It takes minutes of watching clips of Jonathan Van Ness to fall in love with his infectious positivity.

He's part of the Fab Five on Netflix's revival of Queer Eye, a group of loveable guys tasked with helping everyday people find their inner beauty. Van Ness is the groomer extraordinaire of the group.

The most valuable part of being on a show like Queer Eye, he says, is helping people find the real beauty that was inside of them all along and celebrating that.

"When people step into that truth for themselves and make it their own and continue to grow with that truth in their own way, that's really huge," he tells TimeOut.


Fans who meet Jonathan may expect him to be constantly as loveable as the guy they see on Queer Eye, but sometimes just like the rest of us, Van Ness has a bad day.

"Sometimes I'm really overwhelmed, like sometimes if I'm on the phone with my mum, and I'm stressed out running down the street and you tap me on the shoulder for a selfie, I'm like, 'Ah, not right now' and I'm running around, you know, like crying, literally - not literally," he says.

Jonathan Van Ness with his former high school teacher in the latest season of Queer Eye. Photo / Netflix
Jonathan Van Ness with his former high school teacher in the latest season of Queer Eye. Photo / Netflix

To help himself cope on the days when he doesn't feel so great, Van Ness meditates regularly, applies a face mask and hangs out with his cats. He makes the point that self-care is really different for everyone, but the practices help him a lot when he's overwhelmed.

The 32-year-old is also hosts a podcast called Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, and last year he released his memoir, Over The Top.

Last year he began speaking openly about being HIV-positive and he's used his platform to help bring awareness and banish misperceptions.

The actor is also active politically, he's endorsed Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren for the US Presidential Election Democratic Primaries.

I ask Jonathan if there's any Kiwi celebrities' style he likes – and he said he wouldn't change anyone's look, definitely not Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's or Lorde's.

"I would really love to meet your Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern! She's so cool, she's so fierce!"


The star has had some very cool moments over the past year, including being the first non-female cover star of Cosmopolitan magazine in 35 years. He also featured in Taylor Swift's music video, You Need To Calm Down.

"Knowing that there are kids all over the world that are getting to see, like, a different representation of a happy, beautiful, non-gender conforming person, I think it's important," he says of the magazine cover. He identifies as non-binary.

Jonathan is in town for a sold-out comedy show at Auckland's Civic Theatre on Sunday, and the show focuses on his ambitious side project: becoming an Olympic figure skater in time for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

"I've really learned what my style of comedy is, how to be a stand-up comedian," he says.

"I'm giving you Olympic history; I'm giving you figure skating history. I'm giving you a lot of costume changes. I'm also giving you, like, a very intense gymnastic routine.

"It's a lot of energy and it's so much fun. I love to be on stage."

WHO: Jonathan Van Ness, star of Queer Eye and comedian
WHAT: Road to Beijing Tour
WHEN: Sunday February 16, The Civic, February 18 at Christchurch Town Hall