Is What Not to Wear‘s Clinton Kelly America’s Most Recognizable Critic?


Clinton Kelly 4.jpg We Investigate With The Man Himself

If you were to happen upon my DVR list at any given moment, one thing would become perfectly clear: TLC programming takes up way, way too much of my time. Babies getting born, wedding gowns being desecrated, small people and giant, fat, obese people, and freaks of all shapes and sizes. You name it, I’m watching it. But perhaps no other show on TLC has had quite as much of an impact on my own life as What Not To Wear, the British import fashion makeover show hosted by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London that airs on Friday nights at 9 PM. Tonight, on the premiere of the all new season, Stacy and Clinton open their jewel bedecked arms up to someone we let into our hearts long ago: Mayim Bialik, aka Blossom, the child star turned scientist who still had pieces of clothing from the Blossom wardrobe in her closet.

Clinton Kelly, WNTW’s argyled patriarch and all around class act, was kind enough to spare a few minutes over the phone for the betterment of In the interview that follows, we learn a lot about Clinton Kelly: The Man. For example, if you ever walk by him on the street, it might be best for you to, you know, not ask him if he likes what you’re wearing… especially if you’re Mario Lopez. Plus, learn about Clinton’s hidden talent, and how he used to pay the bills before he became the face of a television sensation.

So now, please join us for’s Exclusive Interview with Clinton Kelly: The Man, The Critic, The Former Singing Waiter:

Clinton Kelly 6.jpgMichelle: So first of all, big news: Blossom on the premiere. How on earth did you even land a national treasure like Mayim Bialik?

Clinton: You know I think that her people and our people got together. As soon as it was any talk of that, Stacy and I were practically jumping for joy at the opportunity to get our hands on good ol’ Blossom. Because even back then when the show was on, it was like “What the hell is she wearing?” and then it got even worse when the show was canceled! She still had clothes in her wardrobe from her Blossom days.

Michelle: Are you serious? Did she have the necktie skirt? Because I will die if she did.

Clinton: I don’t recall that one. She might have let that one stay in the wardrobe department.

Michelle: You know, I’m pretty sure that the way that she dressed is the reason I was beat up as a child. Because I thought that she was the coolest thing. I wore a sunflower hat, plus I was a giant. I was huge. And then I had a floppy hat on. It didn’t add up well.

Clinton: You’re like Blossom with a glandular problem.

Michelle: It’s like Treebeard in Lord of the Rings wearing baggy harem pants being like “Hey everybody! Just trying to look cool!” But back to Blossom… Between us (Ed. Note: And everyone reading), she looks a lot older than she is in photos because of how she dresses.

Clinton: She absolutely does, she’s got this aging hippie vibe going on and she’s not old enough to be an aging hippie. She hadn’t had a bra fitting in a long time. And after having a couple kids things were hanging a little lower than they should have been.

Michelle: Sometimes you don’t even need kids for things to sag. Take it from me, it just happens.

Clinton: A little gravity, I know. Things are sagging on me, too.

Michelle: Oh, Clinton. How could you?

Clinton: My ass is a good inch lower.

Michelle: Well I hope that’s the only thing sagging because immediately I thought Cisco Adler. (Ed. Note: Definitely Google this if you do not get the reference.) So you got Blossom on, and tell me, she looked amazing afterwards?

Ahead, Clinton Kelly tells all!

CLINTON KELLY 1.jpgClinton: She looked super cute at the end, she really did. She looked young and fresh and modern. Like she had a style. At the end she looked like she might be considered for other roles besides hippie chick. But I think I heard through the grapevine that her first role when she got back into acting was as a Hasidic Jew.

Michelle: No.

Clinton: I really did.

Michelle: Did you guys put her in floor length denim skirts with a train? Like mermaid denim skirts? I will kill you.

Clinton: With a heavy black shoe and a wig, yeah. (laughs) Anyway, she’s really a sweet person, just smart. It’s always nice to work with somebody smart on the show.

Michelle: Well I’m sure that a lot of people that come to you are not necessarily geniuses.

Clinton: A solid half of them are out of their freaking mind, just insane. And some people just don’t get it. The thing about What Not To Wear is we talk and we shoot about an hour for every minute that airs. It’s crazy. When we do the rules, you know the mannequins? We’re talking about these mannequins for about half an hour and we’re really explaining everything: Why the skirt fits, why the top fits. Of course, when it’s all edited it’s like: “Wear this red blouse!” and then move on. And I watch the show and I’m like “Ahh!” So, [Bialik] got it: She was able to listen to all the rules and synthesize. And she’s got a PhD in neuroscience or something.

Michelle: Yeah, she’s a biologist or something serious.

Clinton: So yeah, she’s super smart.

Michelle: It’s that Jew gene, i.e. her parents are probably mad with drive.

Clinton: Her mother was there! [Mayim] had a kid fairly recently so she brought her baby with her. So her mom was there to sort of watch the baby. That’s called babysitting. (laughs)

Michelle: Go on about this babysitting. I’m fascinated.

Clinton: (laughs) Fascinating, right? Her mom was there and you could tell that her mom is very actively involved in her life. Her mom was a big What Not to Wear fan. Whenever I think of Mayim Bialik I never picture her as Blossom as much as I do in Beaches.

Clinton Kelly 5.jpgMichelle: Sure! Oh my god, yeah! That’s funny. I think Blossom first, because Beaches was like Bambi for me, in that it was so scarring that I just blocked its existence from my brain. It’s too — Look, I don’t know how to cry. It’s too revealing for me to weep. Let’s talk about you and Stacy: You have the best chemistry. Do you guys get along off camera too?

Clinton: We do actually get along. It’s not like we hang out off camera though. We see each other for 60 hours a week so when they say “cut” we’re like “See ya later!” But we do get along off camera as well. We pretty much have a belly laugh every day, which is cool. I would say that we’re getting along this season better than we ever have.

Michelle: Well that’s good to hear.

Clinton: We both went from working in magazines being regular people to working on a very successful show. Our lives have changed so much over the past six years, a ridiculous amount, and we’re the only 2 people who get what that’s really like. So many people feel as though they know us. Because they watch the show and we’re playing ourselves and we’re helping other people. And the demand from the public is a lot to bear sometimes. We can’t walk down the street and just be normal. People constantly ask us for fashion advice. We went through this process together so that made us super close.

Michelle: So how do you ignore people properly? How do you do it without seeming like a jerk?

Clinton: You know, I’ve decided that sometimes I have to seem like a jerk because I can’t be nice to everybody who’s obnoxious. If you say to me “Aren’t you that guy from that show?” I’ll flat out say “No.”

Clinton Kelly 7.jpgMichelle: Meanwhile, you’re 6’7” dressed impeccably… Who else looks like you?

Clinton: People are weird like that. Sometimes they’ll be like “I know who you are!” Like I’m trying to sneak by unnoticed.

Michelle: Last week, my friend’s parents were in town and we went to this kosher restaurant on the West Side because they were from that breed. So these two old Jews were turning around and staring at me. Now, me. Who am I, honestly? So my friends parents were like “Michelle, I think they know you they must know you, they’re looking at you!” And I’m like “They don’t know me, what are you talking about?” So we’re walking out and they’re staring at me. So I stop by their table and say “I’m sorry, do you know who I am?” They were like “Ummmm no.” But I dropped a “Do you know who I am?” on them.

Clinton: That’s really hilarious. They just didn’t like the look of you.

Michelle: I think I’m just threatening to Jewish men because I’m tall. I weigh more than almost every male Jew, because they’re little. So they really don’t like me.

Clinton: How did you get so tall? Are you all Jew? Or half Jew?

MY GRANDPARENTS.jpgMichelle: Full Jew. My dad is 5’7” and my mom is 5’10” But my Grandparents on my dad’s side were only five feet and 4’11” The fact that I have their Eastern European midget blood coursing through my veins haunts my every day. I always wonder when I have kids, if I’m going to wind up giving birth to a little peanut from Little People, Big World and be like “How did this happen to me?”

Clinton: Did you drink a lot of dairy as a child?

Michelle: I ate everything. If you asked me if I binge-ate a bag full of fun-sized Crunch bars in my room, I’d say “Yes, yes I did do that.” So, can we talk about you more? Although trust me, I’ll sit here for three hours with you on the phone.

Clinton: What do you want to know?

Michelle: I literally have it written down here — this is the stupidest thing – it says “How do you relax?” Don’t answer that though, that’s the worst.

Clinton: You don’t want to know.

Michelle: Let’s just skip over that. Oh I know. Here’s something I’ve always wondered: When the people bring their wardrobe to you, do they stink? Because they always look like they smell so bad.

Clinton: Oh my god that’s such a good question! Yes! People really, really stink. Next time you watch the show, watch my face. Watch my nose crinkle. I’m really sensitive to bad smells, it makes me gag a little bit when I smell something that smells like poop. So if you see me holding clothes far away from me or if I have my head tilted in the opposite direction, it’s my way of saying these clothes reek. And we have to touch them! We’re all up in their business and stuff. They don’t clean their stuff before they bring it to the show.

SOAKED IN URINE.jpgMichelle: Some of the people look like they don’t even know what a Dry Cleaner is… I can only imagine.

Clinton: I have touched and smelled clothes that that are sooo bad. We’re talking about a combination of B.O., cigarette smoke and dog ass. I always go wash my hands after that segment. But sometimes, I will go take a bath in Purel. Two people, I won’t name their names, there were two people whose wardrobes absolutely smelled like they were straight of hell.

Michelle: Oh my god.

Clinton: It was really bad.

Michelle: That is something that is off my mind now. Thank you. Now, I always knew you were smart, but I never realized that you were a documented genius.

Clinton: What are you talking about?

Michelle: I’ll tell you what I’m talking about, Clinton — look at how angry I get. You went to Boston College, one of the finest colleges in the country, and then Medill [at Northwestern] which I got rejected from as an Undergrad. I’m a little bitter, but tell me everything.

Clinton: They let just about everybody into Grad school there, I think. I don’t know. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I’m also not a super genius. Every time I take an IQ test, I always score one point below genius. I’m really not a genius.

CLINTON KELLY 9.jpgMichelle: That is really smart! Give yourself some credit. I hate when you talk about yourself that way!

Clinton: (joking) I’m worthless! Whatever, I’m kind of smart. I don’t think I’ve lived up to my potential in that regard.

Michelle: Now do you still sing? I know you were in the chorale, right?

Clinton: I still sing a little bit, yeah. I used to sing a lot. I was a singing waiter in Boston. And that was one of my worst jobs ever. I worked on the Spirit of Boston Cruise Ship. It was a dinner cruise ship around Boston Harbor. We had to serve lobster and then, during the dessert service, the band would start playing and the waiters and waitresses would be like “Oh my god it’s time for the show! Oh, I didn’t know it was time for the show!” and then we’d have to run back into the little kitchen area and trade our black bowties in for red sequin bowties. And then we would flip our black vests inside out to reveal the red shiny vests.

Michelle: I am having a heart attack right now. That is the best thing. Is that still running? I will take the Acela to Boston tonight. It sounds amazing.

CLINTON KELLY 3.jpgClinton: The Spirit of Boston boats still sail, but I don’t think they have the singing waiters on them anymore. The first half of the show was “Salute to Broadway!” and the second half was “Salute to America!” But we would finish hand in hand, arms in the air, singing “God Bless the USA.” People were just throwing money at us, they were like “Wahoo, God bless America!!” It was crazy the money I made.

Michelle: My face is streaked with tears. I am so moved by everything you’re saying. What sort of stuff do you enjoy on television?

Clinton: I only watch crappy VH1 shows to be honest with you.

Michelle: Oh boy.

Clinton: The only shows I watch are Rock of Love, Rock of Love Bus, I Love Money – I can’t believe it’s over. Miami? I had a soul-level connection with Miami.

Michelle: What was it like working with Mario Lopez during the Miss America pageant?

Clinton: It was fine. I don’t know how I feel about being second banana to Mario Lopez.

Michelle: That’s why I respect you. That answer? That’s why you’re the best. Remember that. That’s why you went to Boston College. Where did Mario Lopez go to college out of curiosity?

CLINTON KELLY 8.jpg Clinton: I couldn’t even begin to venture a guess there. He did say that he like my outfit and that he wanted to wear it next year. But he would have to get it in a much smaller size. I’m a 42 long. He’s not.

Michelle: He sure ain’t. One last thing. I once saw you shopping near me, in a store I love. I nearly sh*t my pants because I thought I was being ambushed for the show. I’m not even being funny, I stopped and was like “It’s happening.” I was so scared. Can you even go shopping without frightening people?

Clinton: I do instill fear in people. It’s kind of fun, to be honest with you. It also gets tedious, when I’m not in the mood for it. People are like “Oh you’re here for me aren’t you?!” I’m like “No, I’m actually here to buy underwear.” (laughs) Get off my back bitch! I’m here to buy undies. But it’s funny. I hear all the time, “I wanted to come say hi to you, but I didn’t want you to make a comment on my outfit.” Or people won’t come up to me until they’ve had 5 drinks at a party. But honestly, when I’m not filming “What Not to Wear”, I don’t give a crap what people are wearing.

Michelle: Do you ever offer unsolicited advice?

Clinton: I never do. My policy is, if you’re going to ask me for my opinion, I’m going to give it to you, no holds barred. I’m going to lay it on you. But if you didn’t ask, I’m not going to just criticize you. There’s a switch in my head that I have to turn off sometimes. If I went through life just criticizing everyone that walked by me my head would explode.

Michelle: You’d feel miserable.

Clinton: I’d be miserable! That’s just filling your life with negativity. If you want to hear the truth, can you handle it? That’s the question.

Michelle: I know what I’m getting you for Christmas this year, a taser. Anytime someone gives you a problem, just tase them.

CLINTON KELLY 91.jpgClinton: How awesome would that be? I am thinking about getting stickers. So if somebody asks me, “What do you think of my outfit?” I can hand them a sticker that says “Clinton Approved” on it.

Michelle: That’s really cute! It’s really twee. It’d be funny for an hour. Then you’ll feel embarrassed for doing it.

Clinton: I know, I’m not going to do it. Maybe if the stickers weren’t so positive, if they said “Clinton says this outfit sucks ass”, then maybe that would be less twee.

Michelle: Now if you had those stickers, I’d be like “Clinty, where are the stickers?” You have absolutely been a treasure and a treat. The premiere is this week?

Clinton: The new season premieres May 29th at 9 PM (Ed. Note: That’s tonight!) And coming up on this season of “What Not to Wear”, we might have our first ever unhappy ending. The woman was not pleased.

Michelle: Oh my gosh! I can’t wait. I’ll be sure to watch. Thank you Clinton!

Be sure to check out tonight’s Season Premiere of What Not To Wear starring Mayim Bialik on TLC at 9PM/8C!

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