When you hear the name Johnny Weir, its not the fact that he's a three-time U.S. National Champion and Olympic figure skating star that first comes to mind. Instead, it's usually the looming question of his sexuality, his TV series on the Sundance Channel, Be Good Johnny Weir, or his infamous catfights with fellow skating star Evan Lysacek.
Then there are his outlandish sequined, fur, and spandex costumes. Recently Weir opened up his closet to Blueflys Closet Confessions, an online social media venture celebrating creative wardrobes, to show off the wares that have made him the target of criticism in the figure staking community. Earlier this year two Canadian commentators suggested that based on his mannerisms and costumes he may be too gay for figure skating. One said, They'll think all the boys who skate will end up like him. It sets a bad example.
Out caught up with Johnny a day before his 26th -- or, as he likes to say, his "25th again" -- birthday last week. He wasnt shy about addressing his critics or giving us his honest opinion on Lysacek. However, when it came to his sexuality, Johnny did one clever axel and jumped right over the topic.
Out: First thing first. What are you wearing?
Johnny Weir: A little pair of silver loafers of D&G from years ago. Short shorts, a tank top, a Yankees hat, and sunglasses. Im going to get my hair done before the party tonight.
You've said you dont carry a murse or a man-bag -- it's a straight up purse. In your purse you mentioned you have sunscreen, moisturizer and cameras. What else is in there?
I live out of my bag. Im always running from one place to another and there is never time to run home in between. I just have this whole collection of shit that I accumulate throughout the day. It could be newspapers and faxes and water bottles. I guess its a work bag, but I like to do it in style instead of using a briefcase.
When you were younger Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC had a big effect on your fashion sense. What do you think of Justins look today?
I think he always looks very dapper when he shows up at different events. Hes turned out very well. His personal street style that you see in all the tabloids is not really my style. It looks like hes always trying to be comfortable. I can understand that.
How would you describe your style?
Its kind of Gaga and New York street urchin.
Speaking of Gaga, you really love her, don't you?
I beyond love her. She is a way of life.
What do you love about her?
I just find her so unique, and thats something thats really hard to find in the world. Its hard to find someone who is comfortable going out there with sunglasses lit up with cigarettes or cans of diet Coke wrapped up in a wig. Nobody has the balls to do that. My whole adolescence was just about copying each other. We had Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera copycats. Then we had *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. Then L-Town or O-Town or P-Town, whatever the hell they are.
Would you say you are unique?
In my own way I think I am. Since I was 13 or 14, Ive always wanted to do something unique with fashion and music. I didnt try to set myself apart; I just didnt want to conform to what people had done before.
You said on Bluefly that you have small feet. What size?
Thats not bad --
It doesnt mean anything at all about what youre packing!
The only place to go from there is on to fur! Animal rights groups have been after you in the past for wearing it. What do you say to them?
They have their choice to support their activism and to speak their minds, and I have the right to speak my mind too. Im not passionate about learning about the fur farms and how the animals get killed. Im passionate about fashion, and fur is a big part of that. Im also a winter athlete. You cant go walk the streets of Moscow when its minus 30 and wear some type of plastic. You need a natural warm thing. I am not going to change something I love because someone tells me its wrong.
Two Canadian broadcasters had much to say about your appearance at the Winter Olympics and even went so far as to say that you should undergo a gender test. You responded with: It wasn't these two men criticizing my skating, it was them criticizing me as a person. Nobody knows me. I think masculinity is what you believe it to be." What is masculinity to you?
To me masculinity and femininity are nothing. I dont believe in them being real adjectives. You can say someone is tall or someone is short. You cant say someone is masculine or feminine. Of course when you think of a masculine person -- at least in America -- we think of a football player or Marlon Brando. For feminine we think of Nicole Kidman. For me, you can make anything masculine and you can make anything feminine. We have so many beautiful drag queens on RuPauls Drag Race that are so much more ladylike and beautiful than lots of women we know. Then there are lots of lesbians who look like beautiful boys. They are masculine in every way even though they are women.
Who is masculine to you?
You have been very quiet about your sexuality, saying you dont want people to focus on it; you want the attention on the sport. Is that still how you feel?
Ive always been comfortable with who I am. When it comes to my sexuality, I just finished the chapter in my book [to be released in January] about my sexuality and my idea of it. I havent discussed it -- not because Im ashamed of anything youll read about when my book comes out -- I just dont want to put it out there in a way where someone can twist my words. While I dont believe in masculinity and femininity, I dont believe in a purely gay person or a purely straight person. I have a very clear opinion of my own sexuality. Im not saying anything about my sexuality because I want it to be out there in my own words.
So you will address it in your book?
Im waiting for the book. I have no shame. I just dont want some writer who is trying to sell a newspaper defining my sexuality to the public.
Then lets discuss Evan Lysacek.
[Laughing] Its no secret that Evan and I arent the closest of frenemies.
Is there really this big feud or it is all media hype?
The feuds are often press-made, but the most recent squabble we had was Evan saying I wasnt good enough to be on a skating tour that he was on. Thats ridiculous.
Is that the Stars on Ice tour that said you werent family-friendly enough?
Yes, and theyve never wanted me on their tour ever.
What does family-friendly mean?
I have no idea what that means. I dont know whats not family-friendly about me. I have a beautiful family. My friends are my family. I have a great relationship with my parents, my grandparents and my uncles and aunts. Theres no better picture of a great family than mine.
Recently you were on Chelsea Lately with Chelsea Handler. You talked about rooming with Evans ex-girlfriend, Tanith Belbin, and then winked. That caused a big stir. Many assumed you were calling Evans sexuality into question.
I would never push someone into a sexual situation of "are they or arent they?" I was just trying to be cute and it came off bad like I was trying to say that Evan was gay.
Why do you think you get the label of being gay, but not Evan?
Hes easy for people to wrap their heads around. Hes easy to put on a Wheaties box or on Dancing With the Stars. Hes the great American Olympic champion. While hes considered this all-American boy, Im considered like this Russian spy ring that just got caught.
To fulfill some fantasies, is there a chance of you and Evan ever getting together?
I cant say that will happen. There are just very big differences between the two of us.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Technically Im a bit old for figure skating at 25 -- again. Theres a whole new crop of young skaters who will be promoted because they are young and they are fresh. Thats how figure skating works. While I havent decided yet if Im going to compete this year or not, I was assigned to international events this fall in the Grand Prix series.
And your book in January. Tell us about it.
It talks about fashion and skating and of course all my sexual stuff. I also recorded a song called Dirty Love. Everyone who has heard it says its a bit like Depeche Mode.
Is this your first time singing?
Its the first time Ive sung well. Ive been thrown into some karaoke situations where I wasnt prepared. I dont expect to be a Grammy Awardwinning singer. I just did it for fun, and I hope people can dance to it and enjoy it.
What are you the most proud of?
Through everything -- human ugliness and being judged, bad fashion sense and good fashion sense -- Ive managed to stay very true to myself. Ive never buckled to pressure. Ive never given into anyone, and Ive done everything my way. I think thats something to be very proud of because thats something difficult to do nowadays.