BY DANIEL KUSNER
Keeping up with Carson Kressley is exhausting.
The man has the energy of a 10-year-old jacked up on Ritalin and Diet Coke. He’s a fashion tornado of observations and hilarious quips.
When “Queer Eye’s” fashion savant breezed into Dallas last Saturday to host the Turtle Creek Chorale’s annual Antiques to Zebras auction, he agreed to a quickie interview.
During our brief interlude, Carson hugged me, pinched my nipples and then accused me of pumping him for information.
Here’s what I got before he raced over to NorthPark Mall for a spree at Neiman’s.
You’re in Dallas — ever been here before? Many times. I used to work for Ralph Lauren, and we had a showroom in the Apparel Mart. So this isn’t my first time at the gay rodeo.
Can you characterize Dallas’ fashion taste? Everything is bigger in Texas, which is an epidemic everywhere. People don’t know what size they are, so they wear gigantic clothes. I haven’t run into any really big-and-hot cowboys in Dallas yet, but I’m hoping.
Are you scouting locations during your visit? We’re coming to Dallas in September to do three “Queer Eye” episodes. My life is scouting, because I shop for a living. But I’m really just having fun. I wanted to help the Turtle Creek Chorale. And when they called me, I thought it was a corral — like a petting zoo. I thought there would be goats and sheep, and maybe some little piggies, if you know what I mean.
Has “Queer Eye” ever visited other cities? No. We’ve only shot in New York — except for the pilot, which was shot in Boston.
Why Dallas? Because I love hot men in Wranglers. It was going to be either Texas or Chicago. And quite frankly, I like Texas better. Plus, Dallas has fabulous resources — like amazing shopping. It’s the home of Neiman Marcus, JC Penney and almost all things in between. Don’t even get me started on Frito-Lay.
In your grand vision, what’s the purpose of fashion? The purpose of clothing is to cover your body. Fashion is the total other extreme. Being “in fashion” means “of the moment” and what’s current. I’m not a big fashion person. And upon hearing that, you can audibly gasp.
[Carson grips my lower jaw and pulls it down while I gasp. Then he does it again.]
I’m more about personal style, which is finding the things you look great in and building an enduring wardrobe. Looking good is the whole point of dressing. Otherwise we’d all be in Spandex unitards.
Any chance fashion could somehow bridge the gap between Iraq and the United States? In fashion? Gauchos have been known to bring peace to the world, but I think we’ve got bigger fish to fry there right now. That Taliban chic is so two years ago.
You exhibit such an outgoing gay identity. During high school, did you purposefully restrain yourself in order to fit in? Never. No, I’ll tell you what happened, but we’ll have a serious moment in the interview. This is where I hold you, and we cradle each other. [Carson wraps his arms around me, and we hold each other for an uncomfortably long embrace.]
Ever since I had a crush on Lee Majors on the cover of Dynamite magazine in the spring of 1974, I thought, "Hmmmm … I think I’m different than the other boys." I would get on the school bus, and everyone would say, “Good morning, Lovey Howell,” Because I would dress nice. I was blonde and quite striking — always a fashion pioneer.
What did you wear back then? I never didn’t dress the way I wanted to. I had the Coca-Cola clothes, the Swatch watch, the parachute pants, the keyboard tie.
I developed a really strong sense of humor. Because if they would laugh at me, they wouldn’t beat me up. Nobody would actually beat you up. But they’d give you [which Carson gladly demonstrates] a really hard nuggie or pinch your ear, and the titty-twister, which I now find quite enjoyable. Now I beg people to give me titty-twisters.
So I developed a sense of humor. And that was such a blessing because that was my defense mechanism. I didn’t recoil. I didn’t do poorly in school. I didn’t hide. I wasn’t ashamed. I just took the other way out and was like, “Oh, I’m going to be loud.”
Did you used to date women? If going to Benetton to look for prom dresses is dating, then yes I’ve done it.
Did you go to prom? I didn’t go to my prom. But I’m designing the prom for my high school this year. Of course, I’m arranging buckets of blood to get back at everyone. No, just joking.
What’s the theme? It’s “Stairway to Heaven” — the prom is going to be held at Lehigh University’s planetarium. I made a video for them. I say, “Hey, guys. Sorry I can’t be at your prom. First of all, let’s drink responsibly. And let’s think out of the box, people. For this year, how about prom king.” And then I grab this hot hunk and say, “And a prom king!”
Can you explain a fashion phenomenon: Why do kids wear their pants off their asses? Where did that come from? I don’t know. But we’re trying to find out who caused it and kick their asses. I wonder why people are still wearing pleated pants. That’s the real question.
Why do you hate pleats so much? Because they’re just so not cute.
Were they cute in your Coca-Cola clotheshorse days? No. They were always the wrong answer. Pleats make everyone look fat. They’re unflattering.
So you’re not going to contradict yourself in seven years, if all the sudden everything is all about pleats? I doubt that it will be all about pleats. And if it is, I will still say they’re wrong. I stand hard and fast on this one. God, I’m not John Kerry! Why in the hell are you grilling me?
Are you dating? No. I’m totally, painfully alone and single.
Are you on the market? Yes. And I’m always looking.
Are you not in a relationship because you are too famous to trust someone? No, please! If Britney and Madonna can manage it, so can I.
Is there a Carson Kressley fashion line in the works? No. But maybe — some day.
If clothes say a lot about a person, can you draw any general conclusions about a guy wearing Abercrombie & Fitch? You mean, when it’s a real logo-thon? No, not really. Except that you know they didn’t buy it on sale. They paid retail. They’re mall shoppers.
New episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” begin airing June 1 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.