THE PUBLICIST: Like the program, 'Queer Eye' PR push has everyone talking

ans of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy can watch fascinating episodes of terrified hetero men receiving back-hair waxings and shoe-closet makeovers every day on Bravo - and twice on Fridays. Eight gays a week, if you will.

ans of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy can watch fascinating episodes of terrified hetero men receiving back-hair waxings and shoe-closet makeovers every day on Bravo - and twice on Fridays. Eight gays a week, if you will.

And just as the show has become the darling of the airwaves, so too the program's publicists stole the show at last week's entertainment publicity seminar in North Hollywood. NBC's senior press manager, Jamie French, mastermind of Queer's hit first-run network publicity campaign, delivered an entertaining case study outlining the strategy and tactics he used to bring the program to national attention. "We wanted to make it a water-cooler show," said French. "Something that's viewed as stylish, edgy, and hip." The primary PR technique involved was giving talk-show hosts personal makeovers. French's animated presentation had most in the audience chuckling at his enthusiasm and admiring the media hits. But not all are pleased with the growing "metrosexual" revolution championed on the show. One female publicist says it's time straight men went on their own PR offensive. "I dislike all this male feminization," she told me. "It deprecates masculine characteristics, like body hair and rugged features, in favor of blow dried androgyny. I'll take a hairy he-man over a smooth-skinned pretty boy anytime." While she seemed to be sounding the alarm that all we have to fear is queer itself, I don't believe swarthy men need to be concerned about an involuntary waxing and eyebrow plucking from rampaging Queer Eye advocates. It may be true that today's movie stars (Pitt, Cruise, DiCaprio, Depp) possess less classic masculinity than stars of yesteryear (Wayne, Bogart, Gable, Stewart), but it's hard to imagine legions of American males trading in their bushy eyebrows, reclining rockers, and college sweatshirts at the Fab Five's behest. Guys are just too...male. Our rooms require TVs, not tapestries. We don't wish further advancement. Jay Leno, for example, could scarcely hide his disapproval of the bizarre makeover the Queer boys gave his Tonight Show set. It was returned to its previous condition the next night - just as the made-over male subjects will soon return to their former unkempt selves. It takes more than a splashy TV show and hip PR campaign to convince true dudes to add anything beyond a comb and Q-Tip to the daily grooming routine.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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