John Mungai, widely recognized on social media as 23-year-old Jony Hairdesigner, has been making waves as a celebrity, commercial makeup artist and hairstylist for years.
One of his most famous recent works is the iconic hairstyle he designed for Kenyan actress Catherine Kamau, aka Kate Actress, when she attended the East African film premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 2 held in Kenya.
A former makeup artist and hairstylist on K24, Kameme TV and the cast of Selina from Maisha Magic East, Jony has racked up celebrity clients by the pack and has loved the response and praise his work has received.
His other high-profile clients include Size 8 – before the recent infamous incident in which she and gospel singers Betty Bayo and Lady Bee, among other gospel fraternity members, booked his services and then shunned him for having allegedly been gay for dressing up as a woman while creating social media content-, actress Jacky Vike known as Awinja Nyamwalo, Ugandan socialite Zari Hassan and comedian Mammito.
Speaking to Nairobi News in an exclusive interview, Jony explained who he is outside of social media and why he likes to dress up as a woman when creating content.
“It was lovely working with Kate. She’s so kind, so welcoming and she’s so supportive. Working with her has been such an amazing experience. None of the women I’ve mentioned before have ever had a problem with the fact that I dress up as a woman. On normal days I don’t dress up, I’m just a casual person. When I dress up, it’s just for videos, when I go to events or I go to a place I’d rather dress in. When I go to do their hair, I’m so basic, and even if I go dressed and made up, it’s none of their business because I showed up, delivered my job, I got there on time so for them to like to say something about it, I don’t think it’s up to them,” Jony explained.
On a normal day, when he’s not doing his hair or creating social media content, Jony is a lecturer at a university in Nairobi’s central business district, where he teaches hair and makeup. He lectures for two hours a day in the morning, then proceeds either to a meeting with his clients or to the head of his studio.
“It’s been two years since I started dressing as a woman. I love – or prefer – dressing up and creating content dressed like that because that’s where the money is in the world of stylists, content creators, and influencers. There are brands that have chosen to work with me, especially to dress up as women. I have brands that work with me. I’ve worked with Mac Cosmetics, Maybelline and they all love the personality and character I create when I dress as a woman.
“In dressing up, I think I especially like the recognition and appreciation that I get from it, people knowing that I can be another person and I can have another personality and also entertain them because it’s “That’s what they’re looking for. Someone to entertain them and make them happy, to influence them so they can be beautiful in their own bodies, you know,” Jony added.
He further revealed that his family was fine with his female alter ego because he made a lot of money with that personality and they benefited from that money in some way. Jony hinted that they were also fine with his feminine persona as long as he didn’t rub it in people’s faces about his dressing and what he liked to do about it.
When asked earlier if he identifies as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus (LGBTQ+) community, he replied that he is currently not in the space of head to talk about it. It came after he took to social media to question why some people (read Size 8) thought he was gay as he recounted their infamous incident.
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