“Queer Eye” member Antoni Porowski comes to Marquette

Porowski+is+well+known+for+his+role+in+%22Queer+Eye.%22%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+of+MUSG
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“Queer Eye” member Antoni Porowski comes to Marquette

Porowski is well known for his role in

Porowski is well known for his role in "Queer Eye." Photo courtesy of MUSG

Porowski is well known for his role in "Queer Eye." Photo courtesy of MUSG

Porowski is well known for his role in "Queer Eye." Photo courtesy of MUSG

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Feb. 6, from before 5 p.m. until doors opened at 6:30 p.m., a line of eager students stretched from the doors of Weasler Auditorium, inside the Alumni Memorial Union, toward the campus ministry side of the AMU and up the stairs toward the ballrooms. The occasion? The latest speaker in Marquette University Student Government’s Speaker Series.

Antoni Porowski, the food and wine expert of Netflix’s show “Queer Eye,” came to Marquette to share his experiences, answer questions and provide an on-stage cooking demonstration.

The first season of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” was released in 2018, with its fifth season set to come out sometime this year. The show is a reboot of a reality show of the same name that aired from 2003 to 2007, which was originally titled “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” before shortening its name in order to widen the show’s scope. In both the original and the reboot, each episode follows an individual, who was nominated by their family or friends, as the “Fab Five” — five people who identify as LGBTQ+ and are considered experts in their respective fields — share tips and knowledge about food and wine, fashion, grooming, home design and culture and lifestyle.

In the show, Porowski teaches the nominated individuals about how to make dishes and offers tips on healthy diets and the benefits of cooking. The other members of the “Fab Five” are Tan France, who teaches about fashion and helps individuals construct a new wardrobe; Jonathan Van Ness, who provides tips on grooming, from hair to skin care; Bobby Berk, who redesigns the nominated individual’s house; and Karamo Brown, who provides uplifting motivation talks and helps individuals with self-confidence and self-reflection.

Madison Hicks, a senior in the College of Communication and MUSG programs vice president, has been in charge of organizing MUSG’s speaker series for the year.

She said that in the past, the MUSG speaker series often brings multiple speakers a semester. However, in the fall semester, MUSG just had one speaker, when it partnered with the Black Student Council to bring Charlamagne Tha God to Marquette in October. Hicks said she thought it would be a good idea to bring a single large-name speaker in the spring as well, rather than multiple, lesser-known speakers.

“I kind of thought … let’s just … use most of our budget, time and energy to get one major speaker in the spring semester,” Hicks said.

She said it was also helpful that Porowski was currently touring for his cookbook, “Antoni in the Kitchen,” which was released in September 2019. His schedule lined up.

“We had a full house, which was incredible … we had to stop it at 500 because we were literally going to be like a fire safety hazard,” Hicks said. “That has been the best speaker turnout in at least the four years that I’ve been here. I don’t know about other years, but since I have been working on it, that has been the best turnout attendance-wise. So that was super cool.”

Porowski’s talk on Thursday had three main segments: a discussion between him and Emma Mentley, assistant director of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, a Q&A where audience members had the opportunity to line up and ask questions and a cooking demo.

During his presentation, Porowski covered topics ranging from his own upbringing to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and the meaning behind “Queer Eye.”

“I think ‘Queer Eye’ in its essence is a show about helping other people … we are really ourselves,” Porowski said during his presentation.

He said that unlike some other reality shows — which he also admitted can sometimes be enjoyable to watch — ‘Queer Eye’ is not about creating drama or starting arguments.

“This is a perfect stranger who doesn’t know who we are who’s opening up their home, telling us things that they’ve never shared with another human being, and we’re trying to figure out how to help them,” Porowski explained during his talk. “And sometimes we come in and they align with a lot of our belief systems, other times they don’t. But I think the ones who don’t actually make for more interesting episodes, because you come in there and you get to find their humanity, and you get to find out about the things that actually tie us together, the things that we have in common.”

A repeated theme throughout Porowski’s presentation was promoting kindness to others.

For Kathryn McCarthy, a senior in the College of Communication, her 1.5 hour wait in the cold before the event to get a good seat paid off.

After the Q&A segment, Porowski asked the crowd, “How many of you legit don’t remember the last time you cooked?”

McCarthy said she was one of many to raise their hands, but Antoni singled her out and pulled her on stage for the cooking demonstration.

“This stuff does not happen to me at all. I’m never the lucky type. I don’t even win bingo,” McCarthy said.

With a cart of ingredients on stage, Porowski had McCarthy assist him in making a carrot salad.

“You can tell that he was genuinely talking to the crowd, and that’s what I really liked about him,” McCarthy said. “He was not the type of person that had like a script. He didn’t have some type of flashy thing going on. He was genuinely there to educate us. Everything just seemed very natural and he was very down-to-earth.”

McCarthy said after the event, friends and strangers came up to her to hug her. She said people she did not know asked to hug McCarthy because she hugged Porowski, and some asked to take pictures with McCarthy and the box of salt used in the demonstration that Porowski gave to her as a gift.

This story was written by Kelli Arseneau. She can be reached at kelli.arseneau@marquette.edu.