AMERICA’S GAY BOYFRIEND arrives at Coco Nails on East 33rd Street in Manhattan a few minutes past 10 on a crisp November morning. There are only a few employees and a lone man getting his nails done in the salon, so there’s no fuss over the sight of Carson Kressley, who for four years educated the hapless regular Joes of the world in all things fashion on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Though he had just arrived home the night before from a whirlwind trip to Australia, where he attended horse racing’s Melbourne Cup, judged the Aussie version of Dancing With the Stars, went to a Justin Timberlake concert, flirted with a cute local (“Could he live in a more geographically unfortunate area?” sighs the single star), and celebrated his 38th birthday, Kressley doesn’t seem the least bit tired. He’s still tan, and his buttery blond hair curls at the ends. He’s fit and trim, wearing jeans, gold Puma sneakers, a dark leather jacket, and a vintage T-shirt with an illustration of a horse, which betrays his equestrian roots: Kressley competed in the 1999 U.S. World Cup and still owns seven horses. “I’m kind of obsessed,” he says.
Since the end of Queer Eye, Kressley has kept busy. He has a clothing line—Perfect, available on QVC—and three books under his belt. Now he’s turning his queer eye toward women in two new vehicles, Lifetime’s How to Look Good Naked and the CW network’s Crowned, a mother-daughter beauty pageant. Each examines women’s beauty in very different ways.
In How to Look Good Naked, Kressley convinces women to stand in their underwear in front of a full-length mirror and confront their body image. Throughout a five-day, emotional journey, he helps his subjects build their self-esteem by pointing out their attributes, getting them properly fitted for a bra, shopping for clothes that accentuate their best assets, and of course, giving them the usual hair and makeup treatment.
Each episode climaxes with Kressley popping the question, “How about you do a photo shoot—naked?” to the horror and surprise of the women, who nevertheless take it all off with a little encouragement from Kressley.
“I was like, ‘What have I turned into?'” he says in mock disbelief. “I am so good at getting women to pose nude.”