I managed to finish Johnny Weir's book some time ago. Seriously, you need to see this thing. It is very pink. And he is wearing one hell of a pair of shoes on the cover. High-fashion ankle-breakers, if I ever saw them.

Some of the reviews charge that the book sounds immature in places. A fair cop, but irrelevant. It's a memoir, not a scholarly biography; he's putting these things down as he remembers them happening, and during most of them he was suffering from an inconvenient but common medical condition called 'being a goddamn teenager'. He is quite able to apply hindsight, and sometimes hops back into the present to comment that he'd just done something of consummate stupidity in the story he was telling.

He was also occasionally not an idiot at that age. He recounts a moment when he was maybe nineteen-ish, when he had the sudden realization that his crowds of adoring fangirls were fawning and helpful and showering him with presents not because he was better than them and innately deserving, but just because they liked him and wanted to see his happy reaction. That's an uncommon insight for anyone, particularly someone who became famous very, very young, and only managed to wait until he was very young to write a book about it. Outside sources indicate he's generally quite nice to the screaming hordes, and a couple of the anecdotes he tells suggest that he's a surprisingly cheerful, friendly drunk.

Weir is definitely nutty in a number of respects, but seems to be aware of it and takes some measures to not inflict it on other people. Most if it's turned inwards. He's really high-strung about himself and his own performance -- he mentions being given Ambien at some point so he would get some damn sleep before competing in the Olympics. He's also very aware of his tendency to choke in front of judges. He could blame circumstances but generally doesn't; he does point out a lot of things that I think anyone would react poorly to, but has a pretty typical bullied gifted kid 'I should be above petty human things like that' attitude that reinforces his general neuroticism. Dunno whether he's gotten over it over time, or to what extent.

As much as the book was touted as a tell-all, there are not very many names in it. There is occasional mention of other people who were at meets with him -- for which the entire context is almost always 'this person was there at the venue with me' -- and he name-checks people he's grateful to, like his best friend from his hometown, and his coaches. Other skaters he's dated are given first names only, and I suspect they're pseudonyms; he is very careful not to out anyone else.

There is a lot of very pointed commentary about the many things wrong with the culture in the ISA and USFSA, but not really a lot of dirt -- he repeats some particularly nasty comments he's gotten from the judges, but doesn't name them. He seems more pissed at the atmosphere that promotes these people into positions of power than anything. I don't really blame him. Particularly since they got rid of compulsory figures (long before Weir's time), they've basically declared cold-weather ballet to be an Olympic sport, and then have the gall to be angry when their competitors show up acting like ballerinas. He seems quite comfortable with the other skaters, who do not appear to have given two-tenths of a shit how gay or girly or glittery he was. A few coach-types and choreographers made explicit attempts to get him to skate in a manlier fashion, to which he responded, "Pfft, good luck."

The one area in which Weir both self-reports actual diva behavior and seems completely unrepentant for it is that he has a history of throwing other people the fuck out of his personal space when he's under stress. He did it once very loudly when he'd properly bought out the other half of his room at a USFSA meet and they ignored it and tried to give him a roommate anyway, and another time when he slammed the door on his coach Galina Zmievskaya -- a true Iron Lady from Ukraine, from the sound of it -- when she was breathing down the back of his neck on a trip to Russia. I have a feeling someone told the media about his suite in Vancouver not because he was rooming with a girl, but because he was rooming with someone, and someone's luggage hadn't immediately been ejected into the hallway. It sounds very much like a "too many people!" meltdown to me, particularly given that it tended to happen at meets, where not only is there the pressure of competition, but the backstage areas are about as chaotic as your average theatrical show.

This, plus his also-self-reported tendency to live in his own head when bored, suggest that Weir's actually a very gregarious introvert. He says in interviews that he's not much for clubbing and the like; indeed, while I have seen plenty of pictures of him on the red carpet, with or without his husband, they are all from things like galas and premieres, to which he would have been invited weeks in advance. He's conspicuously absent in paparazzi nightclub shots, despite living NYC where there are any number of extremely fashionable, extremely glittery places where he might turn up for planned events.

It also suggests to me that Victor Weir-Voronov is one hell of a guy, for someone like that to choose waking up to him every morning over ever getting the bed to himself again. (The dog, for these purposes, does not count.)

For what it's worth, there are a few people on Planet Earth who intimidate Johnny Weir. He likes most of them. Zmievskaya scared the hell out of him when they first met, to the point where he couldn't manage to tell her that she could actually do the coaching thing in Russian until she'd gotten frustrated with English and slipped back into Russian for quite a lot of nitpicking. His agent, Tara, is also a force of fucking nature. She did cave to his need to be neurotic and hired a cleaning lady to keep her apartment tidy so he'd quit fussing whenever they were working there, but she's also the trusted friend who tells him off whenever he's being a twit about something.

The book's not an encyclopedic look at his career; if you want that, there are probably about a thousand fansites that could give it to you. It was also published in 2011, so it doesn't cover him basically tripping and falling into a happy marriage completely by accident. There are some interesting photos in the center, where Weir gleefully points out that he was doing "ballet hands" long before he had any idea what they were or how much trouble they'd get him in later. It's a pretty decent look inside his head, not necessarily for his general philosophy on life -- which you can get by listening to him even when he's not making smart remarks on TV -- but for a look at where it came from, and how it's affected some of the important things that have happened to him off-camera. If you have no idea how someone can be so blatantly weird and not appear to care, it might be worth a look.

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