Queer Eye: What did the Fab Five do for work before becoming experts on the show?

Tan retired in his mid 30s!


Queer Eye is finally back on our screens, and there really is no better way to instantly feel 10 times better than to check in with the Fab Five and watch them transform someone’s life – there’s tears, there’s laughter, and it’s the kind of escapism that we all absolutely need right now.

BUT have you ever watched and wondered exactly what makes them a professional in their given field? Yeah, we know that Jonathan does the hair and the physical side of things, but does he have any real-world experience? Tan “French tuck” France (tricky to read) knows his way around the wardrobe, but has he ever actually done styling as a career? As it turns out, yes. Definitely yes. To all of the above.

Jonathan Van Ness

We all know Jonathan as the resident grooming expert of the fab five, but he has had a colourful past to say the least.

Unfortunately, he suffered a very unpleasant childhood and adolescence, being sexually assaulted in his younger years which led him to sex and drug addiction. At one point he used his entire monthly allowance on cocaine whilst at college, leading him to turn to sex work to make ends meet.

This culminated in him losing his cheerleading scholarship and dropping out after one term. It was only when he hit rock bottom that he decided to pursue hairstyling as a career, training up and working in various salons before moving to LA in 2009.

On arriving in Los Angeles, Jonathan found a job as a personal assistant at Sally Hershberger Salon, and the rest is history! He currently works at MoJoHair and Stile Salon in LA, as well as running a podcast that was nominated for a Primetime Emmy called Gay of Thrones. Oh, and another weekly podcast called Getting Curious with Jon Van Ness.

Karamo Brown

Karamo is the culture and lifestyle expert that sits the lucky individual down and has a big DMC, a cry and makes them feel all warm and better.

His career as a culture and lifestyle expert was born from a career in television, where he took part in a number of American TV shows that nobody in the UK has ever heard of. He also did some work on YouTube’s The Young Turks as well as Access Hollywood Live, which are both channels based around Hollywood gossip.

In 2007, he was told that he was the father of a child called Jason. He took custody, as well as adopting his half brother Chris in 2010. He has lived with them in LA since 2011.

Tan France

Fashion is Tan’s thing, and he is known for being ruthless in tearing clothes out of people’s wardrobes in favour of a whole new style. It’s a bit hit and miss occasionally, to be quite honest.

Tan has arguably been in his game for longer than any of his contemporaries, being inspired by clothing that his grandparents made in their denim factory in Bury, England as a child. He learned how to sew at the age of nine, and by the age of 13, he knew how to construct a denim jacket!

He studied fashion at Doncaster College, before living in Manchester and London, but it’s when you get to his career history that things get really impressive. He has worked as a designer and director for Zara, Selfridges and Bershka, as well as even working at Chanel.

In 2011, be opened his own fashion line called Kingdom & State, as well as creating two smaller brands. His designs have been purchased by retailers including Forever 21, and he co-founded the multimillion-dollar “Rachel Parcell Inc”. Unsurprisingly, selling up his various businesses allowed France to RETIRE in his mid-thirties. The man is loaded!

Bobby Berk

Bobby is the design extraordinaire, ensuring that the people who go on the show have a home/garden/community space that matches how good they feel on the inside once the others are done with them.

After moving to NYC with $100, he worked at the hardware stores Restoration Hardware, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Portico (a luxury home furnishing company). He worked his way up to creative director of the firm, but he really earned his credentials as a lifestyle and culture expert when he launched his own company, Bobby Berk Home, in 2006.

He opened stores in NYC, Florida and Georgia, before launching an interior and design business with headquarters in LA. It is called Bobby Berk Interiors + Design.

He has his own wallpaper, furniture and art lines, as well as a full interior design service business. Yup, Bobby is a serious professional in his field.

Antoni Porowski

Antoni is the resident foodie, and he teaches people recipes that they’ll cook once for all of their friends and never again – but that’s okay, because he provides as much entertainment as he does eye candy.

He learnt his stuff while trying to make it in the movie industry. He moved to NYC to study acting, while teaching himself to cook using his grandmother’s cooking techniques. He worked in the foodservice industry to support himself, working his way up from waiter to sommelier and eventually to becoming the manager of a sushi restaurant.

Both careers ended up being beneficial – as he is now as much chef as he is presenter.

He has worked as a personal chef to the original cooking expert of Queer Eye, Ted Allen, who has become a mentor for him.

Not only did he have an impressive resume before the show, but his success has meant that he has opened his own restaurant called The Village Den in NYC (it has 3.5 stars on TripAdvisor), as well as releasing his own cookery book. He also deals in vintage furniture.

Related stories recommended by this author:

• Quiz: Which one of the Queer Eye Fab Five are you?

• I ate like Antoni from Queer Eye for a week to see if it would make me feel more fabulous

• Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness was in Tottenham Court Road McDonald’s