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T Lo Recommends: Be Good Johnny Weir

Bitch on ice.


Kittens, believe it or not, we're not total stereotypes and thus have virtually no knowledge of or exposure to the world of competitive figure skating, outside of maybe tuning into the occasional Winter Olympics. Of all the people and figures that populate that world, there is really only one name we know: Johnny Weir.

Don't get us wrong, we know the name and recognize the face and we must have seen him perform at some point (although we couldn't tell you when) because we even know a little of his performing style, but that's about it. Then again, it's hard to escape knowing a little about him because everyone who does know about him tends to talk about him. In fact, prior to last week, here's everything we ever knew about Johnny Weir summed up in one sentence: He's a world-class competitive figure skater known for his melodramatic, gender-bending performance style, his tendency to say controversial things to the press, and his sexuality, which is unconfirmed, though he's had no problem skating (pun intended) right up to the line - and even over it - of what constitutes acceptable masculinity in the sport.

In other words, he's a gay male figure skater who doesn't pretend to be a straight male figure skater. That alone put him on our radar.

But THIS, kittens:



THIS sent us scrambling to our TV. A reality TV series starring a talented, charismatic, obnoxious queen? We are so there! But a funny thing happened when we tuned in for the first episode last week. Instead of a high-glitz reality show starring a bitchy queen in ridiculous outfits, we got a sober look at an artist and an athlete trying to reconcile those two worlds while at the same time trying to come to terms with his own demons.

Don't get us wrong, there were plenty of mani-pedi scenes and NY Fashion Week scenes and trying on clothes and performing model struts in hotel hallways and all the kinds of things a little queen in his early 20s will do when there's a camera trained on him, But there were also many, many scenes showing just how excruciating the training is and how high the stakes are. And thankfully, for the neophytes like us, there are extensive explanations of what constitutes the world of competitive figure skating and who the major players are.

The first "episode" of the series is actually a hour-and-a-half documentary that made the festival rounds earlier this year. The second episode (which airs tonight) is in a more recognizable half-hour reality TV format. Either way, we think it's worth watching. He's charismatic. He's fabulous. He's talented. He's infuriating. He's hilarious. He's a bitch. Seriously, minions. What more are you looking for in your reality television?

Be Good Johnny Weir airs on the Sundance Channel on Mondays at 10:30 PM. You can catch the episodes On Demand as well.









[Photos: sundancechannel.com - Video: YouTube/Sundancechannel]



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76 comments:

I'm so bummed - my cable provider changed the lineup and now I don't get Sundance. I'm really bummed to miss this, but more to miss "The Day Before", a documentary on Feb. 13 about the day before Jean Paul Gaultier's runway show!

Fooey on RCN.


I hope I can catch the first episode, too. He is one of the best reasons to watch men's figure skating. He has so much personality, I can't wait to see the show. Thanks for the heads up!


I'll have to watch this one alone - hubby hates figure skating - he says it's like NASCAR (something else he hates) because he feels like he's just waiting for the skaters to crash into the wall.


I don't really know anything about this guy, but generally when an athlete tries to market themselves as a celebrity, their sport performance suffers. See: Anna Kournikova.

The effort and dedication it takes to perform at that level doesn't allow a person to serve two masters.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTaVkbl3Dp4

Johnny Weir skating to Poker Face!


I watched the first episode and it was fabulous. He's hilarious!


I have a hard time watching him as he looks incredibly like the bitchy catty woman I worked with a number of years ago.

They could be twins. (Not his fault, but the similarity in their looks is so strong and she was bad enough that I don't need reminders.)


Does one really need to confirm their sexuality when they wear a gold v-neck catsuit to work or says such things as "when I'm bad I'm better."?
I'm pretty sure that if you are wearing spandex pants and an illusion netting top when two men come over to dress you in your fur coat and matching hat you're OUT.
Or, you are Cher. If so, I friggin love you lady!


I *do* watch figure skating, in a casual, not obsessive way. And he gives a great performance in a sport where it sometimes is so much about making the excruciatingly difficult look easy, that they can't or forget to make it look fun.

But: "He's charismatic. He's fabulous. He's talented. He's infuriating. He's hilarious. He's a bitch."

You left out one thing: he's cute as a button.


Bless him, he's tremendously talented and a drama queen!


omg, this seriously just made my day.


I was hoping TLO would have a post about this. I saw the first episode/documentary. Loved. He's just my favorite. He should be a guest judge on PR where they actually make a skating costume (so many of their dresses turn out to be them; why not embrace it?)


WHY THE FUCK IS HE WEARING A SOVIET JACKET? ISN'T HE AMERICAN?


Anon 3:40 - Why do you care? the cold war is over.


Anonymous said...

WHY THE FUCK IS HE WEARING A SOVIET JACKET? ISN'T HE AMERICAN?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I don't know where/when the photo was taken, but athletes in international competition, especially the Olympics, often trade bits of their national gear. It's called good will. And I suspect it's based on camaraderie that comes from doing something that very, very few people in the world understand the difficulty of.


It's funny that you post this now -- I saw a story earlier today about how male figure skaters are trying to "butch up" the sport by emphasizing how strong you have to be and how it is just as physically demanding as hockey. Some gay and lesbian activists are saying that really what they're trying to do is seem "less gay" in order to appeal to a broader audience. What do you think?


I adore, adore ADORE Johnny Weir!

And I love that he was inspired to skate by seeing Oksana Baiul (and says it).

And the first episode was fabulous. What I especially liked is the way they meticulously showed how he has been misinterpreted by the media; where they jump on every little joke, aside, remark.

In another sport he wouldn't be controversial at all. But in Figure Skating, because it is judged, (and judged by people who do not judge your performance alone), 99.9% of skaters give interviews that are as PC and bland as oatmeal. So witty Johnny Weir comes along, and all the media people who are there digging for the next Tonya&Nancy story, and who are too stupid to get his jokes, try to create a monster that doesn't exist.

I want to see him on that medal stand in Vancouver. I hope he overcomes whatever mental game issues he has and gives the magic skate, he is capable of. HE is the one to watch.

--GothamTomato


Thanks TLo I'm watching it On Demand right now.

Love the documentary so far, not sure I'll be in for the "reality show" part after the first documentary, but this part is fabulous...I'm drawn to watching him the same way i am drawn to Jay Mc Carroll (sp)

It's the natural born talent aspect of it i think, both started late and have blown others out of the water who have worked at this stuff all their lives. Plus they have very entertaining characters and personalities and neither are afraid to be who they are and make no appologies for it. I can respect that!


Plus johnny's coach Pricilla seems like so much fun to have to spend your days with.


stage3design said...

I saw a story earlier today about how male figure skaters are trying to "butch up" the sport by emphasizing how strong you have to be and how it is just as physically demanding as hockey. Some gay and lesbian activists are saying that really what they're trying to do is seem "less gay" in order to appeal to a broader audience. What do you think?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I think everyone will see it through their own lens.

I also think that at the level of international competition, figure skating is probably MORE physically demanding than hockey. (pound for pound) Yeah, the figure skaters would be mashed to a pulp in a hockey stampede, but I challenge any hockey player to lift his own weight, or a partner's, up off the ice with the control a figure skater uses at the speeds they're going.


"stage3design said: It's funny that you post this now -- I saw a story earlier today about how male figure skaters are trying to "butch up" the sport by emphasizing how strong you have to be and how it is just as physically demanding as hockey. Some gay and lesbian activists are saying that really what they're trying to do is seem "less gay" in order to appeal to a broader audience."




It's not that they 'are'; it's that they always have. The reason is because, despite there being many gays in the sport, the judging has been, reportedly, homophobic.

So they butch themselves up (always have - that's why there have always been so many military-themed programs), the same way other skaters try to de-ethnicize themselves.

That's one of the weirdities of a judged sport.

--GothamTomato


WHY THE FUCK IS HE WEARING A SOVIET JACKET? ISN'T HE AMERICAN?

**********************************
Because, my dear, there is no more CCCP, so it's tres ironic, no? And thus, fashionable.


But aren't some of the judges former skaters themselves? Which i would think would make some of them gay and the others aware that gay skaters exist and earned the right to be there along with the rest?


Johnny Weir is an artist.
Period.
May he win Gold in Vancouver.
& wear lots of glitter while doing it!

Trying to butch up figure skating is rather like trying to get basketball players to pretend they only listen to country music.


I must admit that his boyfriend with the nasal Paris Hilton celbritard speak is annoying.

Why are so any amazng and talented young gay men trying to emulate the most vapid, or is it the other way around? are these social bimbos copying their gays?

either way, whoever started this dumbing down of social speak and intelligent presentation are making me want too goge my ears out...Add the Heatherette guy to the list...amazing fashion show, talks like a 12 year old girl.


oops I'm sorry for all the typos in my above comment.

Wireless keyboard batteries running out of juice and i didn't proofread.


I love this program because it shows that competitive figure skating and everything that goes with it isn't always pretty. Training is exhausting as is the mental energy to be a champion.

Johnny's all about artistry and athleticism, not just landing quads. I'll be cheering for Johnny at the Vancouver Olympics. Even if you don't bring home the gold, you're a champion.


I am a skating fan (I spent a lot of the past two weekends watching nationals... what little they show of it) and I'm curious about this in terms of what it may do for (or let's face it, to) the sport. I'm glad to know about it and I'll try to watch, I guess, so thanks for the heads up! I'm not sure I want to have to root for him in the Olympics, though.


As a competitive figure and synchro skater, I see skaters like Weir (who was AMAZING last time I saw him in person, at a Michael Weiss Foundation benefit) often- fun and personable on the ice, but with some very serious, often scary problems. Figure skating is a demanding sport, and I know that coaches often hurt, not help the stress. Weir, however is a bright spot, both on the ice and off it. Few intense skaters are truly fun, nice people, and Weir is one of them.


The reason Johnny wears a Soviet warm-up jacket is because he is a fan of all things Russian. His coach is Galina whatserface who coached all the Soviet greats back in the day, he was inspired by Oksana Baiul, he loves to visit Russia, loves the culture of it. It's no different than being a Francophile, or a lover of feathers, or whatever else floats yer boat. Try not to take it so personally, Anon 3:40! It's not an attack on you.


Oh, yay! I don't get the Sundance Channel, but I do get the show On Demand! So I can watch it. I've loved his skating for years; he's incredibly talented. I'd love to see him up on the podium in Vancouver.


Team Lysacek - the guy who actually wins and doesn't choke all the time because he's too distracted by shopping for fur coats and talking about recreational drugs to the press.


I can't believe I missed this! I do watch figure skating now and then, and have seen Weir at work in past competitions, including the Olympics, but I hadn't seen anything about his TV show - which, given all the channel-surfing I do, seems odd. Anyway, I shall definitely try and tune in.

[While I enjoy watching Weir skate, he's not my favorite skater of the last few years; that would be Canadian Jeffrey Buttle, who skates very well, but seems to be much too polite to get a TV show of his own {wry grin}. [The first time I saw him I was struck by his resemblance to one of Joe Phillips' cartoon calendar-boys; no idea whether he'd appreciate the comparison!]


I've followed JW's career for a few years and you guys have GOT to critique his skating outfits. Over the years, he has worn some things that make Chris March look tailored. Granted, skating costumes are, eh, costumes, but even for figure skating, he's out there.


Oh, wait, I have On Demand - silly me! Watching the first episode now. [And I'll second/third/whatever the request for a special TLO column on Johnny Weir's fashions! And maybe a skating-outfit special edition for the best - and worst - outfits, no matter who's wearing them?]


GoryDetails said...

"And I'll second/third/whatever the request for a special TLO column on Johnny Weir's fashions! And maybe a skating-outfit special edition for the best - and worst - outfits, no matter who's wearing them?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Good Lord! How many T's and Lo's can there possibly be? On top of PR, and menswear collections, and red carpets and occasional other Must See T.V., and specially selected issues of the fashion mags, and the TLo awards, and- and- and- !!!

Not that I wouldn't enjoy it. But when? when? They will become pale(r), pasty, and frail - it will be a sweatshop without even paltry wages.

Maybe if we minions each bought a lottery ticket for TLO? If one them won . . . after their well-deserved vacation, maybe then we can beg for more output.


I AM a skating fan, and I think his performances are self-indulgent and he doesn't have the chops to back it up...AH LUV a good skating performance but while he can do the artistry, it comes off as self-indulgent and less as entertainment than "Oh, look at me, I'm wallowing in 20-something angst". Bleh. LOVE Evan Lysechek who ambles his six-foot-something out there and ends up looking beautiful and strong and graceful...and doesn't fall on his ass as much. But frankly, my heart belongs to Evgeny Plushenko...when he steps on the ice, he does what Baryshnekov did when he danced...he takes you away, out of this vanilla world and into the realm of magic carpets and fairies and all things dusted in dreamland dust. Just as beautiful, twice as strong, a hundred times more dedicated and a thousand times more talented. And a lot less blah-blah-blah. Evgeny's story's all about the skating, less about the man, and I gotta say: I like it better that way...


"Anon said: But aren't some of the judges former skaters themselves? Which i would think would make some of them gay and the others aware that gay skaters exist and earned the right to be there along with the rest?"




Yes. And I know, it doesn't make sense, but that's the way it has always been. It's a very conservative, nutty sport. There is a long history of terrific skaters being judged harshly because judges or federations don't like how they behave or who or what they are.

--GothamTomato


What would Brian Boitano do?


That promotional spot is as mesmerizing as a triple salchow!! Love it!

I'll try to catch in on line!

Tri


I'm a figure skating fan and I like Johnny quite a bit. I've watched him in competitions since he was just a kid and he's a beautiful skater. After watching the U.S. Nationals, however, I'm a bit concerned that his long program is too turned inward, like he's in his own little world. He doesn't reach out and draw the audience in the way the other top men do. Which is odd, when his exhibition performances, such as the Poker Face program, are the opposite, totally playing to the crowd. I would still be delighted to see him (or Evan Lysacek, or Jeremy Abbott) win at the Olympics.

Ann Marie


I'm from South Korea so obviously I follow figure skating.."Kim Yuna, anyone? :)" I have to say I LOVE JOHNNY. His exhibition routine to "Poker Face" 100% reflects his personality.
I do hope you guys do a posting on his outfits as someone above suggested.


100% figure skating junkie fan here:

The show? Fabulous.
Johnny? Everything TLo said.
Although Johnny is not my fave skater (he retired last year), I love his personality, his wit, his charm. He IS talented, and he's a freaking breath of fresh air to all the canned "I just want to give 110% and skate my best!" speeches. The scene of him going back to his old school and interacting with his old teacher and the kids? Priceless, charming and authentic.

Plus, he went to the Lady Gaga show at Radio City last week on a personal invite from The Lady herself, and sat next to her Moms. Bitch, Please.


I watched both episodes today after seeing this post and I can't get him off my mind! I ADORE him and his personaltiy... I'll definantally be watching out for him at the olympics! He's everything TLo said and he brings a fresh of breath air to the sport as he tries to create art... and it's truly beautiful! I'm obsessed now =]


After you mentioned this on Twitter, I ran up and set the DVR, and I am so glad I did. I love figure skating, so this for me is delicious candy! I knew he was gay, but I didn't know the extent of his queenery. I want to hang out with him for a day just to hear all the things he has to say! Thanks, TLo for turning me on to this show! I think I will have to come up with a new ice skating themed-named beverage to enjoy while I watch!


Just finished watching it. He is FABULOUS!


Johnny Weir is who he is. Like him or not, he has done a lot for the sport. He is one of the reasons the US got three places in the Olympics this year. My hope is that he skates his best in Vancouver and you do a retrospective on his costumes.


TLo! I love you! I've enjoyed Johnny Weir's figure skating for years! I remember watching the U.S. Nationals a few years ago and declaring that I wanted him to be my gay boyfriend. I know he pushes the celebrity side harder than most figure skaters, but he's just so darn entertaining. I'll check out the show On Demand, since I don't think I get Sundance.


It's funny because Figure Skating always gets a rap for being a gay male sport; either one that has many gay men in it or one that many gay men like. And I don't think either is true. Other than, JW and Rudy, there aren't many others. Out, at any rate. And as for the sport's biggest fans, it's most definitely straight women. My mom and sister LOVE it, as well as anything with music, glitzy costumes and choreography (They are also big fans of Dancing With The Stars, btw). I don't know ANY gay men that watch figure skating or even follow it.

At any rate, I love Johnny - I think gender expression outside the norm in any sport takes guts.


I giggled like a school girl when I saw him for the first time during the U.S. finals. Sure, he's kinda goth emo, but he was wearing a sheer backed costume with glitter glitter and feather trim. I was deliiighted.


Thanks, Boys! I'd have never seen this if it weren't for you. What a fun way to wind down a Monday night.


I'm watching this because basically if TLO suggested I watch paint dry, I'd do it. I've never heard of Johnny Weir, so with that said.....

I LOVE IT. What a breath of fresh air he is. He is someone who talks the talk AND walks the walk. And still gets into his pj's and jumps in bed with mom. What's not to love!


TLo:"there is really only one name we know: Johnny Weir."

Oh, pooh. You guys got off a great Brian Boitano joke in the Bob Mackie Challenge screencaps during PRS6 (The Lost Sanity). Don't be coy.


He's like the love child of Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy.

Sex + Art=Fantastic


I. LOVE. HER. I've watched it twice already.


Wow. I thought I couldn't love you guys even more, but after this it just escalated to a whole new level.

I follow his career and while he isn't a the most reliable skater compared to his main competitors, he is fabulous.

You've probably seen Weir in poker face which he is now synonymous with.

I hope he places at least second in Vancouver.


Another version of Johnny skating to "Poker Face" - this one is from his exhibition skate at Nationals this past weekend. I think it's a better quality video and lets you see his skating better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnUMOrd_ANI


Does anyone know if Sundance Channel plans to post full episodes to their website? Alas, my cable system doesn't carry Sundance, and I'm not a Comcast customer, either.

Effed, either way. **grumpy**


I saw this promo about was torn between secondhand embarrassment at the utter camp and scrambling to pencil it into my schedule. Johnny Weir might be off on his own planet, but it's a fabulous one and he always, always delivers.

Seconding the Kim Yuna love, Anon 7:43! She and Johnny are apparenetly friends, too, which I find too cute for words.


Thanks, TLo! I never would have seen this if you hadn't pointed out that it's available On Demand. Saw both episodes last night and finally have a reason to watch the Winter Olympics now!


Never heard of him or this Sundance Channel. I think they are both made up pretend things.


waaaaah! i dont have cable & i cant find it online anywhere! D:

and im a total figure skating freak - its an endless stream of sequins, tears & drama - best sport ever!


Johnny is amazing. Can't wait to see the rest of the series.

FYI - episodes of "Be Good Johnny Weir" will be available on iTunes starting February 1st.


Just watched the 101 documentary, plan to catch the repeat series episode this Friday.

I am an Olympics junkies and moderate ice skater follower. I've been watching Johnny since he broke onto the scene. Since he's also from the Delaware Valley, he's sorta like the hometown boy.

One of the things I find interesting of course, are the behind the scenes politics. Is he too flamboyant? Does he not put int the work? Then there are the questions regarding his sexuality. Like Adam Lambert he never struck me as straight or trying to play straight. I was surprised to read on another forum that he has followers much like the Clay-mates, or that he needed to come out.
What I was really struck with is how much he wants this. Since 2010 is probably his last chance to try for Olympic gold, I can't begin to imagine the pressure he is under. I like what little I have seen of his new coach, so maybe she can help him get that.


Is it wrong that I'm old enough to be his mother and I have a huge crush on him? Watching him shake his butt at the beginning of "Poker Face" just about gave me the vapors.


I managed to see the documentary last year at the seattle international film festival. I really liked it and really really wish I had cable so I could see this.


Thank you so much T Lo! Honestly, I had never really heard of Johnny Weir and never would have watched this without your recc. Watched both the 86 minute movie and the first installment on Demand today and I can only say: WE SO LOVE. Maximum kudos to young Mr. Weir for having the courage to be true to himself. We can't wait for more episodes, it is so refreshing to see a young athlete blow the doors off the musty institution of figure skating and bring back the drama and artistry, that makes these athletes so extraordinary.


I protest against butching up every sport. I want some macho free zone. I want diversity, personality to shine through. I want interpretation and dance. There are enough masculine sports. Let this one be, what it is. If the athlete wants to dance masculine, cookie-cutter straight, I have no problem with that, if he doesn't want too, all the better for the audience. Because lets face it, cookie-cutter straight hasn't too much room for emotion. And jumping every thing higher gets tired after the first few ahhhs. This is not a wider, higher, faster sport or lets say not only.


Love him!


I LOVE JOHNNY! Having been a competitive figure skater, I can absolutely say that, while sometimes inconsistent in competition in the past, he is the one to beat. He is the most creative, risk-taking payer in the field.
Figure skating is a judged sport - and the judges unfortunately judge your behavior on and off the ice. Figure skating wants the most creative and best athletes, but has often mocked and shunned those that are flamboyant and outspoken. Often the most creative and successful are of this ilk. How can the establishment possibly have both? I hope the US Figure Skating Assoc. gets used to the Johnny Weirs of the sport and embrace them. I loved the documentary and will continue to watch the Sundance series.


That video of him skating to Poker Face is awesome. Maybe I'm just easily impressed, but he seems like he has skills to me. (That spinning-for-30-seconds part? Awesome.)


I've loved Johnny Weir from the moment I saw him years ago. The most beautiful men's skaters to watch are the ones who float effortlessly across the ice like he does. Sure, the big jumps are breathtaking when they're landed, but really, who cares whether a skater is "butch" or not? Only the ones uncomfortable about their own or someone else's sexuality. As for Johnny's personal life, I hope that he and Paris are just best gal-pals. Paris is rather icky and I'd love for Johnny and Adam Lambert to meet and become a couple! They're both adorable and would have lots of fun shopping together.


I saw this on my cable lineup, remembered your post, and just watched the first episode (the documentary bit?)

Thanks for the recommendation -- it was really, really, something else. I must admit; before watching this I didn't like Johnny Weir very much -- I thought he was over publicized and underwhelming as a skater.

But I gotta say, this documentary really turned my opinion around.
Weir isn't truly controversial at all -- he's simply frank and honest and extremely funny. I was really struck by how upfront his analyses of his skates were in the press box at competitions; while other skaters only gave perfunctory sound bites. I'm a fan!

Thank you so much for the rec!


THIS SHOW IS AMAZING!!!!


I love this series. Weir comes across as charming and self-aware, and he's also a phenomenal skater. Unfortunately, I've developed an irrational hatred of Evan Lysacek.


http://www.nbcolympics.com/olympicpulse/blogs/blog=theringer/postid=445174.html

from his press conference yesterday in vancouver addressing homophobic commentating and judging...





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