Since its 2018 premiere on Netflix, self-improvement reality TV show Queer Eye has stolen the hearts of everyone who watches it. It's the perfect kind of feel-good show so many of us are desperate for and it always provides inspiration for a much-needed cry. A lot of the show's benefits are thanks to the “Fab Five,” a group of gay men who enter the lives of typically more conservative Americans and seek to change their 'hopeful's life for the better. Culture expert Karamo Brown, grooming guru Jonathan Van Ness, Fashion counselor Tan France, culinary guide Antoni Porowski, and design extraordinaire Bobby Berk have become like family both to each other and to the viewers at home. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and we give them our best “YAAAAS QUEEN!” as we binge the show over a day (or two).
When the show's in-between seasons, we follow the Fab Five on social media hoping that they're bringing the self-improvement vibes to the even-smaller screen. After spending so many hours watching the show, anyone who watches feels like they already know the guys. But, ultimately, there’s a lot about the Queer Eye guys that we have no clue about.
Instagram / Karamo Brown
If you're a fan of MTV, you might remember Karamo being on your screen back in the day. He was a member of The Real World: Philadelphia way back in 2004. Before he was the resident culture expert on Queer Eye, he was one of the seven strangers sharing a house on the longtime MTV Show. Even though The Real World previously had gay cast members, Karamo was the first openly gay black man to be one of the housemates on the show. He was already doing a lot of the same advocacy work then that he does now!
Instagram / Jonathan Van Ness
He’s not just the resident grooming expert! Jonathan hosts a weekly podcast, Getting Curious, where he talks about... everything. Seriously, there is nothing that he doesn’t cover. He’s done episodes with experts on things like politics, climate change, journalism, you name it. Listening to an episode makes you think this is what conversation must be like if he got you into his stylist’s chair. Not only are the topics relevant, but the way he handles the questions really makes sure that listeners learn something at the end. If you want to know a little bit about a lot of things, you can listen to Getting Curious during your morning commute.
Instagram / Antoni Porowski
If you're a fan of the original show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, you likely know that Ted Allen was the food guy. Now, he’s the host of Chopped on the Food Network. But in what can only be described as serendipity, Antoni Porowski actually worked as a personal chef for Ted before being chosen to star on the reboot. Ted also gave him guidance to improve on his skills. So, people who criticize Antoni of not being a “real” chef should be quiet, because Ted obviously knows food, and if he trusts Antoni, a bunch of absolute strangers should, too! He learned from the best -- the OG.
Kingdom & State
Anyone who’s watched the show knows that Tan France is fashionable AF. He clearly knows what he’s talking about when making recommendations about fashion trends and styling. So, of course, you’d want Tan to dress you because you know he knows what he's doing. Well, ladies, we’re in luck! Tan and his business partner Rachel Parcell have a clothing line, Kingdom & State. It’s all women’s wear — tops, dresses, swimsuits, and more! Everything is the perfect blend of classic and modern, just like Tan. The line is surprisingly affordable, given that Tan is now a well-known fashionista.
Instagram / Bobby Berk
You can hear him singing every once in a while on Queer Eye, but if you’ve seen season two, episode one, you'll remember how Bobby talks about singing in his church choir when he was younger. When he and Karamo take Miles to meet the gay chorus in Atlanta, they invite him to sing along. Turns out, the boy has got skills! He blends right in there and can sing all those bass harmonies like a gay lil' angel. Ahead of the release of season three, he shared a video of himself singing the show’s theme song with members of Mama Tammye’s church from season two. He’s not half bad!
You would never guess by looking at the Fab Five that they didn’t know each other before meeting at the audition for the show. “It was like speed-dating. We’d go in groups of five from table to table with various executives and just rotate until they found who they were looking for,” Bobby explained to Variety. "It was really amazing because they had like an instant bond in the casting," said David Collins, one of the executive producers of Queer Eye. Their chemistry is palpable through the screen, so it makes sense that they were all cast -- and that their chemistry was so natural!
Instagram / Tan France
The producers of the show found Tan on social media and wanted him to join the Queer Eye reboot. But Tan wasn’t sure if starring on TV was for him. He told E.T., “I was the kind of guy that didn't really like to get his photo taken. I thought that they weren't going to cast me because I made it very clear to the person that told me I got this job, 'You are out of your mind. Do not give me this job. I get uncomfortable getting my photo taken.' I went to the audition because I thought I would make some gay friends. I never thought that I would get a job."
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the past, our little Canadian bacon was a TV actor given his dashing good looks. He never had a major starring role in anything, but he definitely has a few guest roles under his belt. He was on The Blacklist, Daddy’s Boy, and The Pretenders. The screenshot above is from a first-season episode of Blue Mountain State. Some people start on reality TV to eventually get into acting, but Antoni on reality TV is a perfect match.
Back in the day, an HIV positive blood test felt like a death sentence. But that was before modern medicine made it so the men, women, and gender-nonconforming people who are HIV positive can live long lives by taking medicine that keeps HIV from turning into AIDS. He never talked about it on Queer Eye, but opened up about his status in an interview with The New York Times and in his memoir. “These are all difficult subjects to talk about on a makeover show about hair and makeup ... That doesn’t mean Queer Eye is less valid, but I want people to realize you’re never too broken to be fixed.”
Instagram / Karamo Brown
Given how close they are now, it’s hard to believe this story, but it’s true! Shortly after Karamo was on The Real World, he was served with papers for back child support. Since he was unaware of said child, this came as a pretty massive surprise. It turns out that the mother is his high school girlfriend — they had sex, but she moved away shortly thereafter. Once Karamo found out about his son, he took the steps to ensure their relationship. Eventually, he gained full custody of his biological son and his biological son’s brother, and has raised them as a single dad ever since!
As he reveals throughout season two especially, Bobby grew up in the Christian church. His family was very religious and it caused a lot of internal struggles as he came to terms with his sexuality while attending a church that was super homophobic. Bobby was even a deacon in his junior church even knowing that he was someone the Church would not support. As he tells Bobby Camp on season two, he would often try to “pray the gay away,” because he knew that he was not going to be accepted as he was. The homophobia of the church is what ultimately led him to leave home at 15.
It’s hard to believe that someone with as big of a personality as JVN isn’t from a major city, especially now that he splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles. You would never know or suspect that he’s from the town of Quincy, Illinois, which as of 2010, had a population of around 40,000 people. On multiple occasions, he’s talked about how he was bullied relentlessly in his town for being gay. He even received death threats. We bet those people feel pretty stupid now that he’s so successful.
When asked by Glamour about life in the loft, Bobby says, “It’s Jonathan and Tan running around like little kids, poking at each other and giggling and screaming, and me and Karamo looking at them to straighten up. That’s every day. But we don't actually live there. We live about 30 minutes away [from the loft] in an apartment building.” They do spend a lot of time in the loft, though, even if they don't call it home. Bobby uses it more than anyone else because it doubles as a production office. That’s why you see him in there working on design ideas during basically every episode. And yes, Bobby is the decorator of the loft, of course!
HMH Books/ Amazon
Again, this is a big “eff you” to the people who claim that Antoni can’t cook. But anyway, if you want to pick up on his tips, you’re in luck. “With appealing vulnerability, he shows cooks of all levels how to become more confident and casual in the kitchen. The verve and naturalness of his approach earned raves from Food & Wine and Bon Appétit to GQ and the New York Times, which noted his dishes prove that 'sometimes simple is anything but simplistic,'” reads the book description.
His book, Naturally Tan (love the title!), is described as, “Tan France tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humor, and radical compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, as one of the few people of color in South Yorkshire, England. He illuminates his winding path of coming of age, finding his voice (and style!), and marrying the love of his life.” Tan adds, “The book is meant to spread joy, personal acceptance, and most of all, understanding.” It's got a four-and-a-half star rating on Amazon out of 81 reviews.
Per the book’s description, “Karamo reflects on his lifelong education. It comprises every adversity he has overcome, as well as the lessons he has learned along the way. It is only by exploring our difficulties and having the hard conversations—with ourselves and one another—that we are able to adjust our mindsets, heal emotionally, and move forward to live our best lives.” He talks about growing up in a multicultural house (he’s Jamaican and Cuban), living in predominantly white areas in the South, and what’s it’s like to redefine the concept of culture for the show. It’s currently available through all major booksellers. He's also got a children's book coming!
We already know that our love JVN is a truly multifaceted individual who's damn fabulous. So, it’s no surprise that he would, of course, be releasing a book all about himself. Over the Top, his appropriately titled memoir came out in September 2019 and it made headlines. It was a New York Times bestseller, and many praised it for Jonathan's openness talking about his HIV positive diagnosis and trying to break the stigma around that. It's got a perfect five-star rating on Amazon with 85+ reviews.
Anyone who watches the show knows that Bobby is a home-designing genius who TBF, does way more work in a week than any of the other Fab Five. Seriously, the way he manages to transform those houses is amazing and so many of us would kill to have him redesign our homes. That may be pretty impossible given his schedule and the fact that he is now a highly in-demand designer, but we’re in luck. While his furniture line is no longer available, he does have a partnership with Tempaper Designs for wallpaper! The wallpapers include really fun -- but not over the top -- patterns, bold colors, and the best part? It’s all temporary!
The third episode of season one opens as usual, with the Fab Five driving to meet their hero. Except, it takes a turn for the terrifying when a cops pulls them over randomly. Of course, Karamo was driving, and didn’t have his license on him. Everyone knows about the extremely troubling relationship between cops and people of color, especially in the South, where they film Queer Eye. “Are they gonna immediately just harass us [Karamo and Tan], just because of who we are? People at home, who’ve never got to see that, are gonna get a small glimpse of what that is,” Karamo explains to IndieWire. Apparently, the whole set-up made Tan threaten to quit the show!
If you live in New York City or plan to visit there sometime soon, you should head to Antoni’s restaurant, The Village Den. Nestled on a tree-lined street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, the restaurant serves up casual fast food. But it’s fast-casual with a twist — it’s healthy. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it can’t or won't taste good, though. The Village Den caters to different diets: paleo, vegan, and even keto. But one thing it doesn’t do is skimp on flavor. There are breakfast bowls, hearty salads, and updated versions of the classic TV dinner. Unfortunately it only has a three-star review on Yelp, even though everything looks delicious.
This should definitely not come as a surprise given his peppy personality, but yes, Jonathan Van Ness was once a high school cheerleader. Ever the game changer, he was actually the first male cheerleader at his school, Quincy Senior High School. Of course he would be the person to break down such barriers, given what we know about his strong personality and the way he easily subverts gender norms and stereotypes! He later attended the University of Arizona on a cheerleading scholarship (there are very few male cheerleaders) but he lost his scholarship because he didn’t like attending class. Apparently, he preferred to watch reruns of The Golden Girls! Looks like that worked out just fine for him.
Tan's given name was Tanweer Safdar and he was born to his Punjabi Pakistani parents in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. After studying fashion at Doncaster College, he moved to Manchester. After leaving Manchester, he headed to London, arguably a much better place to study fashion, which is where he lived before moving to the United States. His English sophistication always comes through on the show, but sometimes his accent can be hard to place because he seems so well-traveled. Even when he’s being insulting, he sounds totally cute!
Instagram / @karamo
Karamo went to high school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas back in the '90s. After the shooting in 2019 where 17 students were killed, he was one of the many celebrities who rallied behind the school and supported its students. "You know, not only as an alum, but also as a parent now, thinking about those precious lives that were lost, it means it’s time for change. Enough is enough,” he told Entertainment Tonight at the March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C. "To see that school, my high school, on television, and students be running out of the same hallways that I used to walk around gleefully broke my heart."
Bobby may be a design genius, but he’s only human. During some episodes of Queer Eye, he's building rooms from scratch or completely remodeling an entire house! It forces a lot of people to wonder how he can do all that in the same time it takes Antoni to teach somehow how to make guacemole. (No hate, Antoni.) But that's actually a behind-the-scene secret of the show -- he simply cannot work in the time parameters of Queer Eye, so he receives measurements and details for the houses in advance of filming. This way, he has time to order custom fixtures or things (like windows!) that need to be bought more than three days in advance. "I would get a little one-sheet on the guys or the guys and their families,” he explained to Architectural Digest. Then, he and his team work around the clock to make sure the house is ready for the big reveal at the end of the time with the heroes.
Instagram / Queer Eye
While discussing differences between Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and its more modern reboot, Bobby explained to Variety, “We had more time, logistically and literally, to go deeper than what they did in the first round." Since the show is on Netflix and doesn’t have commercials, they have more time to fill. Even then, we’re just seeing a little bit of the time the heroes spend with the Fab Five. In an Instagram Story Q&A, Bobby said that they usually meet the heroes on a Tuesday morning, and they’re doing the big reveal by Friday morning. It’s kind of frantic and fast paced, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bobby and his hubby, Dewey Do, are seriously adorbs. If you follow Bobby on Instagram (as you should!), you can see pictures of the two together like, all the time. Though we don’t know much about Dewey (he keeps a super low profile, and his Instagram is set to private) we do know a little bit from what Bobby shares publicly - like the fact that they've been married for six years but they've been together for 14! They also got married as soon as it became legal, he revealed on Instagram.
Yeah, it seems like a very unlikely pairing. But Tan’s husband is, in fact, a gay Mormon. According to the fashionista, his husband Rob France is a gay, Mormon cowboy. He’s also a very talented artist. "It made it easier to date somebody who had similarities to me. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke. We practice some of our religions’ practices. We don’t practice them all. We practice what works for us,” he told the New York Post. According to Tan, Rob didn’t propose to him, and he didn’t propose to Rob either. They just decided to get married and that was that. They might not be a super conventional couple, but what is "conventional" nowadays, anyhow?
Between the first two seasons of Queer Eye, Karamo and his then-boyfriend, director Ian Jordan got engaged. In May of 2018, Karamo got down on one knee and popped the question in front of their friends and family (and yes, the other members of the Fab Five!). Using Ian’s birthday as an excuse, Karamo threw a massive party to celebrate a special night. But while Ian thought they were celebrating another wrinkle on the birthday suit, Karamo knew they'd be celebrating their engagement! After a special video and a speech by Karamo’s son, the culture expert asked Jordan to marry him. Of course, he said yes. They have adorable matching engagement rings.
Instagram / Anthony Porowski
On the original iteration of Queer Eye, all the Fab Five members were white, gay men. But this reboot reflects more of the diversity we see in the day-to-day, which includes Antoni's sexual fluidity. “I’ve always considered myself a little more fluid along the spectrum,” he told Gay Times in a feature from April 2018. “So even being called bisexual… I remember in my early twenties I was like, ‘But bisexual means I can only like girls and guys, what if I like something else?’.” Considering the show is called Queer Eye and not something like Gay Eye, it makes sense that at least one of the cast doesn’t identify strictly as one thing. Most recently, Antoni was in a relationship with a man, but clearly, he’s more interested in their personality and their heart than what's between their legs.
Antoni is not the only one in the cast who's giving a bit more diversity to the gender and sexuality spectrum on Queer Eye! The 32-year-old told Out Magazine that as he's grown older he's realized that he's "non-binary" or "gender nonconforming." “Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman... I think my energies are really all over the place” he told the publication. Though JVN continues to go by he/him pronouns, he says he's totally fine with she/her or they/them. Just do you, honey!
Our patron saint of fabulousness is so much more than just a hair guru. If you’ve ever watched Jonathan, you know he’s hilarious. So it’s not surprising that he would take his natural ability to make people laugh and put it on stage. He has been touring around the country doing stand-up comedy since last year (he did a 10-date tour via Hotels.com), but now he’s mounting a bigger tour called Road to Beijing. The tour takes its name from his recent foray into figure skating — his goal is to become a good enough figure skater to participate in the 2020 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Even though they only first met at the audition for Queer Eye, the Fab Five are now the very best of friends. "It’s like a fraternity," Jonathan claimed, via Bustle. Tan is equally amazed at the intensity of their bond as the Fab Five. “I never expected that these idiots would become some of my favorite people on this planet, but they are,” he said in an interview with Glamour. In the same interview, Jonathan also stated, “I was not expecting to actually walk away from [our set in] Atlanta with people who are in my life. And these boys are in my life.” Aww!