A Road Trip with Jonathan Van Ness

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The charismatic star of hit TV show Queer Eye had a troubled and chaotic early life. Here he talks about his journey to fame, and deciding to come out as HIV positive.

The words “smoky lavender” appear twice in Over the Top, a memoir by Jonathan Van Ness, the most fabulous of the so-called Fab Five on Queer Eye, the hyperventilating makeover show in which he stars. The first time it is used to describe the skin color of a gun-toting meth addict he encounters during a stint as a sex worker in Tucson. The second to describe the color of the thigh-high boots worn by the hair stylist at a salon he lands at in Los Angeles in 2008. He is 19. Later, Jane Fonda, a customer, tells Van Ness his hair makes him look like Jesus.

Since moving to the U.S. in 1998, Aaron Hicklin has been editor of BlackBook, Out, and Document, and writes for The Guardian and The NYT, among others.

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