Clinton Kelly reflects on facets of his life

Clinton Kelly

KENT — Tall and handsome Clinton Kelly is always smiling and that smile can light up a room — or certainly a television screen. Even during these troubled times and concern about the pandemic we are facing, Kelly has been doing his best to keep his — and our — spirits up.

He has been posting on his website — interviews, recipes, appearing on various social media venues, including @food network, where he managed to combine some of the worst fake guitar playing with some incredible, mouthwatering desserts.

Recently on @clintonkellyoh he posted: “I’m thinking about you. And our country. And our planet. This all seems like a horrible dream. Not sure what I can offer that might help you get through it, other than a thought that soothed me a bit. Here goes: You are still capable of feeling ALL the emotions, not just Fear and Anxiety. They’re probably the ones receiving the majority of your attention right now, which is understandable, but you can starve them of a little emotional oxygen by recalling times when you barely knew they existed.”

He continues with a story about his pants ripping just as he is about to do a presentation about the connection between clothing and self-esteem in front of 500 people. With boxer shorts hanging out, and the audience in hysterics, he chose to look on the bright side of the situation.

“When I allowed myself to relive that moment, the world seemed like a better place. Fear and Anxiety got reminded that they’re not the only game in town.”

His enthusiasm and optimism are infectious and it has been his way since he began his career in the fashion industry over 25 years ago, with his first job at Marie Claire. But it was his stint on “What Not to Wear” that made him a household name. That show, which he co-hosted with Stacy London, ran for 10 years, making it the longest running prime time reality show. The chemistry between the two hosts coupled with their expertise and interest in helping women better themselves hit a chord and made them the darlings of the makeover field. Kelly and London were the perfect foils for each other, the repartee ran wild but their advice and makeovers affected thousands of viewers.

“Behind the snarky comments and the fashion advice there really was a genuine desire on our part to help people discover an unknown part of themselves,” explains Kelly. “It wasn’t just about wanting to make them attractive; it was giving people permission to spend time on improving themselves. It was more psychology than fashion.”

People still watch that show in reruns and Kelly is personally still in touch with many of the women who were helped by his advice.

After the final run of that show Kelly went on to another instantly successful show called “The Chew,” for which he won an Emmy. He hadn’t planned on and hadn’t really been looking for a new show, but a guest appearance on “The View” brought him to the attention of an ABC executive.

“He had read my book, ‘Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Anyone Else,’ in which I had included recipes,” explains Kelly. “So he knew I liked to cook. I had no idea it would be so successful.”

Speaking of books, in addition to the aforementioned publication, Kelly has written four others, including “Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them,” “Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body,” “Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget,” and most recently, “I Hate Everyone, Except You,” a book of personal essays revealing astounding and absurd secrets about himself, from being a connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, heroically rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, being the world’s least enthused high-school commencement speaker, and how he met his future husband Damon Bayles.

“I had been assigned to write an article about indoor rock climbing,” Kelly recalls. “He was doing marketing for Chelsea Piers and was to be my liaison. He was smart, funny, athletic, gorgeous. When the shot was over I went back to my office and decided I was going to ask Damon out on a date. I sent him a note inviting him for coffee. To make a, long story short, he was seeing someone and politely turned me down.” Not quite the end of the story. Two years later they met again; Damon was now single — but not for long. Kelly describes their meeting as love at second sight. The two were married in 2009. Together they share a house in Kent, where Kelly loves to cook, garden, and entertain.

Prior to the coronavirus epidemic, Kelly was to speak at an event for the Kent Memorial Library. Entitled “Style — Confidence Connection,” Kelly planned to discuss how one’s personal style and self-confidence are intertwined and how improving one affects the other. While the event has been canceled and as of now not rescheduled, one can go online and visit with Kelly (www.clintonkelly.com) or read one of his books.

Either way one is in for a treat.

Connecticut Media Group