David Collins (front row, center) at the premiere of Queer Eye. (Photo via: @styletasteandclass on Instagram)

Queer Eye Creator On Time At Ohio University

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Queer Eye, the unscripted Netflix makeover show, was renewed for a second season this week. Series creator and executive producer David Collins used to volunteer at WOUB and graduated from Ohio University in 1989. Collins tagged WOUB in a post on Instagram when he was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered.

After his post, we reached out to Collins. He spoke to us about his experiences at Ohio University, and how they prepared him to co-found his own production company.

Both interviews were edited for length and clarity.

WOUB: Let’s talk about your time at OU. What it was like for you um your- what was your major?

David Collins: I was a T-comm major. T-comm with a minor in film. I was the PR coordinator, public relations coordinator, for the Athens Film Festival. That was one of my- I loved that. I had so much fun doing that and I really got to kind of feed my passion for filmmaking back then, but T-comm was my thing. So you know I um, I landed there in 1985. Oh my god does that sound so far ago? Oh my god. Yeah and I was, I ended up in the uh in South Green in Pickering. And then I ended up in Bryan Hall. Is Bryan still there? Yeah I felt smart cause I got- it was an academic dorm back in the day and you had to have like a high GPA. I faked everyone out somehow and got in. I don’t know how. But I ended up getting a super single. This is one of my best stories ever. I got a super single my sophomore year meaning I had a double room by myself, and oh my goodness gracious, was I popular. Everybody wanted to hang out in my room. And then my junior and senior year I moved to West State Street. 66 West State. I hear it’s still there. We lived there for two years. Me and a group of my best friends in the world who are still my best friends in the world. And we had the best house on all of off-campus. You know it was right there on 66 West State and truly the amount of parties and fun that happened there is crazy. It’s crazy, just crazy.

Collins (right) and his friends at Ohio University. (Submitted)

Here’s some good dirt for you. Are you ready? A judge from the Athens courthouse found me and somehow or another remembered we had gone- We had all been out on a Saturday night and we ended up going skinny dipping at some lake over near the school. We had all gone in a big group of us and you know, maybe we had had a few drinks at O’Hooley’s, I don’t know, and ended up skinny dipping. The Athens police brought us all in and we had to stay in the clanker for a night and then showed up in front of a judge in the morning and he just laughed at us. He was like, “what are you kids doing?” The judge or someone connected to it found me because of Queer Eye and sent me an email and just, it was hysterical. He said I love the show, I couldn’t be prouder of you, and listen, if you ever want to come and get your offense expunged from your record, I’d be more than glad to help you.

WOUB: I’m curious about the culture when you were at OU. Was there an LGBT Center? Like do you feel like it was an accepting place? I feel like it is now but I’m curious, what was it like then?

DC: Yeah, 30 years ago right? Here’s what it was: it was this kind of beautiful place of acceptance. There was definitely not a lot of kind of LGBTQ awareness, if you will. I do remember in Chubb Hall they used to have I think like a Gay Lesbian Alliance group that was there early on but it wasn’t- it was the early days. It was sort of the thing like don’t ask, don’t tell for a bit and then it really was, it was a place to grow and figure out who you are and who you were. And I think that again speaks to what OU has always kind of been. It’s been a safe haven to spend four years of learning about yourself and connecting with people different than yourself. College is a time to have fun and explore and that’s what it was. I loved OU, I loved the culture.

Collins and his friends at OU. (Submitted)

We would go to O’Hooley’s on Saturday night for alternative dance night. We were the punk rock kids who would go on Saturday nights in our little funky punk rock outfits and dance at O’Hooley’s and end up having after parties at our house at 66 West State. I just remember just the sense of kind of just beauty and freedom at OU and that it wasn’t judgmental. And of course there was always gonna be this or that person that didn’t perhaps agree, but I remember feeling so safe there and really being able to grow to come- kind of become the beginning of the man that I am today. And I want my kids to go there so bad. I’m a daddy of twin girls Ella and Olive who are 9 and in third grade and you know I joke all the time, you’re either gonna go – cause I lived in Boston after college for 20 plus years in Boston – so I always say you’re either gonna go to OU or Harvard so pick your battle here, girls. ‘Cause I’m either gonna go back to Boston with you or back to Ohio with you, so let’s figure this out.

Collins with his twin daughters, Ella and Olive.

WOUB: The reason this whole thing was even brought to my attention was you tagged us on Instagram when you were interviewed on Morning Edition. So you worked at WOUB in college. What did you do at WOUB?

DC: I ran the gamut there. One of those hands-on experiential things that I can’t put enough emphasis on, that gave me such confidence and know-how when I stepped into the real workplace. There used to be individual radio stations on each of the greens. So we had South Green radio station and East Green radio station, and each of them had their own radio stations. And they were like old-school radio stations where there were- you were putting on records and deejaying in between sets and talking and doing little interviews and I was the- my freshman year I became one of the main guys running the South Green radio station. I fell in love with that. All of your free time you’d show up at WOUB. I learned finally how to run the board and how to run things. So then All Things Considered and NPR would come on in the afternoons and I would throw to All Things Considered. I’d be like, “this is David Collins 1340 Athens Public Radio Service Ohio University. It’s time for All Things Considered.” And then bring in All Things Considered and listen to all of the amazing interviews and all of that. So for me when I had – in the original Queer Eye and in this one – the honor of being asked to come and speak at NPR, you know National Public Radio connects directly to me back to OU. So I was, like I said in that tag, I was so humbled and more importantly, so grateful for what I learned back at OU and the public radio, public television system.

WOUB: What a full-circle moment for you. That must’ve been so amazing.

DC: Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. I’m truly grateful for all of my time there and for all of the professors and teachers and friends along the way that truly allow me to still today really step into being confident in what I do. And I really do believe that it all started with an amazing time at Ohio University back in the 80’s.