Flamboyant Olympian Johnny Weir embarks on the second season of his reality show
When we last saw Johnny Weir in his reality series, Be Good Johnny Weir, the openly gay figure skater prepared to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. In the two years that followed, Weir took a break from competition: He flexed his creative muscles, wrote a memoir, came out publicly, got married to lawyer Victor Voronov on New Year’s Eve, and … well, you’ll have to tune into Be Good Johnny Weir’s 10-episode second season, starting Monday, to see what else transpired.
Here, Weir dishes on the show, making an unusual request of Lady Gaga and, of course, Dallas.
— Lawrence Ferber
Dallas Voice: In the first episode, we see you sing and record a single, “Dirty Love.” What else can we expect from you this season? Johnny Weir: The second season is very different from the first. The first was all about skating and the Olympics, while the second is about everything I tried after the Olympics, when I took two years away from competition. I tried writing books, singing songs, walking runways, designing — I did pretty much anything one could possibly do. Through all that you get to see me go on a blind date, and one of the first dates I went on with my now-husband, Victor.
It’s kind of a season of growth and learning, because as a figure skater, I popped up on everyone’s TV and I knew who I was. Now, you see me in uncomfortable situations, like going on a bus tour with my book in the middle of the country and being afraid someone was going to shank me.
We also see you come out publicly and experience how the media responded. Are you surprised that your coming out was considered a big revelation to mainstream America? People are in a very weird position when it comes to acknowledging the pink elephants in the room. When I came out officially, I didn’t hear any shock — it was, “… and the sky is blue.” Maybe my great-great grandmother had an issue.
I’m glad you did it. Only when someone actually says it out loud, it finally sinks in with the public. I’ve had a very lucky lifestyle: A sport that accepts gay people, parents who accept me. So when I came out, I wanted it to be for the people who had trouble, to show them no matter who you are and what you do, you are a part of society and matter.
Your marriage to Victor happened pretty fast — you could even consider it a shotgun wedding, yes? It was very fast. We first met years ago at a Russian party. I thought he was straight, and at the time, he was. It ended there and he didn’t know who I was and what I did. We reconnected a year-and-a-half ago, talking on the phone and by email and I said, “OK, come up and we’ll have a date.” I knew he was gay at that point because that’s why he was contacting me again. Then I heard the whole story of how he was in the closet and dated a woman for six years. He was very afraid of his family’s reaction and I hope I helped make him comfortable. But we only officially started dating at the end of last July and were married on New Year’s Eve.
Have you ever been to Dallas? I have. I’ve been to Dallas many times. We had a national championship out there but I had to withdraw because I was injured — I hurt myself on TV, I was still young, 18 years old. I don’t know that everything is actually bigger in Texas. A few things — burgers. But in general I love seeing my country and knowing what’s out there. The place I’ve been called “faggot” most often is Las Vegas, of all places. I am comfortable kicking it almost anywhere except Las Vegas.
You’ve met Lady Gaga a couple of times. Have you seen her lately? I saw her randomly. I was just shopping one day, and I went to her parents’ restaurant in New York. Her mom is a big skating fan and supporter of me, and Gaga herself is a big supporter. As soon as I heard about the restaurant I called and said I wanted to come. So they had me, Victor, his parents and my manager come by. It was right when I was deciding to return to competition and I asked if she had the original instrumental version of “Poker Face,” because we can’t use the version with lyrics in competition. Who calls Lady Gaga and asks to use Lady Gaga’s music with her not singing on it? But by the end of that night I had “Poker Face” with no lyrics. Gaga herself gave it, OK’d it and is waiting for me to do something great on the ice
Gaga does a lot for us gays, doesn’t she? She’s done so much — not just for us, but anyone who’s different. She’s a good girl and completely down to earth, normal and nice.
When I meet all these famous people I always have a big wall up. I don’t want them to disappoint me. Who am I? I’m an athlete. I don’t want them to be assholes. Christina Aguilera is a huge idol of mine and everyone said, “You’ve got to be careful, she’s a diva.” But she was the nicest thing, watched me at the Olympics, so supportive. The sweetest person. She’s the only one I was really afraid of. Elton John, Gaga … these people I love and cherish have been amazing to me. That gives me a lot of power when I go into the competition and know all these amazing artists are behind and pushing for me.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 14, 2012.