Friday, June 25, 2010

When He Was 17 ...

Johnny takes a look back at his teen years
on MTV's When I Was 17,
airing this Saturday at 11 a.m. EDT
and again on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT!

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year ...
--sung by Frank Sinatra

(Note: While my thoughts and prayers are very much quietly with the Weir and Moore families this week in the loss of Johnny's grandfather, Robert Moore, my über-stan-ness and sense of humor remain here on the blog, where there are still finales over which to squee and more voting to be done and upcoming performances for which to consider selling everything my husband owns on CraigsList while he's at a conference in order to be able to afford to attend ... )

... it was the year 2001.

So in preparing to watch Johnny's segment on MTV's When I Was 17 this Saturday as a fun and fabulous but actually rather poignant lead-up to the BGJW season finale on Sunday (yes, OK, I already watched the finale through On Demand, but I'm watching it again Sunday night because otherwise my life just feels wrong), I was wondering: What was going on with Johnny when he was 17?

I'm not as familiar with his earlier years in figure skating, for which I have no excuse other than to say I was very wrapped up in my little ones at that time, who were ages 7 and 3 for most of 2001. That was also the year I celebrated the 15th anniversary of my 25th birthday--or, working backward in JWe terms, I turned 11.
(I love JWe Math. It's crazy like the New Math, only with a more flattering drape and much prettier colors).

So I turned to Wikipedia for some context, where I learned this: "Weir's first major victory came in 2001 when, at the age of 16, he skated three clean programs at the World Junior Championships and won the gold medal ahead of fellow American What's-His-Face. This was the first time since 1987 that the U.S. had placed first and second on the World Junior podium."

Wow. Just wow. Which I often find myself saying when I contemplate Johnny, whether it's his career achievements or, even more so, his uncompromising, let's-not-only-get-outside-the-box-let's-run-the-complete-opposite-way-as-far-as-we-can-from-the-box-wearing-the-most-outrageous-jacket-we-can-find-and-cracking-ourselves-up-the-whole-time stance on just about everything but especially on life itself--a stance that I think began rather quietly and has become more bold along the way as he has gained both years and confidence.

So Junior Worlds ended in March 2001. Later that year, on July 2, Johnny turned 17.

That fall he returned to public school for his senior year--and more context.

From Johnny on MTV: "I was traveling a lot while I was still attending public high school. So I'd get back from all these beautiful, worldly experiences and then I'd just be the kid that got made fun of because I was a lot smaller than everyone else. I won the Junior World title, which means I was the best in the entire world. The first day back when I went for my senior year, I was trying to scoot around a group of ladies, and they were all a bit bigger ladies, and one of them swung around with their book
bag--knocked me flat on my ass."

Welcome home, BB. No prophet is without honor save in his own country, where his peers jeer at him for his size and probably some other stuff too. Which breaks my heart.

But there's a deeper perspective that I have been pondering since I first learned that this show, which Johnny tweeted about some months ago, was finally airing this weekend:

Johnny filmed this episode around mid-March this year, just a scant few weeks after the soul-crushing travesty that was the scoring of the 2010 Olympic men's figure skating. He was asked in this show to look back at his 17th year--a year that could be considered the beginning of his meteoric rise to fame and medals in competitive figure skating, which would reach a high point five years later, in 2006, with his third consecutive national title and his first Olympics.

And he was asked to look back at those years from this year--of all years. Sigh.

I remember in BGJW, after a disappointing Grand Prix event, Johnny wonders aloud whether his best years in competitive skating are behind him. And yet he persevered this season, with immeasurable grit and determination--and despite obstacles that included the complete head-up-their-ass attitude of the figure skating establishment, which we are privileged to enjoy to this day--to accomplish his dream of making the Olympic team a second time. Which is another one of those "just wow" moments.

But I think that filming this MTV thing had to be tough, even for the incredibly resilient Johnny. As hard as his critics are on him, he is harder on himself. And to look back, from that precise moment in March, at the heady years of victory that had come before (even with his hallmark honesty about falling on his ass and being teased at school)--that could not have been easy.

Yet there he is, with his usual grace and humor and charm, sharing himself with all of us as openly as always and making us fall in love with him all over again. Because this. so. much.

So: I'll enjoy watching When I Was 17 for the very first time this weekend (because I stopped watching MTV about 17 years ago), though I know I'll be annoyed that there are other people covered in this episode who are taking up valuable screen time that really should have been devoted to a lengthy montage of more photos of Johnny in various blond wigs.

But at this point, as we head into the season finale of BGJW, we still await his answer to the searing question he has been asking of himself: "Are my best years in this sport behind me?"

Will he or won't he?

We still don't know.

But BB, I do know this. Whatever you decide: Your career, your life, yourself--all these are extraordinary, and fans are loving every minute.

Whether you're 17 or 102 (oh, excuse me, I mean -51), the GlitterHeads will still be along for the ride. Swarovski-encrusted walkers and all.

And it will be a very good year.

You can catch Johnny on MTV's When I Was 17
this Saturday, June 26, at 11 a.m. EDT,
and again on Sunday, June 27, at 8:30 a.m. EDT!

Check out Johnny's new blog on SUNFiltered!
He'll be posting entries there throughout June and July!
And PLEASE KEEP VOTING for him as Skater of the Year
in USFSA's 2010 Readers' Choice poll
(voting ends July 15)!

Please also vote here to tell Pepsi
that you want them to donate $250,000 to Just Push 'nPlay!
Johnny is on the board of the 'nPlay Foundation,
and this funding would help to provide physical activity
programs to nearly 20,000 kids.
Let's help make this project the top vote-getter!
(voting ends June 30)

Tubey Awards voting has ended for Be Good Johnny Weir,
but THIS WEEK ONLY you can vote here
for Johnny's Foot Massager, nominated for
Best Performance by an Inanimate Object!
It's listed among categories 13-16.
Only the top 10 vote-getters in each category
will make it to the final round of Tubey polls!

Yes! The season finale of BGJW airs on Sundance
this Sunday, June 27, at 9 p.m. EDT
(although it's already available
via On Demand in some cable markets)!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


Anonymous said...

As hard as his critics are on him, he is harder on himself

Boy, this is true, isn't it? Another wonderful blog, Binky. I won't say how old I was when JOhnny was 17... At least until I figure it out in JW years...

I have now seen ep 109 twice, and I'm looking forward to when I was 17. Amazing I'm actually planning on looking at something on MTV, a network I only look at for things like catching glimpses of JW going into the movie awards because they no longer show any freakin' videos, at least ones I care about...

I'm sure this will be yet another example of why JOhnny Weir is a truly remarkable person!

Wendy S said...

@MTV: Johnny needed his own "When I Was 17" ep, without other interviewees to suck up valuable Johnny air time.

"Whatever you decide: Your career, your life, yourself--all these are extraordinary, and fans are loving every minute." Indeed. And thank god that at the age of 25, you have the fortitude to make your life what *you* wish it to be.


MImi Dzyacky said...

Thank you again Binky....I am waiting until Sunday for the finale! While watching BGJW last night with my 78 year old aunt, who is in my care right now due to a heart condition, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before...and maybe this is because i've been watching every little movement my aunt has been making since returning home from the hospital and more aware of my breathing, pulse, etc.

I wasn't breathing during the non commercial bits of the episode...

I was actually holding my breath...I know this sounds silly but I can literally say that JGW takes my breathe a good way!

So whatever our strong glittered one decides to do, we will be there for the ups and downs of which ever way he decides to take life's adventure.

And thank you again Binky!! You are my heart, eyes, and ears!!!

So now with hazelnut coffee in hand and Tyler's Kaffe candle (smells like hazelnut coffee) wafting through my studio I will take on my day!


Anonymous said...


THis is definitely a great weekend for JGW fans -two shows to watch. And it isn't just seeing him walk into a building or something mundane like that. Yes, I know his fans will watch that too! And yes, I am sure he has endured so much while growing up, but it makes him strong enough to endure what he has gone throught this past Olympic season. I think, in my humble opinion, the worst thing that has happened are the cruel comments handed out from those two French speaking anouncers - simply horrid. But Johnny spoke his mind and came through like the champ that he is. I am sure he will make the best decision for himself and his career, whatever that may be.


aaaack said...

What a strange week! Processing the last of 40 pounds of wild plums into pate de fruits and sugarplums, and having visions of Johnny Weir (BGJW and When I was 17) dance in my head. Also finishing an amusing stint as a shampoo tester for a product testing company whereby my head got washed 15 times, but cannot wash Johnny out of my hair.

Anonymous said...

"I know I'll be annoyed that there are other people covered in this episode who are taking up valuable screen time that really should have been devoted to a lengthy montage of more photos of Johnny in various blond wigs." = YES!!

and a big thank you to Johnny for being cool enough to share that photo of himself with us. there's plenty of kids and teens out there that need to see photos like that one . . . so they know that they're not alone and there are supercool, beautiful, and talented men who like to wear makeup and pretty things.

MM, thank you for a lovely and sensitive post!

i'm right behind you in supporting our Princess in whatever he does, and i expect i'll be standing in line to buy his clothing when he does his own line.

i'm not just a watch-Johnny-skate fan, i'm a love-Johnny's-beautiful-soul fan - and there are so many ways in this world for him to express his loveliness.

Princess Johnny-Love aka Robin