‘Queer Eye’ star Jai Rodriguez speaks on upcoming reunion

Jai Rodriguez
Jai Rodriguez.

During a recent Instagram Live with PGN, Jai Rodriguez said he felt like the ‘younger brother’ when he tried to reunite his cast members from the original iteration of “Queer Eye.”

“All of us were busy this year, but I — being the younger brother — was like, ‘Guys, this is the 20th! We have to do something!’ I probably started that at the 17th [year],” Rodriguez said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing for the 20th? What are we doing?’…We had opportunities to do things on television, but then we were like, ‘it’s not really the same’ because none of us want to recreate what we did on ‘Queer Eye.’ We did 100 episodes. It made its mark. There’s another cast, who we passed the baton to; we love what they’re doing. And we don’t want to redo what we’ve already lived through. We want to do something different. And nothing that was offered was different enough.”

Eventually, Rodriguez’s fellow cast member Carson Kressley made a connection with someone who coordinated live stage shows and a Fab Five reunion was born. Rodriguez and Kressley will reunite with their fellow cast members Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas and Thom Filicia next weekend at Wind Creek Event Center. “An Evening with the Fab Five — 20 Years Later” will feature an evening filled with an audience Q&A, untold stories, reflections from the guys, makeovers, and insights into their current projects. Thomas Drayton, an anchor and host for “Good Day Philadelphia,” will moderate the Dec. 16 event.

Among the stories Rodriguez intends to share is one that was fielded by Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live.” Rodriguez noted Cohen’s question: “Were all the straight guys you made over really straight?” 

“I do have a story there,” Rodriguez said. “But I only gave a soundbite on Andy. And so at the reunion show, you’ll get the full story…I feel like after 20 years, it’s safe to tell.”

In 2018, Netflix rebooted “Queer Eye” with a new Fab Five team featuring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness. While younger generations may be more familiar with this iteration, Rodriguez still encourages young people to attend this event.

“If you’re a young person, and you heard of the original ‘Queer Eye’ but it was before your time, I highly encourage you to come. Why? Because it’s a part of queer history. It’s a part of your history, understanding where we came from, and listening to our queer elders,” Rodriguez said. “I was really fortunate to have been the youngest person ever cast in a leading role in ‘Rent,’ and then ‘Queer Eye,’ where my co-stars were 10 years older. Just to be in a space where I could kind of learn from their lived experience is, I think, a treat. And queer history isn’t taught necessarily in schools.

“When we tell our stories, it’s always funny — through the lens of comedy, but it’s important documentation. So many of our stories have been told by people who haven’t lived them. And even though we’re not necessarily the most sentimental of the ‘Queer Eye’ cast, I think we have this real knack of having some bursts of messaging…So there’s always helpful takeaways and a lot of heart and meaning behind the things we share, even though we might maybe laugh in the process. [With ‘Queer Eye’], we wanted it to be entertaining, and then you leave with compassion and empathy for those that are different.”

You can view the full Instagram Live between PGN and Rodriguez here. PGN readers also have the opportunity to win five free tickets to the upcoming reunion with the Fab Five. To learn more about how to enter, check out this Instagram post.

“An Evening with the Fab Five — 20 Years Later” will be held 8 p.m. on Dec. 16 at Wind Creek Event Center, 77 Wind Creek Blvd., Bethlehem, PA 18015. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.windcreekeventcenter.com/events/queer-eye/.

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