It felt like a long shot.
Joey Mendez and Buck Wimberly, partners and owners of ULAH in Westwood, had heard that the producers of the Netflix revival of “Queer Eye” was filming in Kansas City.
Perhaps ULAH (pronounced YOU-luh) could make an appearance on the show. So, Mendez reached out to the producers. Why not?
“We were fans of the show; I think we had just binge-watched season one of the new version,” Mendez said. “On Facebook, VisitKC posted that they were casting in Kansas City for makeover candidates, and we kinda freaked out.”
A producer who was scouting for the show in April 2018 came and met with them, saw the store and kept in touch over the next several months. Next thing they knew, the producers reached out again in August and shared their plans to come to Kansas City in two weeks.
On August 16 last year, the store was filled with about 20 crewmembers. And during the film segment, fashion expert Tan France outfitted the makeover candidate for the episode, Tony Blanco from Lee’s Summit.
France selected apparel and accessories from the store’s Billy Reid clothing line. And Jonathan Van Ness, the show’s grooming expert, also made an appearance in the store.
“It was a little surreal; I haven’t experienced that before,” Wimberly said. “And just being in the presence of such well known personalities…we were a little starstruck.”
After meeting France and Van Ness in person, Wimberly and Mendez realized that the two stars seem the same in person as they do on camera.
“I think it could be easy to think that someone like Jonathan is just, like that’s a character he plays, but it really seemed to be authentically the way he is,” Wimberly added.
Once France had completed the makeover candidate’s look, Van Ness took Blanco next door to Shelby Herrick Salon for a haircut and grooming. Both stores stayed open throughout the filming.
“The salon knew they were coming but didn’t know exactly when, and so there wasn’t a way to really plan for it,” said Kristin Stephen, who works at the salon. “So the clients that came in were just the clients that came in. When they were here, we asked if they didn’t mind possibly being on TV…It was packed, it was fun; you got to see how it was done. Jonathan is charming and professional.”
The ULAH owners were filmed, but they didn’t make it into the show. Still, both of them are thrilled about the experience.
“You really got a sense that everyone does the show to help people,” Mendez said. “There was a sense of everyone being proud and happy to be a part of the show.”
Even after filming, Blanco has become a friend of the ULAH owners; his family members are also frequent customers of Shelby Herrick Salon. Everyone got to meet Blanco’s girlfriend, Bri, and their newborn baby girl. Bri was pregnant during the show and gave birth a few weeks after filming.
The episode, “Baby on Board,” first aired March 15 on Netflix.
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