ABOVE PHOTO: Jai Rodriguez. (Shutterstock.com)
By Kharisma McIlwaine
Earlier than there was “Venture Runway” and “The Actual Housewives,” Bravo launched the world to “Queer Eye for the Straight Man.” “Queer Eye” premiered in July 2003 and featured 5 brazenly homosexual males who have been specialists of their respective fields: Ted Allen, the “Meals and Wine Connoisseur”; Kyan Douglass, the “Grooming Guru,” skilled in hair, private hygiene and make-up; Thom Filicia, the “Design Physician,” skilled of inside design and residential group; Carson Kressley, the “Vogue Savant,” the skilled of style and private styling and Jai Rodriguez, the “Tradition Vulture,” skilled of popular culture and social interactions. Every episode crafted a tailor-made plan to drastically revamp one consumer’s life in all 5 areas. “Queer Eye” grew to become an prompt traditional and continues to be a supply of nostalgia for its followers.
After 20 years, the enduring “Fab 5” are reuniting for a one evening solely dwell occasion known as “An Night with the Fab 5- 20 Years Later.” Jai Rodriguez spoke with the SUN about his journey within the leisure enterprise, the cultural significance of the present and his pleasure about reuniting along with his Bravo castmates.
Rodriguez is the epitome of a multihyphenate. The New York native is an Emmy Award-winning TV persona, Broadway star, New York Instances bestselling creator, singer, and actor.
“I’ve simply been round for a very very long time — like 26 years doing this,” he stated. For those who stick round lengthy sufficient stuff will occur. I grew up within the suburbs of Lengthy Island and I noticed relations that made life decisions that simply made sense for them.”
“Performing in church and college, I’d suppose I’m getting leads in stuff and thought, ‘Am I good? Let me discover out I’m good’,” Rodriguez continued. “I went to a performing highschool junior and senior yr and received the coaching I’d’ve gotten in my freshman and sophomore yr of faculty, had I gone for musical theater. Actually proper out of highschool, I auditioned for “Lease” and received that. That actually began my profession. It gave me quite a lot of self-discipline to start out with theater first after which go into tv and all of it occurred organically.”
When “Queer Eye” first premiered on Bravo, it was a very a groundbreaking expertise for viewers. It was additionally a totally surprising expertise for Rodriguez.
“I had been doing “Lease” for about 5 years,” he recalled. “I’m leaving, I’m doing an off-Broadway play, a film, I’m build up my resume, however “Lease” is the gig. I’m, like, ‘I’ll be again, y’all.’ They stated, ‘Go do this venture and are available again.’ I had taken 6 months off of “Lease.” Which means your pay goes from cute to hardly something. I needed to transfer in with pals and dwell of their guestroom. The bed room was so small, I’d open the door and hit the mattress.”
“Then I get this name,” Rodriguez continued. “They want you to go in for this factor, they don’t actually know what it’s, [but] it’s important to be brazenly homosexual. A nightlife skilled was what I used to be first advised, so I didn’t have a reference. So, I went in and met with this lady. She stated stroll me by means of a verbal date as a divorced dad dwelling on Lengthy Island. What would we do right here within the metropolis? Now as a 23-year-old homosexual boy who had been across the block in New York, I knew cute stuff. I knew New York just like the again of my hand, so I used to be capable of stroll her by means of these actually distinctive experiences.”
Rodriguez’s distinctive information led him to audition in entrance of producers from NBC, Bravo, Andy Cohen and two males who would later change into his future castmates.
“I known as my agent, and stated, ‘I’m not getting this, I’m fully humiliated.’ I’m at my dressing room at work, placing on my make-up for the present,” he stated. “He calls and says, ‘you begin Monday — I suppose you didn’t do this unhealthy.’ Carson and Ted have been there to do a chemistry take a look at — no person advised me that. I believed they have been auditioning for this job. I begin the present, and nonetheless didn’t know what we have been doing. All of us figured it out collectively, realized and helped create the present, which is why we every have Emmys. We have been hosts, however in some ways, we have been artistic producers of our personal phase, and doing “Queer Eye” taught us to be greater than only a host.”
From the floor, “Queer Eye” might seem like only a enjoyable present that explored etiquette, style, tradition, and the fantastic thing about an ideal makeover. In actuality, its platform offered a secure area and a possibility for a marginalized group to be represented within the mainstream.
“I’m actually grateful that Andy Cohen took an opportunity,” Rodriguez stated. “For higher or worse, I used to be one of many first. There have been a small handful of out queer actors at the moment. Many of the actors enjoying homosexual weren’t out of the closet themselves. So, in 2003, right here I’m pondering, ‘I’m on TV, all these doorways are going to be open.’ They’re, like, “No — you’re Latin and also you’re a bit effeminate.’ The containers that I examine for variety now weren’t thought of property then. This can be a lovely evolution into there’s at all times work to be accomplished, however we have now come a great distance. I’m blessed that for me the commerce — the “value it” half — is the lives that have been modified and the conversations that individuals may have, as a result of as a household, they watched the present. They knew homosexual individuals now and so they welcomed them into their home each Tuesday evening.”
Twenty years later, the “Fab 5” are reuniting for a one evening solely occasion to mirror on the laughs, classes, and the brotherhood they constructed whereas the world watched.
“I’m completely satisfied to report that we’re all right here and dwelling our respective finest lives,” Rodriguez stated. “I feel one of many coolest issues is, this was my model of faculty. So, I’m reuniting with my fraternity. It’s like this lovely expertise that y’all received a window into. I’ve by no means accomplished one other present that has that type of chemistry! You possibly can’t train it, we didn’t strive — it simply occurred. That’s why this reunion present goes to be insane. We’re doing makeovers, I’m singing two songs… it’s a full present. Once you create one thing like this as grownups, you do really feel the necessity to nurture it. These guys are like household. Individuals at all times ask if we’re finest pals and we’re, like, ‘No, we’re brothers.’”
“That is our strategy to join with the followers in actual time — and never only for you guys to see us do one thing enjoyable, however for us to say thanks, as a result of y’all supported us at a time the place it was not at all times cool to face up for queer of us,” he stated
You should definitely comply with Rodriguez throughout social media platforms @jairodriguez. “An Night With The Fab 5 – 20 Years Later” will happen on December 16 on the Wind Creek Occasion Heart in Bethlehem, Pa. To buy tickets, go to: www.windcreekeventcenter.com/occasions.