By Kim Mueller
Molly Vazquez and Erik Crawford huddled four hours in 34-degree weather outside the Downtown Public Library Wednesday night to see “The Fab Five” discuss their new book, “Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life.”
“We got in line at 2:30 because we wanted good seats,” said Crawford. “We knew how fast the tickets went.”
The event broke attendance records with 1,082 tickets reserved in less than 20 minutes, said Courtney Lewis, the library’s media relations coordinator. Actual attendance dipped with the temperatures, about 820 people showed up.
More than 200 people paid for seats on the main floor. The $50 VIP tickets sold out in the first minute. Free general admission tickets were snatched up within 12 minutes.
“I’m just happy I got tickets at all,” said Kelly Dickerson from her seat at the back of fifth floor Helzberg auditorium where the event downstairs was being live-streamed.
“I just started watching the show, and I went on a month-long binge watching.”
During the last five months, “Queer Eye” has stealthily shot seasons three and four in the Kansas City area. As they traveled throughout the city and rural towns, residents were told not to reveal the production’s locations in Kansas and Missouri.
Many of the book’s photographs were shot at Two Light apartments where the cast lived during the last five months.
The Netflix show “Queer Eye” is a reboot of Bravo’s original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which aired for five seasons from 2003-2007 before being cancelled due to poor ratings.
The shows follow the same basic format: “The Fab Five” – gay men who are experts in fashion, cooking, grooming, and design – arrive in an SUV discussing their “hero,” which is the person targeted for their makeover.
They snoop through the hero’s closets and drawers, and make catty comments. The Fab Five spend the remainder of each episode preparing their hero for a special personal event.
The latest version of the Fab Five are hairstylist Jonathon Van Ness, food and wine connoisseur Antoni Porowski, fashion expert Tan France, life coach Karamo Brown, interior designer Bobby Berk and fashion expert Tan France.
Cast members have been spotted at the Kansas City Art Institute, their favorite BBQ restaurants (Joe’s and Q39) and Crossroad’s artisan pastry shop, Brioche, where Tan France claims to have gained 10 pounds.
The Kansas City Library event is the only time that all five members will appear together to support the book, Lewis said.
“We were expecting that this would be popular,” Lewis said. “They were in Kansas City. People want to hear from them and talk to them and see them.”
The event here attracted people as far away as Los Angeles, Texas and Chicago.
“We had people who have never been to the Kansas City Public Library before,” Lewis said. “We hope they come away with a really great memory of a fun evening, and a greater appreciation of what libraries are doing now.”
“Queer Eye” attendance at the downtown library was only topped by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2013 when 950 showed up to hear her speak.
About 700 people attended downtown library discussions with attorney and academic Anita Hill in 2014 and television journalist Dan Rather in 2012, Lewis said.
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