Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A *Preliminary* Peek Beneath the Duct Tape on "How Did It Come to This?"

I have more to say about my latest story than usual, so I'm splitting my commentary in two and devoting the first half to non-spoilery talk about the inspiration for Jimmy DeVere.

Of course, if you're interested enough in gay men to read a cyan story, you probably already know about Johnny Weir. In fact, you probably know more about him than I did when I started writing How Did It Come to This?.

I used to enjoy watching the Winter Olympics, especially the figure skating, but I gave it up before Weir burst onto the scene. Oh, I heard about him here and there, but I never saw him skate and only once saw him interviewed before I started writing. My impression of him was based mainly on pictures, a few sports articles, and the shitstorm he braved at the 2010 Olympics.

I always knew that if I wrote my "hockey player vs. figure skater" story, Johnny Weir would be the model for my MC'er; but it took a long time for me to work out the plot. Once I did, I was dying to start writing; so I researched hockey and figure skating as quickly as I could, then went with what I already knew about Johnny Weir. That might sound odd to you, but I thought I had a strong enough mental image to build a character around. Besides, Jimmy was never meant to be Johnny exactly; he's more of an intentionally uninformed fantasy version of Johnny. That gave me license to play around with details like his musical taste and personal life, not to mention his species. ;-)

Once I had the rough draft in good shape, I could relax enough to satisfy my curiosity about the real Johnny. I started with YouTube, where I found (among many other interesting things), the video below. The routines he performs in competition are beautiful, but I can't help liking his exhibition performances better because they really allow him to be himself.

Later I discovered that all ten episodes of Weir's reality show (Yes, he has one all his own), Be Good Johnny Weir, are available online. I highly recommend them. The show is awesome and Johnny Weir is even more awesome. He doesn't always come out on top, but his courage and ability to bounce back are amazing. And he never, ever caves in to bullies. He always remains true to himself, no matter what the cost.

Watching the show (and several more interviews), I realized Jimmy isn't as much like Johnny as I thought. Considering how much Johnny values personal freedom, he might be horrified to know about my story. What I'd like to think, though, is that it would give him a good laugh. Weir has a great sense of humor, and he took a hilarious jab at homophobic hockey players in one episode of his show. As you read the following quote, bear in mind that I wrote my story before hearing him say this:
Let's go brave these hockey players. Last week they called me "Johnny Queer" and then made a blow job gesture....When you walk by a group of jocks and they're making fun of you, in general, I'll want to turn around and say, "Okay, if you want a blow job, present your penis." Sexually, I enjoy being pursued, or taken to dinner and then pursued. I think it's trashy to do it behind your back.
I so love this man. :)

Now here are a few last Johnny/Jimmy-related notes before I send the next chapter to Simon:
  • Johnny's teeth turned out to be straighter than I remembered, but they really are a little...peculiar looking, aren't they? And those canines are definitely worrisome.
  • Yes, I've seen Blades of Glory, but I didn't name my MC'er after Jon Heder's character. I named him "Jimmy" because it was the closet name to "Johnny." I enjoyed the movie, but I don't think it made a big impression on my story.
  • Yes, I've seen The Cutting Edge, but it was a couple of decades ago and I don't remember much about it. Any coincidences beyond the obvious really are just coincidences.
  • Yes, I know about the Canadian reality show that pairs hockey players with figure skaters. No, I never got to see it.
  • Yes, I know about the reality show that pairs figure skaters with non-skaters; and I know Johnny Weir was a judge for the show. But I didn't find out about it until after I finished my rough draft, and I haven't seen it yet.
  • Yes, I'm sure the figure skating sections of my story have a few technical problems. Just take a deep breath and use that extra buoyancy to suspend your disbelief, okay?

No comments: