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Published: Friday, 6/3/2005

Sox-ploitation? Boston ballplayers get 'Queer Eye' makeovers

Boston Red Sox center fi elder Johnny Damon receives a makeover, but refuses to get his hair cut. Boston Red Sox center fi elder Johnny Damon receives a makeover, but refuses to get his hair cut.

Baseball, apple pie, and the Fab Five?

The boys of Bravo meet the Boys of Summer on Tuesday when Queer Eye for the Straight Guy kicks off its new season at 10 p.m. with an episode featuring players from the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Taking the fashion field for the Bosox are Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Doug Mirabelli, and Jason Varitek.

The Sox may have reversed a long-standing curse last fall by winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years, but for the fashion and grooming mavens of Queer Eye, Damon & Co. still suffer from the curse of horrific style, sporting scraggly beards, unkempt hair, and wardrobes straight out of a locker room laundry bin.

Catcher Jason Varitek, who was flown in by helicopter for the event, receives a treatment. Catcher Jason Varitek, who was flown in by helicopter for the event, receives a treatment.
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That's the perfect challenge for the Queer Eye guys, a team of five gay men whose show extols the virtues of style, taste, and class. Each has a specialty - there's an interior designer, a fashion stylist, a chef, a beauty guru, and a "concierge of cool," who is responsible for all things hip, including music and pop culture.

Calling themselves the Fab Five, each week they transform a style-deficient straight man from drab to, well, fab. He is educated on everything from hair products to Prada, from feng shui to foreign films.

But for their show's season opener, the Fab Five - Carson Kressley, Jai Rodriguez, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, and Ted Allen - do something a little different. They invade the Red Sox spring training camp in Florida for the taping of the episode in March.

They show up armed with blow dryers, body wax, hair gel, and clothing that looks more suited to the pages of Vanity Fair than Sports Illustrated. The stadium's press room is converted into a spa, complete with areas for massages, manicures and pedicures, hair coloring and styling, back waxing, and, of course, changing rooms.

Amid much banter and double entendres among the fashionistas, the players, and their wives, there ensues a flurry of filing, shaving, clipping, massaging, and hair highlighting. Damon nixes a plan to shear his trademark long locks because he likes the look - plus he has a book deal that requires him to keep his hair long.

When Varitek joins his teammates after being flown in by helicopter from a road game 120 miles away, he's quickly stripped of his shirt and placed on a waxing table.

"You flew all the way here to have your back waxed?" asks a teammate. "That's really gay."

After a time, the makeovers are finished - to the untrained eye, it looks pretty much like the players got nothing more than a good scrubbing, a haircut, and a shave - and everybody is outfitted in stylish new duds.

When Damon emerges from the changing area in a spiffy sport coat, tie, and pinstriped pants, somebody comments that he no longer looks live a caveman.

"No, he looks like a caveman at a garden party," somebody else responds.

After the makeovers, the Fab Five and the Red Sox players join a bunch of Florida Little Leaguers in a scrimmage, during which Carson, the most openly gay member of the group, gets off his best line of the show:

"God, I'm getting good at sports lingo," he says. "I should watch Espen (meaning ESPN) more often."

After the game, the Little Leaguers are presented with a check for $100,000 to rebuild their baseball fields, which had been severely damaged by a hurricane.

A nice gesture indeed, and yet there's something unsettling about a group of young Little Leaguers chanting, "Fab Five! Fab Five!"

Just to make sure the fans in Boston tune in for the Queer Eye season opener next week, the Fab Five will be at Fenway Park on Sunday to throw out the first pitch at the Red Sox game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Sounds like fun.

Too bad it won't be on "Espen."

Contact Mike Kelly at: mkelly@theblade.com

or 419-724-6131.

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