Wester&Lacroix.Seeing Straight Throught the Queer Eye

Even more challenging to dominant norms are

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Unformatted text preview: ce little tight warm grip.’’ Carson comments, ‘‘I heard he’s hung like a bee.’’ These comments, while derisive, focus attention upon the male member of the straight man. Other straight clients are also teased about their sex life, or in some cases, lack thereof. For example, one client, Ari Vais, has a girlfriend who lives in London; when it is pointed out that he sees her only a few times a year, Thom hints that Ari must masturbate as a consequence of their geographic separation (Episode 134). While exploring Ari’s apartment, he calls out, ‘‘I found some tissues and hand lotion by the bed. Told ya.’’ In a variety of ways, then, the Fab Five transgress the bounds of what is ‘‘normally’’ sanctioned (within the context of conventional heterosexual social situations) in the ways they touch and tease their straight clients. Even more challenging to dominant norms are sociosexual behaviors that hint at homoeroticism. Playful Hints at the Homoerotic In the teasing dialogue of Queer Eye , much of the sexual humor exploits the use of double entendres. In one episode, when showing off client Michael Coffino in his new underwear, Carson wryly comments, ‘‘Everyone likes a nice basket, even when it’s not Easter’’ (Episode 128). In the John Williams episode, Carson playfully lifts the man’s kilt and observes, with a winking and salacious nod to a classic scene in American cinema, ‘‘It’s like The Seven Year Itch’’ 13 (Episode 138). This episode is filled with playfully prurient banter: Thom: Ted: ‘‘Guys like to stuff their meat.’’ ‘‘They like to skewer a fish, too.’’ The first double entendre is one that straights as well as gays can easily apprehend. The second is more of an in-group joke, as ‘‘fish’’ is a pejorative term, sometimes used D o w n l o a d e d B y : [ O h i o S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a ri e s ] A t : 1 7 : 4 5 7 J u n e 2 0 0 7 436 R. Westerfelhaus & C. Lacroix affectionately, that some gays employ in reference to women. Such sexually charged wordplay is common in Queer Eye . In the same episode, as client John Williams plays his bagpipes, Thom remarks, in a punning reference to oral sex, ‘‘You’re very good at blowing, I have to tell you.’’ Some moments seem so ripe for sexual innuendo that one cannot fault the Fab Five for succumbing to the temptation to indulge. After Ted teaches Sean Keenan how to insert butter under the skin of a roaster chicken, Sean goes to shake Ted’s hand in order to thank him. Ted remarks that Sean’s hands are buttery, giving Carson the ‘‘in’’ to say, ‘‘Well, now that you’re all lubed up, let’s go to the bedroom, shall we?’’ Earlier, when Carson had answered Sean’s cell phone, he put the caller off by explaining, in a voice dripping with sexual innuendo, ‘‘He’s with a man now,’’ at which statement Sean seems more than slightly chagrined. Later that same episode, all pretense of innuendo is abandoned when Sean comments to Carson, ‘‘You’re so much fun,’’ to which ‘‘America’s Gay Sweetheart’’ responds, ‘‘Oh, Sean, wait ’til we start making out!’’ While ostensibly playful, many of the Fab Five’s homoerotic hints elicit apprehensiveness on the part of their straight clients. As Andrew Lane rides to a day spa, he worries that the spa might be ‘‘like some kind of bathhouse.’’ Carson responds, ‘‘No, for God’s sake. No sexual overtones . . . that’s extra.’’ Ted then adds, ‘‘Unless you create them.’’ Minutes later, Carson leans toward Andrew, saying: ‘‘Just rub [your cheek] up against me . . . this is for my work, I just need to tell.’’ After Andrew reluctantly rubs his cheek against Carson’s, Kyan says to Andrew: ‘‘Ohmigod, you’re gay now! You’re homosexual!’’ In this exchange, Andrew seems to ‘‘play along.’’ Yet, his discomfort is made evident in his stiff and defensive body language and the strained tone of his voice. Andrew’s discomfort drives home the degree to which the Fab Five’s teasing violates the heteronormatively constructed sociosexual rules that would normally govern such exchanges. Other tactile practices typical of the Fab Five include some that might easily be featured in other make-over programs, but which assume a (homo)sexually charged meaning within the context of Queer Eye . Such practices include the often intense and sometimes prolonged touching of the body and hair of straight men. At the start of many episodes, when the Fab Five first encounter the straight guy, they swarm him, aggressively stroking his torso and tousling his hair. When they first meet Josh Diaz, for instance, all five gay men simultaneously take the liberty of tousling his hair (Episode 104). Of the Fab Five, Carson and Kyan are particularly empowered to touch the men in ways that might well be interpreted as transgressive, if it were not for the fact they are there to ‘‘groom’’ the...
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2014 for the course ARTEDUC 2367.03 taught by Professor Tiffanylewis during the Spring '14 term at Ohio State.

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