’ello, My Name Is Simon
The Fab Five find themselves gearing up to go abroad for an episode of “Queer Eye for the British Guy.” Already, this has international incident written all over it. Instead of watching happy feet scamper off into an SUV, we see a plane! And the flight attendants serve champagne! Thousands of feet in the atmosphere, Thom (I think) and Ted go through the little bag of goodies each passenger gets on the flight. Thom says his favorite feature is the ear plugs. Ted agrees so they don’t have to listen to “you know who”—“the loud blonde” of the bunch. Do I detect all that underlying animosity finally surfacing?
Speaking of, the loud blonde Carson is lecturing about how planes can be fun because the seats go all the way flat. Not the cheap seats, Carson!
Ted sidles up with a laptop and reminds them that they’re on a mission. Simon Britton is a 34 year old ‘80s pop star icon. He’s no longer an icon, otherwise they guys wouldn’t be heading across the large pond to make him over. The picture on the laptop is not the most complimentary pic of poor Simon. Ted describes him as “Simply Red,” which Thom says is “simply tragic.” Heehee! That does describe Simon perfectly. He’s like Carrot-Top gone wrong—as if Carrot-Top weren’t so wrong already. Simon Red is a music producer and is in a band called “Red Rhythm.” So the theme for tonight is RED. He has a girlfriend named Mary, a small health-hazard flat, and style reminiscent of what Carson calls Cajagoogoo. And I have no idea if I’m spelling that right, but I don’t care because, I mean, come on! What kind of band name is that? Okay, fine. It’s Kajagoogoo. I hope you children of the ‘80s are happy. Their mission, they decide, is to get Simon Red ready to show his woman a good time and have a successful CD release party.
The guys are very excited about this whole international thing. Carson says he’s never done a British guy before. Thom doubts that. They all settle into their seats and the plane flies in very Monty Python-like fashion through paper-cartoon London landmarks.
Credits. Kyan can blow me with that hair dryer any day. Apparently London also has an intersection of Gay Street and Straight Street. And we end on the Union Jack. Because they’re in England, you know.
The boys voice over a cheer as we see an obligatory shot of Tower Bridge which most people think is London Bridge.
The FF run up to a small yellow door in a large brick building and pile into Simon Red’s flat. Simon Red is wearing worn-out overalls and a neon green sweater. His hair? Still red and frizzy and curly and Medusa-like. He actually answers the door with his hair pushed forward to cover his face which, I guess, is humorous. Carson plows through Simon Red to find Mary and immediately console her. Ha. Mary looks like the woman with the big eyes from “Boston Public” combined with the woman with the big eyes from “Ally McBeal.” Kyan notes that Simon Red has a lot of hair. Thanks, Master of the Obvious. Thom says that Simon Red is very Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Yes! That’s what I was trying to think of when I saw the overalls. As in, “Come on, Eileen, is Simon Red for real?!” Actually, Simon Red reminds me of Brian the Artist in overalls who had a “crack den” of a living room in Season 1.
The flat is more of a Hazmat site and they should all be wearing big goofy rubber suits with helmets. The ceiling falls apart when Jai touches it. White stuff comes pouring down and they all laugh. Because asbestos is funny. He has a sagging blue couch in the living room with a dirty-white carpet. Kyan notes that there’s no toilet in the bathroom and is confused. But I think in London, people have water closets, which are little rooms specifically for toilets, separate from the rest of a typical American bathroom. Or I could be making that up, but that’s what I’m going with for now. Ted finds an old CD with Simon Red on the cover in black lipstick. It’s very Goth. Ted says he’s Cyndi Lauper. Simon Red corrects, “No. Kenny G.” Ted’s like, “Is that better?” Heehee.
The kitchen has crap all over the place. No counter space at all and all the cupboards are open. The bathtub barely fits Little Man Jai. The walls in the kitchen are all school bus yellow. The walls in the rest of the house are falling apart much like the ceiling. Large holes reveal live wires. And the walls are stained or growing something. Thom says it’s “real crud” on the wall, “not faux crud.” The bedroom is a pale yellow with oak wood furniture and really isn’t that bad. Mary says she likes it. Thom finds a picture of someone in heavy make-up and asks, “Is this your mother?” Simon Red exclaims, “That’s me!” Thom answers, “That’s so unfortunate!” Ha!
The one redeeming quality of the flat is the garden, which is outside and away from the bacteria. Lots of lush green plants.
Kyan is back telling Simon Red to cut his hair. The second theme of today’s episode is HAIR.
Jai examines a mystery food morsel on the couch. Apparently, that’s where they eat all their meals. Jai is wearing oversized lilac tinted sunglasses. I’m not sure if they’re Simon Red’s or Jai’s.
Back out in the garden, Thom says it’s his favorite room in the house. Hee. Is Thom always this funny? I think I may be, oh no, falling for him! It’s always been Kyan for me, but a gal can change, right? Oh, wait a minute, they’re gay. Nevermind. The garden is a little piece of heaven directly under the flight path of every 747 leaving London. My aunt lives in a house like that. You can read the numbers on the bottoms of the planes, they fly so low. Very loud. But kinda cool.
In the kitchen, they find pictures of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Oh, no, I mean Simon Red’s music partner Clifford. Or Cliff. While grabbing some more pictures, Kyan knocks over an ugly blue vase that crashes to the floor. Coincidence? Hmmm.
Carson and Ted find out that Mary and Simon Red have been together for ten months, and Simon Red eats everything out of tins (cans?). Nothing fresh. He doesn’t cook. Which is why he doesn’t need counter space. But he does own a bacteria-infested tea maker thing. Jai looks at it and says, “Omigod, you’re kidding me!” He’s horrified.
Mary follows Kyan in the bathroom, who’s going through the lack of products Simon Red has. Mary says that Simon Red has an eye-puffiness problem. Then, she leaves the flat. Kyan returns to the hair conversation, and Simon Red says he’s scared of change. I empathize! I had shoulder-length hair in second grade and then my mom made me get it layered (read: look like a boy) and thinned out (read: not styleable for the future). So now I have hair that goes almost to my waist and I’m never cutting it. Ever. By the way, Kyan is in a suit which makes him very yummy. He calls Simon Red’s hair a mask and suggests he think about cutting it. Obsess much?
Jai plays Simon Red’s newest single on a dusty CD player. They rock out a bit. Meanwhile, Carson still can’t get over how he can’t have tea because he doesn’t want to make it in a “vat of sea monkeys.” Save the Sea Monkeys! Back to Jai, talking about Simon Red’s performing that night.
Suddenly, Cliff appears. Carson calls out, “The hottie I ordered is here!” Cliff is pretty good looking. A bit built. Short spikey hair. Tight gray t-shirt. Clean shaven. Yeah, he’s hot. He’s happy about the make-over. He says that Simon Red has a really bad sweater that’s black with pumps. Pumps? That’s what I heard him say. Carson makes him put it on. It has bumps of black on it. Basically, Carson describes it best when he calls Cliff “the man of a thousand nipples.”
In the kitchen, Ted is appalled at the instant food diet.
Somewhere in the living room, Carson knocks over a CD rack.
Simon Red is in the garden, cheering about the flight pattern. It’s changing! All the boys gather round to wave at the planes. Fun. They all hop into a London taxi. As they drive away, they all talk about Simon Red’s RED HAIR.
Commercial break. British Airways flies to London, in case you were wondering.
Mary says Simon Red is too attached to his hair, which is too long and too stringy.
Simon Red’s friend says Simon Red’s hair is a trademark.
Cliff says, “I’m glad it’s his and not mine.” Hee. We like Cliff.
Back in the cab, Thom and Carson call Simon Red scary and show him how to wave like the Queen. Cut to Ted, Jai, and Cliff cleaning in fast forward mode. Cut back to Thom at the furniture store with Simon Red in tow. Some obligatory couch sitting. They search for “mini” furniture because the flat is so small. Thom wants to give him a hip place because Simon Red has hipness inside. He tries to be hip with his clothes but he fails. Ha. They choose armless black chairs that are very much like Todd Oldham’s collection of Snap furniture. Simon Red says that those chairs may cause Mary to move in. Thom says that his TV trays are depressing. Simon Red explains that they were a gift from Cliff. Thom says, “And Cliff is straight, right?” As if that’s the explanation of the bad taste. Or he’s getting the dirt on Hottie Cliff. Thom is also disturbed by the absence of a coffee table. I, for one, am opposed to coffee tables. They take up space in the middle of the room that could be used for other things like dancing and jumping jacks. Simon Red says that because of the lack of space, the coffee table would be in the way. Thom shows him a circle table that has different circles that spin outward and back in for more space and less space, depending on when you need the space. Well, that’s kinda cool but would still get in the way of my jumping jacks. Simon Red likes the glass and silver swirly table and thinks it could be his new toy.
Moving on to Jai at circus school. Yes, circus school. And now ensues the stretch of justification for being at circus school: Simon Red likes planes. Therefore, Simon Red likes to fly. Ergo, Simon Red will like swinging on a trapeze in circus school. What? The trapeze instructor is 80. Jai wears a royal blue jumpsuit. Mary’s there in a navy blue Juicy suit. Simon Red changes into some black spandex get-up.
Jai swings and has done this before. He’s upside-down. He’s flipping. He’s graceful. He wants to join the circus and make out with the bearded lady. Or is the bearded lady in the carnival? Simon Red goes next and swings less gracefully. Mary giggles. He loves it. Then Mary goes. And SCREECHES THE ENTIRE TIME. She sounds like a hungry alley cat. When she finishes, they gather around the 80 year old circus person and affirm that they’ve loved the adventure. Now can someone please make Simon Red change back into the overalls? Yes, they’re better than the black get-up.
Elsewhere in London, Ted takes Simon Red into the Café Spice Namaste. He’s going to teach him to cook a romantic dinner using curry. Cause nothing says “I love you” more than the aroma of curry. They get help from a snooty gourmet chef who has an accent but it doesn’t sound British so I’m not sure where he’s from. Snootyville maybe. They then fry up some beans, another ingredient that screams romance and helps to get your groove on. Simon Red suddenly realizes that there’s a big difference in taste between tinned goods and fresh food. Yes! Fresh food tastes fresh! Not tinny! Then they make flatbread. Mmmm, butter. Lots of banging is involved in the bread-making process. How many courses is this meal going to be? Isn’t this a lot for someone who has never cooked before? Come on, Ted. Have a heart. By the way, Simon Red’s hair is down and all over the place during the whole time. Because hair is the special ingredient that will win your lover over.
Back in the London taxi with Carson, who wants to visit Chuck and Liz. Huh? Oh, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth. That may sound like a really corny joke, but Carson’s delivery had me keeled over with laughter for a moment. On the street, Carson runs into Graham Norton. He’s a talk show host. And he lives in London. And because London is such a small city, of course they would run into Graham Norton. He asks Simon Red if he works in children’s television because his hair is rather clown-like. Graham hops in the cab to shop with the boys. They get out at Harvey Nick’s (Harvey Nichols—the top fashion store in London). Oh, wait, Graham is leaving. So he went for a two-minute cab ride to make fun of Simon Red’s hair. Okay then.
Carson shows Simon Red a bunch of tailored jackets that are from British designers, who started the whole tailored look. Okay, I need to go into a diatribe here. I know that Carson knows all about fashion and he dresses everyone else fabulously. But why do fashionistas get away with wearing, oh, let’s say a back shirt with a big red Pegasus on it like an 80s iron decal and plaid pants? I’m just wondering.
Simon Red gets dressed in deconstructed, rock’n’roll, tailored clothes. He’s got on a maroon t-shirt, gray blazer, jeans, and brown boots. Carson switches the jacket to one with stripes for a bit of a different look. Then sends him to change into a more dressed up look in a different gray jacket, lilac shirt, and black, knee-length top coat over gray pants. Almost a suit but it’s still separate pieces. Separate, unlike the overalls.
After the clothes shopping, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Enter into the Daniel Hershehon Salon. I know that’s spelled very wrong. Move on. Kyan has wine. Enter theme three: GETTING SLOSHED. Simon Red is whiney. Kyan gives Simon Red the option to leave. Simon Red admits that cutting his hair is the only thing he’s scared of. Kyan calls him a big baby which is funny, but still not very sympathetic. Simon Red drinks and tells the stylist he wants something funky. Kyan then hugs Simon Red. The cutting commences. The drinking continues, glass after glass. When it’s all said and done, Simon Red looks amazing! It’s really short! A bit shaggy on top, but not very long. Simon Red might keel over. He needs another glass of wine. He’s gone from a straggly caveman to boy-next-door-with-a-great-jawline. He still has a scruffy beard which I think Kyan might tell him to clean up but leave on his face. Cause he’s a rock star.
Mary says Simon Red can’t boil water.
Simon Red’s friend says Simon Red knows only two things in the kitchen: the tins and the microwave. Hopefully, he doesn’t put the tin in the microwave.
Mum says he’ll need a lot of practice.
Back in the taxi, Simon Red says he doesn’t love the hair but Mary will. They enter the house and uncover his eyes, and…He keeps his eyes closed because he’s scared to look. Aww, that’s cute. Finally, he opens his eyes and screams like a little girl. He loves it. Gone are the scummy walls, replaced by octagon patterned blue and white wall paper. Optical illusion like. The armless black chairs are pushed together to form a couch. He has a flat screen TV and the circle table to save space. He also has a gift from British Airways—a model of a plane signed by a pilot. Not a specific, special pilot. Just a pilot.
The garden is a little piece of heaven, but more so now. There’s an outdoor fireplace, tiki torches, and an awning. The walls are white-washed. There’s now furniture out there. Simon Red exclaims, “Brilliant!”
Into the bathroom for Kyan’s “Grooming Magic.” He gives Simon Red cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliant, and eye pads. Apparently, he needs to soak these little pads in water and then stick them to his face to reduce the puffiness around his eyes. Yeah, he’s really going to do that every day when the Fab Five aren’t there.
Carson schools Simon Red on color in the bedroom. He says to go for colors like purple and maroon. No orange or red because his hair is red. He dresses him in dark jeans, a purple toned sweater, and sunglasses. Whoa. Simon Red is red hot! The boys agree. Then Carson puts him in a semi-glittery black outfit which he should wear on stage for the performance.
Ted takes him in the newly-clean kitchen to set him up with dough and jumbo prawns. Simon Red asks, “Are they still alive?” Heehee. They make a garlic-ginger-corriander-lemon-chile thing in the food processor. Simon Red begins to second-guess his ability to do this dinner thing. Ted tells him to have a glass of wine and just relax. He and Kyan are really attitudey-put-you-in-your-place-quit-your-bitchin in this episode. Simon Red is going to be ossified by the end of this episode.
Jai takes Simon Red aside to get him pumped. Jai’s label shouldn’t be Culture Vulture. It should be the Electronics Fairy because he gives Simon Red a digital surround sound system.
They guys gather round to recap. Thom gives him a bacteria-less tea maker. Simon Red thanks them for coming to the UK and changing his life. They all toast cheers, and the FF leave. Simon Red sinks into his couch and mumbles, “Peace at last.” Ha.
Hip Tip: Ridiculously large centerpiece on your table? No, no, no. Small is better. You keep telling yourself that, Thom. Whatever gets you through the day. (just kidding—you have my heart).
Mum says that Mary is good for her son.
Mary says, “We’re serious,” and she wouldn’t be with someone with that awesomely bad hair if she weren’t serious. Hee. I like Mary.
The “London Loft.” Not the normal critic couch but it’ll do. Jai says he’s homesick. Ted says “making over guys in London is a little different.” They answer that Simon Red is a little different.
Simon Red trims his beard but doesn’t shave, as I suspected. He has serious problems with the eye pads. Those are going out the window when this is over. His towel hangs off of him all disheveled and thin. Thom says, “It’s amazing he can find food and water all by himself.” Heeheehee! Oh, God. Close up of Simon Red scratching his ass. Kyan yells something about “digging” which makes it ten times more disturbing and he’s lucky he’s in that suit because that’s saving him from crossing over onto my I Don’t Like You List this episode.
Simon Red dons his purple shades sweater and fitted jeans. He gets into the clean kitchen and dumps out a bunch of huge Madagasgaran prawns. They’re moving! That’s why he had asked Ted if they’re alive. Because dead things usually do not move. Jai is mortified. His face is indescribably priceless. His eyeballs might pop out. Kyan! Ted! Get Jai some wine.
Simon Red then does some odd grunting at the food processor. The guys are finding the grunts to be animalistic. He then frets over touching the prawns. Jai says he’s in “prawn panic” mode and Ted yells that he’s “Shrimpaphobic.” Simon Red moves onto the bread. He puts it in a pan. And flips it, omelet style. Pretty good for someone who doesn’t cook. Kyan reprimands Ted for putting Simon Red through a “culinary obstacle course.” That’s what I’m sayin’! Back to more grunting and running between garden and kitchen. He sets up candles and then, much to the guys’ amusement, finishes off another bottle of booze.
Mary knocks at the door and Simon Red calls out, “Coming, Love!” Awww. Mary, who waits outside while Simon Red gets his jacket on to complete the look, calls back, “It’s cold!” Heehee. He opens the door and her eyes get even bigger, which I thought wouldn’t be possible. She loves the hair. She loves the clothes. She loves him. Hooray. He takes her into the kitchen and shows her how he can flip the bread. She’s impressed.
He brings her out to the garden and she gasps. Carson calls the garden her “G Spot.” Hee. Isn’t it cold outside? I guess it’s warm near the outdoor stove thing. Simon Red continues calling her Princess and Sweetheart and he fixes his hair in the mirror in between. He needs to learn the whole rule about not playing with hair when cooking. They sit to eat and Mary gushes over his new young look. He feels good. She says that the old hair was just so wrong. Simon Red exclaims, “Now you tell me!” Heehee.
Kissy kissy kissy. Planes fly overhead. Carson calls out the flight numbers a la some airport PA announcer.
Simon Red breaks out the sunglasses (it’s night and inside, but he’s a rock star, so it’s okay I guess), and they head out for his gig at Scala. This will be his first time on stage in six years. Cliff and the rest of the band barely recognize Simon Red when he comes in. Cliff’s jaw literally drops and he can’t stop smiling. He says that Simon Red looks so much better. They pour some alcohol into glasses and toast to Simon Red’s new look. Carson says that they’re too busy getting drunk to care about anything else. At least someone has caught on to the domino drinking effect going on here.
Mum comes backstage and gasps. “Is that for real or is that a wig?” Mum is on the verge of tears. Simon Red comes over and hugs her. “It’s real.” She says it will take some getting used to. Kyan takes this very personally and says, “It’s always the mothers!” He huffs. Then yells at the screen, “It looks great!” Cause he’s the expert and the hair was his Project. Carson says the hair criticism is from the woman rocking the dark auburn Dorothy Hamill haircut. Ha!
Simon Red changes into the black outfit with glitter accents. He has an in/out dilemma as he can’t remember whether or not to tuck his shirt in. He then heads out on stage, beer in hand! Thom says he’s nervous that Red Rhythm will “really really suck.” Heehee!
Simon Red plays to the crowd, asking them if they came to see his haircut. They cheer because that’s what audiences do. A rock star can say anything, and the audience will cheer. “I like malaria!” And the crowd goes wild. So Simon Red then gives a shout out to Mary. Then the song ensues.
The lyrics are: “Will someone call a doctor”. . . “Tell me lies.” Are they aware it’s not the 80’s anymore?
Carson and Thom boogie down. The lyrics include the word boogie. Jai joins in. Bra-less girls dance in the audience. The song ends in a rap. Everyone claps. I’m not sure why.
In the London Loft, the FF all agree that Simon Red secretly loves the short hair and needs to take some time before he admits it. He’s a rock start. Cheers Queers!
The tips for this week? Well, there are none. Only rolling credits. Because they’re jet lagged, I assume.
One international make-over complete without much incident, but with much Red Red Wine.
–Christina M. Rau/GatsbyGirl
Will you buy Red Rhythm’s album? Email: email@example.com