Interior designer Thom Filicia did his best to wheedle into that space in my heart occupied by fashion expert Carson Kressley.
Filicia and Kressley made up half the team of guys who invaded homes for the better on Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I met Filicia for the first time last week, when he signed his new book, "American Beauty," while making an appearance at a private opening for Edina's new Kohler Signature Store. I told Thom that Kressley may be my favorite all-time celebrity with whom I've ever spent time. I think we've hung out three times, and Carson always encourages me to quote outrageous remarks many celebrities wouldn't want attached to their names. A "boob buffet" is how Carson described the scene at one now-defunct restaurant, for example.
Filicia agreed that his co-star is great fun. Filicia gave no hint that my rhapsodizing about Carson had resonated until I joined Thom in a vibrating Kohler bathtub, sans water.
"You love Carson, but have you ever taken a bath with him?" Filicia joked.
Filicia was full of charm, a tidbit about a possible "Queer Eye" reunion and some straight talk about those Bravo shows featuring an endless cast of ridiculous housewives.
Q Tell me about that "h." Is that a rich family thing? An ethnicity thing? Did you add the "h" or did your parents?
A What it is is that my brother's name is Julius. When I was going to that age where I wanted to become Thom instead of Tommy, we were walking through a mall in Upstate New York and he said to me, If you switch your name from Tommy to Thom, you have to spell it that way. And he was pointing to Thom McAn Shoes.
Q Do you stay in touch with your "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" castmates?
A I do. We were just texting and calling and talking about a week ago, because this summer will be our 10-year anniversary for "Queer Eye." We're already discussing what we're going to do to celebrate. Yeah [there'll be a celebration on TV]. Pretty sure.
Q When I write the story of the Bravo network, I'm going to say that "Queer Eye" put that channel on the map, not these silly housewives shows.
A Trust me, we feel like bad parents and the housewives are our children. We're not really proud. [Laughter.] Was that terrible? [More laughter.]
Q What's the first thing you would do at Honey Boo Boo's house, interior decoratingwise? Strike a match to it?
A There are a lot of boo-boos in that house -- let's just put it that way.
Q You are a "never-too-cold-to-be-cool guy," but I see you are wearing socks tonight?
A Yes. I am wearing socks. I love socks. I love not wearing socks. I generally do not wear socks when the weather is [warmer]. I look forward to a little chill in the weather, so that I can put on all my socks. I definitely wear socks that have a lot of personality. I choose not to wear anonymous socks. Either no socks or fun socks. That's my motto.
Q Let's pretend that you're checking into a ritzy hotel. What interior design element don't you want to see in your hotel room?
A What I don't want to see is a really gross bedspread [laughter] that's made out of some fabric that could probably go to the moon and back and withstand re-entry into the atmosphere and not get damaged.
Q What's the most beautiful movie you've ever seen, interior designwise? Mine is Susan Hayward's "Back Street."
A Oh, god, there are so many. "Moulin Rouge."
Q What's in your refrigerator right now?
A Two bottles of champagne. About six types of different mustard. Saratoga water. Cranberry juice. A whole bunch of delicious stinky cheese and chocolate. There's always some kind of chocolate.
Q I know you're a rich man, but do you know how much richer you could become if you developed a booby trap for the medicine cabinet for nosy party guests?
A Yes. Absolutely. I have been one of those nosy party guests. Not so much in real life but on television. But it is funny to see what people have in their medicine cabinet. [Laughter.] I sometimes put in funny things, like animals.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz."