The Queer Icon of Tomorrow: Ton Do-Nguyen of “Countdown (Snuggie Version)”
Beyonce thinks he’s “BRILLIANT.” The internet thinks he’s gay. Meet Ton Do-Nguyen, the magnetic 16-year-old straight boy who staged a shot-by-shot remake of Bey’s “Countdown” video swathed in a cerulean Snuggie—capturing the imagination of the gay blogosphere and blazing new ground for youth sexuality, one batted eyelash at a time.
Ton is our queer icon of Tomorrow—he represents a new coalition of gay, bi, straight, trans, and queer teens who are embracing their fabulous talents in whatever form they take, no matter how they ID. This is the flip side to “It Gets Better"—we’re not sure it gets much better than this.
Ton e-mailed with Tomorrow about his video’s gay fans (“It really does give me a good, warm feeling”), the Beyonce endorsement (“definitely THE most important moment of my life”), and where he sees himself in ten years (as “one of those doctors who go on the Tyra Show”).
How many times have you seen “Countdown”?
TON: I’ve watched it a billion times, especially [while] making the Snuggie Version video and having to get the dance moves and the edits down to a T. I probably would’ve watched it a billion times anyway just because I love the song and the music video so much!
How on earth did you make this?
TON: I made it with the Sony Vegas software, and I’d film each part then edit it along the way. It’s been months and months of hard work, and I especially hustled the last few days leading up to the release of the video. I’d sit hours on end just editing this and trying to get things perfect, and I’m glad all the hard work and dedication has paid off.
Tell us about the girl in the video!
TON: The girl on the video is my friend Marly! I’m really tight with her sister and I knew they were both dancers, so I just said “Hey, be in the video!” I’m glad she was up for it! She’s a cool girl.
How does it feel to have Beyonce call you “BRILLIANT”?
TON: I flipped out! This was definitely THE most important moment of my life. Beyonce is just such an inspiration. She is such a hard worker and I admire her for her incredible work ethic. She just puts her all into everything she does, and she does everything with so much heart. Having her see it and getting such a positive response from her just made my day. There was such a whirlwind of emotion, I can’t even describe how I felt seeing this.
Other than Bey, who inspires you?
TON: I find inspiration in so many people, past or present, for so many different reasons. I just look up to people who are able to find success through hard work and determination and people who are able to just express themselves freely and let their voice be heard.
Have your classmates seen the video?
TON: Yes, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the people I go to school with and it’s all just so positive! There’s people coming left and right just wishing me luck and telling me how much they loved the video, and I am so grateful for all of it.
How about your parents?
TON: My mom is freaking out along with me! She is so happy for me and is so supportive through all of this.
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
TON: I don’t really know. Maybe I’ll have a successful career in video, whether it be editing or directing or acting. I’m so intrigued by everything that goes on in making a film or being in it. Either that, or I’ll lean more toward psychology or chemistry. I’m really interested [in science] at the moment, especially with psychology—I’ve always wanted to be one of those doctors who go on the Tyra Show.My ideas of the future will always be changing, but in the end, all I want to be is successful and happy.
Some are calling your version of “Countdown” a gay anthem. What do you think about that?
TON: I’m straight, but I’m so flattered by all of this! I’m very flattered that the video is catching onto the gay community like this. I never set out to make a statement with this video, but I’m getting so many messages saying that I’m inspiring so many people to just be themselves. It really does give me a good, warm feeling.
Why the Snuggie?
TON: I don’t know, it was just a fun, spur-of-the-moment thing! And everyone is saying how funny they think it is that I used the Snuggie, but my friends didn’t even give a second thought about it. They expect this kind of wack behavior from me. And who doesn’t love Snuggies? It’s a blanket with sleeves!