Downtime

And Here It Is, the Deeply Embarrassing Celebrity Stunt to End Them All

Antoni and Jonathan Van Ness standing at a kitchen island, with a couple dogs.
Celebrities laughing all the way to the bank.* Yummers Pet Supply Co.

On Wednesday, Queer Eye stars Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski announced that they were “finally together.” “Details tomorrow, but know that we’re very happy and feeling supported by the people around us,” Van Ness wrote on Twitter, bookending it with a heart emoji and a rainbow flag one.

It was perplexing news. The announcement strongly suggested that the two were in a romantic relationship, and that would be quite a twist, because in their four years co-hosting their Netflix reality show together, things have always seemed strictly platonic. That’s almost baked into the premise of the show: They’re part of a band of merry queer friends roaming the country in search of makeover subjects, not a band of merry queer lovers with complicated entanglements. Plus, Van Ness is married; Porowski has a boyfriend—were they also coming out as polyamorous?

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Or were they—eyeroll—merely coming out as business partners? Before long, some enterprising fans on social media determined, via Porowski’s following tab on Instagram, that the news must involve something called “Yummers.” Sure enough, on Thursday, the two followed up, announcing Yummers Pet Supply Co., proprietor of a line of “incredible, sustainable, and deLISH” pet food mix-ins. Larry, Van Ness’ cat, apparently can’t get enough of them.

On Instagram, Van Ness added, “Hope you’re not too heartbroken we were being clever lil bebe’s to announce this baby we’ve been working on for years now! Love y’all!”

To be honest, JVN, I’m not heartbroken, but I am annoyed. “Being clever lil bebe’s” is one way to describe what the two were doing, but I think “being shameless, manipulative, and deeply moronic lil bebe’s” would be more accurate. They’re hardly the first famous people in history to engage in a publicity stunt, but this effort represents a fairly stunning new low, as these things go. They said they were together! We all know who you make an ass out of when you assume, but when someone says they’re “together,” are we assuming or are we being misled? Do we have to not count a relationship as confirmed until someone straight up says, “We’re doing it”? I know they’re queer, but is this not queerbaiting? On top of all that, Van Ness had the nerve to call this “clever”? Oh boy. I don’t have an MBA or anything, but I would have thought that the reason people don’t tease fake rumors about themselves all the time to launch products isn’t that they aren’t smart enough to think to do so—it’s because it’s utterly embarrassing.

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It’s utterly embarrassing because, I want to remind you, this was all in the service of hawking pet food, an item that sits somewhere between gummy vitamins and the National Pork Council on the lowest rung of possible celebrity endorsements. And it’s not even actual standalone pet food—it’s meant to garnish other pet food, sort of like Hamburger Helper: useless on its own! I’m past wishing celebrities would stop selling out, but can they at least hold out for something a little more dignified? The two say they’ve been working on this for “years”? Yikes.

Even from a business perspective, is this smart? Aren’t they worried about diluting their brands? Is pet food really a great next step for a hair stylist and a chef? I guess I should have expected as much from the person that came out as nonbinary at the same time that they announced a collab with a nail polish brand. Though I still think nail polish is better than pet food. Then again, the pet-food industry is supposed to be very lucrative. Just ask Bobby Flay. Be that as it may, I’m certainly not going to trust these two to sell me dog food—not when they’ve proven themselves to be such skilled purveyors of dogshit.

Correction, Sept. 16, 2022: This article’s photo caption originally misstated one of the subject’s gender identities.

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