Back to School With Tan France

Back to School With Tan France


Instead, with his husband’s help, he sold his share in his businesses, planning to rely on his savings and consulting work to provide for their future children. Shortly thereafter, “Queer Eye” producers asked him to audition for the show. After several rounds of casting calls and chemistry tests, Mr. France was hired, and quickly decamped to Atlanta for a 16-episode, two-season shoot.

His role is also one of the most clearly defined, based less on platitudes and more on replicable tips and visible transformations. Audiences have, perhaps unfairly, over-distilled Mr. France to his onscreen love of patterned shirts (“out of 20 outfits, only four of them were floral” he wrote last year) and, of course, the often imitated, never properly duplicated French tuck. “I don’t do anything just because the audience might love it,” he said. “I’m doing it because I want the hero to love it.”

In his five seasons on “Queer Eye,” his candor and warmth have made him a favorite among fans and the show’s heroes alike. “He’s a little judgmental, like all of us are, but not in a way that would make anybody feel bad,” Mr. Porowski said. “If he thinks something is ridiculous — like wearing sweatpants with holes — he’s going to tell you. He’s not the type who’s going to be like, ‘OK, well if that works for you.’ It’s like, ‘No, do better. You can do better. You have a responsibility to do better.’”

“He’s just a caring, loving sweetheart of a human being,” Pete Davidson said. He’s given the “Saturday Night Live” star confidence in what to wear. “I’m a shy person,” Mr. Davidson said, “and Tan has helped me try things out of my comfort zone.”

Mr. France is quick to dismantle any preconceived notions about success and stardom for anyone who asks. “I’m very Asian — we don’t know how to filter the things that we desperately want to say,” he said with a laugh. “The things I say are very frank: ‘Don’t do this. I don’t like that. Do this instead.’ If you don’t agree, so be it. This is just my opinion.”

But when filming the first season of “Queer Eye,” he feared that any missteps — a hero mis-measuring him or herself before the shoot, a store refusing to permit filming at the last-minute, a tailor not altering quickly enough for the final reveal — would reflect poorly on him.



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