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2003: Catching Up With Carson Kressley

Carson Kressley
Rainer Hosch (Kressley)

The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy alum recalls the show’s runaway success—and heralds its return.

For 25 years, OUT has celebrated queer culture. To mark our silver jubilee, we look back at some of the biggest, brightest moments of the past 9,131 days.

On Beginnings:

"The opportunity to do Queer Eye came to me serendipitously. At the time, I was a stylist for Ralph Lauren, and one of our shoot producers had heard about the show and thought I should try out for it. Until then I thought Bravo was a non-stick cooking spray. But the rest is history!"

On the show's title:

"Even I thought it may have been too much for mainstream America, but I have to give credit to the show creators and producers, David Metzler and David Collins. This gay/straight duo received a lot of resistance from the networks--many of whom passed on the show--about the name. But David was adamant, citing that one of the definitions of 'queer' was 'extraordinary' and 'seeing things from a different point of view.' It felt pretty good to hear fans exclaim, 'Oh, my gosh, there's that queer guy!' with such sheer positivity."

On Stereotypes:

"Yes, our areas of expertise may have been stereotypically gay, but we were real guys just being ourselves. That is the power of reality television. People embrace you for who you are. And that is also the power of being out. When you're out and visible, people can identify with you--they realize we are more alike than not, and that our rights are just as important and deserved as their own. It creates allies. And if having great taste is a gay stereotype, I'll take that as a compliment!"

On Success:

"Five seasons and 100 episodes is very hard to achieve in show business today. I think we were all surprised and delighted by the show's success. It had heart. And we had a strong format, a fabulous production team, and the best crew ever. Authenticity was key."

On Queer eye's upcoming Return:

"If there are still mullets and pleated khakis, there's still work to be done! More important, it will be great for America to fall in love with five new gay faces that are good at what they do, and also doing good. Now, more than ever, we need to be out and visible."

On His Drag Name:

"Leesa New Sonata. My dad is a car dealer and it just came to me one day when I saw it painted on the showroom window!"

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