A Touch of Sass

Carson Kressley of 'Queer Eye' fame aims his signature biting wit at Baltimore before turning his attenion to the Miss USA pagent

April 18, 2006|By TANIKA WHITE | TANIKA WHITE,SUN REPORTER

Do the Miss USA contestants need a makeover?

Maybe the 51 beauties don't, but pageant officials apparently thought this year's show could use one.

They've hired the quippy king of makeover shows, Carson Kressley, to work the room during Friday's telecast.

Kressley, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, will play the role of "color man" -- a first for the competition, in its 55th year. He's charged with enhancing the broadcast with his commentary "on everything from the ladies' gowns and their beauty looks to their on-stage presentation," officials say.

Look for Kressley to be out-and-about in the aisles of 1st Mariner Arena, the site of this year's pageant, cracking wise in his signature way. He'll pair up with current Miss USA Chelsea Cooley, who also will offer some commentary before giving up her crown, and he'll add a bit of levity to the co-hosting chore shared by Nancy O'Dell, of Access Hollywood, and Drew Lachey, this year's winner of Dancing with the Stars.

We caught up with Kressley last week and picked his fashionable-and-funny brain for some tidbits about the pageant and his thoughts on Baltimore.

The good news: Baltimore looks fabulous in person and onscreen, he says. The bad news: He has no idea who is going to win.

Hello, Carson! How are you?

You'll never guess where I am! I am under the Baltimore Harbor! Seriously. I never get down here, but right now, when you called, I was in the Fort McHenry Tunnel! I'm going to Virginia today to look at a horse, and I decided to drive. Will you be buying a horse?

Maybe, if he likes me. It's a little-known secret [that I ride horses]. You were here a few days last week doing some taping with the Miss USA contestants, right? What did you think?

I have to say, "I heart Charm City!" I really wanted to say, "I heart Baltimore," but it's too long. You can't even get that on a T-shirt. What were you doing while you were here?

Well, I was kind of hanging out with the girls most of the time, so I was surrounded by lots of beauty and glamour. There were lots of cheerleaders for some reason. There must have been some sort of cheerleader convention going on. It was all beauty queens and cheerleaders. So I felt right at home. And you stayed at the Wyndham, the same hotel with the contestants?

Umm-hmm. When I was checking into the hotel, the Boston Red Sox were checking out, and we did a show with the Boston Red Sox last year so it was like old home week. Or old homo week for me.

And then the Orioles were there, too ... well, they actually got their butt kicked that day, so we won't talk about the Orioles. But I love the orange and black! How did you get hooked up with Miss USA this year?

Well, I was a contestant many years ago. No, just kidding. The Miss Universe Organization, they were gracious enough to ask me to officiate as a judge at the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, [Thailand], last year and that was a lot of fun. This year, it was in Baltimore and they asked me, "Hey, would you be willing to work on the show this time?" So I said, "Baltimore, Bangkok? Same diff. I'm there."

And it was a much shorter plane ride. What will you be doing on the show?

You know I have no idea. I guess I should find out. Drew Lachey and Nancy O'Dell are hosting. I will be in the house somewhere with Chelsea Cooley, and she and I will be kind of giving commentary. It's kind of the blow-by-blow. You know how at football games you have John Madden? I'm the Miss USA version, just skinny and gay. But still blond. Are you a natural blond?

I have no idea what color my hair is anymore. We have to do DNA testing. What did you think of Baltimore's fashion? Did you cringe at all the khakis and blue work shirts?

I did notice that! I thought maybe there was some sort of Duck Head convention going on. But no, I guess that's all the time here. How would you give Baltimore a Queer Eye makeover?

The key to any city staying hip and cool is staying exposed to what's going on out there in terms of fashion and style. And Baltimore's a great city, there's a lot going on here that's good. But everybody, everywhere can benefit from just seeing what's out there, shopping at cool stores. I was down at Fells Point and there's some great, fun stuff out there.

Especially for the ladies, there's so many resources. There's no reason that you can't stay on the cutting edge of fashion.

There's books and magazines; there's online resources where you can shop online. There's places where you can get cool stuff no matter where you live, hon. You just slipped "hon" right in there like a pro.

Yeah, I just add "hon" to everything now. So you liked Baltimore's kitsch and charm?

I loved it. When I was in Fells Point, I went to the flea market and I bought a few things. And these two guys on motorcycles offered to give me a ride. And I thought, "even the bikers are friendly." Baltimore's very cosmopolitan but it has a little Southern charm, too.

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