Can you believe? Jonathan Van Ness, one of the Fab 5 in Netflix’s Queer Eye, brings his stand-up tour Road to Beijing to the Masonic Cleveland Auditorium April 13. Here’s his take on the journey so far.Q: You’re pretty new to comedy. How are you feeling about your first major tour and this whole new part of your career so far?
A: “I think I feel a little surprised about my comedic career. Like, whoa that happened fast! But I also feel so grateful to be able to have this art form to fall in love with in my 30s. The last 12 years have been all about doing hair and learning hair and eating hair and breathing hair and living hair — well, not really eating hair but you know what I mean. It’s really such an honor and so fun to be able to explore this side of myself in such a freeing way. I think I would say that I’m proud of myself and I’m excited to keep going.”
Q: You’ve become such an icon for positivity and strength. After a rough day, what do you do to get back on track?
A: I think Twitter really helps me channel all of my political outrage into one nice compartment. I shout out about everything I need to shout out — I give it the Donald Trump treatment, except for like, with a conscious. And then I go back to my world and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m off Twitter and there’s things I can affect right in front of me.” Then I go on the ice and I talk to people about registering to vote or whatever else in the news is inspiring me. So really, I try to leave the negativity on Twitter and then do things that I’m passionate about.
Q: What makes you want to use your voice in that way?
A: Well, I’m a hairdresser so a lot of us have very big mouths. I don’t spill my client’s secrets, but I love to talk. So that wasn’t really going to change once I got a platform. But I think that silence is choosing the side of the oppressor and I think that as a gay man, I know what it’s like to be marginalized and to be harshly judged and I want to help create more equality and more fair opportunity for everyone.
Q: What’s your latest beauty obsession and self-care ritual?
A: One of my favorite things in general is baths because your nervous system gets benefits just from sitting in warm water. For me it is very relaxing and calming. I love to add essential oils to the bath water to really soften the skin and also throw in a Lush bath bomb with some gorgeous ingredients in there to get some hydration in these winter months.Then, I love a facial and I definitely splurge on facials, but it’s nice to do a DIY facemask or one you bought from the store while you’re in the bath. Like light a candle or two and turn on some gorgeous Sade and read a little book or something. I really just love to bring a spa service home. Then when you’re coming out of the bath or the shower, that’s a really good time to apply body oil or lotion because when your skin is a little damp it is really keen to take in whatever moisture you give it.
Q: What are your hopes for this tour you’re on now?
A: To leave people feeling like they just had their face hurting from smiling and laughing so much. That’s definitely one hope for this tour. And to really stick all of my landings — comedically speaking. That’s also an innuendo to something maybe you will see on tour this year, if you catch my drift. I also want to inspire people that their wildest dreams can become their reality. If you work hard enough and long enough — your dreams can totally come true.
Q: Your ice skating journey has been so fun to watch on Instagram. How did you get into ice skating and what does your progress mean to you?
A: Nov. 20th was the first day I did it in New York. So that was the third time I’ve done it in my whole life. My whole life I have idolized figure skaters and figure skating — specifically Michelle Kwan — she was plastered on my ceiling for my first 16 years of life. So I just loved it forever, but growing up where there’s not figure skating rinks aplenty, you would have had to have driven two hours to the closest one and that wasn’t in the cards for my family. I was obsessed nonetheless. But now in the success of Queer Eye and having all of the opportunities I’ve had, why can’t you learn to figure skate? Like, if you break your wrist you can still do comedy. Before I didn’t learn because I was scared to hurt myself as a hair dresser. Like, who was going to do the highlights? Well, queen I’m not even doing the highlights right now. That was how I got into it.
Q: You use your platform to give opportunities to people who might not always get the chance they deserve like women, people of color and queer folk. Why is that important to you?
A: It’s important to me because, especially in comedy, I think it was such a boys club — a heterosexual boys club — for such a long time. When I look at Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Rivers, Margaret Cho, these fierce, trailblazing women that had to work really hard to get their fair shake, I just look up to them. The model that they set was always very inclusive, at least Margaret and Joan for sure, and I just really look up to how they used their opportunities. I just think it’s really important to share opportunity, specifically with people that are incredible and might not have had as easy of a time breaking into something as I did. Without Queer Eye I wouldn’t have had a lot of these opportunities and I want to extend that to others.