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Queer Eye's Fab Five Helped One Kansas Man Realize He's 'Worth The Effort'

Luke X. Martin
KCUR 89.3
Joey Greene is featured in the latest season of Netflix's hit reality show 'Queer Eye.'

When Joey Greene took a job at the Wildwood Outdoor Education Center in Lacygne, Kansas, he had no idea it would lead him to an appearance on Netflix's hit reality show, "Queer Eye."

Greene lived a simplified life in a deteriorating RV, even though the summer camp job provided a cabin. Greene enjoyed getting dirty, wasn't concerned with daily showers and didn't mind sleeping in a tent.

"Hucklebery Finn, he was sort of my idol in life — being civilized was stressful to him," Greene told KCUR's Up To Date. "I kind of feel the same way. I love hiking. I love being out away from everything ... I had kind of resigned to the fact that I was not going back inside, that I was an outside dweller."

Greene's new boss asked whether he'd be interested in being nominated for a spot on the show's third season, which was filmed in and around Kansas City. Greene jumped at the chance, his nomination was accepted and he said things haven't been the same since.

"All of a sudden the phone calls started happening and the process began, and it was like, 'Oh wow, this is like a real thing,'" Greene told KCUR's Up To Date.

Greene said he learned some practical lessons that he's using even after filming stopped.

In the show, cast members Karamo Brown, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness — collectively known as the "Fab Five" — examine different aspects of the participant's life, and provide feedback on ways to make improvements.

Credit C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
'Queer Eye' cast member Tan France, left, was joined by Missouri-raised cast member Bobby Berk and the rest of the Fab Five at an event at the Kansas City Public Library in November 2018.

"They looked at how I lived and what I liked about my life, and they tried to help me showcase that," Greene said.

With the help of the Fab Five and his teenage son, Isaac, Greene said he recognized that his lifestyle was conducive for him, but maybe not as appealing to his 13-year-old.

In his work, Greene said he regularly tries to help kids push their limits through challenging courses. His experience on the show was similiar.

Though he was nervous about what the Fab Five would think of him, "I wanted them to push my comfort zone," he said. "I think they did."

"They didn't try to put me into a house that they thought would look cool ... (they) found out a lot of things about my relationship with my son ... and then kind of tried to model the apartment after that," Greene said, "so that part of my life that might have been negative has now been kind of leveled out."

Credit Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Joey Greene with his son, Isaac, and girlfriend, Kelly, at KCUR studios.

Greene said the makeover was about more than just fashion and what to buy. Instead, the Fab Five provided practical suggestions specifically tailored to his life as an outdoorsman — how to best cook over a fire, for instance, and what style of pants best fit his lifestyle.

Greene said the experience also reminded him about the importance of following through, and to stop putting things off for another day.

"They showed me that, even though I'm pretty easy to get along with, even though I don't need a lot survive, it's worth the effort as a person," he said.

As for his Netflix debut, Greene said he has yet to see it.

"We're gonna try to do some different watch parties and stuff and gather with people," he said, "so that will be my first time seeing the episode."

Joey Greene spoke with Steve Kraske on a recent episode of KCUR's Up To Date. Hear their entire conversation here.

Elizabeth Ruiz is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org.