Olympian Johnny Weir skating in Bensenville

  • Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir brings his new show, "Ice Dreams," to Bensenville's Edge Ice Arena Saturday, April 30. He'll be joined by other elite skaters, including Agnes Zawadzki of Des Plaines and Melissa Gregory of Northfield.

    Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir brings his new show, "Ice Dreams," to Bensenville's Edge Ice Arena Saturday, April 30. He'll be joined by other elite skaters, including Agnes Zawadzki of Des Plaines and Melissa Gregory of Northfield. AP file photo

  • Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir is known for his flamboyant style, but there's more to life on the ice than that, he says. "You live like a monk and you bleed, sweat and cry all day on this giant ice cube," he says. "But I was trying to achieve something difficult and that was part of it."

    Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir is known for his flamboyant style, but there's more to life on the ice than that, he says. "You live like a monk and you bleed, sweat and cry all day on this giant ice cube," he says. "But I was trying to achieve something difficult and that was part of it." AP File photo

  • Weir says "Ice Dreams" is a show aimed at kids. "I think it's so important for athletes in a high position, who are well-respected and winning Olympic medals, to be there for the kids coming up," he says.

    Weir says "Ice Dreams" is a show aimed at kids. "I think it's so important for athletes in a high position, who are well-respected and winning Olympic medals, to be there for the kids coming up," he says. AP file photo

  • In addition to skating Saturday in Bensenville, Weir also will unveil his new line of dresses. "Fashion is a huge part of who I am. It inspires me so much," he says. "For me to progress and have a small fashion line, it was only natural.

    In addition to skating Saturday in Bensenville, Weir also will unveil his new line of dresses. "Fashion is a huge part of who I am. It inspires me so much," he says. "For me to progress and have a small fashion line, it was only natural. Courtesy Johnny Weir

 
 
Updated 4/27/2011 9:15 AM

He can act cheeky on his TV show, dress daringly on the red carpet and rack up medals on the ice.

Today, however, champion figure skater Johnny Weir sounds focused as he talks about his trip to Bensenville for "Ice Dreams Starring Johnny Weir," Saturday, April 30, at The Edge Ice Arena, 735 E. Jefferson Ave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Weir will be joined by other elite skaters, including World Junior bronze medalist Agnes Zawadzki of Des Plaines and Olympic ice dancer Melissa Gregory of Northfield.

But Weir said there's more to the show than just big names and his signature flare.

A dollar from every ticket sold will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross for earthquake relief. There also will be a silent auction Saturday, with all proceeds benefiting the cause.

But even beyond that, Weir shares a little more about why he's bringing "Ice Dreams" to Bensenville for a second year -- and what new surprises might be in store for fans.

Q. The show is called "Ice Dreams." Why?

A. This show is for kids, that's why it's called "Ice Dreams." I think it's so important for athletes in a high position, who are well-respected and winning Olympic medals, to be there for the kids coming up. They are going to be the next you and you want to connect with them.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's not just something I have to do, it's also a huge privilege. I hope I can give them a little sparkle, a little razzle-dazzle and help them continue on their journey.

Q. About 100 young skaters will perform a number during your show. What words of wisdom do you have for them, or anyone else who wants to succeed on the ice?

A. Never be afraid to fall down. That's been my life motto forever. Whether it's on the ice, in school or whatever sport you choose, never be afraid to fail. That's the best advice I can give anyone and the best thing I have learned through this sport.

Q. The youth skaters who are performing were chosen through auditions, and one rule said they would be judged on showmanship, not skill. Why do I suspect you had something to do with that decision?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A. I did, because it's one thing I thought was so important. "Ice Dreams" is not a competition, it's a skating show. The fact that these skaters can make people laugh and smile and clap -- it's our way to really connect with our audience and not just know how to impress judges.

They need to learn about showmanship as soon as they possibly can, because it is not something you learn overnight. And they can use it for everything; even if you're writing an English essay, you have to have a bit of showmanship and engage your audience.

Q. What can fans expect from the show this year? Will we see more of your signature style, like the routine you performed last year to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance?" Or will they see a more conservative Johnny Weir?

A. I actually will perform a brand new number that's very much like a little droplet of my career. It is a mix of the things that have made me famous, and there will be commentary over the music from different broadcasts all over the world -- good things and bad things that have been said about me. It's my stand and my strength rolled into one number.

And while I will eventually perform it all over the world, I think Bensenville is a good place to debut it with the kids. So I can show them no matter what people think about me, you have to keep marching to your own beat.

For my other number I will chose one of my old classics, whether it's a Lady Gaga song or the routine to "Feelin' Good" by Nina Simone. I'm not sure what it will be yet, but I want the second one to be pure fun.

Q. You make the world of ice skating look so fun and almost effortless. But it really takes amazing discipline. Tell us a bit about the rigors you face.

A. I'm known for being quite outrageous and having a very free spirit. But every day I would wake up at a certain time and eat, drink and sleep figure skating. You live like a monk and you bleed, sweat and cry all day on this giant ice cube. But I was trying to achieve something difficult and that was part of it. You have to be 100 percent devoted and can't have all that distraction.

If my career continues in competitive skating, it will go back to that. You won't see me splashed across magazine covers and news spreads. I will be completely in my own world, trying to focus.

But ultimately, the hard part was reining my free spirit in and becoming very disciplined.

Q. Right now Bensenville is the only stop for "Ice Dreams." How did the Chicago area get so lucky?

A. From the success of last year, we wanted to do a whole tour. The Edge arena was completely packed, crazy and sold out. But the economy is a factor right now, plus there is my crazy schedule. So we chose to return to the Chicago area because it is a stadium hotbed. Plus, (Olympic gold medalist) Evan Lysacek is from Chicago (a native of Naperville) and that in itself is huge draw for figure skating and there's a huge fan base.

Q. Before Saturday's show begins, there will be a red carpet event at the skating rink to unveil the Little Black Dress line you recently designed. And the dresses will be modeled by local ice skating coaches. Why launch these in Bensenville, rather than Hollywood? And why add one more project to your resume that already includes author, figure skater, singer and TV star?

A. Fashion is a huge part of who I am. It inspires me so much. For me to progress and have a small fashion line, it was only natural. I definitely have an eye and a knack for it. We're also currently working on jewelry and are targeting the prom market.

Plus, these dresses are being launched on Saturday because I think a skating show where I am performing is really the perfect place. It's just ideal. The dress styles are also unexpected for me and what I'm known for. They are very simple and something everyone will want to wear.

Q. Do you ever worry side endeavors like this will overshadow your accomplishments in skating?

A. No. I'm never afraid. One thing I'm afraid of is my life's work being known for only one thing. I can't be a competitive Olympic figure skater when I'm 50. It's a physical impossibility. But what I can do is bring all I've learned through figure skating to my next project. I want people to see everything I can do, and figure skating will actually overshadow every one of those things. But that's OK, because I am proud of what I've accomplished and love the sport.

Q. You have a base of devoted fans who love to throw teddy bears and other gifts onto the ice after you perform. What becomes of those?

A. I have huge collections of tchotchkes and stuffed animals at my parents' home and mine, too. We're kind of stuffed almost to capacity. Plus, there are also times when I'm traveling and in countries like Russia were there are luggage limits and certain things I can't bring home. So a lot of time I'll give it to someone who can appreciate it the most, and I'll send a box to a local orphanage or children's hospital. I like to give these gifts to kids who would give it a much better life than I would. I must sometimes give back when I can, but everything finds a home.