Back at the end of April, Stephanie was able to participate in a skating clinic conducted by Olympic Skater Johnny Weir, sponsored by the Indiana/World Skating Academy. It was downtown at the Pan Am Plaza rink where Stephanie takes lessons and often skates. Johnny did different sessions for different skill levels, and then went through basic moves at their level with them, did some demonstrations, and then had each skater perform a move or jump they were working on for him so he could give them some advice on how to improve it.
It was a fun session, and the skaters were really excited to be on the ice with an Olympic-level skater. He was nice (but we knew that already) and very cool as a mentor. He really pays attention to the skaters, listens to what they’re saying, and was genuinely delighted at what they could do. He seemed really entertained by the little kids on the ice. I know that he plays around with the Diva image, but he was far away from that the whole time. He clearly adores the sport of figure skating. Stephanie said she was excited by what she learned from Johnny. She has a regular coach, but getting different viewpoints and perspective on what she’s doing can help snap some core concepts into place.
Now let’s talk about Johnny’s skating for a sec, because it was awesome to see him skate in person. When you see him skate up close, it’s like watching poetry. So graceful, so fluid – absolutely, effortlessly in control of every inch of his body.
Above is an example, although it’s hard to catch in still pictures – pure grace, and joyous to watch. He’s absolutely my favorite male skater.
Here’s a slide show of my photos of the event – you can also see them on Flickr.
I’ve never liked Evan Lysacek. I can sense the underlying homophobia in all of his comments about Johnny Weir, and he always has seemed to suffer from insecurity badly masked by snottiness. All of that could be forgiven if he were an interesting skater, (hell, I LOVE watching Tonya Harding skate, and look at her issues!) but on the ice Evan just seems really ill-at-ease to me.
Even so, I felt sorry for him after Evgeni Plushenko’s asinine behavior following the Olympics – in the battle of skating douche-baggery, Plushenko takes the gold over Evan all week long.
But my sympathy for Evan lasted all of 5 minutes – witness the latest go-round between Evan and Johnny over the Stars on Ice controversy. In March, the show declined to have Johnny skate with them, despite the really beautiful job he did at the Olympics (he was robbed of a medal, frankly) and Johnny thinks it’s because he’s not “family-friendly.” That’s probably right on target; Stars on Ice is rather on the white bread, homespun, booooooooorrrrrrrrring side. Bring your snooze alarm to the show. Johnny can occasionally court controversy (although I think he really does this at pretty strategic times) and they were probably worried about him upsetting the apple pie genera image the show maintains. (In reality, I’ve never seen Johnny bite the hand that feeds him – he genuinely appreciates his fans and treats his coaches well even when he’s not getting along with them. He works hard at his sport and always had great things to say about the figure skating world in general.)
In response to Johnny’s comments, Evan had this to say:
“Stars on Ice” is really selective of who they hire and they only hire the best of the best to skate. It would’ve been hard of them to justify hiring him, and I think he was really upset because he wanted the financial benefit of the tour. A lot of us in the skating world were really disappointed in the way he reacted, basically whining that he wasn’t chosen.
I call bullshit on that one – They do have some amazing skaters, but I’ve also seen some of the crash test dummies they’ve had on their programs – talent ain’t exactly a requirement for the gig. It’s more of a showcase of the wholesomeness of figure skating, geared towards tween girls, rather like Disney’s princess movies.
Johnny has been a U.S. Nationals champion (beating Evan!) three times, and he’s qualified for the Olympics numerous times and won a Bronze at worlds. He’s a very good skater and better than Jeremy Abbott, who’s a sweetie but just not the same caliber.
Johnny fired back today, saying he wouldn’t join the cast if asked, and calling Evan a “slore.” The Urban Dictionary definition if you need it. I can’t see the video yet to see whether Johnny was pissed or playful. I do think he has a point, though. I thought the Dancing with the Stars gig was on the whorish side.
You have got to be kidding me. I would have my uterus yanked out if this went into effect in my state.
From the Naperville Sun, an analysis of the scoring shows that Evan won on technical scores, not on Artistry. So he was just technically better, not more "pretty" as Plushenko has been claiming.
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series stars a small lady who lives in an "upside-down" house in a lively neighborhood inhabited mainly by children who have bad habits.
The all-important information we need to know for our TV viewing.
The prime purpose of the new and unimproved scoring system was to better quantify the various elements in a program — required jumps and spins — so that the famously nefarious judges would have less latitude to cheat. Alas, this created a scoring system so arcane, it makes computing the Standard & Poor's index child's play. Moreover, by emphasizing compulsory obligations, the new system diminished the emphasis on artistry.
Bankers deserve their bonuses? Are you crazy? They don't deserve their JOBS. And frankly, I still think there are a dozen of them that need to be set on fire in the middle of Wall Street. You don't fuck up worse than these guys fucked up – and they did it out of sheer greed. There are people homeless, starving and on the street because of the criminal actions of these greedy assholes. Fuck them and their bonuses.
A few days ago, in a preview of the upcoming 2007 US Figure Skating Championships, openly gay figure skater Mark Lund comments with Nancy Kerrigan and Lou Tilley, making some really strong statements about skater Johnny Weir and how he fits into gender roles.
Obviously, Mark Lund is way out of line here — whether or not Johnny is out is irrelevant to me, but his trashing Johnny Weir for Johnny’s femininity is outrageous, homophobic and disgusting. Let Johnny be who he is – we adore him; flames and all – he’s an extraordinary skater of enormous power and beauty and it’s breathtaking to watch him on the ice.
After this statements in the video, public reaction was fierce – people went to Johnny’s defense immediately, and Mark Lund found himself making this statement:
“It has unfortunately become typical that journalists and members of the media who dare to comment about a celebrity or public figure that acts outrageously often come under attack. I see I am now one of those unfortunate targets. This is in reference to remarks I made during the television show Reflections on Ice regarding the reigning U.S. Men’s Figure Skating Champion Johnny Weir.
My credentials in the sport and art of figure skating are well known, as is my orientation as an out gay man. I stand by my statement “overly out without being out” 100%. I say to Mr. Weir, “You enjoy being outspoken and a free spirit. You have said frequently that you have been brought up to speak your mind. However, you refuse to support the very community that paved the way for you.” I say to all those that believe my comments about Mr. Weir were homophobic to take a step back and realize the beliefs you are actually expressing. Mr. Weir is an individual who enjoys all the rights of the gay community without coming out to support the gay community. Now who is the hypocrite here? Most certainly not me.
With Mr. Weir posing for photos wearing heels and elaborate makeup in the pages of BlackBook magazine, I say, ‘Please don’t insult the grand drag queens of yesterday and today, unless you thank them for their tireless efforts of days past and present by acknowledging them publicly.’
My comments regarding his costuming were nothing more than what you see in the newsmagazines and on TV when journalists critique celebrities on the red carpet. I have never liked his costumes and they have become more and more elaborate in recent seasons. They do not represent the sport of figure skating that I love. Why don’t we take a look at the competitive costumes of skaters like Robin Cousins and John Curry. They understood classical elegance. Without a slight to great ballet dancers, my comment that Mr. Weir looks like a prima ballerina on the ice was meant to illustrate what I feel is his outrageous presentation of the sport and art of figure skating. I know I am not alone in my comments.
As a gay man who grew up in a small town in the 1970’s, I was able to look up to those in the sport of figure skating–gay and straight–who earned my admiration through character, dedication and sportsmanship. I am glad to say some of them are great friends of mine today.
Mr. Weir is free to wear what he wants, but he should back it up with actions. No one denies his enormous talent, but my comments were meant to reflect my feeling that he prefers drawing attention for being outrageous to drawing attention for being a great figure skater. The subject of the show on which I made my comments was a preview of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which is a competitive sporting event.
To Mr. Weir, and his apparent legions of fans, to quote the old scoring system, there has been no 6.0 in your collective performances.”
Mr. Lund has some serious self-reflection to engage in before calling Johnny Weir to task for not being out of the closet, frankly, because Mr. Lund’s comments were nothing short of homophobic and gender-conformity shaming, which is horribly out of bounds for someone claiming to be an an “out gay man.”
In the “real world” of figure skating that Mark Lund claims as his own, same-sex pairs and same-sex dance are not allowed, and changing partners mid-skate was a rebellious performance at a competition that got one set of skaters disqualified. Men wearing dresses are not allowed. Until recently, women wearing pants on the ice in competitions was not allowed and even now it’s heavily frowned upon.
At the Gay Games, skaters did all of these things in ways that provoked thought about the sport itself, what it means to skate and what it means to perform in roles and on the ice as a gay person. Where the fuck was Mark Lund during the Gay Games, if he’s so out of the closet and proud of his sport? I saw every second of the skating performances there; he was nowhere to be found. And the figure skating performances there were nothing short of extraordinary — world-class figure skaters in performances that bent and broke gender roles in every conceivable way, and which were truly inspiring because they couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Johnny breaks gender barriers that need to broken in every single sport – until every person, including gay and transgendered people, can find their inner athlete, be able to compete in the sports they want in the ways they want, every sport will be lacking, though the athletes in it may not know it.
Jay and Bradley did an interpretive pairs program of Brokeback Mountain that was really amazing:
Edward Van Campen did a very moving tribute to his brother, who died of AIDS. His performance included his brother’s AIDS quilt, which he then presented to the NAMES Project.
We discussed creating video of Stephanie’s programs, but we decided against it because they had professional video services there. I’m hoping to track down a YouTube video of the finale of the Skating – a really moving production number tribute to Christina Aguliera’s “Beautiful.”