Queer Eye, Straight Plugs

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Style-challenged heterosexuals aren't the only beneficiaries of Bravo's hit makeover show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Plenty of New York City merchants are reaping the benefits too. Desiron, a downtown home-furnishings store, at right, provided a $900 coffee table and a $2,600 sofa to help spruce up Tom Kaden's living room. In the month after the show aired, sales of the items nearly quadrupled, according to the store. Visiting the housewares emporium Domain, Queer Eye's interior designer, Thom Filicia, got excited about the store's red Victoria settee ($3,099) and dubbed it a "chofa" (bigger than a chair, smaller than a sofa). Now Domain plans to rename it too — and has seen sales double. In another show, the crew went to the flagship Ralph Lauren store on Manhattan's East Side, where straight guy John Bargeman modeled a $795 Bazooka-gum-pink cashmere jacket. He opted for a more subdued outfit, but in the next week the store sold 12 of them. That's almost two sales a day — of a pink blazer for men.

Product placement doesn't get much better than this. Stores pay nothing for being featured on the show; they simply agree to let cameras in and provide merchandise for free. So will the producers wise up and start charging for the valuable airtime? "They're giving me a location, and they're giving us product," says Queer Eye's coordinating producer, Marcia Turner. "Why would I charge them? That would be horrible."