Brian on the brain

Pub date November 28, 2007
WriterCheryl Eddy
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

RINK MASTER Even before South Park anointed Brian Boitano the coolest ice-skater ever to strap on blades, I was a fan. As a wee junior high schooler, I cheered his triumph at the Battle of the Brians at the 1988 Winter Olympics. (In your face, Brian Orser!) Now a full-time pro, the Bay Area native and resident is gearing up for one of his most ambitious undertakings: the "Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular," the first ice show to be held at AT&T Park, with rink legends like Dorothy Hamill and Viktor Petrenko — and a live performance by Barry Manilow. Naturally, I had to get Boitano on the phone for some inside dirt.

SFBG So are you stoked for the spectacular?

BRIAN BOITANO Yeah, I think it’s gonna be exciting! The ballpark’s really excited about it, and Barry’s really excited about it.

SFBG Will there be any baseball routines on the ice?

BB Yeah, we’re gonna do a baseball number. And since it’s a ’70s number, we’re gonna do a streaking thing. We’re gonna get a Barry Manilow look-alike and have him streak through the ball field.

SFBG [Stunned pause] Seriously?

BB [Laughing] No!

SFBG Dude, that would be awesome, though.

BB We did throw it out at the production meeting, because it’s a ’70s-themed show. But I don’t know if Barry would appreciate that!

SFBG How did you pick which Manilow songs to skate to?

BB It’s actually not all his songs. It’s a show with ’70s music, but there’s a lot of different ’70s music. He’s gonna sing eight of his songs. Four of them will be classics, and four will be from his new album, The Greatest Songs of the Seventies.

SFBG How’d you hook up with him?

BB I do shows every year with musical guests. I’m doing one with Seal this year and another with Wynonna Judd. I met [Manilow] years ago — he had a theatrical show called Copacabana, and I had a friend who was the lead in that. When we were throwing out names for the show this year, I said, "I wonder if we could get Barry. I would really love to have his music to skate to."

SFBG Being from the Bay Area, how did you get into ice skating? I mean, there’s the rink at the Yerba Buena Gardens….

BB That’s where I’m just leaving from! [Growing up,] I sort of was this daredevil roller skater, and I saw the "Ice Follies" one time at Winterland. And I was, like, "Wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."

SFBG Where do you keep your gold medal?

BB It’s in my parents’ safety-deposit box. The last time I saw it was about 10 years ago. I think to see it every day would take away from the special quality of it. But I don’t forget what it looks like!

SFBG There’s one question I have to ask you, which I’m sure everyone asks —

BB "What Would Brian Boitano Do?"

SFBG Of course!

BB I still don’t know how that happened. I’ve still never met the [South Park] guys! It was funny because I went to the movie theater — it was that old movie theater on Sutter and Van Ness. I was scared! I didn’t know if they were going to trash me. And it was just sort of surreal sitting there watching a cartoon character of yourself with the whole movie theater laughing. The movie’s very funny, and I’m a big fan of their comedy. They’re so timely and so politically incorrect — it’s hilarious.

SFBG Do you get sick of hearing the song?

BB I still think it’s funny. People get a kick out of it — what the heck. All I can say is, thank god they were nice to me! (Cheryl Eddy)


Dec. 5, 8 p.m., $50–$150

AT&T Park

801 Third St., SF


For "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" T-shirts — sales of which benefit Boitano’s Youth Skate Program — visit