See VMAN's exclusive shoot with your new favorite culinary king.
See VMAN's exclusive shoot with your new favorite culinary king.
Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG
Growing up in the '90s and early aughts, I had a lack of LGBT role models. It simply wasn't a group that our public school system or my own social circle wanted to highlight. I thought gay people like me were maybe one in a thousand (until I learned how to use Google).
Such isn't the case these days. Shows like Queer Eye are featuring strong and successful gay men who are role models not only to the viewers but the "heroes" they help out on camera. Netflix has taken a marginalized group that bigots want to "fix" and filmed them as they in fact help improve the lives of others, bringing about a lot of laughs as well as (frequent) cries. In Trump's America, seeing the connections on the shows is a heartwarming relief. Knowing that young kids in the LGBT community are watching makes it all the better.
Of the cast, it seems that the world has fallen hardest for Antoni Porowski, the cuisine specialist. We spoke to the star and newfound celebrity crush of, well, just about everyone. We also shot him and it's just sickening. Check it out, below.
Mathias Rosenzweig: What was the audition process for Queer Eye like?
Antoni Porowski: The first step was a Skype interview with the lovely Ally [Capriotti-Grant] at ITV. I was asked to allot 20 minutes for it, but we spent almost an hour chatting about life and food instead. Knowing the audition process from my acting days, I began to feel like this opportunity was becoming an actual possibility. I was both scared and excited at the prospect.
The show is a lot about the five of you teaching other people how to improve their lives. Conversely, have these people taught you anything? And if so, what?
I can't begin to think about my life without every single one of the other boys. It is difficult to see them practice their craft and not feel the contagious nature of their passion and expertise. Tan has taught me to take a little more care in how I dress, even in the smallest details. Specifically, I now sometimes steam my otherwise wrinkled vintage tees, lol. Bobby makes it so appealing to be organized. Since we travel so much these days, whether he knows it or not, he has helped me become better at packing and making sure I take the extra time to plan ahead with outfits, along with little things like nice candles and books so I can feel like I’m home even when away. Karamo is very no-bullshit when it comes to addressing problems and working on them. Once you address an issue, be it personal or interpersonal, it gets harder to avoid it or put it on the proverbial back-burner. Jonathan has me using actual face wash and getting regular pedicures (with color, I might add). Their lessons stem much deeper, but these are just examples. I've become more comfortable with myself being part of an ensemble of strong men who do just that.
You're working on a cookbook. What will make it unique?
My first cookbook is truly a memoir of my culinary path. From recipes I remember as a child during my parents' cocktail parties, Polish traditional staple dishes I've modernized, to recipes I learned to make when I was a broke student trying to entertain classmates and friends with, the book will be a journey through my life with food. I'm also excited to share some weeknight accessible recipes involving 30 minutes and limited kitchen skills. Of course, there will be plenty of cheese. Lots.
Can you describe the restaurant you're in the midst of developing in New York?
Ha! I wish I could. It’s all under wraps for the moment, but I’m excited to announce more soon. While my upcoming cookbook involves a lot of decadence and joie de vie, which I think Balzac himself would not disapprove of, the restaurant will focus on the kind of food I want to eat during the week. It will lean more healthy and clean. It’s important to me to have a feel-good meal that doesn’t leave you in a carb-coma. My sister has auto-immune issues, which I've been learning a lot about in terms of dietary modification to help with symptomatology. I want to make sure the restaurant is a place all can enjoy, whether they have dietary restrictions like my sister or not. It's an inclusive menu for all. More to come!
How has being on the show changed your life for better or for worse?
For the better, I have completely shifted my outlook on the kind of work I want to do. When you are given a golden nugget of a chance to change peoples' lives, or at least be a part of that process, it really makes you want to do that in all facets of your life, or at least it has with me.
As for the worse, it's a work in progress and acceptance. Anonymity is no longer a fact, publicly. Everything I say or do is heard and commented on. Answers in interviews get misconstrued and interpreted. I'm doing my best not to get too self-conscious about it and just stay in my lane. My skin has thickened, rather quickly, over the past few months. The exponential learning curve of growth gets overwhelming at times, well, ok, a lot of times, but I try to stay focused and find moments to be alone with my own thoughts.
What are some things you haven't yet done on the show that you would like to?
For one, I'd love more actual cooking demos. It's a challenge because our scenes usually get 2-3 minutes of airtime, so it's a tricky balance of trying to teach our hero something meaningful for their own lives, all while trying to ensure viewers get to learn, too. Most of the cooking and education with our heroes never makes it to air, but it does bring me solace to know I always try to do my best to impart as much of my knowledge as I can in such a short amount of time.
You were doing some acting before being on the show. How is doing a reality show, where you don't play a character, different?
Great question. It's freer to be oneself, albeit a louder version, at least for me. I see it as apples and oranges. It's all performance art, to me, but characters in scripted/fiction offer veils and guidance in how I behave, speak or move. Queer Eye demands authenticity, so I just try to show up and be 100% of however I'm feeling that day. If I'm blue and going through something, I accept how I'm feeling and just give my best of whatever state I'm in. Theater, for me, doesn't necessarily allow for that as much.
Do you think there will be another season?
Gosh I hope so. Hopefully in colder months. Fall is my favorite time of year, from food to fashion.
What was it like the first time you met your cast-mates?
Overwhelming, ha! They're all type-A’s. I am an extroverted-introvert. In small groups, I tend to be louder, but in larger groups, I like to listen and observe. I'm learning to adjust accordingly.
What is the correlation between being queer and living the healthier, more put-together lifestyles you guys teach about on the show? Is there one?
I promote a happy, healthy-ish life, and I just happen to be queer. That's how I see it. The fact that visibility for queer folks these days is more important than ever is incredibly important in regards to the mess of a world we're living in, but I don't focus too much on external perception or associating the two factors as correlated. It detracts me from the task at hand, which is helping people in need of some love and gentle guidance. The perception that all queer men are experts in certain fields like fashion and interior design are stereotypes, because believe me, I've seen plenty from both with questionable, at best, taste and style. The show, at its core, is funny and entertaining, so I take the generalization lightly.