So there we were, a small group of friends casually lounging on the shabby-chic sofas that populate the fabled environs of that most exclusive of Hollywood playgrounds, Chateau Marmont, when I realized that no one was paying any attention to Kate Hudson. The stunning movie star was patiently waiting for someone—anyone—to direct her to her seat, to no avail. The reason? Sitting next to me were three members of the “Fab Five,” stars of the then-hottest show on television, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and members of the hotel’s staff were noticeably excited to be in the trio’s presence.
The monster-hit show’s style sheriff Carson Kressley and interior design master Thom Filicia were hilariously holding court (as is their nature), but it was grooming expert and resident heartthrob Kyan Douglas who made for a most curious addition to the irreverent gathering.
Douglas, a style contributor to ratings juggernaut Rachael Ray, was sitting next to me, doing what he so often did on screen: half participate, half observe. Kyan’s telegenic appeal is rooted in his natural ability to simultaneously be at a party and just look on. It’s his “I love these guys/Can you believe these guys?” dichotomy that has served him well throughout his television career. And it was in full effect this particular celebrity-filled evening.
Born Hugh Edward Douglas Jr., in Miami, Kyan was raised in Florida before moving to Dallas to study philosophy at Brookhaven College. A little later, Douglas attended Loyola University in New Orleans to major in television production and theater studies.
A decade and a half ago, Douglas moved to New York City to work for beauty giant Aveda, where he helped create the Aveda Institute, a hairstyling and grooming school. He went on to become a top-rated hair colorist at Arrojo Studio in Manhattan and began his television career in earnest, working on the makeover shows What Not to Wear and While You Were Out. Then, Douglas auditioned for Queer Eye and, on the spot, was offered the role of grooming guru.
Douglas was an important component of that life-changing show, and Queer Eye won the 2004 Emmy for “Outstanding Reality Program” and was nominated in the same category the following year. These five men hit the zeitgeist at precisely the right time and were taking full advantage.
Back at the Chateau Marmont, I whisper to Douglas that both Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek (sexy in matching pony tails, jeans and white T-shirts) are huddled together on the corner sofa directly behind me, and he seems genuinely surprised that he’s even in the room with these famous women. Unbelievably shy, Douglas is by far the most guarded member of the Fab Five about his personal life (though he’s acknowledged dating Queer As Folk actor Robert Gant as well as publicist Gregory Durham). I then point out that Ms. Hudson is still waiting for someone to help her. Instinctively, Kyan almost gets up to find her a seat himself. His empathy, coupled with his authentic peace-not-war demeanor, is at once contagious and quite attractive.
As the Gorgeous Kate crisis is resolved (finally), Douglas refocuses his attention on the hysterical high jinks that both Kressley and Filicia are unleashing on all of us. And, boy, we’re all in it now—shouting, whooping it up, laughing with tears streaming from our eyes. Joyful, delicious chaos. And through it all, there is Kyan Douglas, smiling his bemused smile at the entire situation, undoubtedly wondering how he got to this moment in the first place.
I, for one, would love a bit more of my friend Kyan Douglas’ detached engagement skills. It suits him well. Namaste, brother.
For me, luxury is time—time to be with good friends, time to follow your passions and your heart and time to explore life. The greatest luxury I have ever experienced was the luxury of being able to take a year off of work and take care of my mom when she was in the process of her death. It was the most precious, luxurious year of my life.
What’s the biggest grooming mistake men make?
Oh boy, just one, eh? [Laughs] It really depends on where in the country we’re talking about. I see a lot of overly groomed eyebrows and way-too-stiff hair gel in the Northeast. In the South and Northwest, a lot of ear and nose hair and wild, untrimmed eyebrows. I think, overall, most guys miss the details.
Things men can do to look better?
Well, it’s a tough one, especially during the holidays, but taking care of the skin is key. A gentle cleanser, an appropriate moisturizer (one with retinols if you’re over 40) and protecting the skin from the sun are all important for looking your best.
Who’s the best-groomed celebrity right now?
New England Patriots quarterback [and supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s husband] Tom Brady. Great athlete, good looking and a sense of style all his own.
Do you miss the other members of Queer Eye, the “Fab Five”?
Yes, of course I miss those guys! How could I not? We shared a life experience that was just incredible—and truly overwhelming at times. I think we’ll always have that bond. Besides, those guys are just so damned funny. Who wouldn’t miss them?
Let’s talk about your recent trip to India: Was it life changing?
Well, it’s not India that’s life changing; life is always changing. Like many seekers, I have a tendency to look “out there” for meaning in my spiritual life. What I discovered in India is that I never had to go anywhere to reside in the absolute; it is always already here, right now.
Tell me a secret.
I’m a bona fide fantasy and sci-fi geek.
Three words that best describe you.
Oh, boy! Wow, it’s so hard to describe yourself. It’s like, which version of me do you want to know about? Let’s see: I’m introspective. I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m a total goofball. So that makes me a romantic, introspective goofball. [Laughs]
In five years, Kyan Douglas is…
I have no idea. Truly. I’m just trying to be as alive and peaceful as I can be, here and now. But I do have a recurring fantasy of owning a farm with some goats, chickens and bees.