Jonathan Van Ness Is Queerer, Angrier, and More Grateful Than Ever Before

Before their show at San Francisco’s The Castro Theatre, we had a cute lil’ chit-chat with the Queer Eye star and multi-hyphenate human.

Ostensibly speaking, Jonathan Van Ness — who’s commonly referred to by their initials, JVN, which is also the name of their new haircare line — is the nexus of new-age pop culture and queer expression. When their name is brought into the conversational fold, regardless of the context and sexual orientations of those speaking, the consensus is that they’ve helped normalize feminine expression in an outright masculine world. Van Ness is synonymous with self-expression; they exude a certain individuality that reads as amiable and charismatic. Van Ness materializes through a screen, jovial even as if seeing them apparate onto the seat next to you wouldn’t induce a state of shock, but rather a conversation you’d share with a good friend.

Ahead of their  “Imaginary Living Room Olympian” tour stop at The Castro Theater this weekend, we had a telephonic kiki with Van Ness to talk about the show itself, queerness, and much more.

Matt Charnock: How has your queerness evolved over the past few years?

Jonathan Van Ness: In a lot of respects, my queerness has changed. For one, I have a larger platform now, which has allowed me to meet new friends, and it’s given me more language, more community, more gratitude… and more rage. I’m exposed to more of the problems — from health care access to financial assistance — queer people face. It’s so fucked up. But I also feel like I’ve become closer to who I am as a human being. Yea, it’s a strange and wonderful and maddening time to be a queer person. That relationship is probably going to get more complicated in the years to come.

MC: In one of your YouTube videos, you said “I’m the founder of myself” — what is the foundation of JVN?

JVN: Fuck me. Well, I think I have a foundation of resilience. I love to live. Even before I met my husband and was in a place to afford to have my current pets, I found gratitude and joy in just being alive. Speaking of gratitude, I think having a gratitude practice is so important to us all. It goes in paired with being a resilient person, too. Also, my dedication to my passions is strong. As I get older, concentrating on love and growth is just as important as embracing forgiveness — to not only those around you but to yourself. We need to all stop being so hard on ourselves… which is easier said than done. We’re all doing the best we can, babe!

MC: Between your haircare line, books, and Queer Eye… what does your day look like with so many projects? 

JVN: Google Calendars is a big part of my life. Between my own life and the daily stuff for my companies, everything is pretty structured these days. I’ve found that giving myself some sort of regime helps with my creativity. Like, I know I only have X-amount of time to do Y-task. It helps me set expectations, too. But on vacation, I differently try to not be structured. Sometimes it’s a lie… because I’ll work for a few hours on a break. I’m getting better at it.

MC: As a fellow human who likes to work, are you finding the idea of having rhythm more applicable than a work-life balance?

JVN: My idea of work-life balance has changed a lot, especially since the pandemic. It’s kind of like a catch-22 — because my ability to work and keep on working is why I’m here today. I remember when I was doing Gay of Thrones. During those years, I still had clients. I would do that show on my off days and get right back to work. I’ve continued that same work routine now — writing books, executive producing, speaking, writing, and performing shows like “Imaginary Living Room Olympian.” Right now I’m in a “rhythm phase” of my life. That said… I’ve been working so hard and so much lately, so I’m looking forward to taking some 

MC: What’s been your favorite part of doing the “Imaginary Living Room Olympian,” thus far?

JVN: Just being back out in the world, honestly. I started doing open mic nights in 2015 at places like the Laugh Factory. By 2018, I was doing larger venues in front of thousands of people… and in 2019, I did Radio City Music Hall, which was wild. With “Imaginary Living Room Olympian,” I feel like I’m at my peak. I’ve gone from struggling to write a 15-minute opener to now writing literally hours of stuff that I have to condense down into a show. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.  However, touring is way harder now. It’s more expensive and more difficult. It’s also harder for people to literally grab tickets and get to shows now. Regardless of all of this, I’m just so grateful to be back doing this again. It’s all a huge bag of emotions, you know?

MC: Favorite Brene Brown nugget of wisdom?

JVN: You can’t selectively numb things in your life. Life Changing. I love her so much.

And yes: We can confirm JVN is as warm and welcoming as they appear on OLED and LCD screens.

Tickets to “Jonathan Van Ness: Imaginary Living Room Olympian” at The Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street) are between $60 and $225, and are still available for 8 p.m. Saturday, December 10th, and 7 p.m. Sunday, December 11; for ticket information and more details on the show, visit

*This interview has been edited for both length and continuity

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