Born In: Quincy, Illinois, United States
Jonathan Van Ness is a non-binary openly gay American hairdresser, podcaster, and television personality who is best known as the grooming expert on the rebooted Netflix series Queer Eye alongside Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk. He had earlier gained popularity for his web series, Gay of Thrones, which parodied the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones. He hosts the Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness podcast and recently provided his voice to the Audible original series Heads Will Roll. He debuted as a writer with the publication of his memoir Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, and revealed his status as an HIV positive person to fight social stigma during an interview. He is also very vocal about the rights of the LGBTQ community, as well as politics. As a hairdresser, he worked for Sally Hershberger before establishing his own studio and currently runs MoJoHair and Stile Salon in Los Angeles.
Also Known As: Jonathan McDonald Van Ness
mother: Mary Winters
Born Country: United States
Notable Alumni: University Of Arizona
Diseases & Disabilities: HIV
U.S. State: Illinois
education: University Of Arizona
Jonathan Van Ness was born on March 28, 1987, in Quincy, Illinois, United States, to Mary Winters, the vice president of Quincy Media, and Jon Van Ness, who worked in sales. His mother is a fifth-generation member of the Oakley family which has controlled the broadcast and newspaper conglomerate Quincy Media since the 1890s.
He is the youngest of four siblings from her mother's two marriages; his parents divorced when he was only five years old, and four years later, his mother married her childhood sweetheart. He was never afraid to embrace his femininity, thanks to constant support from his mother whom he considers his lifelong best friend, but still struggled with bullying, and even death threats, while growing up.
He often dressed up as a "little baby queen", putting on "every nail polish, every heel, every scarf", but had quickly learned to play dress up with his Barbie dolls "behind closed doors". Studying at Quincy Senior High School, he took swimming classes, violin lessons, did gymnastics and ballet in school talent shows, and above all, subverted social norms by becoming the first male cheerleader in the school.
He felt humiliated following link-up with a closeted boy from his swim class and began to show self-destructive behaviors after being sexually abused by an older boy at church. As an early teen, he spent countless hours in AOL chat rooms to meet new people, and sometimes offered sex to men much older than him.
His eagerness to leave his hometown pushed him towards earning extra credits in his junior year in school to be able to skip senior year and go straight to college. He attended University of Arizona on a partial scholarship for cheerleading to study political science for a semester, but neglected his studies watching television and wasted his allowance on cocaine.
He again resorted to soliciting sex for money, and after being kicked out of the cheerleading squad, signed up for another semester only to drop out at the last moment to be a hairdresser. When he decided to train at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis after leaving college, his parents refused to pay fees, forcing him to take a FAFSA loan and a job at Sun Places Tanning Solutions.
Jonathan Van Ness was 15 when he took his first job, teaching gymnastics to kids at a summer camp at the local community college, which he continued to do in the following few summers. Despite being the only sibling not to join their family business, his second job was to work in the circulation department of the family newspaper, handling customer subscriptions and complaints.
While working at Aveda in 2005-06, he earned pocket money mostly from irregular tips, but eventually moved to Arizona without completing his training and worked as a hairdresser for five years in Phoenix and Scottsdale. In 2009, he decided to relocate to Los Angeles without any plan, and managed to get a job as an assistant at Sally Hershberger, but due to low pay, went back to Arizona most weekends.
One day in 2012, he suddenly fainted while highlighting a client's hair in the salon, and after experiencing flu-like symptoms, went to Planned Parenthood the next day, where he was tested HIV positive. He decided to "get clean" from drug use, and also started his career anew with funds from a family trust by co-founding the hair studio MoJoHair, along with Monique Northrop, in November 2013.
In 2013, Jonathan Van Ness was dressing the hair of his friend Erin Gibson, a director for the comedy syndicate Funny or Die, when he casually did a high-energy recap of Game of Thrones. She liked it so much that she pitched the idea, which resulted in the web series Gay of Thrones, a parody recap series of the hit HBO show, launched in April 2013.
The first series was done merely for fun, for which he did not even get paid, but as the series gained popularity, they continued the show for five more seasons until the original series ended. In 2018, he was nominated for a 'Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series' for the web series.
The success of the series opened new opportunities for him, like getting Margaret Cho, one of his favorite comedians, as his client and doing her hair on Fashion Police for two years. He was also a series regular on I Love the 2000s (2014) and hosted the weekly podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness starting in 2015, even though it became popular much later.
He eagerly auditioned for Netflix's revival of Queer Eye and was picked as the new grooming expert, one of the Fab Five, alongside Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk. The series was favorably compared to its predecessor upon release in February 2018 and has been running successfully for five seasons.
Over the years, he has made guest appearances on several television shows and podcasts and has appeared in music videos by artists like Kesha and Taylor Swift. In 2020, he appeared as himself in Miss Americana, a documentary film on Swift's life, and co-starred alongside Meryl Streep, Peter Dinklage and Kate McKinnon in the Audible original audio comedy 'Heads Will Roll'.
Jonathan Van Ness published his memoir, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, in October 2019, which depicted how the various experiences of his life shaped him. It was followed by a picture book titled Peanut goes for the Gold, about a gender nonbinary guinea pig, in 2020.
Jonathan Van Ness lost his step-father to cancer in 2012, which made him more conscious about healthcare issues, and later in September 2019, prompted him to endorse Elizabeth Warren as president candidate. He suffers from the chronic skin condition, psoriasis, which he revealed with a photo post on Instagram in March 2018.
While he was filming the first season of Gay of Thrones, Jonathan Van Ness was hired to groom the cast of Game of Thrones' for Comic-Con. Even though it was nothing but a random coincidence, he was surprised that some of the creators of the show had seen his recaps and recognized him immediately.
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