"Mary Berry is an international treasure"
Since he first bounded onto screen as the Fab Five’s grooming expert in the reboot of Queer Eye, Jonathan has been the ray of sunshine viewers didn’t know they needed in their life: a whirl of relentless positivity and goddamn fabulous hair. We caught up with Queer Eye‘s undisputed star to talk being a part of everyone’s new favourite TV show, his online series Gay of Thrones and what he thinks of the new Great British Bake Off.
How crazy has the reaction to Queer Eye been?
It has been pretty crazy! I’m used to being a little bit in the public eye, but this is so much more than what I’ve been used to and the response has been so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done. The outpouring of love has been so overwhelming.
What loads of people seem to love about the show is you’re tackling things like coming out and race and LGBTQ rights – what’s it been like being at something that’s pushing such important issues into the limelight?
You know, it feels so natural, because I’ve been doing hair for 13 years. My first election that I ever voted in in 2008 I was doing hair, and I talked about politics every day with my clients, even though you’re not supposed to, and I talk about what’s going on in the world. When my clients are in all these different professions, I’ve learnt so much and grown so much from all of them, and I take all of that with me into Queer Eye.
Do you keep in contact with many of the contestants afterwards then?
Yeah, I’ve spoken to Bobby Camp’s wife [Vera] – we’ve spoken on Instagram. I talk to Neal [Reddy] and Remy on Instagram. Tom emails me a lot; but I adore that about him – I’m gonna send him some sunscreen this week because he said he was out, and I definitely need to keep him nice and sunscreened up.
Oh, and obviously I talk to Cory – I actually just screenshotted Cory’s Insta story ‘cos he was making this gorgeous omelette on his Insta story and I sent it to Antoni [Porowski – the show’s food expert], and Antoni said that he saw it and it almost made him cry, which was so cute.
Alongside Queer Eye you have your brilliant podcast, Getting Curious, and on it you tackle serious issues and important stories. Is there one issue that you’ve covered that really stuck with you?
The Armenian genocide was one that really stuck with me. No one talks about the Armenian genocide, and the weight of that one really stuck with me. And the gravitational waves on really stuck with me – Albert Einstein made this prediction a hundred years ago, and when you think about technology and how far everything has come, like it literally took us, with all of our instruments, it took every second of 100 years to prove that theory correct. Which I think, is like amazing and kind of mind-blowing.
With Queer Eye, Gay of Thrones, the podcast and everything else you do – do you ever get a moment to relax?
I do, I love telly and I have two beautiful little cat friends – I am much more of a day person than a night person. Typically you’re not gonna find me out at night, I don’t go to industry parties. Like, I will go sometimes if I’m invited but usually I’m like home by 11. And so I usually have a date with my couch and my cat, and some Bake Off.
You watch Bake Off?
It’s, like, my favourite show, I’ve watched it literally everyday in some capacity for four years. My biggest Christmas present was Nancy [Birtwhistle, winner of season 5]. She followed me on Instagram – I’m like obsessed with her, my whole family follows her, she’s doing her second season of all of her little tips and tricks for like 365 days straight, she got a new haircut… I’m obsessed with Nancy. I love everyone from Bake Off. Except for… I know that everyone says that the newest season is great and I haven’t seen it yet, but I think that I need to headline a summit for British television execs on how to not mess up casting. Because first they did us dirty with Downton, and then they did us dirty with Bake Off.
Yeah, Mel and Sue are gone…
Why mess with Mel and Sue?! What did we do to deserve this disrespectful treatment? I don’t understand. Like, all I did was watch Great British Bake Off over and over and over again until I could quote lines for four years – for you to just rip Mel and Sue and Mary Berry out of my hands?
Mary Berry is an icon.
She’s an international treasure.
Is it really that big in the States?
I mean, it’s probably as big in the States partially due to Netflix and also partially due to my mouth ‘cos I can’t stop talking about it. I’m just so obsessed with it in every capacity.
Looking to the future for you – are you gonna do the final season of Gay of Thrones?
Who do you think is gonna end up on the Iron Throne?
I have this really, really, really bad, bad feeling – like just bad, bad, bad feeling – that he [George R. R. Martin] has spent so much time on Jon [Snow] and Christina Aguilera [Daenerys], that he would just unceremoniously kill them. Then I have this weird feeling that like Lena Dunham [Yara Greyjoy] is gonna come from nowhere and slay a bunch of people, and be like a major factor. Cos he like just loves to take someone who is downtrodden and then make them fierce. You know? And then take someone who is like the main character and kill them for no reason. So, yeah, I have a fear of that happening.
Do you have one character that you would just be distraught if they killed off?
Sansa. And Baby Kristen Stewart [Arya Stark].
I think Sansa might go. And I’m gonna be gutted.
No!! Honestly, I think that – not that they’ve ever cared about social stuff really before – but I don’t think they can do what they did to her and then kill her. I really don’t.
Like, honestly, there is no god if that happens. And why don’t you slash my neck and then pour vinegar in it while I’m still alive – you know what I mean? Like, give us a break. I need her to thrive. I need her and Baby Kristen Stewart to thrive.
Looking forward to the future, what do you..
Oh my God do you think they’re gonna die?! Do you think that Bran’s gonna kill them?! Do you think Bran’s the Night King and he’s gonna kill them? What are you thinking?
100%. So – looking forward to the future for other bits you’re doing, what else do you have coming up?
Well hopefully we’ll get to do more Queer Eye, so hopefully that. And more podcasting, more Instagram.
What’s it like being all over Twitter?
I wish that I understood Twitter better, because I’m much stronger on the ‘Gram. Like, I’m much more like text savvy on the ‘Gram – she’s like my first language. Twitter is definitely like my second language. You know, all of us as people in the social-media world (or maybe not all of us, and I’m psycho) but because we all kind of have like that Kill Bill checklist of people who have hurt our feelings and wanna beat on social media for whatever reason – like maybe he stole your man, maybe he lied to you about whatever – there are always those people who have like hurt our feelings for whatever reason and then they have more followers than you, and you’re like: ‘Someday, you’re gonna rue the day, hunny, but you blew me off and then posted that you went for brunch’, or whatever.
And so, like, this one night I was sitting with my best friend from childhood – we were watching the show [Queer Eye] when it came out ‘cos I needed to watch it for interviews, and I was looking at my Instagram like getting these outrageous numbers that I never thought – like you’re always like: ‘Why do I have those cute numbers’. I literally felt like Uma Thurman at the end of Kill Bill – I’m in a bathroom, with a tiled floor, holding a picture clutched to my stomach, laugh-crying – like, I can’t believe this happened. You saw Kill Bill, right?
Ok, thank God.
Would you definitely want to be involved in another season of Queer Eye then?
Oh my God, yeah. Of course. They’re like my best friends. I FaceTime Antoni and Tan multiple times a day because we don’t live in LA and I usually have Instagram questions, or like “What should I do?” questions. We’ve spent every day together this summer, so we all just became really close. And then Bobby and Karamo live in LA, so I usually see them weekly. We’re all usually talking on Instagram one way or another. They became my people.
Jonathan appears in Queer Eye, which is available on Netflix now. He also hosts the podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, with new episodes released fortnightly.