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What Not to Say

It should go without saying that the British version of What Not to Wear is vastly superior to its snarky, grating American counterpart. Englishwomen Trinny and Susannah are wise, direct, cheeky, and magnificent. Americans Clinton and Stacey are smarmy, a bit obnoxious, and often trying much too hard to be zany. There is one sublime pleasure to the American show, though the moments when the unstated threatens to burst forth and send the show off in other directions altogether.

Clinton KellyYou see, Clinton Kelly is a bit...swishy. Granted, he's no Carson, but he has a certain way about him that would be a bit much for your run-of-the-mill metrosexual. Being gay is no big deal, and in a lot of ways it's refreshing that they don't use it to explain why he's a style expert, but there are times when the refusal to acknowledge his queerness is as ludicrous as in an old Tony Randall movie. Every once in a while, Clinton runs up against a male guest who's either so gay or so straight that you can cut the tension with a knife. Like a delicious snack!

When guests are totally out and easygoing about it, they almost seem to be baiting Clinton, daring him to relax and gab like one of the girls. With really macho straight guys who are a bit uncomfortable with all the fuss and criticisms of a make-over, you wish Clinton would just make a quick joke about what the guys are thinking and let everyone just get past it. In either case, Clinton shows a panicky, wide-eyed reserve that betrays his worries that his cover might be blown at any second. The silly part is that it never seems like anyone would care: the only tension seems to come from Clinton's panic, not anyone else's. It's a lot of fun watching him squirm. It certainly makes up for all the bad fashion jokes.

Clinton, honey, let it hang out. It's not a paunch that needs to be hidden by a well-cut jacket it's just you. Relax.

Comments (12)

1) Lubin Odana: You should see the UK Version of Queer Eye. Horrible horrible horrible. Meanwhile, the UK show that's causing a buzz is "look 10 years younger in 10 days" - can superficial plastic surgery, new hair and clothes make tired old drudges drop 10 years off their "perceived age" via a street-poll? Full of useful tips - e.g. don't apply your foundation over moisturiser - it'll make it slip around! Who knew? (May 17, 2004 7:02 AM)

2) chrisafer: There's something adorable about him, though. Hmm, maybe I have a thing for Felix Unger types? (May 17, 2004 3:25 PM)

3) Sparky: Well, they are handy to have around the house. (May 17, 2004 3:36 PM)

4) The Other Andrew: We have an Australian version of "What Not To Wear", which is truly dreadful and has already been yanked to a wasteland timeslot. Half the people 'made over' look just as bad as they started, but with a new haircut and a bit of lippy. We are due to get a local version of "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" too... I'm predicting a train wreck. (May 18, 2004 1:22 AM)

5) tekay: Oh Sparky, I love the american version of WNTW. Trinny and Sus are gods, I'll give you that, but where I am, the episodes are at least 2 to 4 years old. And they've only had two men on the show from what I can tell. This past Friday's episode was a riot: not only was the boxer hot, we have the same neck size, so I really could use the information they dished. But at the end when he stated that he could "pick up both of you," I was completely spent. the pocket square and shirt combo were hideous though. (May 18, 2004 3:13 PM)

6) Ricky: Actually, I think its cool that he is NOT acting like a fembot on tv. He is obviously gay but what would be the point of him showing out his queerness? Being the funny gay is a bit generic. oh and he wears really, really tight slacks which in some ways might be gayer than acting gay. Hey d. surprise - I still read your blog. (May 28, 2004 12:06 AM)

7) Sparky: I completely like the fact that he's not playing out some gay caricature, don't get me wrong. It just bugs me that the subject doesn't come up when it would be a natural progression of the conversation. The fact that those moments seem to come and go so regularly without even a nod to the subtext is what I keep noticing. (May 28, 2004 7:43 AM)

8) Jen: Clinton Kelly is dreamy! Why, oh why do I fall for the guys who fall for guys? Sigh... (Nov 21, 2004 2:42 AM)

9) MZ: I Think Clinton is very cute, in the tall white guy kind of a way. Plus he's pretty funny on T.V. (Dec 21, 2004 7:58 PM)

10) Barry: Bravo to Clinton Kelly for showing a positive example of gayness. Reserved. Non-threatening. He doesn't need to openly broadcast his queerness since there are louder gay men itching for their 15 minutes of frame, or should that be flame, on US basic cable. And it seems the self-appointed queen of them all is Robert Verdi. Could this guy be any more stereotypically gay and annoying? It saddens me that he went from a brilliant design show, Suprise by Design, to being the replacement for Joan Rivers on E! Again, way to go, Clinton! (Jan 2, 2005 11:19 PM)

11) zoodle: Ah, I think that Clinton is great. He and stacy are so cute together, thye look like they actually have a good time on the show, not like they are just faking cute or whatever. Well, in this episode of WNTW I was just watching he and stacy were holding hands walking down the street and my mom said, "Is Clinton holding hands with Stacy?", and I said, "yeah, but totally platonically, you know he's gay..." and she said,"No he's not, I thought he was married with kids." I just laughed at her. It was cute. That does go to show, however, that he dosen't really make a huge point of showing that he is gay, or maybe my mom just has really bad gay-dar. (Jul 2, 2005 5:50 AM)

12) David: Clinton works well on the show but... Just because you are tall, thin and everything looks good on you doesn't mean you can shop in an International Male catalog and then tell others what to wear.... I saw him wearing a suit jacket that came down to him knees. IM has been hawking those things for years. Screaming queen. (Jul 9, 2005 4:36 AM)

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