Bobby Berk of ‘Queer Eye’ on how the show pays it forward for LGBTQ youth
Bobby Berk of Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ drops by the Los Angeles Times video studio for an Envelope Emmy Contenders chat with Yvonne Villarreal.
It’s hard to watch Netflix’s “Queer Eye” and not go running out to upgrade your wardrobe, your skin care, whatever. The cast’s interior design guru Bobby Berk says even the cast members aren’t immune.
“Right after filming Season 1 and 2, Karamo [Brown, the show’s culture and lifestyle expert] and Jonathan [Van Ness, grooming] — I think Jonathan even had it done before we left — had their houses redone. Because after seeing, not how easy it is,” he said with a face indicating it’s anything but easy, “but seeing how having your home designed well can really affect your life and affect your happiness, and affect your mental health, they were like, ‘We need to fix our place up, too!’
“Karamo did a lot of the work himself — so he says — I didn’t personally witness it, so the jury’s still out. Jonathan called his ex-boyfriend, who is also a designer, that’s still good friends with him, and he’s like, ‘You’ve gotta have my house all pretty by the time I get home.’ Antoni’s place is beautiful; Antoni [Porowsky, food and wine] has impeccable taste. Tan [France, fashion] has impeccable taste. So their homes — no, I wouldn’t do a thing to them.”
Berk is responsible for the stunning transformations undergone by subjects’ living spaces on “Queer Eye,” which dropped Season 3 this year. The show recently cleaned up at the Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards, with four trophies, including for its ensemble cast and as the best unscripted show in its genre.
The interior design expert also proved a kind soul when Times writer Yvonne Villarreal asked him if he had tips for the spartan Los Angeles Times video studio when he dropped by for an Emmy Contenders chat.
“Yes,” he said, exhibiting restraint. “Do something.” He laughed richly.
He did praise the chairs.
While “Queer Eye” has obvious, visible effects on its subjects — the sometimes unlikely folks who’ve agreed to let this new Fab Five rearrange aspects of their lives — Berk cited the show’s impact off-camera as being perhaps even more meaningful to him.
“My favorite stories I’m getting [are] the ministers who will message me and come up to me in public and say, ‘You know, my whole life, I was taught that being gay was a choice and it was wrong and you’re going to hell,’ ” he said, with a distasteful facial contortion, “ ‘and you were evil, and I have also taught that in my church and my congregation. And hearing you say on the Mama Tammye episode that you used to cry every Sunday and every single day, begging God not to make you gay, yet you’re still gay, made me realize it wasn’t a choice. And that gay people don’t have a choice and they are born that way. I’ll never preach that hate in my church again.’
“So knowing that our show has been able to do just that, to where, even if it’s just one kid who doesn’t have to grow up feeling self-hate, that as LGBT youth, growing up when we did, had to feel — you know, you’re taught to hate yourself. You’re taught to believe that you are wrong and you are broken. So if one more kid doesn’t have to grow up like that, then … it’s worth it all.”
To see this entire interview, click on the video below.
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