A Surprise Guest Joins Event with ‘Queer Eye’ Producers

Kansas City Center for Inclusion's Samantha Ruggles and Skyler Jay. Photo: Darin Challacombe

The Netflix show Queer Eye has been filming its third season in the Kansas City metro area since the summer. The show features emotionally charged makeovers done by its stars, known as the Fab Five. Each has an area of expertise: Antoni Porowski, food and wine; Tan France, fashion; Karamo Brown, culture; Bobby Berk, design; and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming.

Earlier this fall, two of the show’s producers, Rachelle Mendez and Jennifer Lane, partnered with the Kansas City Center for Inclusion (KCCI) to make a memorable night for about 200 participants.

KCCI and the UMKC Pride Alliance organized an event on Sept. 24 where the audience watched a Queer Eye episode together and then participated in a Talk Back session with Mendez and Lane afterward.

Skyler Jay, a transgender man, is the hero of the Season 2 episode that was shown, called “Sky’s the Limit.” It begins with a scene from Jay’s top surgery. The first time we see his signature red hair is when he looks down at his chest after the operation. We quickly learn about his transition and some of the difficulties he has experienced, including getting a driver’s license with the correct gender marker and finding a suit that fits his particular body type.

But what the attendees didn’t know at first was that the Kansas City Center for Inclusion had secretly flown Jay in from Georgia so that he could appear with the producers for the Q&A!

To see the moment when he is introduced and the entire question and answer session, go to https://goo.gl/7ssXfX. KCCI board member Buck Sommerkamp streamed the Q&A on Facebook Live. As of Oct. 24, there had been over 2,100 views.

One participant asked the producers whether the outtakes for Jay’s episode would ever be made available, but the answer was no.

When KCCI began preparations for the event, the only location that organizers found – at the Kauffman Foundation – could hold about 80 people. But they wanted to give more people a chance to attend, so the search continued.

KCCI’s interim executive director, Samantha Ruggles, reached out to her contacts at UMKC, and within a few hours, Dakota Allen, president of UMKC’s Pride Alliance, had secured the university’s Student Union Theater, which can hold more than 300 people.

The event, which was promoted on KCCI’s website, was free of charge, but tickets were required. The initial batch of 80 tickets was claimed within 75 seconds; the second batch – an additional 200 tickets – was claimed within five minutes. Both students and community members attended.

The Fab Five are expected to wrap up filming for Season 3 around Thanksgiving. Viewers will have to wait until the season premieres in 2019 to see how the Kansas City-based episodes turned out.

‘Queer Eye’ poster raffle

The Kansas City Center for Inclusion is offering raffle tickets for an autographed 27-by-40-inch poster of the Fab Five from producers Rachelle Mendez and Jennifer Lane. For each dollar donated, the contributor will get one raffle ticket..

The tickets are available at inclusivekc.org. The winning ticket will be drawn at noon Nov. 10.


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