The Fab Five want to take care of you.
Yes, you. Not just the people whose lives they change on each episode of their Netflix reality series, Queer Eye, but you. You with your rocky approach to self-care. You with your random sense of personal style. You with your anxiety and self-doubt. They want to take care of you, and with the release of their first book today, that is exactly what they’re prepared to do.
Written by all five of the Queer Eye guys, with an introduction by Executive Producers David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric and an assist from writer Monica Corcoran Harel, Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life is part memoir, part lifestyle mag Q&A, and part signature Queer Eye how-to—how to start your own skincare regimen, how to stock your closet with a capsule of stylish basics, how to have a conversation, how to buy a table, how to set a table—all tied together by dynamic shots from photographer Denise Crew. If you want to show it off to your friends, it’s the perfect coffee table book. If you want to incorporate it into your self-care bedtime ritual, it’s the perfect nightstand book. If you want to learn from it on the go, it’s the perfect audiobook.
It is, to borrow the same phrase Antoni Porowski uses to describe the dinner party the guys created in the book, “a carefree symphony of the senses.”
“It’s just a really great behind-the-scenes insight into what we do every day while filming and while we’re hanging out,” Bobby Berk tells Paste in a phone interview.
“It really is an extension of the show,” Tan France adds, “[but] there are pictures that you haven’t seen before. And there’s information that we don’t get to share on the show, because there’s five of us and only a certain amount of time. It really is an extension of what we’re already doing…And you get to learn about our personal life, too.”
The Fab Five’s personal histories in the book are brief, but they’re still more detailed than anything viewers get to see on Queer Eye, where the guys are laser-focused on each episode’s hero. The book grants each member of the Fab Five—Antoni, Bobby, Tan, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness—the opportunity to tell their own story in their own voice. Readers learn how the Fab Five became the men they are today and why they love what they love.
“I think with a book, it is by nature a more intimate medium,” Antoni says. “With a book, it forces you to be a bit more cerebral and introspective, as opposed to seeing us running around putting on children’s clothing and being totally silly.”
“It’s more in-depth than it is in on the show,” Bobby agrees. “We really had time to sit there and think about what we wanted to see, whereas on the show, it’s very much on the fly. Also…with Netflix, you can’t really watch whenever, wherever, but with an audiobook…you can have it with you all the time.”
Yes, there is a Queer Eye audiobook. And with the Fab Five putting their personal spin on the narration, it’s fantastic.
“I had the idea of us reading each other’s parts,” Antoni says, “but Scout, who are the creatives of the show and who were at the helm of this book, didn’t think it was a very clever idea. So we ended up reading it in our own voices.”
As much fun as the Fab Five switching parts might have been, this was probably for the best. All five put their whole selves into narrating their respective portions—even if this means occasionally diverging from the script. “We’re a very unscripted show!” Antoni justifies with a laugh. “We can’t for the life of us repeat the same lines twice in a row the exact same way.”
“For me personally,” Tan says, “reading the book just as it was felt not as personable, so I wanted to add as much of my own voice as physically possible. I think it’s so different when you are writing a book to convey your true voice, and so in the audiobook, it gave me an opportunity to really show who I really am.”
“Recording the book was really fun,” Jonathan, who put a particularly personal spin on his narration, says. “It was giving me Ellen Degeneres-in-Finding Nemo-like vibes. I had on headphones; I was really giving you commitment to voicing my voice. I had so much fun doing it.”
While each of the guys enjoyed writing and narrating their own portions of the book, they agree that meeting up for the photo shoot at the end of the project was the most fulfilling.
“The part that was the most fun,” Antoni says. “It was right when we arrived [in] Kansas City, about a week and a half prior to the commencement of filming [Season 3]. We all got to get together [for] this really wonderful dinner party where we had all kinds of food and were doing all the photos together, just being the five of us again. It was a nice segue into preparing ourselves for filming again, because we all missed each other and weren’t around for a couple of months leading up to it.”
Antoni admits that he doesn’t take many photos. “I typically tend to steal photos from Tan’s phone to post on my own accounts, so it was nice to have this added thing from our little memoir book that I can look back on in the future.”
While you have to wait until 2019 for Queer Eye’s third season, the book is the next best thing for eager fans. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire you to host your own Queer Eye dinner party for the Season 3 premiere.
The Fab Five Know What You Should Read Next
We asked the Fab Five what fans should read (after their book, of course), and these are their recommendations:
Bobby: “I’m a big sci-fi fan, and one of my favorites is the We Are Legion trilogy.”
Karamo: “Naturally Tan, read it!” [Releases May 2019]
Tan: “One of my favorites recently was Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.”
Antoni: “I just started reading a really interesting book, it’s called Ohio and the author is Stephen Markley. I was really struck by Hillbilly Elegy last year, and Ohio is kind of a fiction version of the opioid crisis in the Rust Belt of America and goes into the personal stories of different people. It’s a really great, profound, sad but really real piece of fiction.”
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic whose writing has appeared on Forever Young Adult, Screener and Birth.Movies.Death. She’ll go 10 rounds fighting for teens and intelligently executed genre fare to be taken seriously by pop culture. She can be found @AlexisKG.