Better get comfy, peeps, ’cause you’re getting a play-by-play!
We hit the road at 8:30 Wednesday morning. After several hours of two-lane highways cutting through America’s Heartland, I was getting pissed. “Why aren’t we staying on the interstate?” “I thought we could just take I-55 straight up to Chicago!” “What state are we in?” “Why is this taking so long?” We finally realized that we had the GPS set to “shortest route,” not “fastest route.” We quickly fixed the problem and set out to make up for lost time. Exhausted and still pretty pissed off that it took us almost 13 hours to make a 10 hour trip, we made it to the hotel. We quickly had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and collapsed into bed. We woke up around 10 and tried to plan out our day. I would have liked to go back to the Shedd Aquarium (my favorite thing in Chicago–ok, really it’s just the otters–would have stood in front of the otter exhibit for 3 hours, just watching them play and swim around–otters are my FAVORITE), but that would ruin any chance of seeing Johnny when he checked into the hotel (yes, we were staying in the same hotel as the fabulous Mr. Weir–although it was really hard for me to imagine him staying there–the hotel was quite old and right next to O’Hare in a not-very-nice part of town). I knew that he had left Russia around 5:45 the night before (Chicago time) and would be arriving at O’Hare around 12:30. I wanted to make sure he made it in ok and if he was feeling like signing autographs and posing for pics with fans, I would be there. So we got ready and had lunch in the hotel restaurant…again! It was about 12 when we finished, and I realized that I didn’t have any sharpies (we have TONS at home, and how I managed to leave them off the packing list is beyond me). So Mom and I made a mad dash to find sharpies….naturally. Like I said before, this is not a very nice area, so the best we could find was a Family Dollar. I got a pack of 2 sharpies (that actually had an anti-theft tag like they put on clothes in the mall) and we headed back to the hotel. Unfortunately, I was the only fan *cough*stalker*cough* waiting for Johnny down in the lobby. I could have taken a seat on the couch that he would have to pass right by on his way to the elevator, but decided to be a little less obvious and sit over in the corner by the gift shop. I brought my phone and read emails and watched Johnny videos on youtube to pass the time. After about an hour of waiting, Johnny finally arrived….with a cameraman at his side. He didn’t stop at the front desk, but headed straight down the hall to the elevators. There was no way I was going to run up to him like a crazy person, so I just watched him go (he gives such a nice view), waited a respectful time until I was sure he had gotten on the elevator, and went back up to my room. Only here’s the best part–when I got to my room, I noticed a luggage cart across the hall and down 3 rooms from my room. This was not just any luggage cart. This was a luggage cart containing Johnny Weir’s luggage. How the hell do I know what the man’s luggage looks like, you ask? No, I’m not a freak. I just watch his reality show, Be Good Johnny Weir. In one of the episodes, he is at the airport in Spokane, WA, having just arrived for Nationals. Well, he is “agitated” because one of his suitcases hasn’t arrived in baggage claim yet–the white one he keeps his skates and costumes in. I recognized that white suitcase immediately and nearly died when Johnny himself opened the door to get his luggage–I had heard Johnny speak in real life! EEKS! By now it was 1:30, and I was supposed to meet some new friends from Johnny’s facebook page at an Italian restaurant at 4, so we didn’t have time to go do anything. I was feeling really restless and nervous/excited knowing that Johnny was so close. I spent a good 10-15 minutes staring out the peephole. Any time I left my post at the door, I’d run back over if I heard even the slightest noise outside. My mom was no help. She just said, “Why don’t you just go knock on his door and say hi?” Seriously??? Go knock on Johnny Weir’s door? She must be out of her mind. I was going to meet the man later that night! If I knocked on his door, and then showed up at the meet and greet after the show, he would recognize me as “that crazy stalker girl that showed up at my hotel room.” And that would NOT be ok. I was also really hoping that he was napping because he has had NO rest in weeks. So I compromised. I found some paper in the room and I wrote in big letters, “JOHNNY, Will you sign this for me please? I can’t wait to see your “Bad Romance” tonight! <3 Ashley (room 727)” and put that, a picture of him that I wanted to get signed, and one of my newly-acquired sharpies about a foot outside my room and out into the hallway. I thought he’d be leaving for the rink sometime soon and I knew he’d sign it if he saw it. I had to take a shower and get ready to meet him that night, so I couldn’t stay by the peephole and wait for him to come out. It would be like Christmas! Johnny Santa would come by while I was showering and leave me a present! I thought it was the most brilliant idea ever! And it was….except that I didn’t tell housekeeping about it. There were still ladies up there cleaning some of the other rooms, and my picture, note, and sharpie got moved. So when I got out of the shower (I just had a towel around me–I couldn’t wait to get dressed–had to see if Johnny Santa came), I opened the door, not to find a signed Johnny pic, not the Johnny pic and note still there and untouched, but NOTHING. Being pretty much naked, I couldn’t run through the halls of the hotel, looking for the picture thief, so I got my mom to do my dirty work. She was back in record time with picture (unsigned) and sharpie. Turns out, it had been put on top of the fire extinguisher box that was right next to our room. So Johnny didn’t see it. BUMMER! But I wasn’t too disappointed because I knew I’d get at least one more chance. I finished getting ready and we went to the restaurant and had a lovely dinner and Johnny-fest with my fellow fans Carla, Jen, and Mona, and then we headed to the arena.
The show itself is somewhat a blur for me. There were 2 pairs skaters, Rachel Flatt, a comedian skater person, and some junior-level skaters; Dorothy Hamill was the MC. It was so obvious that EVERYONE was there just for Johnny (except for the few parents whose kids were in the show). Any time Johnny was on the ice, the place was a madhouse. Screaming girls, cat calls, “I LOVE YOU JOHNNY”s nonstop. They weren’t kidding with that Pop Star on Ice thing. My fabulous mother took these videos for me because I PROMISED Johnny’s facebook page peeps that I would get videos. I wanted to be able to watch Johnny LIVE, though, not through my tiny phone screen. Isn’t my mom great? :)
These aren’t my videos, but they are good ones of “Bad Romance”–shot from different angles from where I was:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_jrUT9dRkk&NR=1 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20ZtMB0XYw8&feature=related
The VIP meet & greet was I-N-S-A-N-E. My new friends and I started out at the very far end (one room had red light bulbs and the other had blue and we thought the blue was more flattering so we chose that room). We were some of the first to make it up there, and we quickly realized that everyone was crowding into the red room to wait for Johnny (I was hoping that we would all sit down at the tables and Johnny would be able to circulate and spend a few minutes at each table, leisurely taking pictures and signing autographs). Sadly, this was not the case. As I was saying–everyone crowded into the front of the red room, waiting for Johnny to arrive (which took quite a while because he had to scrub off all that makeup!). We stayed in our less crowded, *cooler* back room for maybe 30-45 minutes (I really had no sense of time at this point–it could have been anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour!). It was fairly obvious when Johnny DID arrive. The camera flashes alone were proof that we were in the presence of the Weir. I think at this point we were still talking to other fans (Jason and Tracee…Tracee’s husband was busy becoming bff with Dorothy Hamill). I got to meet Rachel Flatt and took a picture with her!
At this point, we’re really just killing time and waiting for the crowd to thin a bit around Johnny. Years of skillful maneuvering to find the perfect spot at rock concerts has served me well. You develop a special sense that lets you know when it’s ok to slip into that tiny space that just opened up in front of some people and when those people you are moving in front of will beat the hell out of you. Luckily, Johnny’s fans are just beyond amazing and we were all just like best friends. We just GOT each other. It wasn’t in the least an “every man for himself” mentality–everyone was taking pictures for everyone else, letting other people go ahead. It was such a happy place. Once you were in view of Johnny, you realized that he was taking his time with everyone. He just instantly put everyone at ease. When it was your turn with Johnny, you were the only person in the room to him. He gave his complete attention and listened intently to whatever you had to say, signed whatever you wanted signed (body parts included), posed for any kind of picture you wanted. He was the most gracious human being I have ever seen or been in the presence of. There just aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe how wonderful Johnny was to everyone. No one minded the waiting. We knew that we would get our moment and that he would be just as wonderful to us. Finally, my turn came. (OMG!) I handed him my picture and asked him to sign it to Ashley (I really wanted him to write my name…that was just really important to me for some reason, and I’m super glad I did because that is one of my favorite parts of that picture now), and he said, “Spelled the normal way?” And he did that cute little eyebrow raising thing he does and I just melted inside–it was so frickin adorable! And I said yes, and spelled my name anyway…and he signed and we posed for a picture.
It turned out so well–I was just elated that my eyes weren’t closed or something weird. After we took our picture, he said “Beautiful. Thank you.” And I said thank you and moved on. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave yet, though. I hung around for probably 15 more minutes (again…no idea how long it was really…no sense of time). Dorothy Hamill was still there, so I went back and took a picture with her, said goodbye to my new friends, and headed back to the hotel.
Since I promised the facebook kids that I would post my videos that night, I got my phone, laptop, and usb cord and went out into the hallway to try to get the videos up (and to wait for Johnny to get back). Turns out, Dorothy Hamill’s room was directly across the hall from mine, so I got to see her come in. Then Tara, Johnny’s fabulous agentress came in (she had changed into pjs already, which I thought was so funny and cute). Tara thought I was locked out of my room and was so sweet to me! She said, “Oh no, sweetie, are you ok??” And I said, “Oh, yeah, I’m fine–my mom is sleeping and I don’t want to bother her. We have a long drive home in the morning.” I thought that was a pretty good cover! And hey, it was true! So, this next part is what I wrote Thursday night while I was out in the hallway, waiting for Johnny to get in. I could retype it so that it makes sense, but I think it would lose part of its charm…it has such a nice stream of consciousness thing going on. That whole “oh my god I met Johnny Weir tonight” meets “oh my god I’ve been up for far too long and my contacts are drying out and I’m trying not to fall asleep in the hallway.” Enjoy.
(ok, as I’m writing this, I’m out in the hallway at the hotel…..waiting for him to walk by–but I have a cover–my mom is sleeping and I don’t want to bother her)–he just walked by. Literally…as I typed that….he walked by. That’s funny. I’m going to stay out here and finish this post though…because my mom IS sleeping. Ok, now he’s gone by about 5 more times, and once, I said “hey Johnny” and he said, “hey” and I said, “you were great tonight,” and he said, “thank you.” And now I’m starting to feel creepy. But oh well. I’m ignoring him if he goes by any more. I had a great time tonight. Anyway…I’m going to bed soon. This is craziness.
HA! I can’t reread that without laughing.
Anyway, I DID go to bed not long after that (Johnny hadn’t come back from the rooms on the other hallway yet, and I wasn’t going to wait goodness knows how long for him to come back–that would have been seriously stalkerish of me. I was getting a migraine, though, and I fought taking any drugs til around 2:15 or so. Finally, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep through the pain, so I got up and took an Imitrex. I saw some shadows passing by through the crack under the door, but I was too sleepy and in too much pain to care that it was in fact Johnny coming back to his room for the night (another girl from Johnny’s facebook page ended up in room 717, so she kept up with him when he was on that hallway and said that he went back to his room about that time. My mom woke up at 9, so we packed and were on the road by 9:45. The trip home was much faster, but it still took almost 12 hours with all the stopping we did.
All in all, this was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Johnny Weir is truly an angel and a Pop Star on Ice. I really, really, really hope that he gets some sponsors of his own and makes his own skating show/tour a reality. I will follow him anywhere. Except Russia. Because I don’t have that kind of money…or a passport. Skate in the US, Johnny!! We love you!!