Skip to content

Queer Eye‘s Resident Ray of Fabulous Sunshine: An Introduction to Jonathan Van Ness

Full Name Jonathan McDonald Van Ness
Birthday March 28, 1987
Age 36
Born Quincy, IL
Relationship Single
Height 6′ 0′′
Social Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

With his flowing locks, fierce fashion sense, and effervescent personality, Jonathan Van Ness burst onto the pop culture scene in 2018 as the grooming expert on Netflix‘s hit makeover show Queer Eye. Instantly recognizable with his shoulder-length hair, bold outfits, and relatable humor, JVN (as he‘s affectionately nicknamed) quickly became the show‘s shining star. But Jonathan‘s infectious spirit and inspiring self-confidence extend far beyond the reality TV screen into podcasting, writing, comedy, activism, and beyond. Let‘s take a closer look at the fabulous, unapologetically extra life of the one and only Jonathan Van Ness.

Early Life & Career: Small Town Kid with Big City Dreams

Born March 28, 1987 and raised in Quincy, Illinois, Jonathan discovered his passion for the arts, music, and performance at a young age. As a child and teen, he trained as a competitive figure skater, winning regional competitions and aspiring to qualify for the Olympics someday. He also spent weekends and summers working at his aunt‘s hair salon in Quincy, where his love of hair styling first began.

After high school, Jonathan moved to Arizona to attend college but dropped out after one semester. He then worked as a hairdresser and makeup artist at a local Arizona salon before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. In LA, he enrolled in cosmetology school while supporting himself as a hair and makeup artist for photo shoots.

His big break came in 2008 when he got hired at the Armando de Pasquale Salon in Santa Monica. Soon Jonathan gained a loyal following of celebrity clients like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Audrina Patridge and established himself as one of LA‘s top stylists. As a long-time fan, I vividly remember reading US Weekly articles about JVN‘s edgy hair creations on the red carpet!

Making It Big on Queer Eye

In 2016, Jonathan flew to New York City to audition for the Queer Eye reboot. Competing against hundreds of other candidates, he stood out with his bubbly demeanor, stellar grooming skills, and status as the show‘s first openly nonbinary cast member.

As a superfan, I was overjoyed but not surprised when the Fab Five was announced and JVN was included! During filming of season 1 in Atlanta in 2017, Jonathan bonded with the other castmates over their shared passion for helping diverse clients find confidence.

When the show debuted on Netflix in 2018, it became an instant sensation. Jonathan emerged as the fan favorite for his memorable one-liners, bold hairdos and relatable struggles. His talent for transforming scruffy straight men into polished gentlemen with trimmed beards, tweezed brows and styled hair became a signature part of every Queer Eye episode.

Behind the scenes, Jonathan‘s kindness and humor helped anxious heroes open up. As JVN has recounted, chatting about vulnerabilities over a glass of wine helped build trust before a makeover.

Multi-Hyphenate Entertainer

Beyond Queer Eye, creative spirit Jonathan Van Ness makes big waves in podcasting, writing, comedy and activism. He launched the delightful weekly podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness in 2015, exploring everything from science to pop culture. His New York Times bestselling memoir Over the Top chronicled his childhood, career and health struggles with raw honesty.

JVN also toured with his comedy show Road to Beijing, works as a spokesperson for brands like Smirnoff and Essie, and campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights. His web series and Primetime Emmy nominated parody Gay of Thrones showcased his sharp wit and charisma. Is there anything Jonathan can‘t do? It certainly doesn‘t seem that way!

Hair Icon with a Heart of Gold

With his long tresses, Jonathan defiantly celebrates gender nonconformity and self-expression in beauty. He rocks both flowing locks and short styles with equal panache. JVN‘s grooming philosophy promotes having fun with products while practicing self-care and radical self-love.

Jonathan uses his platform to raise money and awareness for causes like HIV/AIDS discrimination, LGBTQ+ rights, animal rescue, and free figure skating lessons for underprivileged kids.

Fun Facts About JVN

Beyond his inspiring message, Jonathan delights fans with his quirky facts and pop culture impact:

  • Obsessed with his many rescue cats and dogs, calling them his "children"
  • Massive collection of wigs, heels, and costume accessories to fuel his fabulous looks
  • Passionate about gymnastics, diving, and other athletics – a talented former figure skater
  • Loves Grease 2 more than the original Grease (a controversial opinion!)
  • "Yas queen!" and other JVN lingo goes viral and inspires memes among fans
  • Halloween costumes and cosplay of his iconic Queer Eye era abound

Fabulous Ambassador of Authenticity

With his bold personal style, candid humor, and moving personal journey, Jonathan Van Ness continues to slay as a powerful voice for the LGBTQ+ community. He urges everyone to embrace living authentically, loving fiercely, and staying playful despite life‘s struggles. For Jonathan, self-care comes clad in a bathrobe and topped with a scrunchie. His trailblazing spirit and vulnerability will no doubt continue inspiring audiences everywhere to embrace their inner queen. As a devoted fan, I can‘t wait to see what JVN does next!