(SD) 1. Thanks for your time and welcome to Chicago! Please tell us about the special events that brought you here to town.
Thank you! Today I’m performing in Ice Dreams which is a show my manager Tara Modlin produced. This is the second time we’ve done it and it’s so cool because so many young skaters get to skate with their idols; myself, Ashley Wagner, Brandon Mroz, huge, huge skating stars so that’s what brought me here. We’re also debuting in public, for the first time my collection for eDressMe; so my little black dress collection is here and it’s a big day! (Laughs)
(SD) 2. I understand you’ve expanded your talent into a whole new arena as a fashion designer. What inspired this new project and why dresses specifically?
I love fashion, and I’ve loved it forever and I’ve always wanted to do this. Tara, my manager actually moved in across the hall from eDressMe in her new building and it just made sense. They were right there, they were so sweet and they did everything that I asked, and I did everything that they asked. It really came together in dresses because every girl wants a cute, hot dress. Guys are hard. I want to make a men’s line as well but guys are really hard to design for but dresses I know. I mean I’ve pranced around in enough of them to know what I like and I wanted to show the world what I could do.
(SD) 3. When going into the initial stages of creating a concept for your fashion line, who did you call upon for advice and what designers provided inspiration?
You know what, my great friend Chris Benz who’s a designer in New York; he pushed me constantly, he told that if I was going to do it, to do it right. (Laughs) He offered so much help, love, support and the whole thing through the process of making the dresses, designing them and deciding what my first look was going to be. I think it’s very classic and very subdued for me and my personality and what people actually think of me. They think of me as this huge crazy ball gown in full regalia kind of girl and I wanted it to be very clean, simple and classic. In that way it was unexpected and he loved it. Another good friend of mine that also gave me inspiration is Meg Carlozzi, she was the head PR rep for Louis Vuitton men’s collection and we’re always together on a Saturday as long as we’re all home. They both pushed me really hard to do this!
(SD) 4. You self-taught yourself to skate at the age of twelve and four years later won your first Gold medal at the 2001 World Junior Championships. When you recall the early days of your skating career, what was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome?
Yes, I taught myself to skate when I was twelve, I had a good coach right away so that was a huge plus, I never would have gotten as far without her but I started because I wanted to learn how to do it. Four years after learning to skate, I won the Gold Medal at the 2001 World Junior Championships. That’s how I have been my whole life. The same with the dresses; I wanted to know how it worked and how to do it and to show the world something pretty. The hardest obstacle I had to overcome was first not having the same experience as the people I was competing against because they all started when they were four or five years old and I was starting when I was twelve. When I was competing they had eight years of experience to my one, and that was really hard for me to deal with and to really learn to compete. I didn’t really learn to compete well until the last four or five years of my career, so far. That was really hard. Also understanding the world of figure skating is a hard thing to do, it’s very back-stabby but at the same time it’s very much like a big really dysfunctional family. So learning the ropes of figure skating and traveling around the world and being from a very small town, it was really jarring when I first got into it but after awhile you learn to believe in yourself and that’s what pushed me through.
(SD) 5. Being a seasoned skater and two time Olympian, what is the greatest thrill for you when skating around the world in front of thousands of fans and spectators each night?
Just having that platform to show people everything that I believe in and being an artist at heart before an athlete even. I like showing people different things, I like showing my audiences all the different people that live inside this crazy ass brain that I have. That is the most exciting part of it for me. It’s not the costumes, it’s not the makeup, and not the hair even though it’s beautiful. I like the sheer idea and aspect of stripping myself raw and showing people what lives inside me.
(SD) 6. You are known for your very unique and colorful outfits on and off the ice. Being able to express yourself in artistic form- where do you come up with the ideas for them?
Well for myself, they’re costumes and a lot of people that make fun of my costumes, I’m not sure where they are trying to go with it; people think that costumes should look like real clothes? I greatly disagree so in general I try to go as costumey as possible. I like that; I think its fun to do costuming. Off the ice I love Chanel; I love Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton as much as the next person but on the ice it’s all about making a spectacle!
(SD) 7. What has it been like being the star of your very own reality TV show “Be Good Johnny Weir” which airs on the LOGO channel; any pros and cons to it?
I’ve been on camera for five years in a row now and it took a long time for people actually to pick up and for a network to buy the show and the documentary and everything. That’s the hardest part because in figure skating I know I’m good at what I do so I can kind of in some way get exactly what I want in that moment but the entertainment world works completely different and that was hard to learn. It’s hard to have everything good and everything bad on camera. This year we have a different format and the team is much bigger because I’m not constantly inside my little bubble of competition so my team has grown a lot and the crew is big. It’s hard when you walk everywhere and you’ve got like ten people behind you; a sound guy, a boom guy, and you’re mic’d and you can’t take your clothes off (laughs) that’s the hardest thing to get used to. The pro is that people can really see me for who I am and see what my life is like. I mean that is absolutely stellar; who can show the world their crazy? You have to have a reality show! So in that way, it’s amazing and it brings visibility to my sport which is greatly underappreciated.
(SD) 8. Your fans overseas, especially in Japan seem to absolutely adore you, do you feel that there is a difference in the fanfare there than here in the United States?
In America, definitely since the last Olympics it’s gotten much crazier for me and it isn’t just skating fans that have come out to support me, its real people and that’s been something very strange. Even people that don’t understand skating; they like me and they are touched by me and that’s something that’s so cool but when I go to Japan I’ve got three hundred people waiting in the airport, or if I’m in Russia I have a chaser car; it’s different all over the world.
(SD) 9. You are raising funds tonight for the victims of the horrific earthquake in Japan, how do hope to provide aide in addition to this to the rebuilding efforts?
I have so many friends and I’ve performed so many times in Japan that two of my biggest Japanese fans are actually here today. They are the most amazing people and the country is beautiful and so amazing. In travelling the world I’ve got to say that this is one of my countries. I’ve got Russia, I’ve got Japan and I’ve got Korea; and those are my countries. I think of them as second homes and when it happened in Japan I was completely shocked and when it’s a natural disaster you don’t really know where to go with it, you don’t know who to be mad at. It was important for me to lend my voice and to lend whatever my fans in America and around the world could lend to Japan to support this country that’s inspired me so much and supported me so much.
(SD) 10. Do you feel that you were able to convey everything that you wanted to in your autobiography, “Welcome To My World?”
When you have to stick to a certain page limit and you have to use certain language, and if people aren’t watching you tell the story, it’s hard to tell it, it’s hard when it’s written down and people have to make their own imagery about it. I think overall the book was great and I got to reveal a lot of things about myself that people wouldn’t necessarily really care about. I think my story is very pure and very all American, small town, I wanted huge things and I worked hard to get them. That’s the story of my life; I don’t care if I came out in the book, I don’t care if I talked about virginity, or judges or anything. I wanted people to see that I’m the same as everyone even though I have this image of this crazy, high heel wearing diva bitch person; and it’s not me.
(SD) 11. Many of your critics feel that you are extremely underrated as a skater, how do you respond to that?
It’s a political judged sport. I know what I can do and all of my peers know what I can do. Judges have a political agenda most of the time and you can’t put your future and your hopes in judges. That’s why I’ve never felt a need to kind of can myself up and be afraid to talk to reporters and to wear crazy costumes because what am I going to get from them? (Laughs) Maybe a Gold medal here or there, maybe tenth place here and there so I think the people that actually matter know I’m good at what I do and would never sell me short at what I’m capable of. So I’ve accepted it and it sucks sometimes because it’s something I’ve worked my whole life for but I accept it because you can’t please everyone.
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