Friday, March 25, 2011

“I Heart Quarryville”: Johnny Talks About His Hometown

BB Johnny during his Quarryville days. ♥

Flashback: Having returned from Skate Wars LOL-apalooza NerdFest 2011 with sense of humor firmly intact but cinnamon-bun hairdo slightly askew, we now pick up where we left off with an interview translation courtesy of my dear friend Akiko Nakata.

This two-part series appeared in the November 2010 issue of Figure Skating Days Plus. In part 2 below, Johnny reminisces about growing up in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and discusses how his life is different than it might have been had he never left. At the end, the interviewer offers her own perceptive observation.

Another translation of this interview is available on the fabulous blog of Yoko Takeda (@coddycoddy88 on Twitter). :)

“I Heart Quarryville”:
Johnny Talks about His Hometown

Text and Photos by Fusako Suzuki
Figure Skating Days Plus
(November 2010), pp. 58-59

Johnny Weir talks about the appeal of Sex and the City, an American TV show that also was a hit in Japan: “As you know, I’m from the East Coast. As Tokyoites are proud of Tokyo and people from Nagoya take pride in Nagoya, people in the East Coast are proud of everything from the East Coast. Sex and the City is set in New York … I love that New York, my town, is depicted in such a beautiful way in the show.” Johnny has lived in New Jersey for three years. He often goes to Manhattan, located 15 minutes away by car from his apartment, and enjoys the city life.

Driving for three hours or so from the center of Manhattan, a landscape far from the metropolitan noise spreads before our eyes. How high and blue the sky is! On both sides, the green cornfields go on forever. In some places among the green are silver silos where grain is stored. An Amish buggy passes closely by us. The murmuring wind sways cornstalks as tall as a man and reminds me that this scenery, so much like a picture book, is real. This small village, whose simple beauty charms us, is Johnny’s hometown: Quarryville, Pennsylvania. Johnny was 12 years old when he left this town to train in Delaware.

When I told him we were going to publish an essay featuring his hometown and childhood, Johnny’s eyes shone brightly.

Please tell us about your childhood.
I remember that I was really happy when I was little. Living in the town was like living in a bubble. I didn’t know anything. When we moved to Delaware, I heard pop music for the first time in my life, and I went to a school where there were people of different skin colors. Until then, I hadn’t met any African-American, Asian, or Jewish people. I was in a world of only Caucasians, isolated from others, and we children knew nothing outside of Quarryville.

I only remember being in the bubble. There everything was perfect and everything seemed as if it was made for kids. We were happy running, jumping, and playing in the woods. Then I began horseback riding, and I loved it. I was crazy about it. After that I was no longer a child, I think, when we moved to Delaware. I felt a completely new life had begun. (In a darker tone) Everything was different. Different sounds, different feelings, different neighbors--I feel as if I lived two different childhoods. In a bubble, and in the real world outside of the bubble. So my childhood was very interesting. I don’t remember feeling dissatisfied with anything in Quarryville. The memories of those days always come back to me. Every morning I woke up at five and then I was off and running in the woods.

Now you are a New Yorker. Do you miss your hometown?
I live near New York and I love the place where I live. I love living in New Jersey, and I’m happy that there are a lot of things to do there. But I think I will come back to my hometown because that’s my home, no matter how long I have been away from it. Even if my hair is different, even if I wear something that nobody wears there, it’s still my hometown. In Quarryville, everything is beautiful, everything is green, yes, everything is like it is in fairytales. So I will return to Quarryville someday. But now I’m in New York. Next maybe in Moscow. And when I’m old, I’ll be in Quarryville. (He smiles shyly, probably because he is suddenly aware of his enthusiastic manner, and then resumes in a quieter voice.) Anyway, that is my dream. My childhood was happy. There was nothing I wanted. I could dream there. (He sounds as though he misses it.)

You are so calm and not at all restless. I think you fit the landscape there.
In the country?
Since you went to Quarryville, now you understand, don’t you? All the important things are there. Yes, you’re right. I’m not a city boy at heart. I’m just enjoying the city. I’m a country boy.

You looked very happy while talking about your hometown. I felt your deep affection for the place. I think you would have lived a normal life there if you hadn’t begun skating. What did you get from skating?
Thanks to figure skating, I awoke to many things. Skating opened my eyes to the world. If I had stayed in Quarryville, I wouldn’t have gone to Russia, Japan, Korea, France, Czechoslovakia, or any of the other countries I visited. Figure skating made me grow up much faster than usual. I had to learn the value of money, and I had to learn about nutrition and health, how to be in good shape, and many other things like that. Moreover, as I began figure skating, I had to learn about music, culture, and society. In the US, figure skating is a sport for wealthy people. But I’m not from a wealthy family, so I had to learn something about the differences in society, and the fact that there are differences. Thanks to figure skating, I was able to have a totally new worldview. If I had stayed in Quarryville, I wouldn’t have been the same self that I am now. I’m sure I would have been different. I mean, I love my hometown, and that won’t ever change. But if I hadn’t left Quarryville, I might have been an “ugly American,” one of those people who are ignorant about what is happening and what is going on in the world. I’m happy that I learned so much, so that I would know, see, and understand things.

Figure skating changed your life. Is there anything you miss, on the other hand?
I miss living a simple life: waking up in the morning, going to school, coming back, watching TV, going out with my friends, and going to bed, and then doing it all again the next day.

I miss my life the way it was in my hometown. Here in New Jersey, I sometimes see guys my age walking with their moms, or younger kids, 17 or 18 years old, choosing clothes for school with their dads. Seeing them almost makes me want to cry because I’m far away from my family. But it doesn’t matter that I gave up a normal childhood to become a figure skater. I don’t think I have lost that much. I have experienced much more in my life than most people experience in theirs. And my life has just begun.

At the moment that Johnny said this and smiled at me, it came to me what I was feeling while surrounded by the idyllic landscape and caressed by the fresh breeze in Quarryville. His innocent yearning for his hometown, which has a permanent place in his heart, contrasted with his smart and objective views--I felt I could find in these a secret reason why Johnny Weir so absolutely fascinates people.

The screencap of BB Johnny above is from this
fab interview by Cat Greenleaf of "Talk Stoop." Must see!

Hey, Johnny has been nominated
for Universal Sports' "Tweet of the Week" again!
(Clear your cache to vote over and over again ... )

~ Our thoughts, our prayers, our hearts are with you ~
Please consider donating, if you are able,
to help the people of Japan.
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation
that will appear on your phone bill.
Or support Lady Gaga's donation efforts
by purchasing her special "We Pray for Japan" bracelet
for just $5. You may include an additional amount
with your bracelet purchase if you wish;
all proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts.
For more ways to help, please see this article.

Yes, Ice Dreams is happening again
in Bensenville, IL, on April 30!
For every ticket sold, $1 will be donated to
the Japanese Red Cross
More info on the Ice Dreams website
and the Ice Dreams Facebook page!
Young skaters: Sign up here to audition!

Yes! At last: Pop Star On Ice is now available on DVD!
Order yours today from the Pop Star On Ice website!

Please help Johnny meet his goal
of raising $10,000 for breast cancer research
by visiting his donor page! Any amount
you can give will help Skate for Hope
in the fight against cancer.
You also can get tickets NOW to see Johnny
perform in Skate for Hope on
Saturday, June 18, in Columbus, OH!
(Same weekend as the Annually Awesome

Johnny tweeted recently:
"Buy my single,'Dirty Love' via iTunes.
Tell all your friends to as well. The more copies sold
takes me one step closer to making a video! №1!"
You know what to do.
Please buy the song from Johnny's website,
or just click the "Buy" button on the player
at the top of the blog!

Hey, Welcome to My World also is available
as an eBook! More info on Johnny's website!

copyright 2011 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


germansoulmate said...

Looking at the pic of Johnny as little boy, I think it´s funny how similar it is to the way he still sits today, very often at leg drawn up (today it is more like one leg above the other one), both hands on the top´s so typical of Johnny. I love seeing those mannerism. It´s like a line. And this smile...he reminds me of his mother. He looks a lot like Pattie, and he still smiles like that.

Great interview...and too short. I wished I could have watched it. I like watching Johnny...his mannerisms and all what makes him him. Watching him often tells more than what he is actually saying.

Thanks again for that translated interview to Akiko, and to you for posting it. Is there more to come? It always ends all of a sudden.

Anonymous said...

OK so now I want to move to Quarryville! It sounds wonderful, especially now when things are so crazy in the world...I remember feeling this way about life before age 10 so his memories here may also be due to the innocence of a child as well as the fantastic town. When I went to the booksigning in Lancaster, which is near Quarryville, I thought the people there were wonderful. The man at the Starbucks drive through window read me the entire sandwich menu when he heard I was hungry, in NYC this would NEVER happen! and then at the bookstore, the people there didn't check to see if you had a receipt and had bought the book. They even said you could buy the book before OR after Johnny signed it, the just trusted you would do the right thing...a refreshing difference from NYC. I love NYC but I see this area is really special.

Love this interview! TY MM.


aaaack said...

Thank you, Akiko and Binky, for this posting. Part of what makes Johnny so appealing is his country boy appreciation of the simple things plus basic values of hard work and honoring old friendships and family.

His city appeal comes from his love of sophisticated design and his love and understanding of many different cultures. He keeps one foot in the country and one foot in the city.

PumaJ said...

Finally, I could sit for a moment and watch that clip:-) It is fabulous! Thanks for putting it up in your blog, Binx.

Over the past few months, as I've come to increasingly see Johnny a bit like a younger Femme sister in the LGBTQ world that we both inhabit, my love and affection for him has grown by leaps and bounds. That his fierce determination to be himself in the larger world has also served as an inspiration to me is a given. I love how the interviewer in the vid relates to Johnny:-)

akiko said...

Thank you, Binky, for this beautiful blog!
You're welcome, Germansoulmate and aaaack, and thank you for reading!

Germansoulmate, I agree with you. This is too short. These interviews are all that were published in the magazine, but perhaps there could be more from another magazine. :)

For those who wonder why Johnny refers to Nagoya in the introduction. Nagoya is the third or fourth largest city in Japan, but unknown to most people abroad. Probably because it is in Nagoya Johnny won the 2004 NHK Trophy by his breathtakingly beautiful OTONAL, and also because Miki Ando, Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, Kanako Murakami, and Takahiko Kozuka are all from Nagoya (and I live in the city, too!).

WheresMyKoppy said...

Thank you MM once again for putting together another wonderful Blog! Thank you Akiko for all your help translating! What would we do without the two of you? Love the photo of adorable young Johnny! It is not one I had seen before!