Jonathan Van Ness, best known for his role in the Emmy Award-winning reboot series Queer Eye has arrived in the UK. Van Ness (often referred to as JVN) is an Emmy-nominated television personality, New York Times best-selling author, podcaster, and hairstylist. He was a 2020 Primetime Emmy nominee for ‘Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program’, along with his Queer Eye cast-mates. Jonathan’s memoir, Over The Top: A Raw Journey To Self-Love, a New York Times best-seller, was named a must-read book of 2019 by The New York Times, Time magazine, and NPR to name a few. Jonathan Van Ness: Road to Beijing, his worldwide comedy tour, included a sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. His podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness was named one of the Top Podcasts of 2018 by Time magazine and won the iHeart Radio Award for Best LGBTQ Podcast. A Netflix series of the same name premiered on the platform earlier this year and has become an instant hit. In each episode, Van Ness tackles a different question meeting experts and getting his hands dirty.
JVN’s love for connecting with others shines through everything he does and this stage show is no different. As soon as he appears on stage in a leotard to perform his gymnastics routine, the room erupts; the audience cheers, fans shout ‘I love you’s across the room and the fun truly begins. Followed by the full floor routine, we are introduced to JVN’s guest that night, Travis Alabanza, who is an English performance artist, writer, and theatre-maker. Their writing has appeared in the BBC, Guardian, and Vice among others. Their performance is strong, extremely funny, and often thought-provoking.
JVN returns after a short interval and resumes the show with a bang, highlighting how excited he is to be in Glasgow after such a long break. Van Ness is known for his passion for using his platform and voice for change, casually bringing up politics (he now resides in Texas), being part of the LGBTQ+ community, his drug addiction recovery, and his life with an HIV diagnosis. His performance was relaxed, fun, and full of irresistible personality; JVN took a lot of what he calls ‘hard rights’, taking things off-script to the delight of the audience. He shared stories of his life in Hollywood when starting out, becoming famous (highlighting that he lives in a constant state of shock), gardening, and his husband.
Despite all the jokes, one of the most touching moments of the night is when Jonathan introduces the audience to a nine-year-old fan, present at the show. It really is an unexpected show, full of sparkle and laughter but also a sense of accomplishment and true celebration that we are now coming back to life after a tough few years.
With thanks to Joanna Zuchowska for this review.