Top and neckerchief: Rabanne X H&M. Earrings: Jonny's own.
If there is one truth about JonnyVicious, it's that he really knows how to tell a story. Animated, expressive and completely captivating, he's a warm and charismatic presence on set. "I'm an open book," he says—and he means it. Just as well, too, as we've got a lot of ground to cover.

Sitting down for our November cover interview, no stone is left unturned. His frankness is disarming, but refreshing, and it helps to put you in his shoes. As he recounts his life—from coming of age in KL to meet-cutes at the club—one feels as though they've lived through it with him.
Top, bottom and gloves: Versace. Necklace: Stylist's own. | Makeup: Concentré De Beauté Liquid Concealer, Fluide De Beauté Fini Naturel, Blush De Beaute in 04 Bright Coral, Rouge à Lèvres Satin Lipstick, Stylo Contour Des Yeux Eyeliner Pencil, Gucci Gorgeous Flora Eyeshadow Palette / All Gucci Beauty | Hair: OSiS+ Session, OSiS+ G Force, OSiS+ Grip / All Schwarzkopf Professional
According to Mr Vicious—or, as he's known by family, Jonathan Charles—he was a late bloomer. You wouldn't think so, given that he currently stands at an impressive six-foot-two, but according to him, puberty only really hit at age 15. However, when it did eventually come through, it hit like a truck.

"I realised I was bisexual when I was 16. I hadn't thought about sex or sexuality until then. But when I did, I realised I liked both men and women," he recalls. "I dated women for the first time when I was around 16 or 17 and after a while, I thought it just wasn't for me. So I went through this whole process of coming out, and falling head over heels for my best friend."

So, what was it like coming out? "I think on a larger scale of things, I grew up pretty blessed in terms of being understood. I never had to fight to be who I was with my friends and family," he begins. "But of course, outside of those circles, you tend to have to help people better understand who you are. You're always going to get bullies."

He goes on to explain that, really, being queer wasn't what put a target on his back. "Whenever people ask if I've ever been bullied for being gay, I tell them that I've been bullied since the first day of school for the colour of my skin, instead," he states, matter-of-factly. Unfortunately, this experience of being singled out and picked on is the norm for Indians in Malaysia, queer or not.
"Indian kids are always the target, especially at the beginning of school. So, you've got to know how to defend yourself and develop thick skin from a young age," he asserts. "You have to use your brain too and you'll be able to get out of things. That's how I grew up."

Still, though he was never one to shy away from his truth, coming out wasn't exactly easy. "I think it is very hard for anyone to come out regardless of what background they come from," he reflects. "I had fantastic friends and family who didn't entirely get it but trusted me. When I came out, they went with it, and here I am today. Slay!"
Fur collar: Loewe. Necklaces: Swarovski. Earrings: Jonny's own.
It should come as no surprise that the Sex Pistols were a huge influence on Jonny. After all, his stage name is a clear homage to the band's bassist, Sid Vicious. Plus, he's never one to play by the rules. "I still am very much an anarchist at heart," he smiles. "When I was growing up, I really hated being put in a box. I always fought very hard to step out of that box and rebel—never doing anything too stupid, but just fun enough to make a point."

It was at the age of 18 when he started dipping his toes into the DJ pool, first hosting private afterparties before becoming a booker for clubs. As for what drew him to the scene? He cites the early 2000s club scene in Berlin as inspiration—specifically, techno and house icons like Ricardo Villalobos and Pantha du Prince. "I love the idea of using music to move a room," he muses. "I know a lot of times you see a whole room jumping incessantly, throwing their hands up in the air, but I don't really like that scene. I like it when DJs take you on a long journey and they're kinda holding you throughout—taking and taking and taking you and suddenly releasing, and you feel that rush. I love it when music can do that to you."
WATCH: jonny curates the soundtrack to his life
Now, at 32, Jonny has established himself as a renowned DJ, playing gigs both locally and internationally. In a lot of ways, he's a trailblazer on the scene. In the decade that he's been in the nightlife scene, he's had a goal—to broaden the horizons and foster our local culture. "Ever since I started DJ-ing, I always played whatever was not available in KL because I wanted people to experience different shades of music and not be stuck," he explains. "Radio has changed a lot in the past 15 years, but back when I was growing up, the radio was the same Top 40 hits over and over again, all day, every day."

"This stifles society—puts them into a box and keeps them there," he continues. "You had to be someone really interested in music to experience something different. So, the idea of leading something new, having people follow that and realise that they like it, is something I love."

Of course, it was only natural that his passion for nightlife and culture would then manifest in the conception of Shagrilla, a private drag party collective. "I started Shagrilla because I realised that there was no outlet for my community to express themselves—and what I mean by that is doing what my community does best, which is dressing up and feeling free on the dance floor," he articulates. "There were many places for everybody else but not for us."

"I always believe that every city should have an outlet like this because it gives teenagers and young kids—who are still confused or not comfortable with who they are—a place to be free," he continues. "A place to come out and see older people like them who have found themselves; who are holding on to their truth and accepting that they are the way they are."
Earrings: Stylist's own. | Makeup: Rouge À Lèvres Liquide Mat Lip Colour in 25 Goldie Red, Concentré De Beauté Liquid Concealer, Fluide De Beauté Fini Naturel, Blush De Beaute in 04 Bright Coral, Stylo Contour Des Yeux Eyeliner Pencil / All Gucci Beauty | Hair: OSiS+ Session, OSiS+ G Force, OSiS+ Grip / All Schwarzkopf Professional
His trailblazing streak doesn't stop there. In addition to pioneering inclusive spaces in KL, Jonny was also behind one of the most popular local supper clubs—Super Secret Social. Run by Jonny and his husband Nico, the concept was simple: A secret farm-to-table supper club that prides itself on its 95 per cent locally sourced, sustainable menu. It was launched in the midst of the pandemic when the founding duo had lost their jobs in nightlife and hospitality, respectively. "Loads of our friends were coming to our house and eating for free anyway, so why not start charging them for it?" he jokes.
Food has always been a focus in Jonny's life. He started cooking at the age of 11, and by age 15, he was serving up seven-course meals for family and friends alike. With aspirations to become a chef at 17, he started working at a hotel. "I f*****g hated it," he laughs. "The amount of waste was one of the things that really drove me insane while I was working at the hotel."

"Every morning, I would work the buffet, and after that, we had to throw everything that was left behind in the dustbin," he recalls, visibly appalled at the memory. "I grew up in a household where waste was never normal. Growing up Asian, we're taught not to waste. If you see a chicken on the table, nothing will be left by the end of the meal. The bones, cartilage, everything is usually lapped up!"
It's this experience that got him to push for Super Secret Social's circular model. "We believe everything can be used when you buy produce," he explains. "Every single bit of it can be used for something. It's just all about learning how to utilise them properly."

He also explains that another driving force for launching Super Secret Social was teaching people how to eat locally and enjoy eating locally. "You don't have to eat an Australian steak. Instead, think about how to cook the beef that we have here perfectly, and it might just turn out the same. We did that in one of our dishes—we served local tenderloin à la bleu. Everyone loved it and was so surprised that it was local beef. So, that's what really drove us at Super Secret Social. A lot of it was about teaching. Everything was natural, everything was biodynamic."

Super Secret Social was among the first supper clubs in Malaysia. While it has come to an end after seven seasons, it has definitely sparked a movement—one that is slowly growing. "I'm really glad that so many people have caught on to it," Jonny beams. "We've watched many people start their own supper clubs in their homes doing different types of food. It makes me very happy."
Top, shorts and shoes: Loewe. Necklace: Swarovski. | Makeup: Concentré De Beauté Liquid Concealer, Fluide De Beauté Fini Naturel, Blush De Beaute in 04 Bright Coral, Stylo Contour Des Yeux Eyeliner Pencil, Gucci Gorgeous Flora Eyeshadow Palette / All Gucci Beauty | Hair: OSiS+ Session, OSiS+ G Force, OSiS+ Grip / All Schwarzkopf Professional
With so many things under his belt, you'd think he'd have no time left in the day. You'd be wrong, though. For Jonny, there's a new venture on the horizon, and it's his most ambitious project yet. In 2018, the multi-hyphenate rebuilt an orphanage—or, as he put it, "Queer Eye-d" an orphanage. "I threw a fundraiser and we collected almost RM50k and redid the whole place, which is, quite frankly, one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done," he reveals, proudly. "It really just drove me to think more about it and I've decided to actually start a foundation out of it, where I'm gonna look for two to three orphanages a year that I can renovate."

"There are a lot of underfunded orphanages. At the place I went to, they didn't have beds. They were living on the floors, the walls were covered in lice and the conditions were atrocious!" he exclaims, throwing his hands in the air. "I feel like if you've already been abandoned by your family and then you're placed in this place, it must be the worst feeling in the world. As a child, I was lucky I grew up in a home where I could come home and feel comfortable and safe, and I think every child deserves that too."

"I'm going to be launching this soon, and I am naming it The Lily Alfred Project, in honour of my late grandmother, who is the reason why I do my best to give back to the world," he says excitedly.
Top and overshirt: Brian Khoo. Ring and earring: Jonny's own.
So, what's his big secret? Where does he find the courage to pursue every passion of his? "Every single day, my imposter syndrome is still bright," he admits. "I think the only thing you can do is constantly remind yourself that you are trying. That is something that I've never stopped doing; I've never stopped trying."

As for any advice he has for aspiring multi-hyphenates, it's all about the instinct. "You'll feel it when it's right. I generally go with my gut a lot. That, and I think it's really important for your own growth to keep doing different things and never be afraid to try," he affirms. "It's always going to be hard. But there are people you can talk to, there's help that you can get, and there are ways to overcome anything. So, never stop looking and never stop trying."
Editor-in-chief / Sarah Hani Jamil
CREATIVE DIRECTION & layout design / Sarah Tai
Photography / Cham Zihao | Mò Shēng Rén
ASSISTED BY / Saiful Azwan
Videography / Dennis Kho
HAIR / BIBIAN LEONG FOR Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS+