The Sochi Olympics have been mired in controversy from the beginning. From Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws to Sochi’s dog-culling and unfinished hotels, there was reason for concern ahead of last night’s Opening Ceremonies. But once the opening ceremonies actually began, Barneys creative ambassador, writer, and professional gadfly Simon Doonan says he felt a palpable sense of relief, “Because I was reminded of the deep and profound gay-ness Russian culture.”
OK, that’s an extreme statement. But Doonan has made a career out of extreme statements. He once wrote a whole book about “gay food,” in which he insisted that no one should ever eat an avocado (we vehemently disagree), so it’s generally safest to assume that everything Doonan says at any time is intended to be taken with a huge grain of salt. In this case, he says Sochi has just given the world the “gayest Olympics ever.”
How gay is Russia? Sorry, Vlad, but it’s far gayer than you might acknowledge or wish. Russia is Tchaikovsky gay. Mussorgsky gay.Nijinsky gay. Ivan The Terrible gay.Diaghilev gay. Eisenstein gay. Erté gay. When I say gay, I mean the very best of gay. I mean inspired, dramatic,flamboyant, theatrical and fabulously haughty. I mean Rudolph Nureyev gay.
Doonan is not much for considering things from other perspectives. He only describes the world from his unique perspective and cultural experience, but he loved the opening ceremonies, especially the athletes in all their crazy outfits. He even disagrees with the general consensus that Team USA’s Ralph Lauren-designed Captain America costumes were heinous, asserting instead that Lauren “nailed it.”
“Clearly, he understood the context: Russia is the szhooshiest, most theatrical country in the world, and Ralph went for it.”
That is highly debatable, but Doonan likes to run around in a tweed jacket that says “there is no such thing as bad taste” on the back in red rhinestones, so he probably thought the star-spangled sweaters were tasteful and restrained. This is also a guy who is tormented by the memory of the time he once made the entire cast of America’s Next Top Model cry.
After the parade of athletes, Doonan maintains that the Opening Ceremonies dove headfirst into truly camp territory, with opera, snow princesses, “a bunch of nubile chorines in fabulously folkloric outfits,” a Busby Berkeley performance of Tron, rollerblading comets, and ballerinas dressed as glowing jellyfish. Doonan says it was “right out of The Lawrence Welk Show.”
“I was completely exhausted,” Doonan exclaims. “It was too gay for even moi.”
Incidentally, Sochi Olympic motto is, “HOT COOL YOURS,” which Doonan says sounds “like the kind of slogan you might see on a T-shirt on a gay cruise.”
So Russia still openly discriminates against homosexuality and the Olympics are still problematic for those of us watching from home, but at least the Opening Ceremonies were fun. We hope nobody was watching without cocktails.