Why let Taylor Swift have all the fun? Just a couple of months after making a cameo alongside his Queer Eye brethren in Swift’s exuberant, pro-LGBTQ video for “You Need to Calm Down,” Netflix star Bobby Berk is making his own pop star power plays.
The resident Queer Eye interiors guru’s talent isn’t limited to transforming the most hopeless homes into Domino-worthy living spaces; turns out, he can also carry a tune. In June, he and Brazilian artist Tiago released “Everybody,” a song celebrating Pride. Now he’s contributing vocals to an acoustic duet with singer-songwriter Alyssa Kayhill, whose song “Love Is” offers a powerful message about the worthiness of LGBTQ love.
“Our loves might not be the definition of what you say love is, but it’s just the same as everyone else’s,” Berk tells Yahoo Entertainment of the song, which Kayhill wrote for her girlfriend, who also happens to be his longtime friend.
“Our hearts beat just the same,” says Berk, who is married to Dewey Do. “Our feelings are just the same as quote-unquote ‘straight love.’ ... I love that I’m able to get this message out through music, because so many times music has a way of touching people way more than just words.”
Though his musical pursuits are currently resigned to “side project” status thanks to his busy Queer Eye schedule — he wrapped Season 5’s shoots in Philadelphia just last Sunday — Berk hopes that will change.
“It’s definitely something that I want to pursue more,” he says. “I’d love to put out an album, I’d love to do some concerts. It would definitely be fulfilling a dream of mine. It’s a huge passion.”
For now, he’s focusing on his design projects — including his own furniture line with A.R.T. Furniture — and awaiting the Nov. 1 release of Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!, a 4-episode special which sees the Fab Five transforming the Far East.
こんにちは Tokyo!!! Our special season, Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! is coming to Netflix November 1! CAN. YOU. BELIEVE. 🇯🇵🌈💕 pic.twitter.com/YSEncMQcQC— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) September 5, 2019
Berk says the team worked with a translator to “connect on an emotional level” with the show’s Japanese “heroes.” And while Japan was “way less different than I expected,” he found new challenges thanks to the country’s sparse style standards.
“Apartments in Japan are not only super-tiny, you can't hang anything on the walls, you can't paint the walls, you can't change the flooring, you can't really do anything,” he laughs. “So we had to get really creative about building cool furniture that, you know, stood on its own, and just touched the walls, and creating loft spaces and removable wallpaper. We had to get creative with design.”
But he says that the international specials — he has his heart set on Brazil next — help keep the show fresh.
“For us, it's starting to get a little repetitive, the amount of seasons we're putting out, doing things in the States,” he admits. “So going to Japan was very refreshing and kind of re-energized us because it was different. We didn't know what to expect. It kind of felt like our first four episodes that we did in Season 1.”
On a more serious note, Berk is also opening up about his father’s health. On Sunday, the Missouri native announced on social media that his dad has been diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time — a health crisis he attributes to the oil company Conoco (now ConocoPhillips), who he says “contaminated the well-water of my childhood home with propane, butane and methane.”
My father was diagnosed with cancer for the 4th time this week. @Conoco @ConocoPhillips contaminated the well-water of my childhood home with propane, butane, and methane that they irresponsibly stored in underground caverns. pic.twitter.com/i8cQtWh7kJ— Bobby Berk (@bobbyberk) September 8, 2019
“It’s lymphoma this time,” Berk tells Yahoo of the latest diagnosis, which he found out about while on the Queer Eye set. “It’s been something different every single time. At one point it was esophageal cancer and he had to have his esophagus removed and his stomach moved up to his throat, and completely learned how to eat again.
“It’s been a long, rough struggle,” he continues. “He was diagnosed the last time while we were filming Season 2. I remember sitting down while we were filming a loft scene and getting texts from my mom about him being diagnosed again and trying to fight back tears when we were filming. And then here we are, Season 5, being diagnosed again. It seems like about every two years for the last 10 years, a new type of cancer has grown inside of him.”
Berk undoubtedly has a lot to get off his chest — but don’t expect a book anytime soon.
“People are constantly asking, ‘Why don’t you have a book out? All the other boys have a book out,’” he says. “A book will come when I have a little bit more life to talk about.”
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