Friday, August 20, 2010

More from the Mook: Tara Tells All!

Johnny and his beloved Agentress Extraordinaire
Tara Modlin at EQCA, April 2010.


Special Friday fun! Today we present the second in a series of interviews translated from the incredibly fabulous Japanese Mook Book. In honor of Agentress Tara Modlin's birthday tomorrow, our selection comes from her interview conducted by Akiko Tamura in New York City in May 2010, and presented on pages 68-69 of the Mook.

As anyone who has seen even a single episode of BGJW knows, being Johnny's agent is best described as similar to herding cats. Only more challenging. And with snuffles. Watching them work, joke, argue, and roughhouse together, there's a sense that maybe each is the sibling the other never had: For Johnny, she's a loving but necessarily bossy (because he NEEDS that) big sister; for Tara, he's a pesky but adorable little brother. As you'll see below, Akiko Tamura makes a similar observation. :)

In the Mook, the interview is titled, "I Want Johnny to Continue Skating Forever and Ever."



Skaters’ agents rarely come onstage, but Tara Modlin, who was a competitive figure skater herself, doesn't hesitate to appear before the camera and offer her comments. Johnny seems to have a good relationship with the cheerful and sociable Tara. Seeing them together, they seem like brother and sister rather than business partners.

Will you tell me about your first meeting with Johnny?
This is my favorite story of my whole life as an agent! In 2003, I was looking for a skater to participate in “The Charity Ice Show Dedicated to 9/11 Victims,” the second ice show I produced. At that time, Johnny was a young skater who had not yet won a senior title. An acquaintance recommended him to me, saying, “He will be a national champion someday.” So I asked him to join. After the show, all the skaters were relaxing in the VIP room. But Johnny was in a corner talking with my grandmother, a fashionable older lady. I wondered why a boy his age would be sitting with my grandmother! Coming closer, I found them enthusiastically chatting about fashion, make-up, the theatre, and costumes [laughing]. I was impressed that he was so kind as to sit and visit with an older lady. That inspired me to become friends with him, and with his mother, too.

When did you become his agent?
Before Nationals three years ago—probably around November.

You have several skaters as your clients. How different is Johnny from the others?
He’s totally different! [laughing] It was my honor to have Johnny, the three-time U.S. champion, as my client in this Olympic year. Every morning when I got up, I pinched my cheek to make sure it wasn’t a dream. I am closest to Johnny of all my clients, and one of the reasons is that we live near each other. A lot of events are held in NYC. When Johnny is invited to an event, I go with him, so we have a lot of opportunities to spend time together. I work hard for all my clients, but Johnny is my friend as well as my business partner.

I’m sure you know some aspects of Johnny that are unknown to his fans. Will you share some with us?
He’s a cleaning freak. To my eyes, my condo in NYC is usually clean enough, but he never finds it satisfactory. As soon as he comes over, he begins to look for Windex and a vacuum cleaner.

I do hope he will come to my house! [laughing]
Seriously, I think he would be the best roommate! Another story: He always has a bag with him, and he hates to throw things into it randomly. He has a rule that everything has to be put in separate small cases--a case for his wallet, a case for tissue, a case for pens--everything should be in a case, and all the cases should be put in the bag in proper order.

He really loves to keep everything orderly, doesn’t he?
Yes, he does. It’s the same when he packs. Like, say, his umbrella must be put in its proper place so he can find it at first glance.

Tara and Johnny
at the Pop Star on Ice
screening in NYC,
June 2009.
You seem to be not only his agent but also a good adviser for him.
I would say we are very good advisers for each other. He always gives me good advice on the outfit I should wear when I go out. Of course, sometimes I give him some advice. He has a lot of aspects to his personality, so I suggest to him which one he should focus on at any given time.

Johnny doesn’t seem like a person who obediently does what he is told.
You’re right. When someone tells him to do something, he does something else, usually the opposite of what he was told to do [laughing]. But it isn’t that he will never accept anyone’s opinion. Especially when he trusts someone, he listens carefully to what that person tells him.

He is known to always be sociable and outspoken. As his agent, have you ever been troubled by something he said?
Yes, I have. For example, a song-recording project has been going on. He couldn’t wait patiently until the proper time to announce it, and instead he began to tweet about it. I said, "Johnny, I’d like to market your song, but I can’t do it effectively if you scatter tidbits about it all around. Let’s control the information and release it all at the best time." Sometimes just little stuff like that happens.

Have you ever heard him sing?
Yes, I have. He’s awesome! The producer of his song [Lucian Piane, or RevoLucian] is also brilliant. The song is similar in style to Depeche Mode and Black Gold. What’s really good is that the producer understands that Johnny is a skater. The song is a good dance song, and Johnny plans to create an exhibition program to skate to it.

Do you think he will continue competing?
I have talked with him about this many times, but he doesn’t seem to want to decide now. Having lived the same life for so long—getting up every morning, practicing at the rink for two hours, having a break, practicing for another two hours—he says he can’t imagine leaving that lifestyle. On the other hand, he’s getting a lot of offers from a variety of fields—to write his autobiography, to record his song, to judge at the Miss USA pageant, etc. He once said that he had achieved his dream in figure skating to some degree, and it might be time to move on to another dream. It seems he’s not ready to decide just now.

As his agent, do you wish that he would continue competing?
Johnny has many faithful fans. They’ll want to read his book, to watch TV shows that he's in, to listen to him sing. Still, I’m sure what they really want is to see him skate. So I hope he will continue skating, as either an amateur or a professional.

Johnny shows his fans a lot of consideration, doesn’t he?
Yes, he does. He may look like a showy celebrity-type person, but actually his attitudes are so different. At receptions, as his agent, I have to say to him, “Greeting the fans is limited to 15 minutes,” or “Autographing is limited to 20 people,” but I know Johnny won’t leave until all his fans in the hallway have received an autograph. He is very considerate. When we are in the elevator together, he always holds the door for me and lets me walk out first, and when we get into a car, he always opens the door for me. He is a true gentleman.

Where did he learn such manners?
From his mother, Patti. I think she influenced him 100% in that regard. I sometimes hear people say, “Johnny is always doing such crazy things. What on earth does his mother think about her son?” Patti taught him to be himself, to be proud of himself, and to be polite to others.

Johnny’s father is a very private man. What is he like?
He is big and sweet, like a big teddy bear. His name is also John, so everybody calls him “Big John.” Johnny’s brother is Brian, but they call him “Boz.” When Boz was little, Big John took care of him. Big John can’t sit on a plane for long flights because of his chronic back pain. He and Johnny don’t seem a lot alike, but I know they share a deep father-son bond.

Johnny and Tara in Lake Placid, July 2010.
Photo taken by Leah Adams after Tara made Johnny
take a break from autographing for about two minutes
so he could order something for dinner
(at 10:30 p.m.!).



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Hey! Johnny will be choosing the winner
of a virtual styling session with him
and a $500 shopping spree
from BlueFly.com TODAY!
Stay tuned! More info here!

Coming soon: More in the series
of translated interviews from the Mook Book
courtesy of the fabulous Akiko Nakata!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, another translated interview. Awesome! Thank you, Akiko and MM, it's so special to be able to read these. They are, of course, completely fascinating!

Happy Birthday, Tara! Thank you for taking such good care of Johnny. And for valiantly enduring all those snuffles! Happy to help you out with those anytime . . .

xo

Robin aka Princess Johnny-Love

germansoulmate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
germansoulmate said...

What a nice interview again. Another one I have to save and print out to go with my Mook.

Reading all the interviews, either the ones in different publications or the Mook interviews so far, I´ve read so many things I already know, or believe to know, and yet I always learn something new.It´s like collecting small pearls, small facets that all make the person Johnny is more vivid and believable...and especially more present, available... even for me who is sitting in front of a computer in Germany.

Thanks again for providing a place where I can read these interviews translated and where I can squee my heart out without being looked at dispraisingly.

Edit: I posted it again because there was a link right in the middle of my first comment.
Being OCD in that regard, I had to delete it to make it better.

By the way: Something I´ve been thinking about since I read that infamous NY Mag piece...I once read about Johnny telling that he has so much going on in his head creatively that he puts post-its all over the surfaces of his flat to remember all his thoughts and to put them in order etc. You surely know what quote I talk about.
This NY Mag piece did remind me of it. I had the feeling that Johnny had too much going on in his head again, putting it out and this journalist couldn´t keep pace with him. She would have been better off writing all what she got from Johnny on post-its also, glue them on every surface of her office and put all the tidbits Johnny had provided into an interview that pays respect to him and really tries to get who Johnny is.

noviarium said...

I want to wrap myself in this interview and curl up happily in it.

Again kudos to Akiko for the wonderful interview, for asking questions fans are dying to find out the answers of, intimate, without being insensitive.

I'm especially happy that she asked about Johnny's father. We hardly ever see him and he has never said anything, as I remember, in any of BGJW episodes. But what I see of him makes my heart melt, like when he gave Johnny a hug before he had to speak in front of the students of his childhood school and also when he and Patti showed up to help Johnny get settled in his new apartment after Paris moved out.

It can't be the easiest thing to be Johnny's father, I assume (think Burt Hummel in Glee, times 1000), so I am very glad to see Mr Big John Weir gets a mention here.

I also love Tara's story about her first meeting with Johnny. Johnny's so refreshingly unique in his ability to connect with people (which makes it even more incomprehensible how some people simply don't get him at all. Yes, I'm looking at certain NY Mag journalist), he's very good at putting people at ease, at breaking the ice. I just saw his gymnastic commentating vid and practically the first thing he asked was the wedgy thing! That is completely unexpected, and adorable! Also I remember his blog entry about his visit to Korea and meeting the US ambassadress feeling underdressed and then asking if you have to wear power dress when you're a diplomat. He's almost like Forrest Gump in his frankness. :)

And I am glad that Tara actually wants Johnny to stay skating. Yes, Johnny wishes to consider other options, yes, he has a post-skating future to think about, yes, competitive skating has hurt him rather badly the past couple of years, but much as I know his fans will support him in whatever endeavor he embarks on later, most of them want him to stay skating for a while. So I'm glad Tara feels this way, too, but leaves the decision to Johnny. I'm glad Johnny takes his time in making his decision.

I love the tidbits Tara shared about Johnny, the fully compartmentalized bag, the instant housekeeper Johnny becomes when he steps into Tara's apartment, the holding doors open.

I can't wait to listen to Dirty Love!

Thanks so much, Binky, for posting this translation of the article. Thank you Akiko for another job well-done. Thank you Tara, and happy birthday, guuurrrlll! Keep taking care of Johnny and helping him get more successful. Thank you Patti and John Moore for raising (and standing by) such a gifted, gentlemanly, generous and gorgeous son. Thank you, Johnny Weir, for being your inspiring you.

Nancy Knisley said...

Thank you so much, Akiko. Another splendid job! And, thanks, Binky, for putting this on your blog for those fans who can't read Japanese.

Jessica Lane said...

Aw, Tara Modlin! She really does make BGJW just as much as Johnny. Her moments with Johnny are always some of my absolute favorite. I love the comparison of brother and sister- I never could quite put my finger on their relationship and that sums it up perfectly!

This does, sadly, cement the fact that Johnny and I could never live together. His putting things in bags, in bags, in bags, in bags and my attitude of toss it, crumple it, chunk it, hurl it would drive him mad. I'd end up in a very nice bag at the bottom of the Hudson.

Thank you a glamzillion times for this translation Akiko and Mama!

And HAPPY FLIPPIN' BIRTHDAY TARA MODLIN!!!

Mimi said...

Thank you so very very very much!!!!! MUAH!

aaaack said...

Thanks to Akiko, Tara, Binky and Misfitmimes for this excellent interview and translation. Johnny is a good, earnest person to his core and Tara, too. This means a lot to this fan.

Wendy S said...

I love hearing Tara's stories and viewpoint here. It reads clearly that they share a mutual love and respect for each other.

LOL at "herding cats"! Johnny has said that it's important to him to have his close business peeps also be good friends. There's been some criticism of that choice, but I couldn't actually imagine him, for example, having an agent in LA and being one of a thousand clients. That seems too impersonal for him, and I think he wants to be with someone who really "gets" him (and can deal with cat herding).

I *love* knowing that Tara is usually close by, to help him as an agent when appropriate, and as friend/family in all those other moments that are just as critical to him. I *love* that Johnny has an agent that travels with him, makes him a priority, and helps him laugh out loud.

(I also selfishly love that he has an agent that twitpics for us.) :)

I too hope that Johnny continues long-term to skate in some capacity -- because I think he's good for that world regardless of whether that world believes it so, and because we love so much to watch him! But I think I could watch him do *nothing* for an hour, and still not be bored, LOL, so whatever he wants to bring to the table will be fine with me.

Happy Birthday, Tara! Thanks for the lovely interview.

Big thanks also to you Bink, and Akiko for all the time put into these translations. xo

Anonymous said...

What's not to love in a perfect gentleman!
Thank You for the trnaslation.
TK

PumaJ said...

Wonderful interview:-) Thank you, MM and Akiko for bringing this to us.

Beth (twitter-bsontwit) said...

love more from the Mook -thank you MM!! so nice to hear from Tara-loved hearing her comments!!

ps-happy bday Tara!

Beth (twitter-bsontwit)

Li Mann said...

Thanks to Akiko and Binky for bringing us another fascinating translation from the Mook Book. And thanks to Tara for your wonderful work and friendship with Johnny. Of course each translation makes those of us who don't have the book yet feel the urge to go and get one! Even though we can't read it. But now we can print out these blogs and put them in the book to accompany the articles, so we'll always have the translations, and that is soooo important to us readers out there. Make sure you put some blank pieces of paper around the printed pieces so the ink doesn't rub off on the Mook Book people! (Hint from a book collector.) It's no surprise to those who have met Johnny and Tara that their relationship is so close, you can see that from a mile away, but for those who haven't met them it's a really good insight into their relationship. Their first meeting story is special indeed. Also, it's no surprise to me that Johnny is a gentleman, he has been so wonderful and kind each time I've met him (4 times), as has Patti (who I've spoken to at 2 events now). When Patti is complimented by fans for her excellent job as a mother, she is so humble, and she is so kind to all who speak to her as well. To those who have any hesitation: I have met many celebrities in my life and Johnny Weir is the kindest, nicest, most considerate of fans of any celebrity that I've ever met and probably ever will meet. Many artists are snobby or have an aura of superiority about them, but Johnny treats every person as an equal and gives each person equal respect. This is probably why his fans are so loyal and get so upset when somebody disrespects him (ehem...NY Mag writer who shall remain nameless). Thanks again Binky and Akiko!

julie98 said...

Love these interviews!! I could read them all day if they were longer. Thanks for posting them... Keep them coming!!
And that story about Tara's grandmother with Johnny. My heart melts; I die.

WheresMyKoppy said...

For Johnny, she's a loving but necessarily bossy (because he NEEDS that) big sister; for Tara, he's a pesky but adorable little brother.
/\/\

Good observation, MM! 'Pesky but adorable', lol! Love how the interviewer Akiko suggests Johnny can come clean her house! We ALL keep saying that! I love Tara's description of how they met and she found him talking to her grandma about fashion and other things! That is so like the real Johnny, the one we see all to infrequently in articles, but should see in interviews more!

Every time I see his dad John I expect to see him hop on the back of a Harley...