Bravo's third 'Queer Eye' season to begin with makeover of five Boston Red Sox players
By Wade Paulsen, 03/17/2005
Will Bravo's Emmy-winningQueer Eye for the Straight Guy be able to regain the cache that made it one of the hottest shows on TV two years ago by turning its gaze to ... sports?
In a special third-season premiere scheduled to air on June 7, Bravo's "Fab Five" will perform makeovers on five key members of the 2004 World Series champions Boston Red Sox. As first envisioned a few weeks ago, Queer Eye's makeover negotiations had centered solely on Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Kevin Millar -- a player considered to be one of the team's wackier members -- but by the time the episode was filmed at the team's Fort Myers spring training location it included Millar, catchers Jason Varitek and Doug Mirabelli, pitcher Tim Wakefield and centerfielder/"rock star" Johnny Damon.
Damon, who coined the term "idiots" to describe the world championship team, had a special limitation in his makeover contract, according to the Boston Herald. Kyan Douglas, the personal grooming guru of the Fab Five, wasn't allowed to shorten Damon's Samson-length hair or change its caveman look, because Damon is under contract to keep it "as is" until his upcoming IDIOT book is released later this year.
Despite that limitation, the Fab Five found plenty of other ways to remake the Red Sox players, who made baseball history in October by breaking the team's 86-year World Series championship drought and becoming the first major league baseball team ever to win a best-of-7 series in which it was down 3-0 (no previous team had even gotten back to 3-3). The makeover even turned a little painful when the Fab Five started "manscaping" the players by removing some of their excess body hair. Fab Five fashion maven Carson Kressley told the Boston Herald's Inside Track that "we'll be manscaping for days!", and executive producer David Metzler said that "although I had always hoped to meet the Red Sox, I never dreamed that I'd be highlighting their hair or waxing their backs."
The waxing took place in a spa designed by Fab Five interior designer Thom Filicia at the back of the press box in the Red Sox' Fort Myers, Florida spring ballpark, and the yelps of the waxed players could be heard by assembled media types. Sox captain Varitek had to be helicoptered to the spa after the team played an away game, so that he could also get the full "metrosexual" treatment from the Fab Five: Kyan, Carson, Thom, culinary expert Ted Allen and culture advisor Jai Rodriguez.
Carson, who said that he "love[d] a team named after a fashion accessory," picked out a variety of suits for the Sox players' "reveal" after Wednesday's Sox victory over their World Series opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Herald's Inside Track said that Millar was "channeling Thurston Howell III," while Damon "moonwalked down the third base line to home plate,"
Following the "reveal," the Sox players and the Fab Five teamed up to play a two-inning benefit game against a little-league team from Port Charlotte that had its field destroyed by Florida's series of powerful hurricanes last year. Like the Sox, the field also got a makeover from the Fab Five.
At one time, six Sox players had been lined up for makeovers but the sixth -- third baseman Bill Mueller -- withdrew at the last moment, apparently fearful of his edited reality TV image. However despite Mueller's last minute reluctance, the other players involved seemed comfortable with the project and even went out of their way to cooperate.
Spread out over a three day period between March 14-16, the shoot featured several events, including one in which Millar and team publicist Glenn Geffner accompanied the Fab Five to a local fundraiser with food. However, unbeknownst to the Sox (according, again, to the Boston Herald), the fundraiser was for "Veggie U," a group that promotes a meatless diet for children, and no meat was on the premises. Millar, a spokesperson for Kentucky Fried Chicken in Boston, joked that he was going to go order a steak, while Geffner finally left the party to pick up a bucket of The Colonel's finest.
Whether the appeal to sports fans will help revitalize Queer Eye's third season remains to be seen. After exploding during its first season, the show's second-season ratings experienced a double-digit percentage drop, opening the door for critics to now feel free to describe the show's format in negative terms.
For example, Jay McCarroll, the winner of Bravo's most recent water cooler show, Project Runway, recently told The Advocate that he had "auditioned" for Queer Eye back when he was in New York City, trying to leave his job with an online porn site. However than looking at the situation as an opportunity that worked out for the best for everyone, Jay instead opted to deride the series, telling the magazine that "After seeing the show come out, I'm like, 'Thank God I did not get on this, because if I had to go down to Gay Street next to Straight Street and have to be a part of the Fab Five and say "Cheers, Queers," I'd kill myself. '"
Part of Queer Eye's ratings problem may be that the show seems somewhat anachronistic just two years after its release -- two years in which gay marriage has become fully legal in one state (Massachusetts) and in which courts in three other states (Washington, New York and California) have struck down laws preventing gay marriage. The vision of gays shown in Queer Eye, which often was characterized as "mainstreaming gays" just two years, now may appear to be too stereotyped -- as many people contended (albeit anonymously) when it launched. In Jay's words, "gay community and culture has become such a clonefest" -- and Queer Eye isn't part of the solution.
On the other hand, stereotypes have been the basis of scripted TV situation comedies ever since the days of I Love Lucy. Thus, perhaps all the Fab Five need are some situations that allow more humor to be worked into the situation ... such as, perhaps, having five somewhat-effeminate fashionista types hang around with five rock-'em, sock-'em baseball players.