leah mc­fall

Thanks to this Net­flix show, I want to re­fash­ion my un­stylish, un­ad­ven­tur­ous life. The best place to be­gin is the pantry. Queer Eye of Karori

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

You’re go­ing to love this. It turns out you should be get­ting a man­i­cure ev­ery se­cond week, if you con­sider your­self a well-put-to­gether hu­man be­ing, and a pedi­cure once a month. Oh, and I’m not talk­ing to the ladies, ei­ther. I’m talk­ing to the menz.

I learned this from the trend­ing Net­flix series Queer Eye. (You’ve never watched it? Shut the front door!) It’s a makeover show for men with no style, taste, suc­cess or sex life, who are ag­gres­sively im­proved within a week by five in­sis­tent gay men.

Queer Eye last screened in the Noughties but now it, too, has been re­fash­ioned. The cast is ba­si­cally the same. One of the five is al­ways flam­boy­ant; one cares more about fin­ger food than you ever thought pos­si­ble; one car­ries fab­ric swatches ev­ery­where; one be­lieves it’s only what’s on the inside that counts, which is ironic be­cause he looks like some­thing Michelan­gelo spent 20 years carv­ing out of mar­ble; and the fifth is so fash­ion he’ll wear wide-brimmed pimp-style felted hats. Uniron­i­cally.

I’m telling you, these five men are the friends you never knew you needed. They breeze in, all giddy with horse­play, and toss around what­ever they find in the bach­e­lor’s grotty apart­ment. This usu­ally in­cludes some­thing crusty with ne­glect, like old pants or an 80s mi­crowave. Then they give him a shave, hair­cut and a pep talk, home-stage his house with thou­sands of dol­lars in new fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances, throw a party for his daz­zled friends and hook him up with a date.

So far, so for­mu­laic, you might think. But this isn’t just The Block for guile­less guys. For some rea­son – the hosts’ charisma, the crises of mas­culin­ity in ev­ery episode, or maybe just the pay-off of see­ing a damp base­ment turned into an artist’s loft (cop­per ac­cents re­ally do add so­phis­ti­ca­tion to any space) – this series de­mands your emo­tional in­vest­ment. Ev­ery­one who watches it re­ports cry­ing after­wards. Good grief, I’m welling up just think­ing about it.

Queer Eye has be­come my TV of choice when I’m at my most raw, spir­i­tu­ally vul­ner­a­ble, and re­cep­tive to per­sua­sive so­cial mes­sag­ing. As a par­ent of two young chil­dren, this is week­days at 5 o’clock. As I’m cook­ing a pro­tein, a starch and two veg­eta­bles (of which my chil­dren will re­ject the starch and veg­eta­bles), I flip open the iPad and tune in.

Jonathan, the un­abashedly camp one, has dragged his con­ser­va­tive vic­tim, Rem­ing­ton, into a nail bar.

“OK,” he says, shak­ing his long hair like a frisky pony, “you get to make up the per­fect per­son to bring to a desert is­land. For­ever. Mine would have, like, the phys­i­cal form of The Rock with the per­son­al­ity of Justin Trudeau.” Rem­ing­ton looks blank, so Jonathan adds: “The Prime Min­is­ter of Canada.”

The man­i­curists don’t laugh but Jonathan doesn’t care. He gal­lops joy­fully through life, scat­ter­ing any­one afraid of horses. When he ap­proves of some­thing he shouts: “Yaaas, queen!” Usu­ally about five times an episode.

The true star of Queer Eye is Karamo. He’s in charge of get­ting each an­ti­hero to fo­cus on the prize, which is suc­cess. It might be busi­ness suc­cess (Karamo will build you a web­site), mov­ing on from be­reave­ment (Karamo will make you a photo al­bum), or sex­ual heal­ing (Karamo will dial a lady’s num­ber and guide you through the call).

I love Karamo so I looked him up on Twit­ter, where he shares in­spi­ra­tional mini-videos fea­tur­ing him­self (trust me, if you were tak­ing the ideal per­son to a desert is­land, they would have the phys­i­cal form of Karamo with the per­son­al­ity of Karamo).

In my favourite of his videos, he says: “The next time you get [any] neg­a­tive mes­sages, look in the mir­ror and say, ‘You know what? I am per­fectly de­signed. I am per­fectly de­signed.’ Next time some­one tries to say those mes­sages to you, have in the back of your mind I am per­fectly de­signed. Be­cause, trust me: you are.”

Thanks to this, I want to re­fash­ion my un­stylish, un­ad­ven­tur­ous life. The best place to be­gin is the pantry, which rep­re­sents my sub­con­scious. My nuts are jum­bled to­gether, I’ve started to buy vac­uum packs of pre-cooked rice (the devil’s work) and my freezedried emer­gency food is tak­ing up too much space.

“Honey,” yelps Jonathan. “What are we wait­ing for, a plague of lo­custs?”

“We’re putting all this into vin­tage glass jars,” soothes Karamo. “Let’s re­turn op­ti­mism to your life.”

“Who would you take to a desert is­land?” whin­nies Jonathan. “Michael Bublé,” I say. “It’s like you could have any ice­cream flavour you wanted,” says Karamo, “but you choose vanilla ev­ery time.”

“This is Karori,” I point out. “But OK. The phys­i­cal form of Tony Cur­tis with the per­son­al­ity of Win­ston Churchill.” Jonathan looks blank, so I add: “The wartime Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter.”

“Yaaas, queen!” he shouts. “Yaaaas!”

“Queer Eye has be­come my TV of choice when I’m at my most spir­i­tu­ally vul­ner­a­ble. This is week­days at 5 o’clock.”

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