Interview with Rudy Galindo

By Lorrie Kim (lorrie@plover.com)

On Wednesday, March 19, I met with Rudy Galindo, his sister Laura Galindo-Black, her husband Andy Black, and publicist Theresa Zoro to interview Galindo about "Icebreaker: The Autobiography of Rudy Galindo."

Theresa Zoro set up this interview especially for Galindo's Internet fans. I asked questions sent in by people from the skatefans mailing list, and the rec.sport.skating.ice.figure discussion group. In the article following, I will identify these people as they asked to be.

It is with real regret that I apologize for not being able to ask every question I was sent. We had about 45 minutes, and 23 people sent questions.

Rudy seemed quite comfortable, even though it was already his second interview of the day at 9 AM in Manhattan (6 AM by California time).

I had a tape recorder mishap, so I cannot give full direct quotes. In the article, I will only put Rudy's answers in quotes if I am sure they are his exact words.


Marie L. Hughes (hughes@marie.org):
Emma Abraham (eabraham@airealworks.com):
ChocTaww@aol.com:

These three people asked about Rudy's upcoming appearances and book signings. He said to watch for him at the Hershey's Kisses Pro-Am on April 11.

The Blades on Ice web site has Rudy's book signing tour schedule, which is coordinated with the Campbell Soup itinerary. I will be in touch with Theresa Zoro to find out if he will add more bookstores.


Kathie:

Your mom is manic depressive and from reading about your mood swings and tantrums, is it possible that you may have inherited the condition?

RG: "Actually, I usually can say no, but I do, about once a month, get in an argument with somebody. Because of skating, I try to be even. [Because of growing up with] my mom, I kind of learned from her. Every move I make, I try to be as normal as I can."

Do your cats live with you in your new home?

Rudy said he hasn't spent much time in his new home because there is no nearby ice rink. He's been living with Laura and Andy, and their "Hell Cat" (giggles from all three of them). His cats are still with his mother.

Will Laura always be your coach?

RG: "Oh, definitely. She's got me where I am today. It's like a fifty-fifty relationship."
Do you have a counselor?

Rudy was a little surprised at this personal question. I said I thought, considering the personal nature of his book, that it's quite a natural question to come up in the minds of the readers. Both Theresa Zoro and I said he didn't have to answer any question he didn't want to.

But he did answer it, saying he's been so busy, and traveling so much, that he hasn't had the opportunity to find a counselor. He added, "I've learned to put up a wall of strength. Why do you need a therapist when you can do it yourself? I've gotten kind of numb to it. I think that's basically what I go through."

These comments are at variance with his book, where (page 245) he states that he's "decided to go" to a counselor.


Sandra Loosemore (loosemore-sandra@CS.YALE.EDU):

Will we ever get to see the Tchaikovsky piano concerto program that you were working on with Lori Nichol last summer?

(Mock gasp of surprise from Rudy) "How did she know about that?!" (I answered that she'd been visiting Lake Arrowhead at the time.) "It's basically set up as an amateur program. Maybe Lori can come out and we can revamp it."


Jae Fleming (Hyacinth@frost.snowhill.com):

How influential has Toller Cranston been on your skating? Was your original "I Pagliacci" based on Cranston's signature piece to that music? Have you considered using him as a choreographer?

RG: "Toller Cranston hasn't been an idol to me; mostly, it's been John Curry. I didn't really know who Toller Cranston was, and Pagliacci was not influenced by him. I don't know if I could work with him...."

LG-B: "I wouldn't send Rudy to Toller. I don't think it would complement Rudy."

They both added that they think highly of Cranston personally, but his style is more "abstract" than what they want.


Irene Lin (ihlin@unix.amherst.edu):

You mentioned John Curry as a skating influence growing up. I'd like to know more about what skaters you admired that may have helped you form your "vision of what skating is all about."

RG: "I think it would be really nice if John Curry were alive. I'd go to him and he could do a program for me for Nationals. It's been John Curry for me, basically. My first coach emphasized his lines and spirals and stuff. And I like the consistency of Brian Boitano."

With the quads and triple triples nowadays, do you feel like it's becoming simply a jumpfest for the men?

RG: "That's EXACTLY what I just said! After I watched the Champion Series final. Why play music? There's no artistry anymore. It made me sick. Todd Eldredge is the only one left. Todd and I are good friends and it's nice to see that, and I'm so happy for him."

Rudy added that he especially likes Eldredge's spins.

He said he'd definitely watch the men's short program from Worlds that night. He expressed sympathy for Kwan ("poor Michelle -- I just love her style") and for Dan Hollander. "It's kind of sad, because I was part of that little American group -- me, Todd, Dan -- and now it seems like it's been separated."


Ellyn Kestnbaum (ekestnba@students.wisc.edu):

What do you want to communicate through your skating, either in general or in specific programs? How is this different for you as a pro than in eligible competitions? Where do movement ideas for your programs come from -- from you or from a choreographer? from the music first, or imagery first, or improvising to the music, or something else?

RG: "In amateur competition I never really could tell a story about my life. Pachelbel's Canon really had no meaning -- it was just a beautiful piece. In professional competition I can actually tell a story. For 'On Golden Pond' I did that, just to tell about life in general -- my dad and his [Andy's] dad just passed away."

For the Campbell Soup tour, Rudy will skate to "Ice Castles," choreographed by Randy Gardner. "I'm going to be dressed like John Curry, his outfit that he wore for the 1976 Olympics. It shows the love of skating."


Donna George (DGeorge994@aol.com):

What are your future plans for costumers and choreographers?

RG: "When Randy did this program we were going to have Jef Billings tailor it, but we decided we might as well stick with somebody [Julie Rose, who made last year's costumes] who's used to me." Rudy says he comes up with his own costume ideas, sketching them with crayons.


Anna J. Van Dyke
Kathie
Anne Duffy
Jennifer Shulman
Peter Murray (pmurray@azstarnet.com):

Would you ever consider skating pairs again...with Stars on Ice, if asked...and would you like to do an exhibition with Kristi?

RG: "No."

Rudy said International Management Group has been very kind to him, but he has not been asked to join Stars on Ice, and he's proud to skate with the Campbell Soup tour.

RG: "I think it's kind of nice, best left as it is -- you know, comebacks -- we're friends now, and that's it. It's like that TV show, 'Who's the Boss' -- once they got together, the show died." He said he thought it made a better ending to keep fans in suspense, wondering if it's ever going to happen.


Anonymous questioner:

How did you like pairs skating, as opposed to singles? Would you like to do any pairs again?

RG: "No, never. I'm so happy with what I'm doing right now. I did it on my own. I liked that the most. And it's kind of hard to find someone as good as Kristi."

Would you have to "relearn" everything, or does it come back quickly?

RG: "I think it would come to me quickly, like riding a bike."

How did you come to be paired with Kristi, given that you do not rotate in the same direction?

RG: "We thought it was kind of cool. I just saw her and I thought she was tiny enough."

Jennifer Shulman (jen4@ix.netcom.com):

I noticed that your 1996 long program changed slightly between Nationals and Worlds. Specifically, the spread eagle in the middle of the proram ws replaced by a two-foot glide. Why?

RG: "That's a good one. Remember when I sprained my ankle? [At the Centennial on Ice in St. Petersburg, shortly after 1996 Nationals.] With my sprained ankle, I couldn't turn out my foot. I couldn't do a spread eagle so I re-choreographed it at the last minute [pantomimes himself in an extreme panic]."

Have you watched the tapes of 1996 Nationals and Worlds?

RG: "Yes. Nationals, right after I won -- in the club room, with my family. Worlds, not till I got back. I like to watch myself -- not too much, though -- I put it in when I'm depressed [grin]."

What did you think of Dick Button's enthusiastic commentary during your long at Nationals?

RG: "I was cracking up! After I did that triple loop and he said something like 'I can't....' -- can't speak? He's been really positive with me and I think it's great how much energy he put in my program. I think he put in as much energy as I did. You can hear him clapping."

Theresa Zoro added that Dick Button's endorsement of Rudy's book is the first time he's done that for anybody.

I handed Laura the url for Rudy's skate icon drawn by Ellen Edgerton. She said they're thinking about getting a computer. I also gave her a message from Peg Lewis, describing how an autographed photo from Rudy has helped motivate her mother Virginia to do her rehabilitation exercises after a stroke.


Peg Lewis (PegLewis@aol.com):

[from her mother, Virginia Lewis] What do you think about while you are actually skating a program?

RG: "Programs go by so fast, you really don't remember. Going into a jump, you think about your arms, technique. When I skate the best is when I think of technique."

[from Peg] Is professional skating living up to your expectations?

RG: "Yeah, definitely." Rudy said he is glad he's not eligible right now. "I had to walk on eggshells. I'd have to be too perfect for them and I didn't need that in my life right now."


Anonymous questioner:

Will there be a volume 2 of "Icebreaker"?

RG: "No. I'm pretty content with my life right now. It's just a great ending."

When you are 50 years old, what do you hope to be doing?

RG: "I would still love to go to teach children and I think it's so exhilarating to see someone accomplish something you've taught them."

LG-B: "And adopt a child." They talked about how Rudy wants to do that eventually. He said he's waiting for Laura and Andy to have kids first.


Jean Ann Harrison:

Do you still plan to continue teaching while performing as a pro?

RG: "I haven't had time. I miss it, too."

LG-B: "And the kids miss it."


Mark-Jason Dominus:

You mentioned a childhood game of imagining yourself "competing" against Scott Hamilton, deciding his score with dice (page 42). What did you do when you rolled a 6.6?

RG: "I would just cancel it. I used to do that with cards, too."

Lorrie Kim (lorrie@plover.com):

Does Carole Yamaguchi believe you're gay yet? [On pages 76-77, the book discusses 16-year-old Rudy coming out to her. She reacted by telling him he couldn't possibly be gay.] Have you talked to her recently?

RG: "I don't know. We don't see each other much. She's busy with Stars on Ice. I remember that day in the parking lot. She tried to coax it out of me -- 'What do you have to tell me'? I remember afterwards, trying to hitch a ride to go home."

Has your mother read this book? How were you able to write so honestly about your mother? When you were younger and she was violent, it gets pretty hair-raising.

RG: "We [he and Laura] read the book to her. She likes it. And that wasn't half of what she used to do, either. It's no big deal, because she's doing well in life right now, so it doesn't bother her. My mom's side is having a hard time with the book: 'He's Italian! Why do you say he's Mexican? Why is Rudy saying he's gay on TV?' And she said to them, 'I'm proud of my son and who he is!'"

LG-B: "Yeah, sometimes, mom..." She shook her head in admiration.

RG: "A lot of people used to ask, 'Why isn't your mom here?' We never had the courage to say, before."

Both Rudy and Laura talked about how maybe the book can help other families dealing with manic depression, and already some of their acquaintances have come forward to talk about it.

You talk about lying and scheming to get money during your partying days. Have you paid these people back?

RG: "Actually, I still talk to X. Oh, definitely. I still keep in contact."

LG-B: "The people he borrowed money from were mostly people he loved: me, Reuben and Wayne. Just admitting it in the book is payback enough. And by the way, you owe me $50. Just kidding."

RG: "Oh, really?" (said in a way that made me think he's been extremely conscientious about paying Laura)


Julie Nishimura-Jensen (jnishjen@asu.edu):

Who would you like to cast as yourself and Laura in a movie?

Fran Drescher for Laura! Johnny Depp for Rudy! Brad Pitt for Andy!


Anonymous questioner:

In your book, you talk about regaining your joy in skating and mention that during that year you took more responsibility for the details of your life. Do you think there is a connection?

RG: "Oh, definitely. Especially as being a professional, I love going in so early, 5:30 AM, creating new programs and choreographing. It's like a job, in a good way. I don't have to worry about walking on eggshells anymore."

Then it was time for Rudy's next interview. With great regret, I apologize to Dee Bouffard and a fan from Ontario for not getting to their questions, which were:

1. Is there a piece of music that's not for you, but perfect for some other skater? Who and what would it be?

2. In the transition from pairs to singles, what was harder: the physical adaptation, or the mental? Was there a specific time when your definition of self shifted?

3. What would you like for your epitaph?

4. When did you start working on your triple axel? How did you train it, and how long did it take to become reliable?

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