This Is Me: Jonny McGuinness

He’s been around the world on a super-tight budget, is partial to running around half naked, holds He-Man as an unlikely style icon and now, he’s about to embark on one of the biggest challenges of his working life. In the second of our This Is Me interviews, we grilled Coventry’s finest export, actor/comedian Jonny McGuinness, on what makes him exactly who he is…

Why are you doing this interview?

Because I want to help out my friends with their little, er, big project and I think it’s interesting to be involved in as I know for me clothing and style isn’t that important. It will be cool to compare me to other people on the blog. I’m quite influenced by my traveling at the moment so it’d be interesting to re-visit me in a year’s time and see what’s different.

Where did you go traveling?

I went to South East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia) Australia, New Zealand and South America (Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil).

What are you working on?

I’m hopefully starting with a job working with children with special needs in Islington soon. I know it’s going to be hard and a challenging experience working with the kids – I don’t have that much experience. I want to challenge myself. I want to do stuff I don’t know if I can do and prove I can…see what I learn about myself.

I’m meant to be doing some comedy writing too with a friend. There’s scope in the job to do some drama, I like the idea of the kids doing that so I might do some comedy stuff there.

So does that mean you’ll finally have your hair cut?

I’ve had it trimmed. I wanted it cut but I don’t want to have to maintain it and don’t want it styled. I think the surfer look will help with the kids I’m going to be teaching, they’ll think I’m a cool dude.

It’s kind of like He-Man…

I quite like the He-Man look.

What are you wearing?

It’s all from abroad. My shorts were one of the first things I bought from the Koh San Road in Bangkok when I went on my adventures. You can have them long, short and they dry really quickly. They’ve been around the world with me.

The old sandals, they’re Havianna’s I bought in Argentina. I was wearing really bad flip flops for ages and these are really comfortable – I don’t want to wear trainers again. What I quite like about my top, it’s a favourite at the moment, is that I didn’t buy it in a shop. I was in a club in Arakeepa in Peru and saw someone wearing it and thought, “I really want that”. I went up to guy wearing it on the dance floor and said “mate, that is a really good top”.  He said “do you want to swap it?”  I was wearing a bright green Levis T-shirt with a bikini-girl riding a bronco.  After swapping it, people kept telling me there was this stuff all over the back of my T-shirt like chewing gum and I wasn’t listening and just replied “Yeah, it’s brilliant this top isn’t it”.  It was my mum that got it out.

The next day out the corner of my eye in a market in Puno, I saw my old T-shirt and it turned out to be the same guy who’d traveled to a festival in the town.

It all ties up with memories and little adventures of traveling.

Describe your style up in one word.

Relaxed.

Where do you shop?

Before I went traveling, I’d shop in places like H & M, Primark for basics and Shoreditch boutiques for T-shirts.

What makes you shop?

Neccessity really. I find it a bit of a chore, I’m not into retail therapy. I’ll only do it if I need something. I almost need someone to say “yeah, that looks really good on you’’ and even if I’m not sure about it, I’ll get it, especially if it’s someone who’s opinion I value.

With clothes, I’ll get a T-shirt out of my wardrobe to wear and I’ll realise I bought it in my third year at university in 1997. That shows how often I re-hash my wardrobe.

What was the last thing you bought?

It was some trousers in Argentina. There’s a really cool area called San Tel Mo in Buenos Aires and I was looking for something to wear to a Radiohead gig. Although I mentioned I prefer not to stand out, I do like bright colours and I think people are a bit scared of wearing them. I’m a fan of orange and yellow and it looks great as I’ve still got a bit of a tan.  Sometimes I like to wear something that’s a bit garish.

What’s the next item you’re going to buy?

I might go get a pizza.  I had a few beers last night.

And a pair of jeans. I need a new pair of jeans.

What’s the cheapest item of clothing you own and the most expensive?

The trousers I bought from Argentina were roughly £35. I bought a suit, so that’s probably my biggest investment. The T-shirt I swapped in Arakeepa was a gift, so that’s probably the cheapest. Don’t worry, I told the person that gave it to me about it and I think she’s quite happy there’s a story to it.

What do you dislike most about fashion?

Sometimes I see people wearing things that I don’t think looks that comfortable – like really tight jeans. I just look at everyone wearing them and think they look stupid. I think you’ve got to have proper decent legs to get away with it.

I was reading something about people wanting to be different and that whilst some may not be wearing exactly the same thing, they still fall into a group. I know people try to be individual but intentionally or not, they are all conforming.

Where do you get your style inspiration from? Do you have an icon?

At the moment it’s just my traveling really, or He-Man! I like the style of being casual, not that bothered and just laid back. When I was at uni, I’d do a lot of my shopping in charity shops and I was probably inspired by the indie, brit-pop feel and looked out for blue pinstripe trousers and old shirts.

If you had to give up everything but one item, what would it be?

If I’m being honest and vain, it’d have to be my contact lenses. I’ve got so used to wearing them. When I look in the mirror, it’s me without glasses that I see as me. I prefer the image I give out when I’m not wearing glasses. In terms of clothes, well, it depends what time of year it is. Shorts or trousers really, I’d run around naked apart from them.

What did you have for breakfast?

Porridge. Yeah!  With sultanas.

And for lunch?

Bread. It wasn’t even that fresh. I’m quite happy to just have bread. The crust of a fresh loaf.  Although saying that, I did really like the food in South East Asia which might inspire me to cook a bit more, maybe take up some lessons.

When did you last have dinner out?

Tuesday when we had calzone on the green together.

What magazines do you read?

Nothing regularly but I really like Time Out and I used to get it before I went away. I’ve been looking at the website more than reading it but I like have the magazine.

What’s your plan B in life?

To be really, really successful in my career.

What’s your plan A?

To have good friends, be happy and spend time with family. To be with the people I care about.

If you had a genie, what would your three wishes be?

To be financially secure. I don’t know how much money that means though.

Secondly, that I will have a family. And the third? For everyone in the world to be kind to strangers, a simple thing, like being friendly, hospitable. Some of the countries I’ve been to, the people were so very friendly yet I was a stranger. Someone once said to me ‘it’s easier to love your close friends and family but it’s harder to be nice to a stranger’. I think it’s from a film. Everyone was nice to me around the world and If that’s how everyone was, the world would be a much better place. Everyone be nice to strangers!