Jonathan Van Ness: Taking Over The World, One Hairstyle At A Time

Written by Courtney Norton
Category: Comedy Published: Monday, 26 August 2019 09:31

The world was first introduced to Jonathan Van Ness (JVN) on a grand scale when he burst on to the scene and captured all our hearts with his loveable antics on the much-anticipated 'Queer Eye' reboot.

Next year, JVN will be bringing some of those antics down under with his stage show, 'Road To Beijing', which details his dream of going to the Winter Olympics for figure skating.

Now in its fourth season and more popular than ever, the 'Queer Eye' reboot has not only been changing the lives of the people they help on the show, but has also had a strong impact on audiences around the world. As a fan of the show’s original incarnation, JVN is all too aware of its influence.

Growing up in middle America as a flamboyant young boy who always “definitely put on every nail polish, every heel, every scarf,” things weren’t always easy for JVN and sadly, like many other LGBTQ+ kids, he was subject to bullying and harassment during his school years.

“Personally, where I come from, I have had people my entire life tell me to my face, ‘I don’t agree with your lifestyle. You should never be able to be married. You’re a faggot’. Pushed down the stairs, ‘faggot’ spray-painted on my car. When I say, 'chased around with pitchforks', I’m halfway kidding,” JVN told Vulture in a 2018 interview.

Thankfully for Jonathan, and seemingly right when he needed it most, the original incarnation of 'Queer Eye' began to grace television screens.

Speaking with Jimmy Kimmel, JVN said, “when I grew up, ‘Queer Eye’ was such an important conversation for me with my family. It was one of the first places where I could really speak to my grandparents and have a conversation that was, you know, amazing gay men living their truths… It was this proud, amazing moment, so to be able to be a part of it now is really important.”

JVN is also looking to change the way society looks at gender and is on a mission to break down stereotypes associated with the gender binary.

“The older I get, the more I think that I’m non-binary; I’m gender non-conforming. Some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman. I think my energies are really all over the place. Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I’m here for it. I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to,” Jonathan told Out Magazine.

Jonathan’s self-love is contagious and it’s something that he wants to share with his fans so they can love themselves too.

“We are taught so much to find value in everything outside ourselves. The validation of others or in this case, the validation of ‘the one’ that will make you whole,” JVN relayed to fans in a Valentine’s Day message. “Hunny, news flash you’re whole! The ones paired up may or may not be happy & his ass was definitely on some other sh.t in my experience so here’s the deal. Don’t let yourself feel some kind of way; we all know comparison is that gurl doing the most while doing the least.”

“Give yourself permission to take what you need and if you really have a very connected piece of yourself that feels like you’re like out of balance in a selfish way, be open to hearing that but I think there’s a difference between taking care of yourself and being selfish. You’re also your own best teacher,” he told Buzzfeed.

His podcast, 'Getting Curious', has topped the iTunes Charts and tackles all kinds of topics from mass extinction and revolutionary war, to saving the bees.

The level of success of 'Getting Curious' came as somewhat of a surprise to JVN, who took to Twitter to express his gratitude when the podcast took out the #1 spot on the iTunes chart:

“This was never about topping charts, it was about having a creative outlet that was mine, but it was too slow, people didn’t get it, #GettingCurious actually got cancelled the day before I booked 'Queer Eye'. I kept creating & believing anyway. I’m so grateful 4 your support.”

In addition to the podcast, taking on stand-up comedy and his own one-man show presents a brand new challenge and a change in direction for Jonathan, but he’s not afraid of a little hard work. JVN discussed his gratitude for the opportunity in an interview with Buzzfeed.

“I thought that to do stand-up, I thought that you needed to pay your dues and do like 100,000 mic nights and I really looked up to stand-up comedians like Margaret Cho, [she] was one of my idols and I loved getting to work with her and see her perform so much stand-up and it’s just something I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to do. Stand-up comedy is really hard to break into. There’s not that ample space to get your foot in the door and so to have someone come to the table and want to help me this way has been really amazing.”

Whether he’s changing lives one hairstyle at a time with the rest of The Fab Five or cutting hair at his Los Angeles salon MoJo Hair, beneath the sassy, excitable exterior of JVN sits a deep love for people and a genuine desire to help all those he encounters to be the best they can be. His work ethic is something to be admired and his spirit radiates a beautiful energy that is something we all could use a whole lot more of.

Jonathan Van Ness plays Great Hall (Brisbane) 20 February, AEC Theatre (Adelaide) 21 February, Plenary (Melbourne) 22 February, Riverside Theatre (Perth) 25 February, and First State Super Theatre (Sydney) 28 February.

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