Jonathan Van Ness on 'Queer Eye,' Crazy Fans and His Best Self-Care Advice

Jonathan Van Ness is a vision of joy, but not all the time. The groomer on Netflix’s Queer Eye has become a household name synonymous with self-care and his trademark phrases “gorgeous” and “who gave you permission?” The larger-than-life personality is relatable, lovable and inspirational to fans, but he’s setting the record straight on that TV persona fans love to follow.

Since Queer Eye premiered in February, already boasting two seasons and four Emmy nominations, Van Ness and other members of the Fab 5 have gone from cheerful influences to national celebrities.

The Fab 5 are looking ahead. The release of their first book, Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life, is slated to be published November 13. They've already begun filming the third season of the Netflix show, which is scheduled to premiere in 2019.

Van Ness, while involved in all things Queer Eye, has dominated his own market. He stars in the Emmy-nominated web series Gay of Thrones, a Funny or Die bit about HBO cult phenomenon Game of Thrones, and the successful podcast Getting Curious. It doesn't appear he will be slowing down anytime soon.

Newsweek spoke with Van Ness about how he copes with excited fans, his personal projects and advice and the future of Queer Eye.

Let's start by talking about your Emmy nominations. Did you expect that? And how does it feel, looking toward the future of both productions?

It's really positive. It made me feel really positive for LGBT creators and LGBT content in general, just being recognized as being championed, and that people are excited about it. And also, specifically for Gay of Thrones, Funny or Die is an incredible place, but it's definitely a place that has been more dominantly run by men. To have someone like Erin Gibson, who really has helped to shape me as a comedian...and also she created this series. She saw something in me, and she saw something in Gay of Thrones and how I talk about it that could really be something magical. She fought for it and helped me fight for it and taught me so much. I'm excited about the future of the production anyway, but more what makes me excited is that women and LGBTQ people are being celebrated and lifted up. I think that's great.

That's fantastic. So is Queer Eye what you thought it would be? Or has it surprised you since you first began filming?

It's definitely surprised me. I'm like an unscripted version of The Beatles or something. And not that we're, like, as major as The Beatles, but I never thought I'd need to have security at, like, a festival.

GettyImages-983246116 Jonathan Van Ness at the NYC Pride March on June 24. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for SMIRNOFF

Have you had any crazy fan moments?

I've had people run up behind me while I have on headphones and grab me from behind. I've jumped so high and almost punched several people accidentally. They were just excited, but if you're listening to SZA, walking down Fifth Avenue, [you're not expecting that].  

So you guys have started filming Season 3 in Missouri. Are you finding it any different from your filming in Georgia?

It is a little different because people know who we are now. It does feel a little bit different. In Georgia, no one knew who we were, so it wasn't as much of a spectacle. It's harder to blend in, for sure.

And what can viewers expect from the next season?

I think that it's deeper and more expansive. Missouri is different from Atlanta. It's a different vibe. I think it's gonna be a lot of the stuff that you loved in Seasons 1 and 2, but it's also gonna be deeper.

And you're releasing a book. What's your favorite part about that?

There's a lot of grooming advice that I get asked about a lot. It is really useful information. It also will give you a little bit more of an insight into how I [made] some of the lifestyle choices I have when it comes to grooming.

GettyImages-983179908 Jonathan Van Ness at the Pride March in New York City, June 24. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for SMIRNOFF

Whether it's on social media or on camera, you always seem to be positive and energetic and have a very loving presence. How have you gained that outlook?

Have you looked at my Twitter? I'm, like, mad as hell and gay as f*** on there.

I think that growing up in my hometown, obviously, I was very effeminate and very feminine and very, very out from a young age. That led to a lot of discomforts, and it led to a lot of really, really difficult times.

As an adult, I've been so excited to be in a position where I can live my life in a free and open way. I'm so excited to not be in a junior high or high school where someone is yelling "fag" at me every four seconds. So my whole adult life I've just been so happy to get out of that situation. I think that's why I'm so positive.

But the most positive of people also have their moments. They also have their negativity. That's why I said look at the Twitter. I feel like that's where I go to express a lot of my frustration. I think there's a lot of facets to everyone, but I am a loving person and I am a really kind person, so all of that's real. But I think everyone has lots of sides.

I also wanted to chat a little bit about your podcast, Getting Curious.

It's not an overly produced podcast. It's literally a 30-minute conversation where I'm trying to learn from someone. It's something I don't have a lot of oversight on. It's really the most direct way outside of, like, my Instagram where I can learn in public and let you come along for the ride. I really have so much creative control there. 

GettyImages-960502964 Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix's "Queer Eye" speaks onstage during "Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness Live" at the Vulture Festival, at New York City's Milk Studios, on May 20. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

What is your best piece of career advice?

Keep going! Like, just keep going. You just really have to keep going.

And what's your best piece of self-care advice?

Do it! [Laughs.] Actually, I think it would be to get out of your head about what you think self-care is. Self-care can literally be going to play tennis. It can literally be a vacation. I'd say my best piece of self-care advice is to not think of self-care as soft. It's actually such a show of strength to say to yourself and the world that you are worthy and deserving of being cared for. And when you care for yourself, it allows you to be your best self in all of the situations that you bring yourself into, which is, like, every single situation that you'll ever be in. It's that thought that's actually really smart.

If you weren't the groomer on Queer Eye, which of the guys' jobs would you want?

Hmm...I don't know. I'm really not that great at cooking. Maybe fashion, because I love a shoe? But also, here's the thing: I'd never really want a different one, because then it wouldn't be the five of us, and I'm, like, obsessed with them.

But if you absolutely had to pick?

Maybe fashion, because I'm obsessed with Tan. And shoes.

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