Autobiography of Rudy Galindo by Rudy Galindo and Eric Marcus
Report by Lorrie Kim
On the evening of March 19, 1997, Rudy Galindo and Eric Marcus, co-authors of Icebreaker: The Autobiography of Rudy Galindo, appeared at a book party sponsored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the New York Advertising and Communications Network.
Galindo had spent the entire day in interviews (including with me, answering questions from Internet fans ) promoting this book, so by evening he, his sister Laura Galindo-Black, and her husband Andy Black were quite exhausted. I didn't think to get a crowd count, but the room was packed.
Eric started by showing a tape of Rudy's '96 long program from Nationals. I had a clear view of Rudy's face, so of course I watched him instead of that program, which I have practically memorized anyway. Some in the audience had never seen his skating before, and the audience applauded at all the right times.
Rudy winced right before the triple axel-triple toe; closed his eyes as the slow section started; laughed aloud when Dick Button stammered, "I'm so impressed, I can't --"; then started to wipe his eyes. The audience laughed when he waved and applauded starting from the final combination spin. Then Eric introduced Rudy as "the champion himself," before Rudy had time to regain his composure, and launched right into things.
Eric asked Rudy a number of questions, including how he could be so expressive when in real life he's so shy. Rudy said it's not hard for him to skate, and that sitting up there answering questions in front of everyone was much harder.
Word association time. Eric named skaters and Rudy said a few things about them. (I could have listened to this for another two hours.)
Michelle Kwan: "Beautiful. Beautiful inside."
Tara Lipinski: "A little terror. She had a little crush on me last year on tour." Apparently she didn't know he was gay and kept trying to hold his hand. "Now look -- it's not going to work," Rudy laughed.
Todd Eldredge: "A nice guy."
Michael Weiss: Rudy was silent for quite a while, with a funny look on his face. Then, wickedly: "Yummy."
Elvis Stojko: another pause, followed by the deliberate pronouncement, "Distant."
Brian Boitano: "Gets a lot of gifts, especially food. Yeah, like he needs it! (Brian's gonna kill me.)"
Nicole Bobek: "You _had_ to bring her up. Funny and wild." Rudy and Eric reminisced about going to a disco with her in Dallas, where they let her in although she was underage. Eric, who is 38, groaned at the memory of touring with these 18-year-old athletes and surviving bus games of Truth or Dare with them. Rudy cut the discussion short by saying, "Eric, you know too much!"
Laura Galindo: "Speechless. She's everything. Everything. Love."
Then Eric showed a video of Rudy skating Ave Maria with the red ribbon (I think it was Hershey's Kisses Pro-Am -- competition format, Dick Button commenting on the ribbon). Rudy wept through some of it. Then Eric invited Laura to join them on stage, and Rudy insisted that Andy come as well, acknowledging Andy's contribution to their joint work. Eric commented that Rudy lives with Andy and Laura, which makes Andy a saint. Rudy added that no, Andy is not his lover, as many people think!
Eric explained that the cover pose for Icebreaker was done on a trampoline and is not to be mistaken for a skating pose.
Rudy said he went pro because he thought it was about time to start supporting his family.
Sharlene Frank choreographed "Babaloo" (which Eric also showed, to Rudy's mortification -- he's still self-conscious about being so extroverted there). Rudy said something about "breaking down the image of the all-American boy."
Laura Moore, the lesbian skater who got figure skating into the Gay Games, asked, "How do you relate to the very many closeted gay men?"
Rudy said in puzzled confusion, "There are...gay men? In figure skating?"
Then he said he feels that it will be a while before other guys come out; he feels the barriers coming up again. "Just come out," he blurted in frustration. He said some guys (no names) see the gay-related press that Rudy gets and have some interesting reactions.
Eric asked, "Laura, were you fed up with Rudy at that time?" (meaning, 1995 before he started training for Nationals).
Laura: "Well let me tell you, I could write my own book. I had to finally step aside and let Rudy make his own decisions."
Andy: "Rudy took it on himself. It was all in him."
Someone asked if they got the feeling the USFSA was glad to be rid of him. Laura answered with deep anger that the USFSA never sent Rudy one letter either thanking him for his good job at 1996 Nationals, or wishing him luck on his pro career. She said Rudy took it "lightheartedly," but from the looks of it, she is still furious.
Asked if he was sorry not to be in Lausanne, Rudy said he didn't miss the amateur world at all. But he will be in Nagano (he said, laughing); he'd already bought a seat.
The next person asked how closeted the judges are. Rudy said he knew of three or four gay male judges. Are they out? "Everyone knows, but it's unspoken," he said.
He has pro skating contracts for the next three or four years, possibly two or three after that if he does well.
I asked if he would skate or appear in the 1998 Amsterdam Gay Games. He said "Oh, definitely I would, if I was invited." (Laura Moore yelled from the audience, "You're invited!") Laura Galindo-Black added that everything would have to be done through their agent, Michael Rosenberg, and said, "I know Rudy would like to judge the Gay Games."
The person he waved to during his Nationals long program was Stephanie Hawkins, a girl at his rink. She'd gotten a front-row seat for Christmas, but when she waved to Rudy earlier in the week he'd been too wrapped up to respond. So he made a point of waving then. "I knew I only had the double axel left," he explained.
If for some reason Rudy couldn't skate at all anymore, he would design costumes for other skaters.
Fan response to him has been equal from many communities -- mainstream, gay, Latino -- "everyone's been really supportive of me."
Finally, they said the Rudy Galindo fan club can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.