Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

On Ice, with a Twist

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

On Ice, with a Twist

Article excerpt

performance Figure skater-artist Greg Wittrock brings a new brand of showmanship to the rink

Walk into Greg Wittrock's Manhattan apartment, and you're likely to step on one of his wild alter egos: punky Ronnie Resentment, dominatrix Demandra Now, pigtailed Penelope Pout, or angsty executive Alex Inadequate. No, these aren't Wittrock's drag queen personas. They're some of the names the gay figure skater-artist has given his creations--more than 70 meticulously detailed papier-mache masks that he brings to life in his one-of-a-kind ice show, Freezer Burn.

So one-of-a-kind, in fact, that a description of Burn proves unwieldy; The Village Voice's Michael Musto did his best, calling the show "a work of drag performance art on ice," in which "quick-change master Wittrock ... skates around playing characters ... that represent archetypes of the human condition." Hmm. Articulating Burn has been a "struggle," Wittrock admits. "People come and don't know what it is," he adds. "But this show is about being different. It's my inner psyche on ice."

Born in Kentucky to a housewife and a dental professor father, Wittrock as a child "used to put my sister's ballet dresses on and put on shows downstairs," he recalls. "My mother laughs about that now, mainly because I'm basically doing the same show I did when I was a kid--playing with personas." Come college, he took up graphics and painting, and his wunderkind talent landed him a job designing the cover for Deepak Chopra's best-seller The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (he now parodies the guru in Burn as Deep-Ego Chakra). He also turned out the cover for the U.K. rock band James's Whiplash album.

While an ice skater since 12, the 37-year-old Wittrock professes disdain for the profession: "Everyone is taught to skate the same way, and there's no art or originality there." He even cites it as homophobic, although he acknowledges that "the rink has always been where I felt most comfortable. …

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