When I met Johnny Weir at a photo shoot in Hollywood, he wasn’t at all what I expected—a revelation that the well traveled, two-time Olympian has become all too accustomed to hearing. He was smaller than I had imagined, but then again most celebrities are. His voice was neither boisterous nor demanding, but instead disarmingly soft and pleasant. He greeted every single person assembled to make Hollywood magic at his photo shoot with a beaming smile and flurry of hugs and handshakes, regardless of whether or not he’d ever met them before. Having been one of those he hadn’t been introduced to prior to that moment, I was equally charmed by his inviting demeanor and surprised by how at odds it was from the portrait media reports had painted of him.
Then again, Johnny Weir is a purposeful chameleon, and he’ll tell you as much. That is not to say that he is disingenuous, but rather that he isn’t afraid to let people see all of him…the good and the bad. “Life is a show and I can play lots of different characters if need be,” Johnny told me matter of factly in our interview after that photo shoot, and it’s a darn good thing that’s the case, because he most certainly wears a lot of hats, all of which fit him like a couture glove.
With the 2011 release of his autobiography Welcome To My World: My Hot Life On Ice and the debut of his first music single “Dirty Love” the ever-enterprising, three-time US champion, world medalist, fashionista, and ice-skating icon, added the titles author and singer to his ever-expanding pedigree. Now with his recent marriage to Georgetown Law School graduate Victor Voronov and the second season of his reality series Be Good Johnny Weir set to air on LOGO, the newly minted Mr. Johnny Weir-Voronov is poised to tack devoted husband and reality TV star onto his glamorous Curriculum Vitae. And the first quarter of 2012 is barely over. At this rate, perhaps Johnny’s next reality series should be entitled Don’t Just Be Good, Be Everything Johnny Weir.
When you’re meeting fans in far-flung corners of the globe, what’s the most common misconception you find that people have about you?
I think the greatest misconception that people have about me is that they think I’m a huge diva and that I do everything in my life for attention. I can tell you that if I hadn’t become a figure skater, and I still lived in a small town in Pennsylvania, I would be exactly who I am. Maybe I wouldn’t know as much about fashion or own as much fashion as I do, but I would be the same exact person. I don’t hate that I have this diva persona, but it does get grinding when people meet me and say, ‘Oh I thought you were going to be the biggest bitch!’
Now that you mention divas and personas, the cover of your new book Welcome To My World: My Hot Life On Ice is rather, shall we say, diva-esque?
Well, I wanted the cover to be very much how the world sees me because my story itself is very pure…it’s very similar to the mass market of America. I mean, I’m from a small town, I wanted bigger things, I worked hard, and I achieved them. That’s my story. There’s nothing so outrageous or different about my story from a million other people, so I wanted the cover of my book to be a direct contrast to how I live my life. The cover is everything the world thinks of me …[but] I know that it’s not me. Of course, I’ve got that girl inside me who wants to wear heels, but in general I’m a low-key, soft-spoken person, and I wanted people to literally judge the book by its cover, then read the book and say, ‘Wow, Johnny’s really not that person at all.’
Well Russia for me is a very, very special place. It’s in my heart and every time I’m there I think, ‘I need to live here…I need to be here more often.’ I think everyone who travels—even if it’s just here in the United States—finds that one special place that means the most to them…where they want to be all the time.
When did your love affair with Russia begin?
Since I was five or six years old I’ve understood what Russia was and what it meant. I’ve read history books about Russia…I’ve just always been so interested in it. I really have no idea where it comes from [but], of course, being in a sport like figure skating where Russians are so dominant, I respected very much their sports machine. I just have an affinity for the language…I speak it very well, I can read, write, talk, do everything in Russian and some of my best friends are Russian. It’s just one of those things that is a constant source of inspiration for me. I don’t know what it is, but from a very young age when most kids wanted to learn about dinosaurs and robots, I wanted to learn about Russia, and I wanted to learn about the czars and Russian royal history.
And so the mystery is solved. Is there any wonder then that Johnny found love in the former Soviet Union? Hardly. From inspiration comes love and vice-versa. Enough said.