Gok Wan bares his soul on coming out, public life and why the UK still isn’t an equal place if you are gay…
Fashion stylist Gok Wan burst onto our TV screens more than a decade ago, helping women to love themselves, lumps and all. Forget Trinny and Susannah, he was the original makeover king who could make any woman – no matter her fears – feel good about her bare body. Now 43, Gok has done it all – apart from reveal who he really is when the cameras aren’t rolling.
The jovial man, who renamed boobs as ‘bangers’ in How To Look Good Naked, is still there. But when we meet at his beautiful London townhouse, it’s apparent there’s a deeper and more serious side to the presenter.
He’s set to embark on a UK stage tour to bare his soul, warts and all, to audiences around the country, but first he gives Now a glimpse…
You’re about to go on a
one-man tour, which is a
total change in direction from your TV shows…
The likes of Sarah Millican and Alan Carr are complete professionals at it and the way they harness their script and take you on a journey is completely different to what I’m doing, which is telling very funny stories.
How did your new show
I’ve had so many experiences in life I just thought, ‘You know what? F**k it, let’s give it a go’. I’m 43 this year and I’ve got to do something new. I feel like I’ve lived enough and seen enough to put together a 90-minute show and, actually, I had enough for a seven-and-a-half hour show!
Do you get naked on stage?
No. But this is far more exposing than going on stage and getting your kit off. This is going on stage and revealing what is in my heart and soul.
Who inspires you, comedy- wise?
Dawn French. She’s actually a good friend and I really respect her. I only saw her show once, loved it and afterwards we had dinner together and I asked what was it like and she said she loved it. I told her I’m thinking about doing [a show] and she was very supportive.
What are your rider demands?
I am known in the business to be the lowest maintenance person, to the point where I’ve had clients call my agent and ask, ‘Are you sure that’s all he wants?’ It’s because when I was a stylist for female singers, I’d look at their riders and think, ‘Are you actually kidding me? This is ridiculous!’ I can’t say who, but some were so bizarre.
Go on Gok, tell us what was on the rider?
I can’t say what it was – it will give it away who it was – but it was so ridiculous and no-one else in the world would have that on their rider. [If I told you more] they would know I had discussed it and that is massively unprofessional. I have a packet of Haribo on my rider and that’s it – sweets!
When was the last time you laughed out loud?
First thing in the morning, I do a little laugh when I wake up – it starts my day with a smile and sets you up. Try it!
How do you like to unwind?
That involves alcohol of some description – probably gin!
You DJ’d at Pride this year – do you think the country has turned a corner in terms of accepting people as gay?
No, I think we have a long way to go. I think living in London, it’s a cosmopolitan place with all walks of life so we go, ‘Yeah, we are there now’, when we are so far from there. People in this country are still being queer-bashed every day.
Did you get bullied in your Leicestershire village where you grew up?
Yes. A lot of it was for being fat or being gay or mixed race. Being gay, the bullying started happening about age 15.
Does that still haunt you?
It always stays with you. There are certain things that I still won’t do to this day as a result.
What, for example?
I wouldn’t walk into a working men’s club on my own at night. I just would never do it and I wouldn’t walk into a bar in London late at night if it was full of Chelsea boys or bankers shouting at each other.
Was it hard to come out?
I can’t say too much, as it’s in my show and I don’t want to spoil it where I come out to my dad because the story is lovely. Coming out is hard for anybody, but I was very lucky and get a great reaction as you will see and that will be the part where people will cry.
Is it true you were dating David Ames [the Holby City actor]?
No, we never dated and I am definitely single.
Are you on Tinder?
I have no problem with dating apps – I just haven’t had the need to use them yet…
What about marriage and kids?
I’ve decided I am not going to have children – I know I’d be a good father but I’d be a better uncle.
Is it hard trying to find love in the public eye?
Yes. Finding a guy in a bar, there’s a good chance he’s going to know more about me if he recognises me, therefore has made an assumption on who I am, so trying to play catch up on that takes a lot of effort. One guy I met, I really liked him after the first date but when we were about to have a kiss in the street he asked, ‘Can I have a photo for my mum?’ And that killed it for me. CRINGE!
Who is your dream man if you could have anyone?
Physically, it would be Michael Fassbender. Personality-wise is Alan Carr.
I want you two to get together!
He’s with his partner Paul [Drayton] and is very happy. I love Alan, he is such a dear friend and we have an incredible dynamic. Alan is clever, funny, brilliant and kind. Paul is a dear friend too.
Your television show came before social media, where
everyone is obsessed with taking the perfect selfie –
has that made things worse for women in terms of their body confidence?
Absolutely. For our generation it’s different because we remember things without filters but for kids who have never seen themselves without Photoshop, it is really tough and at some point we will know the effects of it on children.
Do people still need style makeovers?
Yes. The makeover is the oldest love story. You take away the makeover you take away Cinderella – give me a single story that doesn’t involve a makeover or transformation.
How do women look good naked?
Several pints of gin helps some people to feel confident! But good underwear always helps.
Which celebs need a makeover?
We are having the best fashion of our lives – no one is getting it wrong.
What about Lauren Goodger from TOWIE?
I don’t watch that TOWIE. I’m not good on popular culture – I watch docs on BBC Four!
What’s the one piece of women’s fashion you’d ban?
Fleeces for women and men. Hate them.
Gok Wan Naked & Baring All will be at theatres around the UK from 30 October – ticket information on gokwan.com