Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Adventures in Boystown

Johnny at Scarlet in Chicago 
with an awesome photo from Fashion on Ice 
that he autographed for the photographer, 
Stacy McReynolds, who also took 
this awesome exclusive photo.

I had almost forgotten how luminously beautiful he is in person.

It has been nearly a year since I last saw Johnny, just a week before he got married. Flashback to Holiday Dreams on Ice 2011: Davey and I show up just in time to completely miss Johnny's practice, so a volunteer escorts us down a hallway at the UPenn rink to show us where to set up for the group practice coming up next, when a door to the left suddenly bursts open—and there he is!

Huge smiles and hugs and kisses ensue, and then without any preamble I ask him: "Are you really getting married?" Because he had met a day or two earlier with his Japanese fans and told them this, apparently, and they had been tweeting about it nonstop.

He seems surprised (still not always realizing, maybe, that social media has vastly lowered the barriers among his fan groups, and whatever he tells the Japanese—or the Russians, or the Chinese, or anybody—at lunch will make it around the world and back in the time it takes him to lace up his skates), but his eyes dance as he nods and says simply, "Yes."

My hand flies to my face to cover my jawdrop of thrilled astonishment. "Oh my God! Congratulations!! I am so, so happy for you!"

I tell him fans have been tweeting about it and trying to decide if he was joking or not, and he seems surprised again that it's a subject of Twitter chatter.

But more than anything, he is obviously excited, uncontainably happy, and so clearly very much in love.

And then he has to go because, he explains, he left his iPod plugged into the rink's speaker system, and the song coming up next "is not going to be appropriate for the children!" He flashes a wicked grin over his shoulder as he races toward the stairs, and then he's gone.

So Sunday I made the short trek south from my neighborhood to Boystown to see him in person for the first time in a very long time. And when he arrived and saw familiar faces, fans who had attended many of his skating performances and other appearances these past few years, he seemed surprised again: "You guys came! But this isn't the usual type of event..." Like we wouldn't bother to come see him at a bar. Or at, oh I don't know, Chipotle. Or in the middle of the sidewalk. Or just anywhere. Doing anything. Like breathing.

Fortunately, Stacy McReynolds was available to photograph at Scarlet (because my usual photographer was suffering from a slight case of being about seven years underage for this particular event), and through a series of happy circumstances facilitated by the kindness of Scarlet's manager, Robbie, she and I found ourselves on the VIP guest list for the private event that began at 1 pm, which allowed us plenty of time to get organized, meet Scarlet's staff, and get some good atmosphere photos before Johnny and Traver Rains, the hosts for the day, were expected to arrive around maybe 2-ish.

So this blogger walks into a gay bar...

...and here are some things that happened:

They gave us one of the very few tables, since we had stuff that needed to be set down somewhere, but there weren't any chairs because the whole thing is basically a dance floor. So we stood. Then we walked around. As it's a very intimate place, walking around took about 30 seconds. So then we stood some more. I stood for a total of more than four hours. About 90 minutes into it, I started doing the flamingo thing: one leg up, foot resting against the wall, and hold... then switch... and hold...

But it was OK because everything around me was AMAZING. The DJ for the day—DJDOLO—was excellent, as was the sound system. The music was insanely loud, but really good, and the crowd was loving it.

And the crowd was unlike any I'd ever been in before. But not because they were mostly gay men. The two things that struck me were: How really, really nice absolutely everyone was to me, and how beautiful they all were. I even found myself admiring what people were wearing, which is not a thing to which I usually pay much attention.

IDK. Maybe I just went to all the wrong straight bars before. Because I've never been to one as completely devoid of irritating and unattractive drunks as this place was.

Johnny once said, in his EQCA speech, "The world's a very, very ugly place. And this community—us, our people—are the ones that make it fucking gorgeous."

I think he was alluding to the fact that so many LGBT people are involved in art, in music, in film, in fashion, in design, in bringing beauty to the world in a thousand different ways—but on Sunday, I saw people who make the world a more beautiful place just by being in it. And being who they are.

And so I flamingoed, and I chatted a little bit, by which I mean I did a lot of vague smiling and nodding and bellowing "WHAT?", and we all waited for Johnny. Who arrived much later than 2-ish, of course.

But then the door burst open.

And there he was.

As always, please click any photo twice for larger view. More pics coming up!!

Stacy and I were with other fans at our table 
in about the middle of the bar, constantly craning our necks 
to check the front door. Which was challenging because 
there were a surprising number of people there 
who were taller than I am. (And then I realized: Oh yeah. 
There are a lot of guys here.) And then I caught a glimpse 
of Traver's distinctive hat through the door, and I nudged Stacy 
and yelled, "GO GO GO I THINK THEY'RE HERE!" 
And so we all made our way to the front of the crowd 
just in time for Stacy to capture a few shots 
as Johnny walked in.

A big smile for familiar faces.

Up on the small stage at the front of the bar, 
Johnny takes the mic and welcomes the crowd 
to the anniversary celebration.

And then this happened, 
which was in no way phallic.

Warning: Multiple shots of Johnny 
holding liquor bottles just ahead. 
And also: Traver Rains is awesome.

Love this.

IDK but he's cracking up.

Johnny with the magnificent
Trannika Rex, who is also warm, 
friendly, and hilarious.

Johnny with Avo Yermagyan and Diana Coney
who came with Traver to be part of the event.

Johnny and Traver with Traver's photo of Johnny, 
brought by Gary Podschun to be autographed.

Bonus pics!! Super-nice Scarlet server...

...and super-nice guy selling raffle tickets. 
We bought some when we first got there, 
and then I asked him if he happened to have
any gum or mints, because I'd just had coffee 
before arriving... and he went completely out of 
his way to trek to some mysterious place downstairs 
to actually bring me back some gum, 
so I bought more tickets.

Duo of awesomeness:
DJDOLO and Trannika Rex.

Robbie with Scarlet's coat-check guy: 
Two of the kindest, most courteous men 
I have ever met. And also funny.

Scarlet's bouncer and the lovely lady 
managing the various guest lists, 
plus random gorgeous staff guy.

Manning the bar: 
Expert mixologist Benjamin Newby 
and Scarlet staffers.

Scarlet's owner, Paul Cannella, 
who also owns Taverna 750
where Johnny and Traver enjoyed "ladies dinner
on Saturday night.

Guests! At the far right is a representative from TPAN
the charity to which the event's proceeds were donated.

Johnny fans!!
From left: Stacy McReynolds, 
Julie Findon, Binky, 
Julie's daughter Stephanie, and Gary Podschun.
Photo taken by Stacy's husband, 
the very patient Mike McReynolds.

With Trannika Rex!!

Johnny and Stacy. 
Photo taken by me!

And one more: Photo tweeted by Diana Coney 
Saturday night: "Shit is getting real @taverna750 
with @johnnygweir @traverrains"

Please join us in sending happy holiday 
and happy first anniversary greetings 
to the husbands!! 
It's all part of the Show Johnny Weir the Love 
Facebook group's holiday project—details here!
Photo © Nadya Vasilyeva.

Very special thanks to 
Stacy McReynolds 
for the exclusive photos!! 
More to come!

Holiday Dreams On Ice 2012!! 
Visit the HDOI website for info and tickets!

Yes!! More Johnny on our TVs!
Check out the Rachael vs. Guy website for more info!

Patti has posted a new message 
on Johnny's Comeback Gift Fund website, 
with her thoughts on Johnny's Grand Prix events 
and what lies ahead. Please go read it now!

Johnny's blogging regularly 
about his comeback journey for ESPN!! 
His first entry, "A Fresh Start"—personal, honest, 
very Johnny—was posted last Friday and is the source 
of the quote on the Spirit Day photo above. 
Looking forward to reading more from him 
as the season progresses!

Please alert absolutely everyone you've ever met 
to "like" and follow the new 
on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
Because he should be on all the things. 
With or without ice. 
But definitely with Viacheslav.

Yep, I'm still promoting this silly poll
in which you can vote at least once a day. 
Please vote for Johnny!!

Need to see Season 2 all over again? 
Watch episodes online anytime on Logo!
Please be sure to check in with GetGlue
anytime you're watching the show... 
or thinking about watching the show.... 
or wishing you were watching the show....

Landing quads and kicking ass!
Read his comeback statement 
on his website!

Yes, YOU can be a part of Johnny's comeback!  
Please visit Johnny's Comeback Gift Fund today 
and chip in as little as $1 via PayPal. 
Our small gifts can help make his dream of competing 
in his third Olympic Games come true!
And now you can leave a message 
of support for Johnny, too!

Please click to vote for Johnny 
once a day as "Best Sportsman"
Because he retweeted Luisa Lotka to tell us 
he wants us to! (Note: With his "58.132" rating, 
he is currently in 1st place in both 
Figure Skating AND across all sports!)

Q and A! Go read it now!

Yes! Johnny's dresses are now available
for purchase only on eDressMe.com!

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

Johnny tweeted:
"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 2012 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


aaaack said...

Everyone looks radiant in the photos. Sounds like a great time was had by all.

Thank you, Johnny and Binky, for taking us along on your journeys and helping celebrate the anniversary of one wonderful hangout.

Carmina said...

.....aaack!!...still a little bummed about missing this event (felt miserable, stupid migraine!!)...there will be another chance to say hello again (I'm sure of it!)...I was anxiously awaiting the pics!...everyone looked amazing and happy, including you, miss Binky!!...it looks like Johnny was having a blast, and it's great to see this, especially after some challenging and stressful times...now I just have to try and wait patiently for the next batch of pics (a difficult task, yes, but I'll get through it, somehow!)... :)