Clarkston mayor Ted Terry loved his time on ‘Queer Eye’

“They were looking for the anti-Trump”

Originally posted Monday, June 18, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

If 35-year-old Clarkston mayor Ted Terry ever runs for Georgia governor, he could use his episode of Netflix's "Queer Eye" as part of his campaign.

Debuting on Friday as part of season two, his episode is a largely flattering portrayal of Terry. In reality, he isn’t quite as much of a reclamation project as some other folks featured on the revamped show, which shot its first two seasons in metro Atlanta.

The Fab Five, as the makeover team is dubbed, immediately focused on his "resistance" beard, which Terry joked is very good at capturing food odors. The beard, as his girlfriend Andrea noted, is a bit ratty and more hippie than hipster.

And (spoiler alert!), the dreaded beard is gone by the end of the episode. I interviewed Terry, who filmed a week with “Queer Eye” nearly a year ago and he updated me on the beard.

"I have a little bit of stubble," he said. But he took Jonathan Van Ness' grooming tips seriously. "I have definitely upped my grooming game," he said. "I'm moisturizing!"

Reality TV, as we know, will often finesse a story line for pragmatic reasons. During the episode, it said Andrea nominated Ted for the show. That isn’t how it happened. The Netflix producers sought him out, he said.

“I got the impression but they didn’t say this that they were looking for a response to Trump,” Terry said. “They were looking for the anti-Trump.”

Terry certainly qualifies. He humble and self deprecating. He isn't wealthy and lives in a modest home in Clarkston. He eats healthy. And he's a life-long Democrat who has decriminalized marijuana and created a $15 minimum wage for employees.

The episode never references Trump directly though it’s sub-titled “Make Ted Great Again.”

He actually demurred at first to be on the show and suggested other people but the producers ultimately convinced him to jump aboard.

Terry is happy he was able to highlight that Clarkston - a major home for refugees - “is a welcoming place for immigrants and leads with compassion. That’s sort of the antithesis of what we’re seeing in the news or on Twitter from the president right now.”

Thanks to the show, his house has been nicely renovated so he can host dinner parties, his wardrobe was upgraded to give him a more mature look and Karamo Brown brought in a state speech champion to provide him pointers to improve his public speaking.

Terry appeared game to do anything to improve himself even attempting a rap battle.

"That was so awkward," Terry said. "I didn't know what I was doing. They did a decent job editing it. It was embarrassing but I told Bobby [Berk], 'I'm a politician. I embarrass myself on a daily basis. This is no different!' "

By the way, while the home renovations were technically “free,” it was worth about $40,000 and deemed taxable income by Uncle Sam. But Terry said it was worth it even if he ended up killing all the plants Berk had placed around the home.

On the whole, Terry said he feels more confident and older patrons and colleagues treat him with more respect. He said he would hem and haw in the past when asked what his ambitions were once he steps down from two terms as mayor of Clarkston. Brown convinced him to embrace what he wants.

If Stacey Abrams does not become governor this year, for instance, he plans to run in 2022. If not, he may seek an appointed position with Abrams. Given his work with refugees in Clarkston, he wouldn't mind being state refugee coordinator for the administration. A Congressional seat is a possibility, too, he said, though he feels Congress is so dysfunctional right now, it might be an exercise in frustration.


“Queer Eye” season 2 is available now for all subscribers

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