The untold truth of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

When you think about the year 2003, what comes to mind? Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Us too! The show premiered on Bravo in July and we were totally hooked. The "Fab Five" would drive to their straight guy assignment, giving the viewers a little bit of background so we'd know what to expect when we met the guy who's going to benefit from the life skills offered by Ted Allen, Carson Kressley, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia and Jai Rodriguez. The fabulous makeover mavens would then descend upon their subject's home, where they'd go through his stuff, talk to his friends and family, and criticize basically everything about the man's life. It was addictive and wonderful.

The show ran five seasons and won an Emmy in 2004. It was cancelled in 2007, to our great disappointment, but we still love watching reruns and chatting about the show. So, here is the untold truth of QEFTSG – the stuff you may not have known, but can't wait to find out.

There was a culture expert before Jai, and he sued

You'll be hard-pressed to find a picture or video of Blair Boone, the original culture expert for QEFTSG. Reports say he was replaced by Jai Rodriguez after only two episodes, but those episodes aren't available online. Boone claims, "The producers said that NBC and Bravo had to let me go, that it basically had to do with the fact that the show had a different idea of what they wanted to do with the 'culture guy.'" Boone reportedly quit his full time job at Metrosource Magazine to be on the show.

Prior to the lawsuit, Boone was offered some money, but his attorney, Ariel Berschadsky, represented him in filing for $105,000 — the amount Boone would have earned for the first 35 episodes (the cast made only $2,000 each, per episode, in the first season). Berschadsky's website claims that Queer Eye, LLC had "allegedly breached its contract with Mr. Boone by terminating him without paying him for the remainder of the production year, as required by the employment agreement [the show] itself had drafted." The lawsuit went to federal court and was settled. Jai took his place on the show, to the complete surprise of the rest of the cast.

Yet Jai was totally winging it

Jai Rodriguez, who replaced Blair Boone as "culture guy," was a Broadway performer in Rent and The Producers when Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was airing. In fact, he credits his Broadway success with the show's decision to cast him. In an article on The Wrap.com, he says, "They liked my skill set. [Those skills] were those of a person who can captivate an audience and had presence. They wanted that imparted on a straight guy, that kind of inner confidence to be able to be cool and hip."

He may have been cool and hip, but at 23 years old, he didn't know a lot about fashion or design, or what he says are the "social graces that my 'Queer Eye' persona was supposed to possess. Those were things I learned on 'Queer Eye.'"

Ted auditioned on a whim

Ted Allen, food critic, Food Network star, and the culinary and wine expert on Queer Eye, auditioned for the show on a whim. He told Food&Wine, "A friend told me about the casting notice for Queer Eye. I was in Chicago and had a contract with Esquire magazine, so had been coming to New York City regularly and thought I'd catch a cheap flight, crash on a friend's sofa and do this hilarious audition that I had no chance of winning…I had no TV aspirations." He said that the audition was nothing he could have prepared for, that groups of five were put together to see if "sparks would fly." They did, and Ted was cast.

Carson doesn't just seem like a sweetheart, he is one

Carson Kressley was definitely the most vocal of the Queer Eye bunch, and some of his jokes hit pretty close to home with the subjects. But he managed not to be a jerk and, in fact, was endearing and adorable. Turns out he's like that in real life, too. In 2004, a Seattle-based website published a post about Carson on his national book tour for Off the Cuff: The Essential Style Guide for Men and the Women Who Love Them. The reporter says that Carson was "an absolute peach in the spotlight and out."

Carson does lots of great things outside of the Queer Eye world and his literary career. He won $25,000 for The Trevor Project, an organization devoted to crisis prevention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth, on Celebrity Jeopardy. In 2015 he hosted a karaoke benefit to raise awareness for liver cancer and viral hepatitis, and he participated in the Celebrity Shoe Design Program for Charity to benefit the same cause. Aw, Carson, there's so much sugar behind that snark.

Kyan does not take crap about the way he looks

Kyan, the grooming expert on Queer Eye, took to Facebook in February of 2016 to address some "image shamers" who have been putting some pressure on him about his looks. What? Not only is Kyan super sweet and polite, he is quite a looker.

Perhaps he was prompted by a TMZ "where are they now?" post that received some comments about Kyan possibly needing his friends to come back and make him over. You can see the full "gentle rant" on Kyan's Facebook page, but the short version is that people have been contacting him telling him what to do about his looks. He urges people to knock it off, and says "Love me, or not, the way I am. How I present myself is my call. You do you." He received plenty of loving comments for his post, and we think he looks just fabulous.

Thom and Jai made out

In Oprah's Where Are They Now, the Fab Five were asked who their castmate crushes were. Carson quips, "Can I say nobody?" While Thom fessed up that not only was Jai his castmate crush, but they'd made out one time. Thom says, "We were in the back of a van. I think it was after a party. We drank a lot on the job. Apparently, we were somewhat easy. You know what I always say: 'It ain't' easy being easy!'"

In an interview with Big Think, Thom talks about coming out, and his experience on the show. Thom says that even though he'd already come out to his family and close friends, that "Queer Eye, for all intents and purposes in my life, was really when I came out." And he says it was that way for all five of them. He said it was really fun, and interesting to see people being okay with the concept. And, even though it was as if they were "coming out every day," the show was a great experience for all of the Fab Five.

The show was not positively received by everyone

While most people consider Queer Eye for the Straight Guy a positive, well-received show, empowering gay men, and celebrating diversity, not everyone saw it that way. An academic article published by the staff of the College of Charleston speculates that "Queer Eye functions as a mediated ritual of rebellion that domesticates Queers, contains Queer sexuality, and places straight men at the sociosexual center. The series thus supports the very heteronormative order it seems to challenge."

Similarly, a 2003 Chicago Tribune piece asks the question, "Is Queer Eye all about fun or exploitation?" Later, a Slate article asked, "was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy good for the gays?" While concern is understandable in a mercurial and sometimes inflammatory society, it seems the show ultimately did more good than it did harm.

It was actually a groundbreaking show

Despite any criticism for the show, the overwhelming consensus is that it was groundbreaking in a lot of ways. And, although the Fab Five never really had a political agenda, they recognize that they made a positive impact on the world with their good natured comedy and helpful tips.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed LGBT educators and media professionals and some of the responses they got were overwhelmingly positive. In the article, Jim Wilson, executive director of CUNY's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies said, "[Queer Eye] definitely had a very strong impact in terms of visibility of queer people on the TV screen. I think it showed gay people as smart and funny and silly and that's not necessarily going to be a bad thing…" The head of Logo TV, Marc Leonard, said, "Queer Eye impacted LGBT representation on TV in that it was the strongest, if not the first, representation of LGBT people bringing their special talents to the table and making a positive impact…" It was a great experience for the cast members, and perhaps an empowering show for many other people as well.

There's more to come

Did all this talk about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy make you miss the show terribly? Us too. But in January 2017, Entertainment Weekly gave us some great news. Netflix is slated to reboot the series with the theme: "Make America Fabulous Again." The producers released a statement that says, "In a time when America stands divided and the future seems uncertain, a team of five brave men will try to bring us closer with laughter, heart, and just the right amount of moisturizer." Instead of doing makeovers in New York, the Fab Five will be traveling to red states, in order to "turn them pink – one makeover at a time."

We can't wait until the show comes to Netflix!