It's hard to remember a time before Netflix's Queer Eye, which has since become one of the network's most successful series. Before they were household names, the Queer Eye stars were experts in their industries, but didn't realize what would happen when combining their gifts. Here's what Jonathan Van Ness did before joining the Fab Five.
Last year, Netflix debuted Queer Eye, a reboot of Bravo's Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, where the Fab Five - including Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Bobby Berk - help people reinvent themselves - overhauling everything from their wardrobe to their apartment to their personal grooming habits. Van Ness' speciality is hair, skin, and personal hygiene; Porowski handles cooking and nutrition; France teaches people how to dress confidently; Brown talks about their past and personal trauma and introduces them to new ideas; and Berk completely renovates their living space, or a space of their choice. Out of the five, Van Ness is hands down the most recognizable. He's been referred to as "gay Jesus," with his long flowing brown hair and bushy mustache - just add platform heels and a cape. But he wasn't always the huge star he is today, even if he does seem made for it.
Originally from Quincy, Illinois, a small town five hours southwest of Chicago, where he was the first male cheerleader in his high school, Van Ness was a successful hairstylist before joining the cast of Queer Eye. Splitting his time between the east and west coasts, Van Ness owns two hair salons, one in New York City and one in LA. He found a following online after appearing on the Funny or Die show Gay of Thrones, in which he'd give his own personalized recap of the latest episode of HBO's Game of Thrones while cutting someone's hair. The series was inspired by Van Ness, whose client, a producer at Funny or Die at the time, thought he should have his own show. But even she couldn't have predicted how huge Van Ness would go on to be.
With millions of followers on social media, Van Ness is a far cry from the boy who was bullied in high school for being gay to the point of receiving death threats, which he touches on in the latest season of Queer Eye. Now an internet darling and personal care guru, Van Ness is on his way to building an empire. In addition to starring in Queer Eye, which is headed into its fifth season at Netflix, Van Ness has his own podcast, Getting Curious, on which the reality TV star interviews different experts on topics that he happens to be curious about at the moment. He's sat down with everyone from historians to speech pathologists to fellow members of the Fab Five, including Porowski and France. Van Ness also spends his time ice skating and doing gymnastics, sharing it all with his fans as he goes.
Van Ness' life looks a lot different than it did even just a year ago, before Queer Eye stole the hearts of America. But it's clear that he was always destined to be the upbeat, inspiring, cat-loving, hair cutting ice queen he is today - it was just a matter of time.