John Curry has become my latest obsession on skates. The man was a creative genius, truly, but like most geniuses, a little bit crazy. His attention to detail, his line, the way he moves, it fascinates me. There's a lot of Curry Work on YouTube, and some of it confused me until I read this book and got some backstory on the pieces and the skaters.
There's a lot of me that empathizes with Curry. He, too, felt like he was being put in a box that he didn't want to be in. And he felt that skating wasn't just about flashy jumps and spins, but about gliding and line and elegance. The '70's coaches were trying to teach him their definition of Masculine skating, and he had a hard time breaking free of that definition. And even when he was finished with Formal Competition and those Rulebooks, commercial success was hard for him.
This book goes into the financial disasters that plagued his "Theatre on Ice" attempts after his Olympic win. Truly, he operated under a dark star. Poor marketing, cramped tours, tough rehearsal schedules and bad ice. It was hard for me to read, because I so badly wanted him to do well and I've been in those situations. And again, it put a lot of what I was seeing on YouTube into context.
Curry's secretive nature and bad temper didn't make things easier. He was rough on his skaters, but he was rougher on himself. Flirtations with had drug use, a brutal sexuality, so much of John Curry is in want of a hug that he'd just turn away. Some parts of it were very tough. Especially near the end. But I won't spoil it for you, since you already know how it ends.
There's always a price that's paid for beauty, and if John Curry was anything, he put himself up as the down payment for changing how we think of male skaters today. Here's my favorite piece by John. I tried the toepick push step he does at 2:48, it's not so hard. I'm going to ask if we can fit this into my new program.