The stars of Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ have a blast at sold-out library event
Soon, the five hosts of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” will be leaving Kansas City, where they’ve spent the past five months shooting the show’s third season.
Still, they’ve spent enough time here to answer this: What’s the one word they would use to describe KC?
Here’s where the Fab Five — Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness — show their true selves.
Tan is first: “friendly.” He then looks at Bobby (a Missouri native), who follows with: “unexpected.” Karamo says, looking straight at the questioner: “open.”
Then Jonathan, stressfully fanning himself with his hands: “I can’t be put in this box … serving autumnal realness.”
But Antoni has the last word: “I have three, but it’s one thought. Gentle, rebellious, confidence.”
Any “Queer Eye” fan knows this exchange is so them. And for the uninitiated, it’s just a peek into the magical hold that the five gay men have on their fans, who filled the Kansas City Library-Central Branch Wednesday night.
They were promoting their recently released self-help book, “Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life” (Clarkson Potter, $29.99). The three tiers of tickets sold out in minutes and more than 1,000 attended the event, which was the largest the library has hosted, said Courtney Lewis, a library spokeswoman.
Throughout the Q&A with David Collins — the creator and executive producer of “Queer Eye” and the original 2003-07 Bravo series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” — and at a press conference beforehand, these words kept reappearing like sunshine through clouds: “authentic,” “real,” “true,” “comfortable,” “love.”
Those are also the themes that course through the show’s episodes, which “make better” men and women through fashion, grooming, food, home design and life coaching.
The people made over by the Fab Five don’t just end up with a better haircut or better furniture. They also have a better understanding of who they are and who they can be.
“It just makes me feel good, makes me feel happy no matter what,” said Kinsey Volk, 18, of the show. “It feels like you know them, like they’re your best friends.”
The Netflix series, which won three Emmys this year, announced in July that Season 3 would be shot in Kansas City, the first time the show went outside Atlanta, where seasons 1 and 2 were filmed.
Though the five hosts weren’t allowed to talk about the new season, they did share some of their favorite finds while they were here.
They loved the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, downtown and the people. As for food, they had a long list of KC spots: Taj Palace, Novel, Rockhill Grille, 801 Chophouse, Beignet, Messenger, Brioche. (Tan, wearing a sweatshirt with an image of Dorothy from “Wizard of Oz,” happily admitted to the audience that he’s gained the most weight since being here.)
As for barbecue, Joe’s KC and Q39.
During their time in KC, the five have posted about their local experiences on social media. In fact, many of the photos in the new book were taken in Kansas City.
Several times, the hosts repeated how much they love Kansas City. Collins thanked the audience, calling it the “most amazing city.”
Tan’s favorite thing about KC: “The people, and it’s not just the way you guys are with us. Like I see you smile at each other on the street and it’s beautiful… You guys have got something special here, it’s lovely.”
Bobby said the first gay bar he went to was Missie B’s.
“I keep saying to my husband constantly I would love to move back to Missouri if I lived in Kansas City,” Bobby said. “I grew up in Mt. Vernon ... so to come back and be very pleasantly surprised at what amazing international cultured city this is, with such loving, caring people it’s been really, really great.”
They also talked about their fame and issues like toxic masculinity.
“I don’t ever want this experience to become something that I’m used to,” Jonathan said. “I need to just stay true to these big gay bones.”
On toxic masculinity, Tan said: “I don’t think we’re the cure but I do think we’re doing all we can to shed some light on it and show men and women how it’s hindering them, their relationships and society.”
Audience member KC Green said Tan is his favorite cast me because “he’s elegant.”
“These guys are inspirational, the insight they give to clients they are remaking is encouraging,” Green, 43, said.
The downtown resident is looking forward to seeing his city represented on the show, like Atlanta was. The new season will stream on Netflix in 2019.
Volk also can’t wait.
“It’s going to be amazing to see them in places we know,” the Shawnee resident said of the KC season. “See people accepting them and loving them.”
The evening closed with questions from the audience, including a medical student from Iowa. The last one came from Katherine Ferry, 12, of Prairie Village. The seventh-grader nervously asked what interested Jonathan when he was in the seventh grade.
It didn’t take long for crew to help her feel fabulous. They asked for her phone so they could take a group selfie onstage. And what will she do with that photo?
“I’m going to do everything I can possibly do,” Katherine said.
The Fab Five would approve.
Fab Five takeaways for KC
Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert: “Check out our gorgeous book. It’s fun. I can’t wait to get to season 3. There’s a lot of gorgeous pictures, like I tell you how you can feel guilt-free about breaking up with your hairdresser… check it out.”
Bobby Berk, design expert: “Be comfortable with who you are be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t worry about what other people think. Stand up for what you believe.”
Tan France, fashion expert: “Be comfortable asking questions. By that I mean respectful questions.”
Karamo Brown, culture expert: “Just as much as we focus on physical health, we should focus on our mental health.”
Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert: “Stay curious. ... I met some heroes whose experiences were really different than mine and I had a lot of questions, things that I didn’t understand and I was very ignorant to what I learned. There’s always a way to ask a question in a kind and respectful way without offending anybody. If you go about it the right with with tact and with love and care. And by prefacing with that, there’s no excuse for anyone to stop learning.”