It turns out that a conference call with two members of Queer Eye‘s Fab Five is just as delightful as the Netflix series itself—especially if it involves chef Antoni Porowski repeatedly (and lovingly) chastising fashion expert Tan France for hopping on the line a few minutes late. HelloGiggles spoke with the respective kings of avocados and the French tuck over the holidays, ahead of Queer Eye‘s Season 3 release on Friday, March 15th. Our conversation touched on everything from their partnership with Excedrin to the fivesome’s immediate friendship at the Netflix auditions—before any of them even knew if they’d booked the job.
Antoni and Tan opened up about their most moving experiences on the set of Season 3 (one episode centers on the first lesbian woman of the series), how Jonathan Van Ness and Bobby Berk’s falsettos make them cringe (which JVN finds deeply, deeply offensive), and the last thing they texted each other in their group chat. But before you continue, Tan would like to clarify that he is rarely, if ever, late, and Antoni would like to remind you that, personally, he was on time.
HelloGiggles (HG): We know the Fab Five loves each other—but you also have to spend a lot of time together. Who in the Fab Five gives you the biggest headache?
Antoni Porowski (AP): You’re starting a war. So I would have to say…actually, I’ll give you a perfect example of one. It was, I think, our second week of filming. So I can be hyper and very extroverted, but it takes me a while to warm up in the morning. I need two coffees, maybe three, until I’m 100% Antoni. So I tend to be a little more quiet and very sensitive to loud noises. We were in the car, and Jonathan started belting out—he was sitting right behind me, and he was singing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. As much as I love her, that Canadian national treasure, Jonathan went to a really high note.
I had this reaction where I just basically put my fingers on my forehead, and I just kind of shriveled and scrunched in. He saw me do that, and he was so offended. Up until today, actually even a few weeks ago when we went to pick up his kitties at a little no-kill shelter, he reminded me that it was ‘the rudest thing that anyone had ever done to him in his life.’ He’s someone who was bullied growing up, and he still thought that the way that I treated him in that very moment was the meanest anyone in the history of the world has ever been to another person. So he continues to give me a headache reminding me about what a terrible person I was.
God love him, but he hasn’t given it up.
Tan France (TF): [conference line beeps] Hello? This is Tan.
AP: You’re very late. I had to save your ass, but it’s fine. I’ve been keeping them entertained.
TF: Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I don’t even know how that happened.
AP: Get over it, we’ve got questions to answer. I’m going to ask Tan the question. Which of the other Fab Five gives you a headache? If you say me, I’m coming down to your apartment and I’m going to slap you.
TF: Jonathan Van Ness, easy. Was he your answer too?
AP: No, don’t answer Jonathan. I already gave a very long, laborious answer about him. Pick someone else.
TF: Easy, I’m going to say Bobby Berk, the one and only. He hit this really, really high-pitched noise…super, super high-pitched singing—
AP: Oh my God, oh my God. You’re so right. It’s the highest falsetto you’ve ever heard in your life.
TF: It is legit the highest. The rest of his singing is great. He really does love singing. That’s a passion of his. But there’s just that one note that he hits that he knows gets every one of us every time.
AP: It’s not of this world. It doesn’t sound natural.
HG: How do you de-stress?
TF: So before [Queer Eye], I used to run a few businesses. It was actually super, super stressful. I used to tell myself, “This will pass.” Basically every time I used to get stressed at the start of a business, I said, “This can affect the rest of my life. This is going to come back to haunt me for the rest of my life. This is going to affect every decision I make for the next few months, years, whatever.” Then I realized, it doesn’t matter. I’ll move past it. It’s not that big of a deal. Sometimes I can’t see the wood for the trees. Just to say, “This will pass,” would help me get through it.
AP: So my technique is a lot more effective.
TF: Why does that not surprise me?
AP: We spend a lot of time in hotels of late, and I get really excited when there’s a bathtub because I take every single little sample. I don’t wash my hair with shampoo, but I’ve figured out a really good use for shampoo because it bubbles a lot. I take every shampoo sample then ask for five extra, and I dump them in a bathtub. I put in really hot water, and then I have my Julia Roberts Pretty Woman moment where I’m in the bathtub. Then I sit in the middle of the tub with my hands on my knees, and I sing at full blast either “Wonderwall” or “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. It calms me down immediately.
TF: Can I also add to that? [laughs]
AP: I’m not done, Tan.
Then after singing the song, I FaceTime Tan from the bathtub and I make him get in his bathtub and take his top off, so that we can both feel like we’re taking a bath together.
TF: That has happened on numerous occasions. That is actually true, and I do love those moments. I do love those moments. However, what I will say—
AP: Yeah, you do.
TF: I’ve got two things to mention on that. If you guys are thinking, oh my gosh, is Antoni sad? The answer is no, he’s not. He rarely likes to put himself in a position where you might see that as the case.
AP: You don’t know me. You don’t know my life.
TF: He’s got quite a happy, jolly life. Secondly, I thought you said what things do we SAY to ourselves—did you ask what we say to ourselves to feel better in a rough situation, or what we DO?
HG: Either or!
AP: Well, I actually answered both: My action is a bath. What do I say to myself? The lyrics of Liam and Noel Gallagher, maybe some of the most misrepresented, misunderstood British rock artists of the ’90s. So I answered both of them, Tan. You only answered one.
TF: Oh my god, he’s so cliché. Of course he used those two. We need to move on to the next question before I slap him.
HG: On the new season of Queer Eye, what story or hero has resonated with you the most?
TF: We had our first lesbian woman on this season, and it’s a really impactful episode. It’s a story we haven’t tackled on the show before. Every episode is not just about the person, it’s also the story that they have. Everybody has their obviously very unique story, and this is a story we haven’t shown before. It’s not just the fact that she’s a lesbian—it’s a much greater story that she has to tell. So that story is going to stay with me for a very long time and really change the way I see people in her position, who struggle with what she struggled with. That’s all I can say. I know that didn’t give you much. It’s only breadcrumbs, but she is somebody that I want you all to look out for next season. I think you’re going to be really, really impressed by that episode.
AP: The same woman had a really profound effect on me. I can’t say what it is, but we gifted her something at the end of the episode. When she saw this gift, she screamed and then she cried and had a very visceral response to it. I asked her why this gave her such an emotional response—it was a lovely gift, but it was something that a lot of people have. Her reaction was, “I never even imagined that I could have anything so beautiful that belonged to me. Now it’s mine, and I can’t believe it.” For somebody to express so much gratitude for something that I think a lot of people just take for granted, that really affected me. It’s something that I’m going to remember forever.
HG: Of all the people you’ve helped in the last two seasons of the show, who do you keep in touch with most often?
TF: I think that’s easy for both of us. Neal.
AP: Neal, yep.
AP: I think all of the heroes have taken on some of the lessons and evolved it and kind of adapted it to their preexisting lives. But with Neal especially—one, he has my cell phone number, so I get constant adorable little photos of his dog. But he’s really evolved…He’s doing things that we didn’t even teach him…He’s really taking [changes] into every facet of his life—redecorating his bathroom, the outfits that he wears, the type of meals that he prepares, entertaining, having friends over, going out and dating, pursuing his comedy career. He was in Vegas recently and had a couple of sold-out shows, I believe. So he has really taken on the Queer Eye mantras, and he’s really applied them to his life.
TF: That boy makes me laugh. If you can make me laugh, you’re probably going to stay in my life for a long time. He really has a great personality. Even through social media and through text message, he manages to make me giggle, and that really brightens my day.
HG: So we love the Fab Five’s “Crop Top Crew,” and we’re hoping you can give some fashion advice to our readers. If someone is self-conscious in crop tops, how can they feel more confident while wearing them?
TF: Sorry, Antoni, I realize that I’ve answered each question, but I’m trying to make up for the fact that I was so late…Can I just make one point? I’m usually one of the two people [of the Fab Five] who is always on time, so this is shocking that I’m late. Bobby and I are always on time.
AP: Oh, God. Can you just answer the question? Jesus Christ.
TF: [laughs] I just wanted to put that out there. So, the crop top crew…Me, Antoni, and Jonathan do wear crop tops. You will notice that, sometimes, I’m in a crop top, but I’m rarely, rarely exposing my midriff. That is always covered. So what I do is I can still wear the crop top and still feel great in it, but I just layer it with one other thing underneath. I started wearing crops a while ago because I really like layers, as many as possible, especially around fall and winter. So it was just a way to throw on another layer and be able to add proportions to my look. Then Antoni and Jonathan wanted to show off their bodies because they’re not as modest as I am.
AP: Nope. Why don’t you let me answer the question myself?
TF: Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
AP: Thank you, Tan. The crop top for me actually originated during the filming of the Betty Who video for the adaptation of the original theme to Queer Eye. Betty hadn’t arrived to set yet, and we had all of wardrobe there. Tan, being Tan, decided to go into Betty Who’s wardrobe uninvited. He found a Burberry corset that he decided to wear. Then, not being outdone, I found a hooded sweatshirt and decided that I had to one-up him and asked the stylist to basically cut the hoodie into two because I didn’t want Tan to outshine me. So I decided to go full crop.
TF: You should’ve added that you wanted to one-up me, but you didn’t know how to do it yourself—so you made me cut your crop top, not the stylist.
AP: Oh, yeah, that’s right. We held up the production, just like we’re holding up this interview. [laughs]
TF: [But if you’re self-conscious in a crop top], wear another top underneath. Wear a T-shirt, wear a tank top underneath, something like that. You’re still getting the look, but you’re not showing it off.
AP: My advice is if you’re going to do something that’s as bold as a crop top—which in a few years, yes, we probably will look back and say, “Oh my gosh, what was I thinking?”—whatever it is that you decide to wear, if it’s really experimental or a little avant garde for your sensibility, make sure that you own it. If you wear something ridiculous and you don’t own it, you’re not going to feel good. If you own it, you can pretty much pull off anything.
TF: I’ve learned that so many times this season. We’ve just got to say, “This is what I’ve chosen. Laugh all you want. This is what I’m wearing.”
HG: What is the last thing the Fab Five texted each other?
TF: Let me see. There’s a Fab Five group text. Did Antoni already mention that?
AP: Yeah, we have a group chat.
TF: We’ve had it since the first day of auditions. Let me see, let me see.
AP: We’re going to find this for you.
TF: Oh, the last one wasn’t interesting. But the text we sent before that was, “Does anyone have aspirin? My head is killing.”
AP: Excedrin, Tan. Excedrin. It’s Excedrin.
TF: Oh shit. Oh my God. You’re right. [laughs] …Truly, there actually always is Excedrin in our trailer. However, this person had been out recently, and they got shit-faced and were hungover. But I won’t say who it was.
HG: Does your group chat have a special name?
AP: Oh, it’s called Fab Five, and it was developed before any of us got the job [on Queer Eye].
HG: Really? Wow.
AP: You also want a fun fact that’s never been in any interview before? The five of us are all the babies [of our families]. We’re all the youngest of all our siblings.
TF: Yes, we just figured this out. It does stand to reason because we are all little brats, and we do love to say “I’m a baby” a thousand times a day when we’re working.
HG: Well, thank you both for taking time to speak with us today.
TF: Thank you so much. Sorry we couldn’t be more professional and get things done efficiently.
HG: You were perfect.
AP: Thank you. I’m not sorry because I was on time. But Tan apologizes.