other four pal around with whichever hero (as the guys refer to the show's participants) they're working with that week. Speaking to Architectural Digest, Berk acknowledged that his industry friends agree with fans that he clearly works the hardest. And it's hard to disagree with them.

"While my Fab brothers often had three to four days off a week, some weeks, depending on what we were building, I worked seven days a week. I do have to do some pre-design work on these. There's no way … that I can just make all that happen in that week. I have to pick the direction we're going for and order the main pieces of furniture," he explained. However, Berk was quick to point out that he has a great team working with him, without whom he wouldn't be able to pull off the kind of miracles he does on the hit show.

Bobby Berk is married to a very private guy, but isn't private about his love for him

Bobby Berk's husband, Dewey Do, is definitively not in the public eye (even his Instagram account is private). A maxillofacial surgeon, Do is difficult to pin down. However, that doesn't stop Berk from gushing about their long-term relationship, telling Stylist his happy place is "at home with my husband" and that Do is his "greatest love." He took to social media in 2018 to celebrate six happy years of marriage, writing, "We got married as soon as it was legal to get married and it was important to us to show the world our pride…"   

The Queer Eye star may be a design expert, but when it came time to redo their new L.A. home, Berk wanted his beloved hubby's input too. "I pick, like, the three choices that I want, and then I let him pick from those three. I still like to give him choices, because I want him to feel, you know, like it's his home as well," he explained to Cosmopolitan.

Bobby Berk and JVN were best prepared to tackle small town America

Queer Eye aims to tackle small-mindedness during one of the most difficult and confusing times in living memory. Although the Fab Five was prepared for whatever was thrown at them in the conservative areas in which they were working, two of their number were better equipped to do so. Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness grew up in small towns, so they were already used to dealing with the kinds of people the group met during the first two seasons of the show. "It felt traumatizing, yet familiar at the same time," noted Berk of the experience in an interview with Oprah magazine.  

When it came time to shoot Season 3, however, the design expert noted there was less tension. "There weren't as many political differences. It wasn't because we weren't looking for them — they just didn't happen," he shrugged. However, Queer Eye, which tackles racism, homophobia, police brutality, and gun control, among other sensitive topics, was never intended to be an explicitly political show. Berk acknowledged, "We didn't go into season one thinking, 'Hey! Let's be political.' It just happened naturally."

Bobby Berk's worst job ever was in retail

Putting a home renovation together in less than a week is nothing compared to the worst job Bobby Berk has ever had which, naturally, had nothing to do with interior design. As he reminisced with The Daily Beast, Berk's role at Bed Bath and Beyond, the only branch of the chain store in New York City at the time, was his worst hands down. "They just don't treat their employees very well. It's just not a great atmosphere to work in," he said. Berk explained, "It was a very busy store, with a lot of angry New Yorkers who wanted to return their aerobeds, and their soiled sheets, and anything else dirty that they could possibly return, because Bed Bath and Beyond lets you return anything. Just not a happy, pleasant atmosphere to work in."

It's worth noting that, by Berk's own admission, he got fired from Restoration Hardware while the original Queer Eye was filming upstairs, so he's come weirdly full circle now.

Bobby Berk was a drag queen in a previous life

As Queer Eye fans will know, Bobby Berk had a difficult time growing up in a tight-knit religious community, where he blamed himself for being gay and prayed to God to change him. But when he was a teenager, he soon found people who supported him for who he was. He told Oprah magazine, "The first group of LGBTQ people to embrace me, at 16, was the drag community."

As Berk recalls, thankfully this all happened pre-Internet. "There was a little bar called Martha's Vineyard and at one point I was doing drag. This was before cellphones," he said. Happily, for a kid desperately looking to belong, Berk found his place there. "That's where I found the most acceptance and love. I eventually moved around a lot, but I'm lucky to have found my chosen family — and a lot of allies," he reminisced.  

His drag name was Jessica Grant, which, er, isn't the most creative. "If I were to do it again, would I come up with a better name? Yes," Berk laughed.

Bobby Berk designed the Fab Five loft

Not content with working on every Queer Eye property as well as his own L.A. loft, Bobby Berk also designed the living space for the Fab Five to occupy during shooting (which is probably why it looks so chic). In an interview with People, Berk laid out how he turned an otherwise unappealing warehouse space in Kansas City, Mo. into a haven for the group to chill out in between changing people's lives. "I wanted to create a space that was not only functional for what we needed to use it for, but also had different areas that allowed the space to feel more familiar and comfortable," he gushed. 

Each member of the Fab Five got their own area, including a grooming space for Jonathan Van Ness which incorporated a shelf for beauty products and a barber's chair with a mirror. "Creating different vignettes throughout the room in a cohesive color palette allows me to define the different spaces without having them feel separate from each other," Berk explained.

Bobby Berk's budget for each renovation is surprisingly low

Given the prevalence of shows like Property Brothers and Fixer Upper, it's easy to assume all reality TV designers are working with massive budgets. But Bobby Berk makes magic happen with relatively little. As he confirmed in an interview with Vanity Fair, the workaholic gets around $20,000 to play with per episode. The majority of that money goes on construction because the projects have to be turned around so quickly. "My construction costs cost probably eight times more than what [it] normally would cost. You know, to paint a room might be a few hundred bucks — but for me to paint a house that quickly, it costs five grand," he revealed.

Thankfully, the Queer Eye guys have great relationships with stores like IKEA (Berk knows everybody in the Atlanta branch by name, as he told My Domaine) while he uses products from partnerships with companies like West Elm and from his own furniture line. Berk laughs when he sees tweets about his supposedly massive budget, explaining, "I'm like, 'I wish I had $100,000…' That's almost my budget for the whole season!"  

Bobby Berk and the Fab Five make sure they're getting the same pay

In 2003, Bobby Berk moved to New York City with, as he told Money, "about $100 bucks in my pocket and a suitcase." These days, he's worth around $2 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, but the road to financial security has been a rough one to say the least. As he explained to Money, it took a series of jobs and the launch of his online furniture store to take Berk out of massive debt. Queer Eye didn't immediately put Berk on the rich list, either.

As revealed by Variety, the lads made around $7,500 each per episode for the first two seasons. As Jonathan Van Ness confirmed in an essay for Wealth Simple, the Fab Five earn equally. "When the boys and I were cast we banded together and made sure we got paid the same thing," he wrote. Brown confirmed as much in an interview with Insider, they all got increases. The culture expert advised that insisting on being paid the same "added to the trust we have because we know that we're supporting each other in business, just like we do in life."

Bobby Berk's favorite makeover happened by chance

Remington, aka Remi, was one of the standouts of Queer Eye's first season given he, inexplicably, lived in his grandmother's house. Unsurprisingly, when questioned by Architectural Digest about which makeover was his favorite, Bobby Berk chose Remi, noting, "His grandmother was clearly fly as hell. Even though the style, obviously, was a bit outdated — the green shag carpet, those curtains. But she handmade all those curtains. Everything in that house, she designed. It was just so inspiring to me to see something that was outdated now, but at the time was so on point." 

However, Remi only ended up on the show by chance, thanks to his well-meaning mother. "We were at the Jo Malone counter in Atlanta and we were getting some stuff and this woman, Esther, was helping us and we're like, 'Hey, do you know of anyone that needs a makeover? We're doing this makeover show.' And she's like, 'I sure do, my son.' So, she gave us his number and he started texting the producers and sending pictures of the house and they were like, 'Oh my God, this is TV gold. This house is amazing,'" Berk revealed.

Bobby Berk actually thinks Karamo Brown has the hardest job

Bobby Berk may do the most work, even by his own estimation, with a whole team at his disposal and an insanely short amount of time to do it in. However, he reckons someone else in the Fab Five has the hardest job overall: culture expert Karamo Brown. Berk explained to Nylon, "At the end of the day, every week, I know I am remodeling someone's home. Tan knows he's picking out clothes. Jonathan knows that he is going to do a haircut and grooming. Antoni knows he's going to be cooking. Every single week Karamo has to meet that guy and then figure out: 'How can I help him?' He literally has to write his own narrative every single week and figure out the best way that he can help heal this guy emotionally."

If he could swap jobs, Berk would choose to either do Antoni Porowski's or Tan France's. Or, ideally, both. "Tan-toni," he joked, before conceding, "Probably Antoni, because I enjoy cooking."

Bobby Berk reckons the Fab Five could easily do each other's jobs

If push came to shove, Bobby Berk reckons any of the Fab Five could move seamlessly into each other's roles. When put on the spot by Cosmopolitan, he answered easily, "I would give design to Antoni [Porowski] because he has such a knowledge of furniture and design history even more so than me. And Antoni just has really impeccable taste." Berk continued, "I would have Karamo [Brown] do fashion, Tan [France] doing hair, and Jonathan [Van Ness] doing culture. Jonathan is randomly a wealth of knowledge about so many things that you don't even think one needs to know about." 

However, he was quick to reiterate that they all have their parts to play in the process, advising, "All five of our verticals are equally as important, and without any one of them, we would not be able to effect the change that we do. I might have the most time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it's not the most important."

Bobby Berk doesn't need to redo any of the guys' homes (anymore)

The question Bobby Berk gets asked most often, aside from whether he really does all the work, is whose space he'd choose to redo out of the rest of the Fab Five. As he told Vanity Fair, all the guys have great taste, even Karamo Brown, whose place was a bit dodgy in the beginning. "After we filmed season one and two, he [was] like…'I'm living in squalor!'" Likewise, "Jonathan's apartment's super cute, although it didn't used to be," Berk added, noting Jonathan Van Ness "probably is the messy one — and he would totally own up for that."

However, the Fab Five has evolved so much since being on the show that there's really no need for him to swoop in and renovate their spots anymore. Berk told Cosmopolitan proudly, when they asked whose home he'd take a look at, "None of them. All their houses look great. They're all on top of it now — I taught them well."

Bobby Berk was always going to be a designer

Bobby Berk always had an eye for interior design. However, as he admitted to Metropolis, the Queer Eye star wasn't sure that path was necessarily laid out for him. "Honestly I kinda fell into design, but I always had a passion for it," he shared. He continued, "I remember seeing Michael Graves' collection for Target in the '90s … To see those items and be like, 'Wow, functional things in your home can actually make you happy as well,' was a whole new concept for me. But I never, growing up in Missouri, thought of it as a career path."

After moving to New York, Berk made ends meet working odd jobs. After finding his footing at furniture company Portico, Berk realized he wanted to branch out on his own. "In 2015, I opened up my design firm so I could focus on what I really loved, which is interior design. We work with a lot of major home-builders here in the U.S., and try to take what people normally would call a tract home and make it feel more like a custom home. It's been a fun journey," he said.

Bobby Berk's one splurge item is still budget-friendly

He isn't one to splash the cash, even when Bobby Berk's got a Netflix budget at his disposal. Speaking to Refinery29, the Queer Eye star revealed the one item he'll never skimp on is actually relatively low-key. "The thing I always recommend splurging on is your bedding, your mattress. You spend a huge chunk of your life in bed resting and you want to wake up feeling good. If you're in a crappy bed that makes you sore and awful in the morning, you start your day off in a bad mood because you start out uncomfortable," he advised.

Berk even acknowledged that, in the early days, he still ensured his sleeping arrangements were as comfortable as possible. "Even when I lived in a tiny, little one bedroom apartment in New York with no money, I would save up for good bedding because I wanted to go home and go to sleep and relax; I wanted to wake up feeling refreshed," Berk reasoned.

Bobby Berk thinks Queer Eye is so popular for this reason

In these difficult times, it's easier than ever to feel hopeless, so it's no wonder Queer Eye is so popular. More than anything else, the all-new Fab Five preaches a message of tolerance and love. Bobby Berk explained to Nylon, "We really wanted to do something different. We really wanted to give people hope and joy. Make people happy and make people humanize each other again. To realize that at the end of the day, we're not Republicans, we're not Democrats, we're just people. … I think that's why it's really resonating with people."   

Likewise, he sees this new iteration as fighting for more than just tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community. "The new Queer Eye is different because we're trying to show people that we're not just decorators and fashion stylists. We're normal people just like you — we're husbands; we're fathers. Now, we're fighting for acceptance," he explained to My Domaine. As he acknowledged, the great strength of the show is its ability to bridge the gap. "In the end, we know what sets us apart, but what we try to focus on is how we're similar," Berk noted.