By Brendan Lemon
One of the last queer clich�s to be toppled, right up there with the one about how we don�t score touchdowns in the NFL, is the notion that gay guys aren�t handy around the home. According to the reigning TV-abetted mythology, we tell the world what color to make that new bedroom, but we leave the construction of it to the straight guy�or the lesbian.
Todd Oldham is proof to the contrary. This 43-year-old Texas-reared designer, who came to public attention in the late �80s with his fashion shows and became famous through his appearances on MTV�s House of Style in the �90s, is right at the top on the scale of around-the-house handiness.
�I�m a definite 10. I can do anything,� Oldham says during a conversation at his design studio in New York�s SoHo neighborhood, arranged to give a preview of his upcoming book, Handmade Modern, to be published in March. There will be a related television program, which will be a hybrid of This Old House and Trading Spaces. �The pure how-to programs are boring,� Oldham says, �and the swap-and-redo shows create a lot of false tension, which has gotten a little tired. I want to bring personality to the program and fun, but also do projects that people at home can accomplish without calling in professionals. Not everyone has as much practice as I do.�
So how did Oldham get to be so useful around the house?
�Well, my family is super handy,� Oldham replies. �Both my parents spent a lot of time teaching me and my three siblings how to do everything. We were always working with our hands. I never remember anyone saying, �Let�s sit down and watch TV.� We were always doing something�building a fort, wiring something. One time the six of us even put an addition on to our house."
Such a supremely American, can-do mentality has been a hallmark of Oldham�s career. After a decade in fashion, where he dressed stars like Susan Sarandon and his good friend Amy Sedaris, he closed his rag-trade business in 1999 and moved on. He designed nightclubs and hotels, partnered with Target on a line of dorm-room products, and photographed for magazines like Nest. This year he launched a home and furniture line for La-Z-Boy, and a retail store carrying those items, the first of several outlets, will soon open in New York.
For more on Todd Oldham, pick up the November issue of Out.
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