Friday, August 13, 2010

The Power of Love: Patti Weir

Photo of Patti and Johnny Weir that accompanies
Patti's Mook Book interview.

Special Friday fun! Today we present the first in a series of interviews translated from the Japanese Mook Book--a volume that no household should be without, and which should be displayed preferably in a glass case behind a velvet rope at which visitors may stand/kneel to oooh and aaah appropriately before murmuring, "Sweet Weirsus, I totes need one of these," and then backing out of the room in accordance with accepted custom. Or, alternatively, kept under your pillow. Whatever works.

Fresh from the wonderful fun that was meeting Patti and watching that guy skate in Lake Placid, we begin with Patti's interview from pages 66-67 of the Mook. This May 28, 2010, interview was conducted via phone by freelance sports journalist Akiko Tamura. Akiko appears near the end of episode 102 of BGJW, at about marker 24:16. She is seated next to Takahiko Kozuka, the "relatively unknown skater who came out of nowhere" to win the gold at that event, and is acting as Kozuka's interpreter.

In the Mook, the interview is titled, "Johnny Was a Child With Extraordinary Concentration."

Do you remember the day Johnny, your first child, was born?
Yes, very well. Any mother would. Physically, childbirth is a torturous experience! [laughs].

Johnny's first name is really "John," the same as your husband's. Is Johnny formally known as "John Jr."?
No, my husband is John Jr., so Johnny would have been John III. However, we didn't like that idea. We named him just "John," and gave him a different middle name than his father's.  [Note: Yes, the infamous "Garvin." Oh, my queendom for the follow-up question: Why "Garvin"?]

Before Johnny was born, did you and your husband discuss how you wanted to raise your children?
Since we both grew up in rather conservative families, we agreed that we wanted to let our children freely experience various things.

What was Johnny like as a child?
He was very quiet. And the way he could concentrate was different from other children. If you gave him a book, he would be completely absorbed in reading it from cover to cover. He was the same way when he watched movies or videos. Unlike other children, he would never become bored and start fidgeting. Instead, he would be lost in what he was watching, blocking out everything else around him until he was finished. In that sense, he was a very easy child to raise. His brother, Boz, also is quiet. Our house was very quiet even though we were bringing up two boys!

So Johnny was a child with extraordinary concentration?
Yes, he was, and that was just completely natural for him. He was never taught or forced to be like that.

I understand that Johnny rode horses when he was a child.
He did. My husband's family had a farm where they kept horses. My husband also rode, so riding was familiar to us. Johnny was such a physically small child that he could not ride a regular-sized horse. He learned British riding, but there was no way for him to hold onto the saddle. He was supposed to hold the saddle tight with his legs, but he was too small to do that. So at first he practiced riding a pony. When he was 12 years old and began skating, we had a pony and talked about buying a trailer for it.

Will you tell me about Johnny when he began to learn skating?
My husband and I booked a group figure-skating class for him as a Christmas gift. During the practice time after the first lesson, he was skating forward and backward freely, and was trying bunny-hop jumps while the other children were all wobbling along the wall. That might have been because Johnny was a little older than the other children. At the second lesson, the instructor told us, "He doesn’t need group lessons anymore. Consider private lessons." We were told that a few lessons would be given free, so we took Johnny to a rink on a Sunday morning. After the private lesson, we were introduced to Pricilla Hill.

Was Johnny already fearless when he began figure skating?
There is only one thing he is afraid of: That he cannot fully exercise his ability. When he was about six years old, we had him in gymnastics. We thought it would be good for him to become physically strong because he was so small. But he was too small, really, with not much muscle, and he couldn't do anything well. After trying several times, he got angry with himself because he couldn't do it the way he wanted to. So I made him quit. There is one other thing that Johnny fears: He doesn't like to swim in the ocean. That might be my fault. Ever since I saw the movie Jaws, I have been really scared of being in the ocean.

Johnny told me that he was going to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean on vacation. Will he be all right there? [laughing]
[laughing] He loves shores and beaches. He just doesn't like to go into the ocean much! He has gone to Mexican resorts with Melissa [Gregory] and Denis [Petukhov]. Denis suggested that Johnny try scuba diving.

One of your sons became a top athlete who flies around the world. Have you experienced any difficult situations while raising your boys?
It might have been difficult if Johnny had begun skating earlier. However, he was 12 years old when he started, so it wasn't as hard as if he had been younger. First, we decided as a family that we should not separate. In some families, only the mother and the child move elsewhere for the child's training, but we didn't do that. We all moved together from Pennsylvania to Delaware. I went with Johnny to competitions, and my husband stayed home with Boz. We tried to do our best to let Boz have a normal school life. We worked it out so that Boz didn't have to spend all his time attending his brother's competitions or practices even though Johnny was a top skater. Every fall, Johnny and I usually traveled to various competitions, and we always got nervous and restless at the end of the year when Nationals were approaching. That became our normal routine.

Johnny is a true gentleman. Everybody in his inner circle says that's because of your influence. Did you intentionally teach him to be a gentleman?
I am a very strong person, but at the same time, I am a woman. I want to be treated respectfully as a woman, and so I taught him manners. I grew up in a large family with four brothers. Nobody forced us, but we were naturally respectful to our elders. When I was told something by my grandparents or parents, even if I wasn't convinced, I didn't talk back. Instead, I would answer with a smile, "OK, I see." I still do that. Recently, I called Johnny and said, "I beg you, dear, don't ever wear the jacket you wore on TV out in public!" He replied, "OK, Mom, I see. I promise." But I imagine he was just saying that, with a grin, as I would say to my parents and grandmother. [laughing]

You and your husband are both from Pennsylvania, aren't you?
Yes, we are. And Johnny was born in a very, very small town in Pennsylvania.

Now Johnny looks like a really sophisticated, urbane New Yorker.
When he was 13 or 14 years old, I took him to Manhattan for the first time. The Mid-Atlantic Championships were being held at the Chelsea Piers rink. Johnny said, "Mom, smell the city! I'm going to live here someday." He is so sensitive to smells that his first impression of a place or a person is always the smell. He remembers people's and places' smells very well!

Did he say that at only 14?
Yes. And when he was 12 years old and had just begun skating, he said, "I will be a skater in the Olympics someday."

How did you feel watching his performances at the Vancouver Olympics?
I was very proud of what he had achieved. But when I saw the scores, my heart was crushed. He was perfect except for a slight catching of his toepick during a spin. I will never understand why he placed sixth. Everybody told me his performances deserved a medal. I do love figure skating. But at the Olympics, I could not help but feel doubtful about the scoring system when I saw how they evaluated Johnny.

I think Johnny fascinated a great many fans with his performances at the Olympics, and they really took him into their hearts. Why do you think he is so loved?
Maybe because he's so "real"? Of course, Johnny on the ice is not the same as he is at home, and Johnny in public is different from Johnny in private. Nevertheless, many fans feel such purity in his personality, I believe. A lot of fans have said to me, "Johnny touches my heart deeply." There are a lot of wonderful skaters, but I think it's something special to have so many fans say that about him.

Do you hope that he'll continue competing?
I hope that he lives faithfully to his soul. I love to see him skate. Even if he retires from competing, I hope he'll continue skating.

Yes! You CAN get your very own copy
of the Mook Book!
Get all the details here,
thanks to fan Gail Turley!

Twitter voting roundup!

Vote here for Johnny to win "Follow Me."
Current rank: #1
28 voting days remaining.

Vote here for Johnny to win "Sexiest Twitter"!
Current rank: #2
22 voting days remaining.

Vote here for Johnny to win "Mr. Twitter"!
Current rank: #3
18 voting days remaining.

Vote here for Johnny to win "Best of Twitter"!
Current rank: #14
18 voting days remaining.

Vote here for Johnny to win "Actor of the Month"!
Current rank: #48
8 voting days remaining.
(thanks to fan Chloe Larson for spotting this one!)

Vote here for Vanya and BonBon
to win "Best Pets" (awwwww....).
Current rank: #13
18 voting days remaining.

And finally: If you'd like to show some blog love,
please vote here for
to win "Best Blog."
Current rank: #2
4 voting days remaining.
Thank you for all the votes,
and very special thanks to the kind reader
who nominated it!

Hey! You can enter to win a virtual styling session
with Johnny and a $500 shopping spree
Just submit a photo of the most
outrageous item in your closet!
Johnny will be choosing the winner in 8 days!
More info here!

Coming soon: More in the series
of translated interviews from the Mook Book
courtesy of the fabulous Akiko Nakata!

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


Anonymous said...

My mook book lives in a special room and is guarded by a beautiful black panther. If anyone tries to approach the book and smells even the tiniest bit orange, she attacks!!

Only the pure of soul and heart may touch that book . . . but leather leggings and a B-bag help you get past the giant kitty!

Thanks for the interview and the voting reminder! Going to vote again right now.


Robin aka Princess Johnny-Love

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shoutout re my Blog on how to order the Mook Book! Hopefully I'll be able to get my own copy one of these days!

Thank you SO much for all the hard work you and Akiko Nakata did with this interview and the upcoming ones as well!

Very good interview with the wonderful Patti Weir! No wonder she has raised such extraordinary children!

germansoulmate said...

What a beautiful done interview and what beautiful added glimpses at the human being that is Johnny Weir. I will print that out and put it in my Mook book. Thanks to Pattie and Akiko for doing it...and for the translation as well.

Anonymous said...

nice blog, as usual )Anything new, but it's lovely)

Beth - (twitter-bsontwit) said...

Thank you MM- I love Patti. She is a mom I truly admire and model myself after. I would have loved to have had her as a mother. Her strength,love and open acceptance for Johnny are such gifts! She is a large part of the reason he is such an amazing person. I was too shy to go up to her at ITNY but I am so glad I got to meet her and talk to her in the hotel lobby and after the show at Lake Placid.

She's right that fans love Johnny because he is so real. I have felt connected to him from the first time I saw him skate when he started Nationals. His skating has meant so much to me and I am happy that Patti knows how much Johnny's fans love him as a skater and as a person. This fan sure does.

Beth (twitter-bsontwit)

Ninja Girl said...

Ah-mazing! Thank you Akiko for all your hard work, Patti thank you a million times over for Johnny, and Mama for the translation.

I don't own the Mook Book, but I have seen, smelled, maybe licked a little, and rolled around on the Mook Book. I consider that having the full "MB" experience. Translations just sweeten the deal!

And I sympathize completely with his NYC love. If I don't go back, and soon, I may go on a glitter spree. Maybe F'nD could bottle some NYC air for me to huff when I'm having a moment of weakness. SIGH!

Maggie St. said...

Mook Book is on my night stand, for those many late night when I can't sleep. Thanks for posting these translations!

BTW, PING is also in the running under "Best Pets". :)

Carla said...

Binky, Thank you so much for this. I have the Mook Book and I drool over those yummy photos, but I wanted to know what was written in the Japanese text. This is great. I hope you will have more translations for us in the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

PumaJ said...

Sweet interview:-) Thank you, MM for working with Akiko to bring the translation to us.

It is obvious that Patti and John were and are excellent parents. Raising whole healthy children is no easy task for any parent. But when a parent/parents are gifted with a child is beyond ordinary in some way, the task becomes more complex in a myriad of ways.

It is my observation that Johnny was one of those children. That he has grown up to be so confident in himself is a true testament to the fabulousness of Patti and John:-)

At this point in time, these words of Patti's say it all for me, ❤

"I hope that he lives faithfully to his soul. I love to see him skate. Even if he retires from competing, I hope he'll continue skating."

I am a bit envious of folks who've been able to meet Patti. I've had the pleasure of meeting Johnny and Tara in Sun Valley. Perhaps, someday, I will also be able to meet Patti:-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this (and to whoever did the translation if it wasn't you). I just got home and my copy of the mook was on the mat, so this was perfect timing for me.


julie98 said...

Wow. I'm speechless. Except to say, I wonder what he's like in private.

Anonymous said...

Johnny's fans on Facebook can also get more info about the mook book, including a description of the contents in the discussion area of Johnny's fan page:!/topic.php?uid=206362697852&topic=14428

--Nancy K.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this Binky!!! And thanks to whoever did the actual translation - methinks it was Akiko but I don't remember for sure - Arigato!!! :)