Johnny Weir's Pop Star on Ice: Not enough pop star, too much ice.

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

It's almost time for the Winter Olympics, which means we all get to pretend like we care about a bunch of sports that normally only get "televised" on places like icenetwork.com. Men's figure skating, for example, which features one Johnny Weir. His reality show debuted last night on the Sundance Channel. For more on why you should give a crap, let's go to the trailer...

Tell me you wouldn't watch that for an hour a week until the Olympics. Only Sundance Channel started with the documentary from whence this series came, called Johnny Weir: Pop Star on Ice. And it's a really good documentary, if you care about Weir's on-ice success and failure. Which we don't.

What we do care about is things like his exhibition routine, in which he skates to Lady GaGa's "Poker Face." Really there's no way to go wrong. The man does some sort of triple something (axel?) into the chorus.

Weir is great because he has somehow managed to be shockingly flamboyant in a sport where pretty much everyone is just assumed to be gay. He also gives the best press conferences of any athlete on the face of the planet. After he won his first of three consecutive U.S. titles, he compared his routine to cognac and cigarettes and his competitors to shots of vodka and cocaine.

And while that is a fact we learned from the documentary, it is one of only a few jaw-droppingly awesome moments of what is neatly described several times as "personality" in nearly 90 minutes. We understand that Olympic skaters mostly skate, but we are interested in Weir for the ways he is different from his competitors. Such as maybe the best moment in the documentary, where he puts on a blonde wig and thick-rimmed glasses, affects a Russian accent and pretends to be a reporter interviewing Weir's "best friend," an equally feminine man named Paris.

Oh, and they're naked and sharing a bubble bath the whole time.

Which brings up the least subtle elephant in any room ever. He has flatly refused, again and again, to confirm his sexuality one way or another. He uses the "my bedroom, my business" defense, which is obviously perfectly respectable. Yet every story about him speculates. Which is stupid because a) Who cares? and b) Is it really a question?

The thing that matters much more than whether he's gay or straight is that he's androgynous, and that's why we're talking about him in this space. Because you may still be wondering why it is that we find this guy remarkable, and the answer is that he more resembles David Bowie, Lou Reed, David Johansen or, indeed, Lady GaGa than any athlete.

Pop music long ago paved the way for the unique genius of men who look and act like ladies. Weir, in the aforementioned cognac and cigarettes routine, portrayed both the male swan and female swan in his routine, and that's just rock and roll enough to make us care about figure skating a little bit.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.