Queer Eye’s hand­some cul­ture guru over­hauled his own life long be­fore he set his sights on the lives of strangers. He shows us how

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Beauty -

KARAMO BROWN loves be­ing Queer Eye’s res­i­dent ‘cul­ture’ guy, but he’s very aware most peo­ple don’t ac­tu­ally know what that means. Af­ter two sea­sons of the Net­flix re­boot, fans are of­fi­cially be­sot­ted with the 37­year­old thanks to his im­mac­u­late style, ridicu­lous good looks and life­chang­ing wis­dom. They just aren’t sure ex­actly what his job is.

‘I’m a trained psy­chother­a­pist and a so­cial worker,’ Karamo tells Cosmo. ‘A lot of peo­ple don’t know that be­cause my cul­ture ti­tle is mis­lead­ing – they don’t re­ally know my job on the show is to fix the in­side – the heart and the mind.’

It’s true that Karamo’s on­screen mo­ments with the show’s makeover sub­jects are of­ten the most pow­er­ful, cathar­tic and, oc­ca­sion­ally, emo­tional to watch.

‘Most of the cry­ing comes with me,’ he says, laugh­ing.

‘I’m the one who has to fig­ure out what the emo­tional is­sues are and fix them within four days!’

Karamo is par­tic­u­larly good at this be­cause he’s had his own emo­tional is­sues to fix in the past, some­thing he’s in­cred­i­bly open about. The re­al­ity star at­tempted sui­cide in 2006, and cred­its two of his best friends with sav­ing his life by find­ing him and call­ing an am­bu­lance.

‘I think what got me through was just see­ing all the peo­ple around me sup­port­ing me and lov­ing me,’ he re­calls.

Thank­fully, these days, by his own ad­mis­sion, he’s op­er­at­ing at peak ca­pac­ity in the hap­pi­ness depart­ment.

‘Every sin­gle minute of every day it goes be­tween ex­treme hap­pi­ness or happy cry­ing be­cause none of us could imag­ine that every sin­gle thing we’ve

ever wanted in life would be hap­pen­ing,’ Karamo says.

Given he’s helped so many men turn their lives around on the show, we asked Karamo if he’d mind shar­ing some of the things he’s learnt in his own pur­suit of hap­pi­ness.


‘The big­gest thing I help peo­ple re­alise on the show is there’s a lot of power in lan­guage,’ Karamo ex­plains.

‘When we get to dark spa­ces in our own heads we think, “No one could un­der­stand, I’m alone”. These neg­a­tive nar­ra­tives play over and over in our heads.’

Karamo says shift­ing his own in­ter­nal mono­logue took prac­tise, but now he does it with ease.

‘The lan­guage you say to other peo­ple and the lan­guage you say to your­self can change ev­ery­thing. This is some­thing I prac­tise con­sis­tently.’

An­other harm­ful ac­tiv­ity is crit­i­cis­ing your­self be­fore oth­ers can do it, he says.

‘I have a lot of friends I try to work with who will beat peo­ple to the punch of say­ing some­thing neg­a­tive about them,’ he says.

‘When some­one com­pli­ments me, I take a mo­ment to process it and I’m grate­ful.’


In the era of self­pro­mo­tion, it can of­ten feel like there’s a fine line be­tween con­fi­dence and ar­ro­gance.

So how can you recog­nise your own achieve­ments with­out put­ting peo­ple off­side? Karamo has a fail­safe so­lu­tion.

‘Jonathan [Van Ness] and I say this all the time, “Com­par­i­son is the thief of joy”,’ he ex­plains.

‘When you’re in the space where you can ver­ify your own self, that means you’re proud of what you’ve done and you feel wor­thy, but com­par­i­son is where the ego starts to come in... and that’s where it veers into ar­ro­gance. Tear­ing other peo­ple down to make your­self feel bet­ter is not healthy,’ he says.


Karamo says while life is pretty sweet, his main source of stress is bal­anc­ing a hec­tic work sched­ule with his fam­ily, which in­cludes his two sons, his par­ents and his fi­ancé. He says it’s a par­tic­u­lar kind of guilt most hard­work­ing peo­ple can iden­tify with.

‘I’m go­ing af­ter my dreams and my dreams are im­por­tant to me, but you’re giv­ing more time and en­ergy to some­thing than you used to give to your fi­ancé and your kids,’ he says.

‘I com­mu­ni­cate to them that I feel guilty about this, and give them a space to say how they feel. We then come to a com­pro­mise where I still find mo­ments to spend time with them.’


While Karamo recog­nises phys­i­cal fit­ness is im­por­tant, he’s more fo­cussed on men­tal fit­ness and hav­ing a good time. One thing the busy fa­ther­of­two finds time to do every day is have a scant­ily­clad boo­gie ses­sion.

‘Whether morn­ing, night or af­ter­noon, I will strip down to my un­der­wear and turn on my iPhone and dance for five or six min­utes,’ he says.

‘It gets my heart rate go­ing, gets en­dor­phins puls­ing, and I feel silly which is great.’


To man­age the hum­drum of the daily grind, it helps to have some­thing to look for­ward to. For Karamo, that’s his wed­ding to ‘the love of his life’, di­rec­tor Ian Jor­dan.

‘I got en­gaged on May 9 this year but I’ve been plan­ning my wed­ding since I was eight years old,’ he ad­mits.

‘I’ve al­ready booked the venue. The wed­ding won’t be un­til 2020 be­cause we will hope­fully be shoot­ing Queer Eye for a while, but trust and be­lieve it is go­ing to be lav­ish. I can’t lie; I’m try­ing to ri­val the roy­als.’

Be­fore his wed­ding, Karamo has an­other big fam­ily event on the cards: a trip to Paris for Christ­mas.

‘When I was a psy­chother­a­pist I was mak­ing a de­cent liv­ing to sup­port my fam­ily, but not a lot. I al­ways wanted to do some­thing ex­trav­a­gant and this is the first time in my life I can af­ford to,’ he ex­plains.

‘So I just bought tick­ets for all my fam­ily to go to Paris over the Christ­mas hol­i­days. I got us a big place with 12 rooms and I’m or­gan­is­ing a chef. Bobby [Berk, Queer Eye’s de­sign ex­pert] might be show­ing up be­cause I in­vited all the guys. Bobby and I are re­ally close. I’m so ex­cited.’

That’s a fast track to hap­pi­ness if we’ve ever heard one.

‘The lan­guage you say to your­self and oth­ers can change ev­ery­thing’



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