If you could stay in a guest room like this, you would right?
It came with an amazing bathroom and porch out the front and back.
And you could wander through the yard that looked like this and ...
this, on the way to the pool.
Let me show you this picture again. See the paintings on the wall? And the rug?
And in this picture ... the glass chandelier and the lighted fish on the wall?
He made all of it!
So why would we pass up a chance to visit Toller Cranston one more time. He had invited to stay the last time and he was as gracious as ever.
At dinner time we strolled out into the town and ate at the New Orleans restaurant called "Harrys" that sported two giant-sized paintings by Toller and an entire staff that knew him. He looked very dapper in an olive green suitcoat with embroidered beading all across the back in a native Mexican design.
The next day for breakfast, we went to another restaurant where he was equally known. He walked in wearing a crisp pink, silk button down and a giant, beekeeper hat that he recently purchases in Guatamala. He turned heads.
It was quite the contrast to see him inside his house where he was wearing some rags completely covered in paint. But that's his life now. He's a painter.
There are paintings (or pottery) covering the walls of every room of the 15-bedroom hacienda that is smack-dab in the middle of the old part of town. He told me, he figures the house is worth 7 million, but I say there is probably another 7-million worth of art, furniture, and "items" inside.
What you won't see inside his house are any photos or souvenirs of his skating. No trophy room, nothing. He mentioned his medals once (he said I could have them ... I'm glad he didn't say that directly to my 6-year old daughter, because she would have taken him up on the offer)but I never saw the medals.
It's not that he's bitter about skating or not winning (which I think he should have) the gold in the Olympics (call it the curse of the Canadian men). He's a painter now, living large in a beautiful colonial Mexican town. He has fabulous friends (Nat King Cole's daughter - no, not Natalie - the other one, Olivia was over for a visit when we got there. (If you look up Oliva Cole on IMDB, you'll see she's been in about 30 movies or tv shows ... I swear she's more beautiful now as a bald, almost 70-year old. Mexico has been good to her.)
But back to Toller ... the most amazing part of our stay was when he asked me to watch the reality show "Johnny Weir Be Good" with him. He had received all of the episodes from the producers who were asking Toller's advice for what Johnny should do next. Should Johnny keep skating? Competing? Should he try his hand at his own touring show? Should he quit and enroll in design school?
We watched the final episode and I couldn't help but wonder what Toller was really thinking. At times he spoke his thoughts out loud. He commented that he knew how Johnny felt to have skated so well in the Olympics and be placed so low. He also understood how Johnny wouldn't have wanted to go to Worlds after what I just described in the last sentence. Toller also couldn't believe that Johnny allowed the filming so close before, during and after the Olympics. "How could he concentrate?"
There are many parallels between Johnny and Toller. Skaters, artists in skating, and now writers. Although, remember Toller has written several books already. Trust me, they take a little time to crank out.
If he had advice for Johnny, one thing was not to do his own traveling show. "You always lose money when you do your own show," he demurred. He also felt Johnny shouldn't try to compete because he's lost the edge with all of the TV and PR distractions.
If I could thrown in my two cents, I would tell Johnny, he should plan a little retreat to a beautiful city in Mexico and stay with the master for a while. Toller could give him (and show him) about long-term plans as well.
What do you think he should do? Short term? Long term?
It is nice to read the posts again, because I had forgotten some of the details. It was four and a half years ago, and Ice Charades memory is spotty at best.
But it is also sad to read about planning trips to Mexico, because there will be no more pilgimages to see the Legend. For show skaters, this was as close to Mecca as you get.