Johnny Weir on Fooling Around in the Olympic Village and Being Gay in Sochi

The two-time Olympic figure skater, Quarryville native, and NBC commentator opens up about going to Russia.

Before this year, I thought Sochi was a kind of Japanese ice cream. Where is it, exactly?
Sochi is a beautiful resort town that was made famous by Stalin and the elite from the Soviet Party. It’s on the Black Sea. When I tell people I’m going to Russia, they say, “Oh my God, you’re going to freeze to death.” First of all, I have furs. But second of all, Sochi enjoys a really temperate climate.

Now that you’ve retired and reigning Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek has dropped out, I have no idea who is competing. The people most likely to be on that medal stand?
You’re looking at Canadian Patrick Chan. He’s the reigning world champion going into this Olympics, and he’s skating very well. He set world records last year and then had them beaten by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who I believe is 18 [ed: 19, but close enough] and is just a phenom. I actually designed his costume for the free program.

Johnny Weir NBC Olympic commentator

Johnny Weir | Photograph by Jared Castaldi

How have you been prepping for the commentator gig? Is there a “How to Be Bob Costas” seminar they make you take?
[laughs.] Um, sort of. It’s just funny how my life has changed from for the most part pushing my own agenda, doing everything that I want to do, promoting myself—at all costs—to working for a huge company.

You have a penchant for saying outrageous things that get you in trouble. Is NBC going to let Johnny be Johnny?
Absolutely. NBC has been asking me since Vancouver to be a part of their team, and those conversations have been very open. They’ve understood that I’m clever, I’m very flamboyant, I have a crazy dress sense.

What does that mean for your on-air wardrobe?
I decided to go more of Stanley Tucci’s character from The Hunger Games. I’m trying to stay between the lines of Johnny on Skating with the Stars and the rest of the NBC men’s family in Brooks Brothers.

Is there an Olympic Village athlete hookup story you’d like to share?
I was honestly always so into myself and doing my own thing at the Olympics that I rarely focused on anyone else. I know that things happen. I mean, it’s a village of hot people in the prime of their lives.

Really hot people.
Oh yeah. I come from the school of thought that from before your competition until the competition ends, you release no fluids. Men are kind of like a battery that gets drained after you have sex.

You’ve been open about your disagreement with Russia’s harsh anti-gay laws, but you also called proponents of an Olympic boycott “idiots.”
That happened at a really rough time. I’d been receiving threats against my personal safety since the summer, since I started supporting the Olympics instead of an Olympic boycott. In addition to that, I’ve been dealing with a situation with a stalker, who, through many different ways, has attacked me and my family. And it’s scary. So the week that I gave that speech, I was in the police station more than I’d like to admit.

Being publicly gay, are you worried about your personal safety?
I’m not trying to be funny here, but Elton John got in and out of Russia for a performance recently. And he dedicated his entire concert, very bravely, to a young gay man in Russia who lost his life recently by a beating. So I think the problem here is more what’s going to happen to the Russian community.

Are Russian judges harsher?
I feel like they’re harsher. [laughs.] You know what, throughout my career I had issues with judges from all countries.

This story originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Read Philadelphia magazine’s 2007 profile “Johnny Drama: Figure-skater Johnny Weir makes headlines for his bad-boy life off the ice.”

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