Jonathan Van Ness first burst onto the scene — and into our hearts — as part of Netflix’s rebooted super-hit Queer Eye. As one fifth of the brand new Fab Five, Van Ness was a sparkly, positive, meme-generating breath of fresh air. His outwardly sunny disposition belies a difficult childhood growing up in middle America, during which cruel bullies made his life a living hell.
Although he never sacrificed who he was, JVN has found fame hard to deal with at times, even wondering whether he might lose his sense of self as a result of being in that glaring spotlight. He’s a product of his environment, but he’s also 100 percent himself at all times, no matter the circumstances. Whether he’s worshiping ice skating legends, providing hair care tips to anybody and everybody who asks, or taking aim at the 50th U.S. President on Twitter, there’s only one JVN. This is the untold truth of the inimitable Jonathan Van Ness.
His idol is Mirai Nagasu
Unsurprisingly, for someone who participated in both gymnastics and cheerleading growing up, Van Ness openly worships figure skaters. In particular, his idol is Mirai Nagasu because, quite simply, she never gave up on her dreams. Nagasu’s Olympic story really inspired JVN — so much so that he just had to have her on his podcast, Getting Curious. While visiting a studio for the Ladygang podcast, he described interviewing Nagasu as his own Olympic story.
The hair care superstar’s love for ice skating clearly runs deep, as Van Ness divulged in a group interview with Vulture that Rudy Galindo was the one who “Queer Eye-d” him. “He was the first openly gay man, HIV+, in 1995 he went to the U.S. skating championship for the first time. I can remember exactly what his costume looked like: head-to-toe in black, had white accents. He came in third in the world. It was so major,” he gushed.
He had a breakdown in the infamous Beyonce elevator
Back in 2014, the world was shocked when footage emerged, via TMZ, of Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, full-on brawling with brother-in-law Jay-Z in an elevator at the Standard Hotel in NYC. If that weren’t dramatic enough, our very own JVN managed to have his own little breakdown just a few years later.
As he regaled the hosts of the Ladygang podcast, Van Ness was surrounded by fans one night while trying to have a few drinks at the hotel, causing the night to feel like an impromptu meet and greet. Recalling how pressured he felt to please everyone, he said he wasn’t even allowed to take a bathroom break and was “double-fisting” champagne the whole evening.
After getting in that infamous elevator to take a breather, Van Ness was accosted by a fan who somehow managed to simultaneously film him with two separate cameras. JVN broke down, “ugly-crying” the rest of the trip, and only pulled himself together right before the doors opened.
He has a secret nickname
The man we know and love as JVN actually goes by another name entirely, or, at least, he did for most of his younger life. As inadvertently revealed by his co-star Tan France right at the beginning of an episode of the Getting Curious podcast, Van Ness actually goes by Jack or Jackie — just don’t ever call him that, or, JVN warned, you won’t get a selfie with him.
France recalled once hearing his buddy on the phone, and subsequently asking if he could call JVN by his classic nickname. Although he allowed France to do so, Van Ness was very clear — with his own mother no less — on an episode of his podcast that she’s to call him Jonathan and get used to it. Tan may be getting special treatment, but don’t expect JVN to turn that gorgeous head if you call him with “Jackie” in the street.
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