Johnny Weir's Weird World ... we kinda love it
Weir, 25, was in Los Angeles at the end of last week. The Times spent an hour with him at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, just hours before he worked the red carpet for the Sundance Channel at the Independent Spirit Awards. Weir is the star of Sundance's docu-series "Be Good Johnny Weir," which ends its first season March 22.
In a wide-ranging interview, Weir shared his feelings about placing sixth at the Olympics, his TV show, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga, and what he wants to do next. Though he was sleep-deprived, Weir said he was enjoying the opportunity to open up to the American public. (Video below).
"When I was younger, I didn’t really think of myself as a speaker for other people," he said. "But now I know that I have a responsibility for the kids coming up after me, especially after the Olympics. There were a lot of negative comments about me and being gender-tested and things like that. I realize that it’s very important that I can talk about those things in public so that those comments that people made about me don’t reflect onto other kids that are growing up like me."Known for his flamboyant personality, Weir admitted that "it’s really grinding to always play out of both sides of your mind and always be thinking what will offend people. Or what won’t. But I’m strong enough to deal with that. I own that I’m freakish in my way. I can be myself and be free, and other people’s approval means very little to me, although I would have really, really liked to have had a medal at the Olympics."
In addition to politics -- he figures there was no room on the medals podium for two Americans -- Weir thinks his exposure on TV may have counted against him.
"I say a lot of 'crazy' things," he said. "And not every judge sitting on that panel judging me is going to like that. Maybe I’m judged a little harshly. Maybe I’m not. Who knows? But the one thing I could have done was skate well, and that’s what I did. I skated two programs I can be proud of for the rest of my life, medal or not. But still, I am an athlete, and at the end of the day, nobody likes to lose."
Winning a medal, Weir said, would have "legitimized" a dream he began to work toward when he was 12."It just would have legitimized what people have said to me my whole career: You have so much talent, you need to work, you need to do this, that. You need to win those medals. And those things are things I would have loved to have fulfilled. Nobody gets lucky all the time. Nobody can win all the time. Nobody’s a robot. Nobody’s perfect. And I wish me being perfect was good enough to get that medal and to prove myself to lots and lots of people. To give that medal to my dad, to hang it around my mom’s neck when I was done, that would have been the moment I would have looked forward to with winning the medal."
On the other hand, Weir pointed out, "My family, the support of my friends, the amount of people that have written and come up to me on the street and said thank you for representing us, and Adam Lambert, and Lady Gaga, that's been amazing. For every moment I feel I could have had by winning the medal, I’ve gained by somehow not winning the medal. I don’t know how that worked."
Weir says he would compete in the Olympics in Russia in 2014 "if I had the strength, the power and the muscles to do it again. I don’t see why not. But 25 is already advanced in age for a figure skater, and I'd be 29. To be almost 30 and still be chasing a dream that I set when I was 12, it seems very daunting. I love Russia, so to compete in the Russian Olympics would be beautiful. To win a medal would be beautiful. But I think in four years it won’t be possible to win a medal; it would just be me going there to represent the U.S. in Russia."
When his skating career ends, Weir said he plans to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and dedicate himself full time to designing a complete fashion line.
Watch the video to hear Weir talking about his special gift to the Olympics judges' panel, how he feels about figure skating, and his future in fashion. In the coming days, Show Tracker will post more videos with Weir.
Photo: Johnny Weir at the Vancouver Olympics. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times
Video credit: Maria Elena Fernandez