Cover Story

Gaydar-lings

How DO they do it? EW reveals the secrets of ''Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,'' Bravo's outrageous makeover -- oops, we mean ''make-better'' -- hit

Fab 5 | MEN AT WORK Ted, Kyan, Carson, Jai, and Thom get camera-ready
Image credit: Fab 5 Photograph by Matthias Clamer
MEN AT WORK Ted, Kyan, Carson, Jai, and Thom get camera-ready

''Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'' -- Bravo's most-watched program ever and the breakout hit of the summer -- was born in an art gallery in Boston two years ago, where David Collins watched as a woman berated her slovenly husband for his general lack of style. Looking for a way to make her point more forcefully, she gestured toward a group of sleek, well-groomed gay men nearby and wailed, ''Why can't you be more like them?'' The men felt so sorry for the henpecked slob, they flocked over and began dispensing sartorial advice.

Collins still laughs when he retells the story. ''Those guys just dove right in and began giving out pointers,'' says the creator and executive producer, who is gay. ''I said to myself, 'That is hysterical. That was like the queer eye for the straight guy.'''

The next day, he decided that it might just work as a series and mentioned the notion to his best friend and coexec producer David Metzler, who's straight. They both agreed that TV's surplus of makeover shows was ready for an entrant with a fabulous new angle: Five gay men -- grooming guru Kyan Douglas, fashionista Carson Kressley, interior designer Thom Filicia, food-and-wine expert Ted Allen, and culture vulture Jai Rodriguez -- would help a breeder improve his aesthetically challenged life by offering tips on everything from work wear (pleated khakis don't flatter big butts) to cooking for a first date (no frozen pizza, please).

In March 2002, Collins and Metzler received the green light from Bravo. A year later, they began filming their first episode.

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