Newark, DE, USA – Moscow, Russia
Johnny Weir – Alessia Danchouk
Privet, Johnny! You’ve just celebrated you birthday: how was it? What was the weirdest present that you received?
My birthday was fantastic! I spent it at home with my family and some friends. David and James, who are making my TV show, they came. We had a dinner, and Melissa and Denis came for the dinner, and some other friends of mine came. So, it was really relaxing and very low key: no big party, nothing crazy. It was just over-relaxing. And my gift, of course, my costume from weir.ru. It was beautiful, it was so unexpected and it makes me so happy! And REST, I didn’t hear anything about the costume until I saw it. REST didn’t tell me that they’re making a costume for me, nothing. It was a huge surprise! And it was definitely one of the biggest gifts I got for my birthday. HAHA ;-)
Oh, thank you! And what was the reaction of your parents and your friends for the costume?
They loved it! My mom had me try it on right away. She loves the red star on the back and she loves the words on the front. She is very happy with it. My dad
doesn't usually are about my costumes, but he thought it was cool my Russian fans sent one. My mom loves it. I sent a picture of it to Paris, and Paris loves it. So, everyone is happy!
Thanks so much ;-) Are you going to wear it for some shows or competitions?
Yes, I’ll wear it for my training at competition, because at home I usually don’t wear a costume. I just kind of wear a t-shirt, and that’s it. But when I go to competitions, I like to wear some kind of costume for the practices, and I need a new one for sure, so I am happy to have this one!
Thank you so much. Are you afraid of getting old in sport and life?
HAHA. Well, I feel… I don’t feel old, but my age years old. There are a lot of things that - being a sportsman - I can’t do because I’m in sport and I’m training for Olympics again, and there are just a lot of things that somebody at 23 can do, but I can’t do because I have other objectives.
Yes, if you feel old at 23, how would you feel when you’re in your 50s or 60s…
Well, I won’t be skating, so I hope things will be different!
You want to be a designer in the future. Are you good at painting?
I’m ok. In my head I have so many ideas. I draw and I can draw very well. Paint, I’m not so talented with this because it’s hard to make just a perfect color or a perfect shape. I practiced, I tried, but I’m not the best yet.
Have you ever created something for yourself?
I don’t know how to sew! HAHA! When I do become a designer I have to learn how to actually make things. But I have designed a lot of things, small things, for myself that my friends sewed for me or I had somebody make for me. Right now I’m obviously focused on skating.
Ñan you tell us some words about your personal off-ice style? Is it glamorous?
Of course it’s glamorous. I like to be glamorous but I have a lot of clothes and I have a looooot of shoes. I’ll try to send you a picture of one of my closets one day ;-) I take a lot of care of my clothes just because I have to work very hard to get them. It’s the same as, you know, Plushenko has a lot of cars, and he had to work very hard for them and he takes care a lot of them. So, my clothes are like my babies, my version of the cars, because I like them, and I have to work hard for them. So, glamorous is definitely my style. But I like things to be well-made, because sometimes designers make things and they fall apart after you wear them three times or they get dirty very easily. I like things that are perfect all the time even after they are ten years old!
And your skating, you’ve just changed your long-time coach Priscilla Hill to Galina Zmievskaya. Was it your own choice?
Khm… It’s a long story. After Olympics I was on a long tour and Priscilla and I couldn’t see each other very much. Then, when I came home to begin training, it was right away that I have to be prepared for competition, there wasn’t time for training or for rest, for anything. So, I just kind of kept going. In the mean time Priscilla was also busy with a lot of her other students and doing some other things. When you’ve been with somebody for so long like I have been with Priscilla, and at that point you’re friends, and you’re close, because, of course, I saw Priscilla more than I saw my own mother or my father or even Paris, my best friend. So, Priscilla was really the one person that I knew is there every single day. She is my friend, if I have a problem, I can talk to her about that. When you want to work, and you want to be the best, you can’t have a friend. You need somebody to push you, somebody who can get you fired to skate. This past season Priscilla and I didn’t click like a coach and a student. We were friends. To work, it’s very difficult like that. So, I decided I need to make a change. I talked to several coaches. I talked to Nikolay Morozov, I spoke with Oleg Vassiliev, I spoke with Rafael Arutunian, and a lot of the other coaches. They just have other projects like Arutunian has Jeffry Buttle, Nikolay Morozov has a lot of other students. Oleg Vassiliev is only in the US for the summer and then he returns to Russia.
Of course, originally, I thought of possibly moving to Russia and if I did, I would work either with Tatiana Tarasova in Moscow or Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg. I thought about it for a long time, where I’d like to work if I’m going to work. But my mother told me that I need to stay in America, and my Federation said I need to stay in America. I spoke with some of the Russian skaters and of course with my friends, with Marina Anissina who is one of the biggest ones. I talked to her about all this, and she said Galina would be a good choice. She could push me to work, and we wouldn’t be friends, and that’s something that I wanted. And of course having Victor there helps a lot because he’s a specialist for the ISU, and he can check all my levels and everything. In general, I’m going to work, and I need somebody that I can work with. Galina turned out to be a very good choice for me, because she’s not far from my home in Delaware, it’s just two hours, so I can come home when I want. Wayne in New Jersey is not far from New York City, and if I need to go there for a weekend, I can do it, to have fun. So, it worked that well. But Galina hasn’t had a top-skater for a long time. I’m hoping that she can still work, and what she gave for Oksana Bayul and Viktor Petrenko, she still has it. And Tatiana Tarasova even said that Galina is probably the best choice in the US for me.
Considering your choreography in Moscow was cancelled, who is your new choreographer in the US?
Of course I was very upset that I couldn’t come to Moscow, because of timing, and to go to Moscow from here, it’s a lot of different things that come up. And Tatiana is very busy. So, I decided to work with Faye Kitarieva. She worked a lot with Sasha Cohen in the past several years. I’ve known her very little but I felt good going to her.
I’m gonna give you my music also. I’ll tell you what my music will be. So, you’ll be the first who know it. So, Faye is going to do the short program, I actually leave tomorrow to work with her in Los Angeles for the short. And the music will be “Yunona i Avos”. A friend of Faye who plays the piano and works in a studio, she was able to make a new version of “Yunona i Avos”. It’s very fired, and it’s just a piano, really, and some sound effects. It’s very peaceful, and you can feel all the emotions Svetlana Pikous (she is a performer from Siberia - Olga) put into the music. And for the long program, I had trouble deciding on music. Denis Petukhov (who will help Johnny with the long program) found great music by Globus, which is a composer in California. The title for the long program music is “Love is war”. It’s kind of spiritual and very strong music. It’s going to be beautiful. Both programs are kind of big contrast to one another.
I suppose they’ll be great!
I hope so!
Is Paris going to leave with you for your new rink? Or will he stay in Delaware?
Well, Paris really doesn’t have a job in Delaware. He just lives in Delaware, he’s just looking for a job, and he doesn’t go to school any more. Paris is looking for a new direction for himself because his parents said that if you don’t have a job, you should move back to Georgia to live with us. And of course Paris is my best friend, and I didn’t want him to go to Georgia, and he didn’t want to go. So, to help me with paying the rent, and just to have a friend in New Jersey… I mean, I have a lot of friends, but I’m already good friends with him, so he’s going to move as well. So, I’ll have Paris there!
What can we expect from new season? New Johnny Weir? Back to basics?
Hehe, I think it’ll be back to basics. I’m hoping! Denis wants to keep my style for the free program and Faye wants to have my style, maybe with some new moves and some new ideas, but in general it will be me.
Do you watch videos from your past competitions? Do you see any changes between Johnny Weir in 2005 and Johnny Weir today?
I don’t watch my videos a lot. I’ve seen some of them. I’ve watched my long program from Olympics just one time and I didn’t watch either performances from the Worlds this year because I don’t think they were good. So, I watch the good performances or the ones I feel like I need to see. And the big difference I can see is that my fire on the ice was kind of gone, which I can understand because in the last season the tour was so long, and I didn’t have any kind of rest and I kept going, going, going. So, I was very tired of skating and didn’t want to skate up to 100 percent. And you can’t do well in competitions if you feel like you don’t want to be there. Of course, I wanted to go to Japan and I wanted to go to Russia and to Canada last year, just to go. But to skate, in general, I was tired of it. I never thought of quitting because I knew it will pass. Now of course I want to skate and I want to win, but before I was just: “Ah, it was so hard to compete”. That’s something I don’t want anymore. When I go to compete, I want to feel good and I want to feel like I can win. Even if I will have to beat Plushenko!
What competitions are you expecting to be the most difficult for you in the new season?
That’s hard. I think Cup of Russia will be very exciting, because it’s me, Stéphane Lambiel, Jeffrey Buttle and Evgeny Plushenko. I think it will be a really interesting competition and hopefully I’ll win. And of course I want to perform well for my crazy Russians. You know, I love to skate in Russia, so, it’s exciting for me. Also, my US Nationals will be very difficult because all the boys in America are good, and I have to win my title back because I don’t like it when Evan Lysacek is first and I’m third! And of course Worlds, because everyone is together, and I want to be a world champion!
Cup of Russia. Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov are going to be there. Are there any chances to see «Fallen angels» in Moscow?
Denis and I talked about it, and I told him that we have to do it. So, considering that we both get to exhibition, we’ll do it. This could change but I think yes, we’ll do it, for sure.
Great! You’ve already performed this program several times with COI. What was the most impressive? The first time?
I think the best performance that we had was the first city when we came back from Mexico. I went on vacation with Melissa and Denis and Marina to Mexico. And when we came back, we were all tired, and we wanted to be in Mexico but we were in the ice rink in California. We just didn’t want to be there, but we got on ice and everything was perfect. People were standing at the end and that’s something that excited me about the program because when we first skated it out, the announcement was “Johnny Weir, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov”, and people didn’t understand what was going to happen or what they were going to see. So, they didn’t clap a lot, they didn’t know what to do. And then, by the end of the program, they are up standing, and clapping and screaming. Every time when it happened was amazing. It gave me chills.
You train a triple axel with Rudy Galindo. In my opinion, it’s dangerous for you and maybe even useless. Why do you need to do it?
Just because it’s fun! I know what I’m doing and I know how to jump and land jumps, and Rudy knows how to throw. So, there isn’t a big question of, you know, if I can hurt myself or not. Of course the first time, when we tried to approach triple axel, it was scary just because it was a new element. After that we just started to do it, because it’s fun! As skaters we like to do things that are fun, not always work, but to have fun on the ice, too. And, to do it… I mean, Rudy and I can do all that side by side jumps, we can do spins and we can do throws. Already we’re the best pair team in the United States. HAHA! We just have to do lifts. So, that’s cool to know that we can do something that American teams can do, and we can do better. HAHA!
HAHA! Continuing this topic, would you try to do elements that characters from «Blades of Glory» do? Have you seen the film?
Yes, I have seen the film. It would be interesting to see if we could do it but I think the public would not accept it, and judges wouldn’t accept it. Even if we were very good and even better than all the other teams, we couldn’t do it. Well, you know, Rudy isn’t young anymore, and I’m not so young anymore, so it’s hard to do training on something else. So, we didn’t think anything serious about it! We just do it because it’s fun!
What do you think of «Blades of Glory» in general? Did you like the film?
I thought that the character that was like me, I thought he was funny. But in general in skating we all know how the world works, and we know how the skating world works. So, everything that they did in the movie was made for those who basically don’t know anything about skating. It seemed, I don’t know, just not very good, the skating wasn’t very good. And I thought it wasn’t funny when they made Sasha Cohen smell the main character's underwear. It was so stupid and I felt so bad for Sasha. I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan. But it makes skating popular for a little bit, and it’s good. It’s always good to have a fun movie or TV-show about your sport, and to make people interested in your world, but the movie was a little bit stupid for me.
Your popularity is increasing with this movie, isn’t it? What do you think about this?
I think it’s interesting because I never think of myself as of someone who popular, and somebody in China would know who I am. That’s crazy for me to think about. Or even that I’m doing an interview for my Russian website, I think it’s crazy, not in a bad way of course. It’s just I’ve never expected it. And, yes, sometimes it’s good when people know who you are. Sometimes it’s hard because they don’t know me, they just know about me. And they make a lot of opinions, and they feel that they know you. They tell you what they think and sometimes it’s mean or hurtful. That’s the only time I don’t like it. But in general I think it’s great that I can be popular and I can talk about things that I want talk about, and I can skate in any country of the world and people will be excited to see me.
Johnny, are you similar on the ice and off the ice?
On the ice I’m very quiet, and I’m very, kind of, free, and I’m living in my own world. Off the ice I’m quiet and I like everything to be just as it should be. So if my room is dirty, if there is something on the floor, I’m very organized and I’ll pick it up and put it exactly where it has to go. I hate when things aren’t in their place. In skating you can see that I change things, and I just throw an arm in one direction, and it’s not like that at all. But off the ice everything has to be in its place.
So, three adjectives, which characterized you on ice and off the ice?
On ice: subtle, elegant and… I think, powerful at the same time. Of the ice it’s opinionated, stubborn and romantic.
Romantic? Are you really romantic?
Well, not just in relationships or when you’re in love, not just that kind of romantic, but when you think everything is beautiful and everything is just great and you don’t always see the bad side of things. Like... My mom always says that I have, for example, for Russia. I always think about the art and music that comes from Russia, and sport and all the beauty of Russia, and she said I never think about Soviet Russia, Stalin and Lenin. I don’t think about those things, I only see the romantic side.
During this summer you took part in a lot of shows. Now the training for the new season is starting. What about having rest?
Well, this week I’m kind of taking a rest, because it was my birthday, and then it was the Fourth of July, which is a big holiday for us, it’s Independence Day. I took a little bit of rest, I slept from maybe midnight until noon every day. I slept for really long time, so it’s rest. When I return from California, I’ll have one week to train with Denis. And then, the following week, it’s when I move to New Jersey. So, I think, at the beginning of the week I’ll, of course, pack all my things and put them in a truck and take them to my new apartment. And the rest of the week I’ll relax and put everything where it should be and prepare for starting skating the next week. So, a real vacation, I don’t have it, but I’ve had a lot of small vacations, small breaks.
Can you tell us some words about Mexico, about the trip?
HEHE. It was a great trip. I was very ill for the whole trip. So, I would be sitting on a beach and it would get too hot, and then I couldn’t breathe in my nose, and I would be tired and sleep all day. And I never turned very brown. I didn’t like that, just because I wanted to have a good time, and go to have Margarita with Marina, Melissa and Denis and have fun and go swimming and go on the boats and go everywhere and see everything. But I was sick. So I stayed at my hotel room a lot. There was a private beach, it was beautiful, and I would go and sit with everybody for a little while and then I had to go back inside because I didn’t feel well. But, being on vacation I realized that it’s very difficult for me, personally, to make my mind be quiet. My mind is always thinking of other things and I can’t just relax. So, I was happy to go back on the tour and start working because that’s what my head and my body are used to. Taking a break – I’m not used to it. But it was beautiful, we had good time. Marina helped me overcome my fear of the ocean.
Mm, the Russian ocean, it’s not… Well, you just have the Black see, so you don’t have sharks or anything really scary like that. The only oceans I’ve ever been in have sharks, and have fish that can bite you and whales and all these things. And then, in Mexico, it’s tropical water, so there are even more sharks and things. I’m so afraid of sharks, and fish, and just the ocean in general. So, the first time I went in the water, Marina knew I was afraid, so she held my hand, an we walked in, and then we swam, to a part where I couldn’t touch the bottom of the ocean. But the water, you can see to the bottom of the water, because it’s so blue and so clear. It’s not dirty, it’s clean, and if there was shark, at least I would be able to see it. HAHA! But I was so nervous and so afraid. But Marina, whenever I went in the water, she would go with me, because she knew I was afraid.
It actually sounds a bit funny when you’re telling it now ;-)
I know! It seems so stupid that I’m afraid of the ocean, because I fly all the time, I drive like a crazy person in my car. I do everything that someone could be scared of. Some of the things in life I’m still afraid of are the things that are only scary when you’re a child. I’m afraid of sharks, I’m afraid of spiders, I’m afraid of the dark sometimes. Heights, being high up in the sky. It’s so funny.
Maybe it’s ok, I’m also afraid of spiders.
When I see a spider, I usually take a shoe or a book, and I chase it untilI can kill it because I’m so afraid and I don’t want it to get to my bed or in my shoes, I don’t want anything like that!
In our previous interview we played an associations game. Now we’ll be playing the game of choice. You have to choose one out of two options, the one you like more.
Christina Aguilera or Sergey Lazarev?
Evan Lysacek or Brian Joubert?
Moscow or Tokyo?
Swan or Fallen angels?
Blondes or brunettes?
Yu-na Kim or Mao Asada?
Muaaaaahaha. Arina Martynova!
Modeling or designing?
Black or white?
Competitions or shows?
Quad salchow or quad toeloop?
That’s hard. Um. Salchow is more impressive when I do it. So, salchow.
What about the quad jumps in your new programs?
I hope to have them in both, probably the toeloop in the short and maybe salchow in the long. But I have taken a break from doing quads, because I didn’t practice them on the tour. One day I did one perfect and that was it, because I knew I could still do it. But I’ll start to train quads again when I start with Galina.
Ok. In your “hot things” in July you put Mike Mironenko’s music video as your favorite. This Russian singer looks like you! How did you know about him?
Yeah, I know! I didn’t know anything, and then Sasha Zaretsky called. She is in Israel right now, and she called from Israel to wish me happy birthday, and then she said “Johnny, now, there is a singer that looks exactly like you! I’m watching him on TV right now”. So, I went to see it, and I liked the video very much, so I wrote down Mike Mironenko as my favorite videoclip of the month.
Can you recognize if a person is your friend?
I … for a long time – yes. It’s a hard thing to decide, because there are a lot of people that want to be my friends because they like me. And there are a lot of people that try to get to know me and to be my friends because they like what I do or who I am. Generally, in skating, it’s hard to find real friends. But I think, when I can sit down, and it’s my birthday, for example, and on my cell phone I can find messages from people, the people that send me messages are my real friends, and they really care that I have a good birthday, and they want to wish me well for my birthday. I’m pretty good at seeing people for who they are and understanding if they want to know me or they want to know me just because of what I do.
Your MySpace, why do you need it? To be closer to your fans?
MySpace is a way for your fans to be more personable, so it’s real. The website is great, and you can write things, but the MySpace seems a good idea because you open yourself up to a lot more people, not just people that are interested in figure skating. There are a lot of people in the movie industry, and in music that know about me, and they want to know more. This way they can get special information. Also, it’s kind of fun. I don’t do it all by myself, because I’m really bad with computers. I make them die. It’s just two other people that help me with it. And I’ve just got Melissa and Denis to make pages and I help them a little bit. And it’s all for fun, it’s nothing serious!
About MySpace again. Does Denis Petukhov really call you “my wife”? HAHA!
HAHA!! Yes! Yes. It’s so funny. I remember when I get on the bus on the tour, usually I say “hello” to everybody and then I go to the Russians and I say: “Good morning, Boginia” to Marina because I call her Boginia. And I call Oleksy Polischuk, I call him Mishutka. And for Denis and for Evgeny, I call them “muzh” (husband in Russian), just because it’s so funny. And when Denis and I started to do the program with Melissa, he said like “Oh, I have two wives now!” ;-) You know, I’m not so much bigger than Melissa, we both have brown hair, and I look a little bit like a woman, so I was “zhena” (wife in Russian), and he - “muzh”.
You congratulated your Russian fans with the Olympic Games in Sochi. What do you think about it? Going to compete?
I think it would be amazing to compete in Sochi. I don’t know how, I don’t know if my body will live until 2014, I don’t know what country I’ll represent because I feel if I do make the Olympic team in Vancouver, the US will be finished with me because we have a lot of young guys. So I would have to represent a different country. But I love to skate in Russia, it’s always my dream to skate in Russia. And if Sochi Olympics were my last competition, it’d be so amazing. We’ll see. As long as my body is allowed, maybe I’ll try!
And finally - What is your motto what helps you in life to be the best?
Be yourself. At the end of the day you have to be able to look in the mirror and say “You did a good job. You’re good, you’re great, you were yourself, you did everything your own way”. And that’s how life should be, because why would I … I don’t live just to be a champion. I don’t live just to beat Evan Lysacek, I don’t live for those things. I live for me, I live for fun, and I live to do everything what I want before life is finished. Just be yourself and that’s the only way you can be.
Transcribed by Olga Gurova
We'd like to say many thanks to Estriel for her generous help.