Guest: Josh Liu
I had a chat with celebrity hairstylist (responsible for Ariana Grande’s ponytail!) and founder of Útiles Beauty Josh Liu about gender identity, the gender binary, LGBTQ+ representation, and how that all intersects with his personal style and beauty routines.
As a person of mixed Chinese and Mexican heritage, Josh also talks about beauty standards in Asian cultures as well as mental health growing up in an immigrant family.
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Asia Jackson 00:00:12 Welcome to the SKNFLUENCR Podcast, a place where we can discuss along with some very special guests, how beauty and fashion intersect with race, identity, and culture.
Asia Jackson 00:00:30 Welcome back to the SKNFLUENCR Podcast. I have a really exciting episode for you guys, featuring a very special guest celebrity hair stylist, and founder of Útiles Beauty Josh Liu, you may know him as Ariana Grande’s hair stylist. He is responsible for the iconic ponytail. Josh is gender nonconforming. He uses he/him/they/all pronouns. And he’s also my best friend. I’ve known Josh for almost 10 years now, and I’ve seen his journey to self-acceptance. I’ve seen how his style changed his makeup, his hair, how he expressed himself. I’ve seen how it all changed as he found himself and became more comfortable with his gender identity and sexual orientation. So I wanted to sit down with him and talk a little bit about how the gender binary affected his style, affected his self-esteem growing up and how it all changed as he became more comfortable with who he is. So this is a really special episode for me and I hope you guys enjoy it. So hello, Josh. Liu. Welcome. Hey sister.
Josh Liu 00:01:44 Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be your first guest. On SKNFLUENCR.
Asia Jackson 00:01:51 I’m very excited. And I wanted to talk to you a little bit about, you know, your journey as a hair stylist. I wanted to talk to you about, you know, your gender identity, what that means to you, like representation in media. I wanna talk to talk to you about a whole bunch of stuff. You know what it’s like to be a guy* dressing the way that you do, you know, wearing platform, heels and makeup. And, you know, I just really wanted to dig deep into your experience and kind of see, see where you’re at. You know what I’m saying? Hopefully the potential listeners of this podcast are really interested in learning about other people’s perspectives that aren’t their own. So, uh, are you ready to get into it?
*note: I am referring to the way Josh is perceived by those around him—not that he necessarily identifies this way
Josh Liu 00:02:34 Yeah. Let’s get into it.
Asia Jackson 00:02:35 Yeah. So actually I wanted to start off with you in high school. What type of kid were you in high school?
Josh Liu 00:02:44 Oh gosh. In high school there was very little development of self mm-hmm <affirmative>. So let’s first start off by that. There was not a lot of, um, self-awareness there was hyper focus on fitting in mm-hmm <affirmative> so there was no, I had very little development, um, in my own journey of self. So anything that you guys see online that I am now was not me in high school. In high school, I was shy. I was very overweight, um, with very deep rooted issues in self-consciousness and, um, body dysmorphia and just all those things. So who I was in high school is not who I am now. My gender identity was male. Um, I thought I was straight, but also was open to the idea of exploring sexuality. I just didn’t know how, and I didn’t know anything. And I had no exposure. There was very little media representation. I didn’t identify with any of the representation of a gay cisgendered male. Um, so I was like, that’s not me. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I think that, you know, in high school, I just struggled with that. So really who I was in high school was a version of my male cisgendered self who was trying to fit in with the cisgendered heteronormative community. And that was who I was, I was not me.
Asia Jackson 00:04:23 Yeah. In what ways did you try to like fit in with other people?
Josh Liu 00:04:27 Oh gosh, I remember I used to like beg my parents to buy me the clothes that the other kids were wearing. And I grew up in a very predominantly like affluently white and, um, the minorities were, um, affluent Korean, um, families in our neighborhoods. So it was La Cañada, California. And, um, the other minorities that were there, um, were a lot of them were just, um, children of employees. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, whether they were, um, live-in house, um, maids, um, or live-in housekeepers, or they worked at JPL, um, or in businesses in the community, they were children of those workers. So, um, they did not have, they didn’t come from money, but me being like kind of lower middle class, um, you know, my immigrant father was very, you know, he had his own assimilation journey into Americanness, which was whiteness essentially. Mm-hmm <affirmative> he got rid of his accent, the whole thing.
Josh Liu 00:05:35 So he understood a little bit of the struggle that I went through and was like, yeah, just do anything you can to fit in. Like don’t, don’t dress different, don’t be different. So the lengths that I went to was literally like copying everything that the rich kids would do and where, and, um, I bought like seven jeans and true religions being an American apparel, hoodies in VX. And you know, my parents don’t come from that background of materialism because, you know, my mom is, uh, was born or is born and raised in, um, east LA, uh, and comes from an immigrant, um, Mexican household. And my dad was a Taiwanese immigrant of Chinese background. Um, and he moved to the states when he was 13. So, um, again, they didn’t have that materialism because they were just trying to survive and create a, um, a living for their families. So like materialism, wasn’t a thing for them. But I think I grew up surrounded by things. I didn’t have mm-hmm <affirmative> and by people that didn’t look like me. And instead of embracing myself and like my differences and my diversity, I tried everything to conceal it and, um, cover it up with clothes that the other, that the, the white people and the affluent had that I didn’t have. And there was a lot of unacceptance of my, my
Asia Jackson 00:07:08 Otherness,
Josh Liu 00:07:09 My otherness. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I visibly looked different because I was heavy. I was biracial Mexican and Chinese, and that’s just like, not like that was so taboo. The Koreans were like, you’re supposed to be pure blood. If you’re Asian, like Asians are supposed to always date within their, um, nationality. And like, that was like a really like, like someone called me a mud blood. <laugh> like dirty blooded, dirty blooded. They called me dirty blooded. And that was something that like really stuck with me. And I was like, oh no, no, no. But like, I’m not really Mexican. Like, I, I, I’m not Mexican. And then I went through phases where I was like, I’m not really Chinese. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> like, I’m just mainly Mexican. You know, I try every variation to like, try to fit in and then I would downplay both of it. I’m like, yeah, I’m half Chinese, half Mexican. Sure. But I’m not really, I’m like really just white. And like, I’m like, you know, like it’s not, it’s not that serious. Yeah. Like I’m whitewashed. So I’m really, I’m just American.
Asia Jackson 00:08:11 Yeah. That is so relatable. I feel like any mixed person can really relate to that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I just think it’s interesting cuz like I’m black and Asian, obviously I’m a different mix than you, but it’s just so interesting where like, what you hear from each side of your community is they echo each other. It’s like literally the same thing they’re saying the same things mm-hmm <affirmative> to, to mix people of all races.
Josh Liu 00:08:34 <laugh> totally. And I think that it’s funny too, cuz like we also have internal dynamics within our families. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, I am the only biracial, so biracial person on my Mexican side of my family. Mm. And my Mexican side would make fun of our Asian side. Mm. Or us being part Asian mm-hmm <affirmative> and then like our Asian side would then like kind of disgrace us for being part Mexican. So it was really weird and like even growing up with my grandma and my Chinese grandma, my Chinese grandfather, um, who, um, lived with us when we were children, they had a disdain for my mom who was Mexican. Like it wasn’t the norm within the Asian community to date outside of the, um, the Asian group, which was ch Chinese. So
Asia Jackson 00:09:19 I know that’s so I think a lot of people don’t realize this about like Asians <laugh> yeah. It’s like really taboo, not only to date outside of your race, but to date outside of your ethnicity. Yeah. Is a really huge,
Josh Liu 00:09:34 It’s a very nationalistic. Yeah. They really have a lot of pride mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think that people forget that and or think that, oh, as long as it’s within the Asian community, it’s fine. But like, I think that we have only been working towards that now. Right. But like maybe just 10 years back, like it was really taboo and like kind of not culturally accepted within our own, um, ethnic groups of Asian.
Asia Jackson 00:09:59 Yeah. So it seems like you had a lot of identity issues growing up, like, um, period. Yeah. Like, like your mixed identity, your ethnic background, your racial identity, your gender identity, the way that you presented yourself. So like what was your introduction into the world of hair? Like how did you fall in love with it? How did you decide that’s what you wanted to do? Because before you were doing hair, you were working in PR and you majored in broadcast journalism. Right.
Josh Liu 00:10:29 So I had actually majored in, um, well I had went to school initially. I had applied to schools with broadcast journalism, being what I wanted to do because I had like an identity crisis in, in high school at for reasons which are very obvious. And I was like, I wanna be Ryan’s Seacrest a white successful news reporter cuz I love the entertainment industry. And I kind of lived through the media that I, I consumed in high school cuz I didn’t get invited to parties. There was no sense of self. Like I would watch TV and I would be obsessed with like characters and shows and stuff. And I was like, I wanna be an interviewer. And, and like, I wanna do what Ryan CCRS does. Cause I would see like the, on the red carpet interviews with all these people. So I went to school to do broadcast journalism and then I realized it’s like acting and you need like a headshot, you need to audition mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Josh Liu 00:11:17 And um, I quickly changed course because I was very self-conscious and had a lot of body image issues and I was not comfortable on camera and well, I didn’t love myself. So I switched to public relations and I majored in public relations. I worked in the field for a year and a half and I loved what I did, but I just wasn’t passionate about it. But the one thing that was ongoing for me that I really loved was hair. So throughout all these eras of my, you know, different, um, passions, I had always been passionate about hair and that stems even to high school. Um, and I think that, you know, every decade or every few years trends change mm-hmm <affirmative> and like you always follow the trends of like how, you know, cuz that’s how you fit in. And like, that was a way that I coped and I fit.
Josh Liu 00:12:07 I tried to fit in by doing different things or changing my appearance. I would change my appearance to try to fit in. So what I would do in high school was like, I would cover my insecurities, which was my large face or um, my weight by like kind of using my hair to disguise it. So I had always done different things to my hair and I’d been very passionate about it because like I would do like email haircuts and I would get a flat iron to really, you know, style it. I would tease it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I would do a lot of things, but um, I think I grew up having short hair for so long and I was like really like embarrassed because I would always have these bad haircuts because not a lot of hair stylists knew how to work with like Asian hair. That’s like straight, but also Mexican hair that is like super thick mm-hmm <affirmative> so I just loved playing with my hair. So in college, like I had like a phase where I would curl, set it and tease it and make it into a big Buffon kind of like Mary J Blige. I would change my hair color to make it like brown. And even though I said it was brown, it was actually orange <laugh>
Asia Jackson 00:13:12 I saw that picture girl. I was like, this is, this is a look, you know,
Josh Liu 00:13:16 It’s it was definitely a choice,
Asia Jackson 00:13:18 Was a choice. It was giving like Charizard, you know what I mean?
Josh Liu 00:13:20 Like for sure. Yeah. It was a red, orange, not, um, it wasn’t, it wasn’t giving brown <laugh> it was definitely not giving brown. Um, and you know, I think that there was a little bit of, you know, white, there was a little bit of white supremacy going on. Like I got highlights that I was like begging my mom to like, let me get blue contacts, like, you know, was a whole thing. Um, but hair was always consistent in me wanting to change it up and um, style it differently. Um, so there’s just like a ton of evolution of my hair and you know, through college and through my career in PR, like I was always doing hair on the side, like doing my friend’s hair for when we go out or doing my, my brother’s girlfriend’s hair for prom and um, my mom’s hair for weddings or you know, this, that and the other.
Josh Liu 00:14:11 And I loved doing that. And like even my coworkers would ask me to do their hair for like when they go to work events and things like that. And that was something that I really loved doing. And I think, um, everything happens for a reason. And um, in PR I got exposed to the beauty industry and how much money they could make and you know, I didn’t think it was a viable career. And I thought I had to have a very like scholarly career of like lawyer doctor, you know, or something, something that you go to, you know, secondary education for. Right. Yeah. So I didn’t think that it was possible to make a living as a hair stylist. So when I was exposed to that through PR, I was like, I have to make this change. Mm-hmm <affirmative> this con conscious change. Um, because I didn’t, I kind of fell outta love with PR even though I had gotten everything that I had wanted. Um, so,
Asia Jackson 00:15:04 But I think that’s so interesting. And I think we’re really lucky that we grew up in the LA area because we were kind of already in the area to be exposed to this type of stuff. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but like before I used to think that to make a living as a hair stylist, you had to be like, I don’t know, you had to like work in a salon or whatever. Like, I didn’t know that you can make a living, like being a celebrity. I don’t know. I, I just never thought like made that connection.
Josh Liu 00:15:31 Right. And like, I guess there’s so many different ways to make a living as a hair stylist too. There are so many different paths and I just didn’t know it was possible. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and I think that like part of being like lower middle class, like you just assume you go to the salon and you get, you pay for what, like 30 to $60 haircut tops, you know what I mean? And you, you don’t think anything of it you’re like, yeah. That’s, that’s like the most they make that’s, that’s, that’s a little amount of money mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. And sometimes you go to the hair stylist and like, they you’re the only client for the day and it’s like, oh wow. That means they don’t make a lot of money. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I remember Googling like a bunch of things, like when I was like trying to apply for college and like of careers and hairstyles didn’t chart anywhere on like the money making charts. Yeah. So, and you know, I think that it’s kind of one of those things where it’s like, if you do what you love, like money will come and like you’ll find a way.
Asia Jackson 00:16:24 I totally agree with that. Yeah. Yeah. So how do you think, like your racial background and your gender, gender identity like affected your perception of beauty even like back in high school or even now, like what, like how has have those two things like affected your perception of beauty?
Josh Liu 00:16:43 Wow.
Asia Jackson 00:16:44 <laugh>
Josh Liu 00:16:45 So let’s, let’s talk about it. I mean, this is a super deep rooted question. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, we’ve kind of touched on a lot of points of this already, but, um, my perception of beauty has changed so drastically over the years, but my racial background being half Mexican and half Chinese, um,
Josh Liu 00:17:09 Honestly I think back to one of my first memories of feeling self-conscious, um, and it’s a memory that stems from like my grandmother, my Chinese grandmother, who, and my dad who would tell me after I get out of the shower that I’m supposed to like pinch my nose to make it smaller, my nose Ridge smaller. And that was to help the cartilage, which is warm, allegedly, which is warm out of the shower to, um, form a strong nose bridge. So that way your nose isn’t flat, which is obviously a very Eurocentric beauty standard. So from an early age, like I was already taught to not love my body and not love myself for the way that I was born. And I was immediately told, um, by my Chinese side that I, like I had to change something in order to be beautiful. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and you know, building on that, like my Asian grandmother or my Chinese grandmother was always very like avoiding the sun and like, she would always tell us to stay out of the sun because like, we didn’t wanna get age spots and dark spots or tan.
Josh Liu 00:18:23 And like lighter skin is like more desirable. I mean, it wasn’t said in words, but it was very clear, right. What the motive was. I mean, it was funny because like growing up, I would always be like, yeah, my grandma wears makeup that is like so pale and I’d always be like, it doesn’t match the rest of her body. Her body’s a little bit more of a tan, um, color and her face is very pale and that was on purpose mm-hmm <affirmative> obviously. And I think that that’s what you know, is a product, a byproduct of the beauty industry in Asia, where it’s like, they idolize beautiful porcelain pale skin tones. And, um, my grandma was born and raised in Taiwan and in Taiwan, I think they have a little bit they’re native. The native people of Taiwan are a little bit more tan. Yeah,
Asia Jackson 00:19:12 Yeah. Actually, uh, fun fact for a lot of people that don’t know. So my mom is eager and they actually came from the indigenous people of Taiwan. So indigenous people of Taiwan, uh, immigrated, they left the shores of Taiwan to find new land, cuz it was getting, you know, a little overcrowded. So they, uh, created boats, which is insane to me. Like they didn’t have like nails and stuff to create boats, but they were like so smart and resourceful that they built boats. And the first island that they came across was the Philippines. And that is where my people came from <laugh>
Josh Liu 00:19:47 Period
Asia Jackson 00:19:47 Native. And they are, they are brown. Yeah. Native Taiwanese. And I wanted to like mention like when you were talking about like the pinching of the nose, I thought that was so interesting because in the Philippines, parents and grandparents also tell their children and grandchildren, they’re like, you need to pinch your nose. So that it’ll be like taller and point here. And even though I experience colorism mm-hmm <affirmative> I talk about colorism all the time, like on my channel and like in like all of my social platforms, but even though I experienced colorism and I was kind of discriminated for my skin tone, I always got complimented on my nose because it was like tall and pointy. And it just goes to show you how like deeply rooted these ideals are the fact that they can make fun of me for having brown skin. But love me because of my nose. It’s just like so weird. Like you can’t separate the feature from the person or something. It’s just so weird.
Josh Liu 00:20:46 They pick and choose.
Asia Jackson 00:20:47 Yeah. I don’t know. But I wanted to ask you if you had like any positive and or negative experiences or interactions, um, with people like regarding the way that you present yourself to the world, because obviously, you know, you have long hair and you wear makeup and you dress a certain way. You wear a platform, these beautiful platform heal boots everywhere you go. Like, do you have any positive or negative experiences like regarding that?
Josh Liu 00:21:21 So, so many positive, negative backhanded, like all, all the experiences that you can think of. Um, this is also a very deep question as well, but, um, you know, obviously what sticks out to me is are the negative experiences first as most do, since a lot of them are triggers and traumas and this, that, and the other, um, I have been identifying as gender nonconforming. Um, however, male I’m male identifying, but gender nonconforming, nonetheless. So I don’t abide by the gender construct at all. Right. Despite using he, him pronouns and all pronouns, really like I don’t really care mm-hmm <affirmative> cause I don’t believe in the binary at all. For instance, like I just don’t think like clothes has gender mm-hmm <affirmative> and neither do I think makeup does it is all culturally constructed. And I think that we all navigate space based on the cultural norms. Um, and oftentimes it’s dictated by CIS hetero patriarchal norms. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, and that’s just facts, you know? Um, and you can look at historical events, um, or his histor historical time periods where, you know, men have wore worn skirts, men have worn heels and then just, you know, fashion
Asia Jackson 00:22:37 Changes, makeup.
Josh Liu 00:22:38 Exactly. Yeah. Fashion changes and trends change. So all those things, um, the negative experiences are honestly something as necessary as using the bathroom. I am gender nonconforming. I do still identify as male, but when I go into the men’s restroom, the, the amount of experiences that I have had negative are countless. They’re endless. They happen all the time. Um, I have anxiety over using the men’s restroom. Oh. And, um, it’s uncomfortable and it’s hard. And a lot of times like I go in with confidence and just like, I don’t care. Like I am clearly challenging someone’s belief of what it is to be male. And quite frankly, I don’t care. Mm-hmm <affirmative> it is very uncomfortable for them because they then question what it is that is considered to be male. And like, I don’t have a problem with it. They do. Right. So it is a projection of their view of gender and how they have constructed gender to look a certain way. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and me not abiding by that is making them uncomfortable. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I might not be uncomfortable myself. So let’s just get that.
Asia Jackson 00:23:45 Let’s get that out of the way.
Josh Liu 00:23:47 Yeah. I was gonna say straight, but let’s get it queer.
Asia Jackson 00:23:49 Let’s not get that straight.
Josh Liu 00:23:50 Yeah. Let’s not get that straight. Let’s get it queer <laugh> um, so yeah, so that is a very negative experience.
Asia Jackson 00:23:59 Um, have you ever, like, has it ever gotten to the point where you would just like, be like, oh, well I’m just gonna go in the women’s bathroom cause I don’t wanna, so
Josh Liu 00:24:06 Actually as of the last year and a half, I probably have started opting to use the women’s restroom in places that seem very cisgendered and hetero out of ease and out of, um, just yeah. Comfortability for all parties. Right. It’s just easier for me to use the women’s restroom. I will say that even though I’m male identifying, I am very female passing, which is an interesting conundrum, I guess, to approach. Um, because I feel like that’s oftentimes not the case for a lot of people who are gender nonconforming or non-binary or even trans mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I am, I guess you could say fortunate to kind of be passable on one side of the spectrum. Um, at least that’s what I’ve been told, but, um, so I can use the, uh, women’s restroom with, with, I can use the women’s restroom with a lot of ease mm-hmm <affirmative> and nobody says anything or looks the other way. So what
Asia Jackson 00:25:02 About like a positive experience? Have you ever had a positive experience?
Josh Liu 00:25:04 Yeah, I have a lot of positive experiences and I think that, um, as times have been changing, I get a lot of compliments with, um, the way people love my outfits mm-hmm <affirmative> and love my makeup. And that comes from all walks of life, cisgender, um, hetero folk, other queer folk, other Q I a um, plus folk. So I do get a lot of compliments, um, of my presentation and I, I love that. Who doesn’t love hearing compliments. Yeah. Um, I will say though that I do, I do have a lot of backhanded compliments where someone will be like, I love your makeup. I could never do that. But like, I love your makeup and it’s like coming from a cisgendered homosexual male. And then I’m like, why, why can’t you do that? Like, honestly, I can tell that like, this is, this is a projection of their own, their own, um, their own identity and their own, um, struggles with the gender confines.
Josh Liu 00:26:03 Um, or I’ll have a girl come up to me and be like, oh my God, I love your outfit. I could never wear that outfit. I love that. You’re so confident. And you can wear that outfit. I’m like, that’s so funny. So you think I’m like courageous to like wear this outfit? This isn’t a costume. This is how I dress dress every day. And it’s funny because it I’m just like, so what does this mean for you then if you think I’m so confident to, to dress this way and wear heels, is it like a physical limitation? Is it a, you don’t want to be too loud or take up too much space. I think there’s a lot of people living inauthentically and they just don’t wanna admit it because it’s comfortable living within the confines of the gender construct. So, and I think that that’s a reality, a lot of people aren’t willing to face that they may not be living in their full authenticity.
Asia Jackson 00:26:51 Yeah. Do you think that, okay, this is a two part question. Do you think that you have privilege living in a place like Los Angeles where it’s probably more acceptable to be who you are and dress the way you are and present the way that you do? Um, and then the second part of this question is, do you think that people are projecting that because they feel confined by a binary?
Josh Liu 00:27:18 Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that goes for most cisgendered folk. Um, whenever someone compliments you on something that they aren’t doing, like, is it, is it always an appreciation or is it a projection of, I wish I could, but why can’t you? Mm, yes. Yes. I think people do give compliments to queer folk out of understanding that they might feel trapped or confined by the gender construct. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, yeah.
Asia Jackson 00:27:59 Yeah. And do you think that like, I, I, I recently went to, well, recently this was like three years ago <laugh> I went to a, an event for a big television network and they were doing a presentation of all of their new, um, pilots, and they were kind of rebranding. They wanted to try to become more inclusive of gender and race and sexuality. And they had a writer. They, they had like a bunch of panels throughout the day. And at one of the panels, there was this white cisgender homosexual man who was in a writer’s room for one of the shows. And he was, he had been drinking a little bit too much and he was on the panel. And, um, one of the questions that they asked him was like, oh, you know, you, do you ever feel unsafe being who you are? And his drunken self responded.
Asia Jackson 00:28:59 And I thought this was so crazy. He was like, oh girl, I live in west Hollywood. I’m good. And it was kind of, I don’t know, I kind <laugh>, this is me speaking as a CIS, like a, a heterosexual woman, but like, it, it felt like a slap in the face to like a lot of people in the Q I, a community who don’t feel safe. He kind of like brushed it off, like, oh girl, I live in west Hollywood. So like, I’m fine. And so do you think that you have privilege living in a place like Los Angeles where it’s probably a little bit more acceptable to present the way that you do?
Josh Liu 00:29:41 Yeah. I feel really, really lucky to live in Los Angeles because we are a more progressive city, especially in the gender and sexuality department. I will, we have to talk about that man though, that cisgendered homosexual man. Um, that is, I think part of the issue. And I think that it’s funny that he says that because that highlights a lot of the issues with the lack of intersectionality of the QIA a plus community. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> the cisgendered homosexual community, um, specifically gay, um, is not very inclusive. And in fact, I think can oftentimes perpetuate a lot of the toxicity of masculinity. And I think that that’s something that, you know, he, he says that he feel he’s like, oh girl, it’s no problem. I, I live in west Hollywood, you know, I, as a male identifying gender nonconforming pansexual can say with strong feelings that I don’t feel welcomed.
Josh Liu 00:30:59 Yeah. In west Hollywood mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I live in like west Hollywood, Hollywood border. And I don’t feel like I’m welcomed at all. Mm. I think eyes are on me, but not for the right reasons. Like for the, like, what is that kind of reasons? And I feel very much othered even at gay clubs. Like I am not the demographic there and I understand that, and they’re not very welcoming either. So there’s something to be said there. I’m also not white passing, you know, there’s just a lot. And I think that for him to say that without acknowledging the issues of intersectionality within the LGBTQIA, a plus community and bipo community, it that’s like a huge, uh, misfortune that he couldn’t understand that he has privilege in there. And he has privilege in being a white cisgendered male.
Asia Jackson 00:31:49 Yeah. And I think that kind of speaks volumes to, I think a lot of people don’t understand this or realize this, but GT Q I a plus is such a huge umbrella of so many different identities just because you have a gay character in a TV show does not mean that you’re, you know, covering the full spectrum of what is, what is out there and what is being represented. And so I wanted to ask you, like, what do you think the, what do you think about the current state of representation in media? Like when it comes to gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, like, do you think that it has improved? Do you think it’s good? Do you think it’s bad? Do you think it’s getting better?
Josh Liu 00:32:32 I think we’re on the right path. We can always be doing more. So I think that that is something we need to talk about. <laugh> um, we are definitely headed in the right direction. There is a, there are a lot more roles for the Q I, a plus community, as you can see through now, more lead characters being cast as part of the Q I a plus community. I will say though, um, for a long time, there were only, um, cisgendered homo sexual roles cast for supporting roles. You know what I mean? They were not getting lead roles. And I’m glad to see like a show, like love Victor, where there is a lead Latino. Um, that is well, he is cisgendered and he is actually heterosexual in real life. So we need to talk about that elephant in the room. But, um, needless to say, I do like that there was a story being told of a, um, Latino, um, gay, um, on television.
Josh Liu 00:33:36 Um, so that’s always really great, but I think we are moving more and more in the right direction. Like I just saw a show on HBO, max called sort of, and the main character is actually a non-binary individual played by the LA bag and they are Canadian. I think they use they them pronouns. Um, and they like seeing them on TV made me feel fantastic, cuz I was like, they are very much non-binary and gender nonconforming. And um, in fact they debate, you know, being trans too even, um, I’m not sure how they identify on the show. I haven’t watched it in a while, but I loved it and it was really fantastic and it was deep, smart intellectual and you know, very emotionally simulating and it wasn’t like the non-binary lead. Wasn’t like the pit of the joke, like there, like there was, there was slight humor, but it was never at the cost of the non-binary individuals.
Josh Liu 00:34:38 So yeah. Um, but yeah, seeing folks like Beal and hunter Shafer, although white, but a trans, um, leading role on euphoria, for instance, um, seeing that kind of representation always warms my heart and like makes me feel like we are headed in the right direction. And I think, um, we’ll start seeing more cast with more queer folk and gender nonconforming folk specifically, um, on TV. And I hope that that media representation empowers other people cuz it’s been empowering me. And I’ve noticed that over the years I feel more and more safe and like understood, you know, through shows like this coming out.
Asia Jackson 00:35:18 Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. I wanted to make a comment on hunter saffron euphoria. I recently I keep seeing recently I watched this like three years ago. <laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative> she, um, did an interview, um, about her character on euphoria. And uh, there was an audience question that asked, like, I, I think the question was like, how do you feel, you know, being like a, a trans character on like a major show and she gave her answer, but at the end she emphasized like, you know, even though this was my experience and I’m super proud to play a trans character on an HBO show, I am white, I am skinny and I do pass. And I thought that was just like such a, it was just like one sentence. But it, I feel like it was so powerful to kind of recognize not how easy it was for her, but like, you know, recognizing her privilege and that, that was the way that she was able to play that character, I
Josh Liu 00:36:22 Guess. Totally. Yeah. And you know what, that, that is. I think a lot of what I ask of like the white community with privilege, um, regardless of sexuality or gender identity, because they do have so much power, um, over the bipo community. Um, so her acknowledging that was just chef’s kiss, you know?
Asia Jackson 00:36:44 Yeah. I wish I wish that writer would’ve acknowledged something like that as a writer on a TV show. That was kind of crazy.
Josh Liu 00:36:50 That’s nuts. Yeah. People like that should not be writing for shows anymore. I’m sorry. Yeah. I
Asia Jackson 00:36:56 Thought that was crazy.
Josh Liu 00:36:58 Yeah. But you know, I think of, so you, you mentioned about like being passing, you know, and, uh, skinny and white, you know, Beal is Southeast Asian and also, you know, full bodied, um, and not passing like, and these are all issues that they talk about on the show. Mm. Um, so I, yeah, love a character like Beal and I, you know, I see myself in Beal as well and
Asia Jackson 00:37:27 She, they, they, they are playing the lead character. Yeah. Oh, so this is their show.
Josh Liu 00:37:33 It’s their show. Oh
Asia Jackson 00:37:34 Yeah. And it’s called sort of on HBO max,
Josh Liu 00:37:37 Correct.
Asia Jackson 00:37:37 Okay.
Josh Liu 00:37:38 Very good. Very good.
Asia Jackson 00:37:39 Put that put down your watch list. Full
Josh Liu 00:37:41 It’s on it’s on the darker more serious side. Okay. It’s not, it’s not really like a comedy per se, but there are funny moments for sure. Right. Yeah.
Asia Jackson 00:37:48 I guess kind of, kind of like the euphoria then.
Josh Liu 00:37:51 No, I actually would say compare it more to like, um, what’s that other insecure.
Asia Jackson 00:37:59 Oh, okay. Okay.
Josh Liu 00:38:01 Um, yeah.
Asia Jackson 00:38:03 Speaking of representation, who do you think was the first person that you saw yourself in?
Josh Liu 00:38:11 Who
Asia Jackson 00:38:12 If, if you have any,
Josh Liu 00:38:14 I’m gonna repeat an answer, but I think Beal as of today, I have, I wanna also note that I haven’t really discovered my full self until maybe the past three years. It’s funny. I, I feel like I’ve been saying that over the past five years, but I think I am now fully myself. Um, as of like maybe three years ago, it really took the pandemic to like fully understand and love every aspect of myself from body sexuality and gender. And um, yeah. So I think Beal would be the first, because everyone, other than Beal wouldn’t necessarily be seeing myself. It would be like parts of myself, whether that was like Lucy Liu or like JLo, you know? And I, Lucy Liu from obviously Charlie’s angels mm-hmm <affirmative> and like JLo from the Selena movie. Um, but you know, those two leading ladies were kind of like the only representation that I kind of saw and like obviously would change through time periods. Like maybe eventually like Demi Lavato and Selena Gomez. And I would like really identify with them being like Latina, um, and Demi Latin X of course. But yes. So
Asia Jackson 00:39:29 If you were able to meet your younger self, what advice would you give him?
Josh Liu 00:39:35 I would give him advice to. Okay. So I actually thought about this recently, like what would I tell younger, Josh? I think that more than anything, I would say that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to be different and love yourself. I think that I was told by my parents and everyone around me to fit in, to fit in, to fit in, but it wasn’t until that I started embracing the things that made me different, like my biracial background and being pansexual and gender nonconforming that I started to love myself, but I didn’t know how mm-hmm <affirmative>. So that’s why I’m saying like, I think more than anything it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to fit in. So I think more than anything, that would be it because everything else after that, from your mental health and physical health, it all will fall into place. But I think that thinking you can do it on your own isn’t that’s not realistic, especially for folks who are part of the queer community and not cisgendered. It’s just really like the world is CIS heteronormative. So you, you know, for, for non cisgendered folk to navigate a cisgendered world, how, like how do you even begin to do that? So I think more than anything is asking for help and really loving yourself, all parts. Yeah. From your body, race, ethnicity, the whole thing.
Asia Jackson 00:41:11 I love the like, it’s okay to be different because I feel like that can apply to so many different people. You know, when I, like, when I was growing up as a black and Asian person, I, I think I would tell myself it’s okay to be different too. Or even like having depression and having an anxiety disorder, which is like, you know, we live in a, a neurotypical world and mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, it’s, it’s okay to have depression and having, uh, an anxiety disorder or have like mental, mental health issues. You don’t have to do it alone. Mm-hmm <affirmative> you can ask for help. So I think that, I think, wow, those are really great.
Josh Liu 00:41:51 Yeah.
Asia Jackson 00:41:51 Pieces of advice that you would tell your younger self,
Josh Liu 00:41:54 I had to take a step back cuz I, and like really give it perspective cuz I’m like, that’s such a funny thing because I think that these are concepts that are so easily said, but hard to practice mm-hmm <affirmative> but I think at the root of it, like, it it’s a lot, like it, it means a lot to ask for help. Yeah. And it means a lot to love yourself and like love the parts that make you different. Like beyond being okay. Being okay to be different. You have to love it too. Yeah. You know, because we are all so different. We are all so nuanced that we need to love the things that make us different. And also remember that it’s okay to ask for help when we are trying to go through that too. And even for people who are non neurotypical, like who struggle with depression, anxiety, or even eating disorders and you know, other mental illnesses like body dysmorphia, like it’s okay to ask for help. Yeah. Like that is what therapists get paid to do. And psychologists are skilled at doing. And I think that growing up, especially with like immigrant, you know, household mentality, like you’re told to just rise above and like, you know, we are independent and we, we will make a name for ourselves to support ourselves and our families it’s like, actually it might be okay to need help.
Asia Jackson 00:43:19 Right. And ask for it. <laugh> yeah. Like we should be able to, you know, like do well for ourselves and like do all that stuff, but also like get help for like my brain, you know? Yeah. Like I’m kind of feeling like wired, like or unwired. I don’t, I don’t feel great.
Josh Liu 00:43:34 Right. Exactly.
Asia Jackson 00:43:35 And like, I don’t know, I’ve heard so many stories of like my Asian friends telling their Asian parents that like they’re depressed or like they’re like they have mental health issues. And the responses that I hear from their parents are so crazy. Like one of them was like, what do you mean? Like you don’t have feelings or like, no, you’re fine. Like you just, just go to school. Like, I don’t know. It’s just,
Josh Liu 00:44:00 I had that all childhood. So trust me. Yeah, girl. Do I know? Yeah. Um, but I think that even that like something that stands out to me is that like my, my mom and dad would say like, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired, like you have to, you have to do your work. Like cuz homework always has to get done. Like I used to go to school when I was sick. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because like my parents were like, you can’t miss school. You have to. Yeah. Unless I was like, obviously like had the flu and was throwing up. Like I, I had to go to school cold. Didn’t matter. Obviously different times now COVID and everything. Yeah. Right. But like, it was very much like you have to disregard your feelings in the name of success. Success. That part is the ultimate key. Yeah. And like, it was obviously very like fine, like, um, monetarily driven, everything was like, you know, at the sake of money, capital
Asia Jackson 00:44:49 Capitalism, we love her
Josh Liu 00:44:52 <laugh> period hamster wheel. Like it’s okay. If you’re sad, get back on that hamster wheel. Yeah. If
Asia Jackson 00:44:58 You’re sad, pull yourself up by the boots straps. Right. So you get back to work.
Josh Liu 00:45:02 You know how many times my parents would tell me, like, if you’re sad, it’s because you’re bored. <laugh> you need to work hard. Like when you’re preoccupied, you don’t have time to be sad. I’m like, what are you talking about? <laugh> it’s cuz you’re you’re not busy. That’s why you’re sad.
Asia Jackson 00:45:16 Oh no. That is such like an immigrant parent mentality. Yeah. Like I can’t handle it. <laugh>
Josh Liu 00:45:23 Let me tell you
Asia Jackson 00:45:24 <laugh> I wanted to like circle back to what you were talking about. Like, uh, conformity, like conforming. Do you think that social media has made it worse or better? Like do you think that social media has made it better for people who feel different? Or do you think that social media makes people feel like they need to conform even more than before?
Josh Liu 00:45:47 I think every rose has its thorn, you know, it is a double-edged sword. Some might say it’s like, you know, roses are pretty to look at, but like once you touch the stem, like it’s gonna prick you and you have to actively do things to like protect yourself from harm with it. Maybe you have to take off the thorns. Like maybe you have to unfollow people. Maybe you have to mute people. Yeah. The thing is with social media is that it is a tremendously great platform to find others like you. Um, however, in saying that you’re comparing yourself to other people mm. For the good and for the worse. So you can always compare yourself to people that aren’t you and that have more things than you have, you know, a more lavish lifestyle than you who are cisgendered or, you know, heteronormative and guess what they have a way easier lifestyle than you.
Josh Liu 00:46:44 And like, of course that’s gonna create some sort of feelings about that. Whether it’s jealousy, animosity, all the things. So it’s like, I don’t know. It’s just making sure that, that you’re monitoring your intake of social media and how it’s affecting you. And I think that like a lot of times people lack the self awareness of like putting social media and perspective and be like, wait, at what point am, am, is this toxic for me? Yes. Like sometimes I’ll follow like cisgendered homosexual folk. Um, and I find myself trivializing my gender nonconforming self I’m like, should I be more male presenting? I’m like, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t want to like, I, I just genuinely don’t want to, so sometimes I’ll mute them or like unfollow them because I’m like actually following them is making me question my gender identity when I love who I am. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I shouldn’t be fed that because it looks beautiful or like it looks easy or it looks desirable. You know, I think I need to feel good about myself and in doing that, I need to also follow other queer folk who are gender nonconforming. Yeah. Or don’t abide by the binary necessarily. So, and that doesn’t mean I can’t follow anyone of differing views, but I think that I have to remember that my mental health is worth more, um, than the cost of following someone that I don’t necessarily identify with.
Asia Jackson 00:48:11 Right. Yeah. I think whenever we talk about social media, it always goes to the conversation of like social media is bad. It’s terrible. Which, you know, obviously there are some truths to that, but I think that there is an aspect of personal responsibility that is not part of the conversation sometimes mm-hmm <affirmative> I feel like we need to be more cognizant and aware of the ways in which we consume social media and all types of media, honestly like even before social media, like, are we watching reality TV that makes us feel, be like, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think in general we just need to be more aware of the types of media that we’re consuming. So I kind of, yeah. I just wanted to ask you that question and I, we kind of see eye to eye on that. Like social media can be really good.
Asia Jackson 00:48:58 You can find people who are like you, you know, it was through social media that I learned to love my natural hair. Cause I saw other, you know, black women and brown women loving their curly hair. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but you know, there’s also a lot of negatives about social media too. But I think that, you know, as an individual, we kind of have to, you know, we have our agency online. We’re able to choose what we see and what we don’t see. And I think that’s just like a, I don’t know, I feel like more empowered when I make the choice instead of like feeling like it’s being fed to me. You know what I
Josh Liu 00:49:33 Mean? Mm-hmm <affirmative> exactly. Yeah. Which is why curating the people you follow is so important. Yeah. And also putting it in perspective sometimes of like, is this is following this person bringing me joy. Am I learning something from them? Is this adding to my adding value to my life? Yes. As well. Yes. So, and I think that that’s, that’s all super important. And when you said about like, does it make people conform more? I think that’s totally their relationship with social media. And honestly there should be a disclaimer might need therapy if you use, you know what I mean? Like I think everyone, it should be a requirement for everyone. Anyways. However, if you’re on social media, you should absolutely be having a therapist, um, at some point in time to just really make sure that you got a solid foundation before. You’re what you’re about to see.
Asia Jackson 00:50:28 Yeah. I think it’s good to have like a third person involved in the way that you consume social media to kind of like remove you from yourself and kind of see the bigger picture of like what you’re seeing mm-hmm <affirmative> and what you’re doing there.
Josh Liu 00:50:41 Yeah. I also have to stress that no one on social media is posting things that they don’t want you to see. Exactly. So anything that you’re seeing is a heightened version of what their real life is. So don’t like it, it’s easy to get jealous. It’s easy to want what other people have, but you forget that just like you, someone is actively making a decision to post yes. It online.
Asia Jackson 00:51:08 Yes. I, so as an influencer, I’m telling you guys, I will never post an ugly selfie. I won’t do it. I’ll take a bunch of selfies. See the ones that are not ugly and I will post those ones. And you know what, even when I do post ones, like where I’m like laying in bed, I take like five of them before I post it. Cause I’m like, this is not the right angle. My hair looks kind of crazy, but not, you know, I want it to be like crazy, but like not too crazy.
Josh Liu 00:51:36 Of course it has to be a palatable version of crazy, you know,
Asia Jackson 00:51:40 Exactly <laugh> but I wanted to go back really quickly, um, to entertainment and the media in media and like, you know, the type of work that you do. So as an actor and you know, I used to model back in my early twenties, um, I’ve had to deal with a lot of hair stylists that didn’t know how to do my hair a lot. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I remember one time I did a music video and the hair stylist on set, took a brush and started brushing my curly hair. And she was like, wow, it’s getting so frizzy <laugh>. And I was like, yeah, that’s what, that’s what curly hair does. Like this should be like hair 1 0 1. I feel like, you know what I mean? So <laugh>, I’ve had a deal with a lot of hairstylists that didn’t know how to do my hair. So how important is it to you as a hair professional to learn how to do different types of hair?
Josh Liu 00:52:36 Yeah, I mean, I think it comes down to the curriculum and the curriculum is, let’s just say not made by a black individual or person of color for that matter. You know, that that curriculum is made by a white person. Right. <laugh> um, because they don’t, it is very, uh, Anglo Saxon in teaching. So they don’t really teach you about how to work with curly hair per se. However, I won’t use that as like a blanket statement, but in Californian or in California cosmetology schools, that has not been my experience or the experience of my peers. Um, it is usually like a secondary class or asking your black girlfriends or POC girlfriends who have other textures of hair, how to do their hair. Mm. Um, because they don’t teach that in the, in cosmetology schools and every cosmetology school across the country has different requirements and different hours of qualifications.
Josh Liu 00:53:37 I see. So not every curriculum is the same. Um, and even specific schools that you go to will have different courses and different, you know, um, specialties that they cater towards. Like, um, I know some people that did get a little bit more wig trainings and, you know, braiding trainings, but that is definitely not the case at the school that I went to. Right. I learned on set. I learned, um, from my peers, I learned on YouTube mm-hmm <affirmative> and I just really focused on it because I, I knew how important it was to me as a hair professional to never be put in a situation where I didn’t know how to work with someone’s hair. Yeah. I mean, it was kind of a no brainer for me just because I had black friends who I, I have been like, I want to work with your hair because like, you’re my friend. And like, I wanna do your hair sometime, you know? And I have always wanted to do my friend’s hair and, uh, my, all of my friends’ hair and I have a very diverse group of friends with all different hair types and textures. So that’s something that’s always been at the forefront of my mind, but, um, a lot of hair stylists will have to oftentimes take extra courses on the side or educate themselves through YouTube. So,
Asia Jackson 00:54:51 Yeah, and I, I do wanna mention something because I have talked about this on my Instagram before, and there was, um, a white hair stylist from a city that I’ve never heard of before. And she was like, Hey, you know, I totally agree with what you’re saying and I totally get it, but where I’m from, there’s like not a lot of people with hair with like different types of hair texture. And I was like, okay, let like, let me calm down. Cause I can get like really preachy <laugh> when I talk about this stuff on online. But I think for me, um, as talent, I think it’s more important that hair stylists are at least wanting to learn. Yeah. Like you may not have the resources available to you all the time or at the time. But to me it just like means a lot, if a hair professional cares, cuz it makes me feel bad when I’m on set and all the white girls are getting really nice hairstyles and I look crazy, you know, it totally, it really affects my self-esteem as, not only as talent, but like as a human being, you know what I mean?
Asia Jackson 00:55:55 And so totally to me, it just like, I just hope that any hair professional that’s like washing this, or even like a makeup artist, even if you don’t have like the available resources to learn, go on YouTube, like try like try to seek out how you can do something different because it would mean a lot to your future clients.
Josh Liu 00:56:17 For sure. And I hope that any hair stylist who’s working on a set would know how to work with all hair types. Um, because if you make it that far in your industry, you should right. You absolutely should. And there are very few excuses, especially when we have resources like YouTube. Um, and that’s how I learned a lot on my own. So, um, but with that being said, though, like they shouldn’t also be a lead hair stylist on a job. They should be an assistant at that point, if they’re still learning, right. Like the basics of working with very diverse hair, whether it’s AF Afro curly, you know, kinky coilly textured hair, mm-hmm <affirmative> and they’re all different and they all have to be treated different, especially with the styling that you’re doing with it. So like, I think that that’s super, super important, but you know, I even now have situations where I’m like, Hey, out of respect for you, what would you like me to use on your hair?
Josh Liu 00:57:11 Cuz I know that my Afro textured curly hair girls like have their own routines and have their own preferences as do some of my fine haired, you know, fine haired, straight textured girls and my thicker Coser hair, textured girls, like just remember at, you know, at this is advice to other hairstylists and even makeup and um, anyone in the service industry, everyone has their preferences and that’s okay. And I out of respect for them, it’s always important to ask, Hey, do you mind if I use this? Hey, what is your typical routine? Is it all right if I use this product or would you prefer me to use something else? And I always ask that some girls don’t perf don’t like hairspray. Um, some girls prefer gel. Some girls don’t like edge control, some prefer hairspray. So it’s like always good to double up and ask. And also don’t underestimate the power of water. Everyone puts water on their hair. So just remember that is a zero cost
Asia Jackson 00:58:11 Product. <laugh> right.
Josh Liu 00:58:12 Yeah. Yeah. And water can be used to manipulate hair in many different ways, but you know, I’ll leave other hair professionals to do their research
Asia Jackson 00:58:21 <laugh>
Josh Liu 00:58:21 And look into that.
Asia Jackson 00:58:23 Oh my gosh. I love that. If you’re a hair stylist, I hope you’re taking notes. I, I absolutely loved that. But anyway, we were talking about a whole bunch of different stuff. We went really like below the surface. We were talking about stuff that’s like really super deep, but now I just wanna talk about, you know, like surface level stuff cuz you know, we gotta have a little fun, get it on this podcast. It can’t be all deep. You know what I’m saying? <laugh> so my first question, what is your favorite hairstyle you’ve ever done on a client?
Josh Liu 00:58:56 Okay. Um, lots of hairstyles in my book. <laugh> but I think my
Asia Jackson 00:59:03 Slight, slight flex, I have a lot of hairstyles in my portfolio,
Josh Liu 00:59:06 You know, she’s got quite the, quite the book <laugh> um, so I would say as of now, cuz it always changes, but my work with Oleta our best friend. Um, she and I did a shoot just like a creative shoot. Um, no one got paid. It was just like a beautiful, beautiful shoot that we did as like a little passion project to accompany one of her, um, writings. Um, it was called the daughter of Satan and basically I just went all out. So she already had braids in her hair. Um, she had not less braids and I didn’t want to mess with them. I wanted to just kind of like add to it. So I did a lot of braid work in addition to her own braids and I used a lot of wire and structure to create a huge architectural kind of Renaissance kind of futuristic look.
Asia Jackson 01:00:07 So it’s so difficult to explain it in words, but
Josh Liu 01:00:10 Like yeah. I’m like trying to
Asia Jackson 01:00:11 Describe it. Yeah. But you guys gotta see it. Um, I’ll put it maybe in like an Instagram highlight or I’ll I’ll I donunno I’ll put it somewhere so you guys can see it, but it was, it was a beautiful look.
Josh Liu 01:00:20 Yeah. So it had like a spiral spiral braid going down as like a little tenal to kind of go off like a Renaissance vibe. And then it had like a cone, um, shaping, which kind of alludes to again, more Renaissance work. Um, and then it had kind of like a winged, like a bat wing in the front made out of braids, um, and all wire based. So it was just really fun and I loved that shoot so much. Um, we had done, I think three different looks that day, but I really enjoyed it.
Asia Jackson 01:00:50 Yeah. It was beautiful. You guys gotta check it out. So my second question is what is your go to everyday hair? Look
Josh Liu 01:00:58 My go to everyday hair look. So these days I’ve been kind of lazy. So I kind of just whip it up in a bun. Um, I try to keep either a center parting or a side part, but um, I actually don’t even mind when my hair is greasy. So sometimes I’ll just wear it down with a side part and tuck it behind my ears and call it a day. But those, you know, little spiky bun is usually my go to and you
Asia Jackson 01:01:22 Know, what products do you use for your bun?
Josh Liu 01:01:25 Water and gel? I do not like hair spray, less beauty and UT less beauty. Let’s not forget. Um, can’t do it without my hair ties. Um,
Asia Jackson 01:01:34 Yeah. Do you wanna talk about your brand a little bit? Just like plug your brand a little
Josh Liu 01:01:37 Bit. Sure. So I recently founded, um, this hair tie brand called UT less beauty. Um, it means tools in Spanish.
Asia Jackson 01:01:46 Ooh, she she’s exotic. <laugh>
Josh Liu 01:01:49 Okay. She’s you know, um, Latinx owned and Asian owned and queer owned. We love to see
Asia Jackson 01:01:59 Do you love that?
Josh Liu 01:02:00 Um, so yeah, I created a hair tie that I truly believe works for all hair types and hair textures. And uh, I think Asia can even vouch that like it really fucking works and that shit snatches the shit out of it and does not move.
Asia Jackson 01:02:15 So it does not break cuz as someone with curly hair and a lot of hair, I hate hair ties. You’re trying to put your hair up in a ponytail and it snaps and you’re like, well great. Now I don’t have a fucking hair ties
Josh Liu 01:02:26 <laugh> yeah. And like I think a big complaint too, is that like, you know, when you tie your hair with one of those, just like regular hair ties that have, that are like rolled, they roll when you take ’em off your hair and they get tangled in your hair. Yes. So drastically. Yes. Now I’m not saying this, this one doesn’t tangle at all, but like it definitely like Tanes much less if not, not at all. A lot of times just because of the way I kind of designed it. So, um, it’s a nylon elastic fabric and it’s super soft to touch and it kind of expands when you tie a little bit. Um, so when I say expands, when it ties, it, it doesn’t like roll your hair into it. Like it just kind of like secures it really tight mm-hmm <affirmative> and kind of flatter, um, as opposed to, you know, getting all tangled in your hair. So regardless of your hair texture, it really does work great. And that’s my little shameless plug. Yes. I use it every day. I use it on all my clients. Everybody loves it. People request for it because the other shit hurts mm-hmm
Asia Jackson 01:03:33 <affirmative>
Josh Liu 01:03:33 Period.
Asia Jackson 01:03:34 And I can attest to that. They are the best hair ties I’ve ever used. Period,
Josh Liu 01:03:39 Period. <laugh>
Asia Jackson 01:03:41 What is your favorite splurge of all time? I’m talking like beauty fashion, like whatever.
Josh Liu 01:03:47 Okay. My favorite splurge of all time, this is gonna throw you through a loop. I used to be really materialistic, but nowadays I am placing so much money on or so much money, so much value on experiences. I loved the Airbnb that I rented in posy, Tono, Italy. It was on the Hills. It was so stunning and gorgeous. Um, I have to say that was the best splurge it was on. It was expensive. Yes, it was <laugh> it was, it was, it was expensive. Um, but I have to say that was the best money spent just because I don’t think I’ve had that much fun with my money from like a bag. You know what I mean? Like you buy a bag you’re excited for one day and then it’s like, okay. It, I own it. And it’s here. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think that experience in posy Tono at my little Airbnb Villa was just unmatched chef’s kiss.
Asia Jackson 01:04:42 Oh, I’m so jealous that I couldn’t go, but you
Josh Liu 01:04:45 Know, it’s like whatever I invited girl. You
Asia Jackson 01:04:47 Sure. Where were you? You sure did. Um, anyway, <laugh> what is your go to everyday outfit? Like what’s what’s the formula.
Josh Liu 01:04:57 So it’s definitely black, black on black, absolutely on black. Um, so it’s just black and it’s gonna be something kind of like Maddy from euphoria vibes. <laugh> but I will say I have always been dressing like this and Asia can also attest. There’s just never been a time where I didn’t dress like this. Well, in my current self, in my self-realized. Yeah.
Asia Jackson 01:05:24 Cause when I first self you were not dressing like this, but no, I wasn’t after like that year, it hasn’t changed. <laugh>
Josh Liu 01:05:31 Yeah. After you asked me, why are you afraid to wear eyeliners? <laugh> I’m like, oh, it’s too feminine. And you were like, Josh. Okay.
Asia Jackson 01:05:39 I have to, I have to tell you guys this story. I went shopping with Josh. This was like a few years ago before he, you know, came into his current self <laugh> and before, you know, Josh was still wearing platform boots with a heel. Um
Josh Liu 01:05:57 <laugh> and I had asked her I’m like, I really wanna wear eyeliner. And Asia was like, why don’t you? And I was like, Ugh, you know, isn’t it a little feminine. And she goes, J Josh, like, I don’t think the eye you’re wearing platform boots. And you’re worried about the eyeliner <laugh> I’m like, um, I just like, I can’t do it every day. Right.
Asia Jackson 01:06:20 I was like, sister, you have like a ponytail, like a really long ponytail. Like you have pink eyeshadow on you have platform healed boots that have like a, like a five, six inch heel. And you’re worried about the eyeliner
Josh Liu 01:06:36 <laugh> and yes, I was worried about the eyeliner, but that’s the thing, that’s the problem with coming into your full self? Like I don’t think I understood then that I was fully gender nonconforming and I think that there was like some ounce of male expectation in me that I’m like, somewhere on this eyeliner is going to paint me out to not be male a hundred percent. And I don’t want people to think I’m not male. And I was so scared of that.
Asia Jackson 01:07:06 Yeah. It wasn’t, it wasn’t the pink eyeshadow. It’s
Josh Liu 01:07:08 The eyeliner. No, no, no, no, no, no. Yeah. Wasn’t the mascara. It wasn’t the six inch heels, um, with the platform, like it was, it was the eyeliner that was gonna do it for me. So I, yeah, totally. <laugh>
Asia Jackson 01:07:22 Well, I’m glad, I’m glad personally that you came into yourself cuz your eyeliner is always so 1.0, what’s your favorite eyeliner?
Josh Liu 01:07:29 My favorite eyeliner. Okay. I have got to say there are a few that I have tried, but one that really doesn’t budge for me is the okay. And I’m not just saying this cuz I work for her, but the REM beauty, um, at the borderline eyeliner marker. It’s great. It’s honestly great. And it’s really thin.
Asia Jackson 01:07:51 Is it a brush tip or a felt tip?
Josh Liu 01:07:52 It is a felt tip. Okay. Yeah. It’s a felt tip.
Asia Jackson 01:07:56 Those are easier for me to use.
Josh Liu 01:07:57 Yeah. Um, I’ve also really loved the Steelo one for a very long time, but you know, it says it doesn’t budge, but I think maybe on my oily skin it does budge. Yeah. But um, I do like the REM beauty one a lot. Okay. Like it, that shit doesn’t move. It’s G it’s great. Okay. Yeah.
Asia Jackson 01:08:14 What is your current favorite beauty product or brand or both? You can tell me both
Josh Liu 01:08:20 My current favorite beauty product or brand. Um, okay. So this is obviously, this is obviously like a YouTube and influencer favorite and probably even TikTok favorite, but the, um, tart double duty shape tape. That’s like an ultra exclusive. That shit is probably my favorite. I’ve stopped wearing foundation and just kind of like put that in areas where I want to feel a little more bright. Um, and it just stays on really long. And um, I feel like I don’t even have to set it that much and I have oily skin. Um, like I do set it sometimes, but sometimes I don’t <laugh> and it still stays and it looks great and it doesn’t crease. Um,
Asia Jackson 01:09:04 But, and it doesn’t crease even if you don’t set it
Josh Liu 01:09:06 Sometimes. No, no.
Josh Liu 01:09:09 Interesting. But I think it’s cuz it’s such a drying formula <laugh> okay. That it really just balances it out for me. Right. You know, but I will say if I don’t set it, it, it will move around a little bit. But like if I just pat it, it like goes away. But like I said, though, it doesn’t increase. So once you just pat, it it’s like fixed, you know, but um, you can set it and it, that shit doesn’t move, but it, it definitely amps up the coverage once you set it. Yeah. But I, I love that beauty pro product and I think that that’s probably my fam my favorite one right now.
Asia Jackson 01:09:40 Okay. All right. Well that is all that I have for you today. Thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I was like kind of scared honestly, to have this conversation, like as a like cisgendered person, I was like, uh, how do I navigate this conversation? But one of the reasons why I wanted to start this platform was because I wanted to get people more comfortable with talking about other experiences and like really learning, you know, in a nonjudgmental environment. Like I, I really want people to have these conversations without feeling like they’re being judged for their ignorance or for just simply not knowing. Totally, totally. I think a lot of people have their heart and head in a good place. They just, sometimes, sometimes they just don’t know, you know what I’m saying? Mm-hmm <affirmative> thank you for, <laugh> providing a safe space for me to have this conversation and to, you know, answer all the questions that I had and things like that. So I really appreciate you. Of
Josh Liu 01:10:36 Course. You’re so welcome. And thank you for having me. I’m so happy to be your first guest. Of course.
Asia Jackson 01:10:42 Yes. Yeah. Well, thank you guys so much for listening to the first episode. You can follow Josh on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok at the Josh Liu. Yeah. Yes. That is Liu as in L I U
Josh Liu 01:10:59 And like sumu Liu. Hey <laugh>
Asia Jackson 01:11:05 Um, or you’ll probably, uh, see Josh on Ariana’s Instagram stories.
Josh Liu 01:11:11 Yeah. One of those you’ll you’ll find me
Asia Jackson 01:11:13 One of those. Anyway. Thank you guys so much for listening and we’ll catch you guys next time.
Josh Liu 01:11:18 Thanks guys. Thanks.