On the Go–Clinton Kelly Contemplates His Next Challenge
The energizer bunny incarnate, Clinton Kelly is always working and always anticipating his next move. He is one of the most recognizable television personalities thanks to his stints on two amazingly successful shows. He was co-host of “What Not to Wear” for ten years, making it the longest running prime time reality show. Thousands of viewers tuned in as he and Stacy London helped women (and men) redefine themselves and gain self-esteem and confidence.
“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 the show in reruns and Kelly is personally still in touch with a hundred or so people who were helped by his advice. Once that show was over, he found himself another instant success as co-host of “The Chew,” for which he won an Emmy. “I had been a guest on “The View” and an ABC executive approached me about a show that was in development. 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. So he knew I liked to cook. I had no idea it would become so successful.”
Kelly didn’t start out wanting to be on television. He grew up in Port Jefferson, NY, and wanted to be a writer. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in communications he went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
“I was living in New York and had done freelance for several trade magazines,” says Kelly. “One day I saw a copy of Marie Claire on a friend’s coffee table and decided that’s where I wanted to work. So I wrote a letter to the editor-in-chief promising her that if she hired me I’d give her a hundred great story ideas. And she took me up on it. From there my career kicked off into high gear.” And he hasn’t looked back since.
After two successful shows, countless appearances, various fashion ventures, and five books including I Hate Everyone Except You; Oh, No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them; and Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget, Kelly is taking a rest and considering his next challenge. “It’s been go, go, go for a solid decade,” he says. “It was time for me to think about what to do next careerwise. I wanted to see my family and friends more, spend time at my house, cook, garden, and catch up on ten years of missed sleep.”
Speaking of home, Kelly and his husband Damon Bayles have been together 14 years and recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. They met when Kelly was asked to write an article about indoor rock climbing at Chelsea Piers. At the time Bayles was handling marketing for the club and was assigned as Kelly’s liaison.“It’s a long story,” recalls Kelly. “But he was involved with someone else and we didn’t actually get together until we met again two years later. It was definitely worth the wait.”
Kelly tries to spend as much time as he can at his Connecticut home. “I love preparing meals, so on my ride up from the city I stop and get some basics, check the local farm stands and buy what’s in season. Then I stay home for the next five days cooking. It’s not unusual for me to suddenly invite 25 people for a barbecue.”
He also spends time weeding, planting, and trying to outsmart the deer, in between fantasizing about a new adventure.“I want to be writing more,” he says. “Perhaps fiction, but that requires quiet time and dedication and I can’t seem to get into the routine of writing. Sitting still is a problem for me.” But that doesn’t mean a bestselling novel won’t appear one day.