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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
July 4, 2021 Edition - INDEPENDENCE DAY EDITION
(C) 2021 Portland Ice Skating Society
Happy Independence Day! And let's face it - you don't get much
more American than Tonya, as her Instagram post demonstrates:
As the Pacific Northwest swelters under its worst heatwave in
decades, the local skating rink is probably looking a very
attractive place to be right now. And we're pleased to begin this
issue with a piece of exciting news of an ice-related kind.
NEW YORK, MILAN, PARIS, AND... YACOLT???
Clark County, Washington, which is the area just north of
Portland where Tonya lives, is not known as a hotbed of the
fashion world, but that's all about to change. Because we've got
some great news - you can now buy from Tonya's own personal
collection of officially licensed merchandise that she's
marketing in partnership with Fan Arch:
The range includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and hats, most
available in a variety of colors and sizes. There are three
designs, two of which - the TH logo and "defy the odds" - feature
a silhouette of Tonya performing the triple axel, to commemorate
the 30th anniversary of that achievement. The third version,
"America's Hardware", has an open bible and a cross, symbolizing
her faith and patriotism:
The collection isn't confined to clothing either, as it also
includes phone cases.
Now we know what the well-dressed Tonyaphile will be wearing to
the skating rink this winter!
TONYA INTERVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA
The past few weeks have also seen Tonya doing several interviews,
two of them with media "down under". The most recent of these was
for the "Jono and Ben" show on radio station "The Hits", right
here in New Zealand - probably the first time Tonya has ever done
an interview for Kiwi media.
The interview was promoted on their social media feeds:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CQxkknwMjEO/ (first promo - guess who)
https://www.instagram.com/p/CQyzpn2lRzO/ (second promo)
The interview itself went well, with Tonya describing her hosts
as being real gentlemen (unlike that slimy limey Piers Morgan).
She also used the opportunity to promote her line of clothing.
Also revealed were all the injuries that she has suffered over
the years - a list that would rival any football player - clearly
skating is not a sport for sissies.
Here's the link for Tonya's segment:
These links have been verified as working in the U.S. and
Germany. If they don't, you can download the podcast from this
link for the next six days:
Another, in late May, was for "The Morning Show" on
the Seven Network in Australia, continuing the role of that
country in the Great Tonya Revival of recent years.
Promotional item where you can leave likes and comments:
The video - you can also leave likes and comments here:
Only standard definition, but has been verified as working in
several countries, including NZ, US & Germany.
As for the interview itself, it's a good one, with the hosts
clearly being sympathetic. Tonya relives her triple axel (or
"troiple exel" as they call it over there) 30 years ago, and gets
quite emotional. She also describes meeting Margot, reveals that
she hasn't skated in almost two years, and that her son prefers
baseball to skating, complaining that the rink is "really cold".
It's not the first time that Tonya has appeared on Australian TV
- back in 2008 she was interviewed on the same network about her
just-released book, "The Tonya Tapes".
The other one is an interview with Lieutenant Steven Rogers, a
former police officer. Tonya's bit starts here, at 34:29:
If the name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same as the
guy who wote "I, Tonya". It appears that Tonya must have stumbled
across him while Googling info on the screenwriter.
TONYA ON INSTAGRAM
A couple of posts from Tonya appeared on Instagram back in April:
in the first, she remembers her dad, who passed away 12 years
The second is more upbeat - Tonya at Easter! As someone has
pointed out, the egg is the same color as her 1991 Triple Axel
costume. Coincidence, or....?
TANKS FOR THE MEMORY
More recently, Tonya's name turned up on a tank in an
unidentified location, along with "Matt Damon" and "Plague":
Tonya, who was tagged by the original poster, described this as
"freaking awesome" and "an honor", and used the opportunity to
give a shout-out to all the service men and women for keeping her
FROM THE VAULTS
A couple of other, older Tonya-related interviews from 1994 have
come to our attention recently.
In the first, Connie Chung interviews Tonya's mother LaVona (sans
bird this time). This aired the day of Tonya's "I had no prior
knowledge" speech (Jan 27):
Clips from Sandra Luckow's "Sharp Edges" are shown. A witness,
Pat Hamil, whose daughter skated with Tonya at one stage, also
recalls seeing Tonya being slapped and knocked off a chair,
backing up Tonya's claims of her mother being physically abusive.
The second, from "A Current Affair" of July 14, 1994, features
Jeff Gillooly without the mustache, revealing he was actually
decent-looking without that dreadful face-fuzz. This was his last
interview before beginning his prison term:
Sebastian Stan said that he found researching the role of
Gillooly difficult because there's not much footage of him
available, and he's right. The interviewer seems to forget that
Jeff has changed his story several times, initially denying any
involvement, then saying it was his idea but that Tonya didn't
know, and then throwing Tonya under the bus when she told the
truth, with him claiming she knew all along. Since then he's
changed his story a third time, implying that all he knew about
was a death threat, and that it was Shawn Eckardt's decision to
escalate things into violence. Of course Shawn's now conveniently
dead, so blaming him is easy.
Since this interview he's had several run-ins with the law,
including for domestic violence, so his claim that he's a
reformed figure lacks credibility.
A MORON GETS A JAYSON
On the subject of interviews, thereís another reason for
Tonyaphiles to rejoice: many of you may have heard that Piers
Moron (sic) has left "Good Morning Britain" as a result of his
outburst about Meghan Markle. It's welcome news that heís finally
got his comeuppance, as Piers is a known Tonyaphobe who tricked
Tonya into appearing on his show 3 years ago by telling her
management he was a big fan of hers, and then proceeded to accuse
her of lying about you-know-what. A former tabloid editor, he's a
totally unethical douchebag, like too many "journalists" these
days, so good riddance. This appears to be the longest version of
the interview that's still on line:
If there was ever a guy who Tonya should have told to "Suck my
d--k", it's him. But she was too classy for that.
This incident pretty much derailed her "I, Tonya" media campaign.
We know there were a dozen or so other interviews that were lined
up, but Tonya became camera shy as a result of this and most of
them got canceled. Michael Rosenberg also resigned as her
agent/manager. Who knows where things could have gone if this
Regular readers of "The Portlandian" will know that we
occasionally dish out what we call the "Jayson" awards for bad
Tonya-related reporting, an "award" that was named after a New
York Times reporter called Jayson Blair who was fired for
fabricating stories. So Piers, here's a long overdue Jayson for
you. No need to stop by our offices to pick it up, though - it's
not a physical trophy.
RARE TONYA FOOTAGE UNEARTHED
Some relatively unknown footage of Tonya warming up for the 1989
Skate America competition in Indianapolis in October has
surfaced, thanks to an alert Tonyaphile:
Although it may seem hard to believe today, back in that era the
Short Programs often weren't telecast. So the USFSA brought in
outside videographers to tape these and sell tapes to the skaters
who wanted a record of their performances. Some of the outfits
involved were Ledin Video, R & J Video and Udell Photography. You
can recognize these tapes by the fact they are usually single-
camera and have no commentary.
Thanks to Kelsey Elizabeth on the Reinstate Tonya Harding
Facebook group for finding this.
"SCANDAL MADE ME FAMOUS" REVIEW
Airing on the REELZ network in December 2016, this 44 minute
series episode is probably the last Tonya doc of any note
preceding the release of "I, Tonya". At the time, its main hook
was that it supposedly revealed "new evidence" that "proved"
Tonya's complicity in the Kerrigan incident in the form of a note
found in the garbage of a Portland restaurant - evidence that
would only be considered "new" to someone who was not familiar
with the case or had fallen asleep some time in mid-January 1994
and only just woken up. Now that it has become available on line
at the link below, we thought we'd give it a proper review:
The first thing of note is that the whole tone of it is quite
trashy, like something you'd find on Fox circa 1998 or so, hyping
up the rivalry between Tonya and Nancy, and with sleazy re-
enactments showing "Tonya" and "Jeff" getting passionate
backstage at the ice rink. Some bits border on laughable: the
actress who who is supposed to be "Tonya" doesn't look anything
like her, and she's usually shown with a cancer stick hanging out
of her mouth - I guess this is their way of implying she's
"trailer trash". It also tends to play fast and loose with
timelines, with photos from '94 used when discussing earlier
On the up side, it does a good job of showing Tonya's early life,
how she was treated as an outsider by the skating establishment,
how she had to make do with homemade costumes, and the abuse she
suffered at the hands of LaVona and Jeff.
Interviewed are a couple of regulars in the form of Ann Schatz &
Norm Frink (but thankfully not Christine Brennan), and some new
faces, such as Frink's assistant Jean Maurer, Steve Helling
(described as "Senior Crime Reporter" for People magazine), Mike
Pliska (Tonya's fiance during one of her separations from Jeff),
Vicki Mills-O'Donnell (a former choreographer of Tonya's), Kathy
Peterson, (owner of the Dockside Saloon) and Robert Peschka (the
handwriting expert who examined the "Tunee Can" note). Some of
these, like Helling, appear to be questionable - his credibility
goes down when he says Tonya was first woman (rather than first
American) to land a triple axel.
The triple axel itself is shown, not just a recreation - "It was
magnificent to witness", says Ann Schatz. Shortly after this,
Tonya leaves Gillooly and starts dating Mike Pliska, a
contruction worker who works at the mall where Tonya trains, who
is interviewed. However, he breaks up with Tonya - according to
him, this was because after she started hanging out with rich
guys who were interested in being her sponsors.
The Whacking is poorly recreated. There are too many errors, such
as the fact that the hit man doesn't look much like Stant, that
Nancy was being interviewed at the time, and that Stant head-
butted his way through the locked door, rather than smashing it
with his baton (a mistake also made in "I, Tonya"). However, some
of the Intersport footage is used, which kind of makes the re-
enactment irrelevant and unnecessary anyway. In another error,
the Eckardt family's house looks like a mansion compared to the
dump it actually was.
More interesting is Jean Maurer, a bespectacled librarian type
who was Norm Frink's assistant, who admits that the case against
Tonya "was not airtight". Frink himself admits "almost all of
their dealings had been through Gillooly so they really didn't
have a lot of direct evidence against her." The doc also concedes
that there is no video or audio of Tonya plotting, and the
conspirators are less than credible.
The other interesting bit is at 32:30, dealing with the Tunee Can
note. However, most of the writing has "inconclusive" next to it,
except for a phone number. It's not clear who wrote this, or the
pink and yellow highlighter - is this the handwriting expert or
some embellishment by the documentary makers? In any case, it's
not disputed that Tonya spoke to Vera Marano, and there's nothing
here that proves anything more than this.
Then we get to Lillehammer. In another indication of the low
budget this thing had, only photos are used, indicating they
couldn't afford to license the IOC's actual footage, and photos
from the Short and Long Programs are frequently intermixed,
making for more confusion. Tonya's choreographer confirms that
broken laces can happen, debunking those who say that this was
staged by Tonya.
Then we're back to Frink, who claims the plea agreement was a way
of ensuring Tonya was punished without the DA having to spend
lots of time and money on a trial that would have sucked up
resources better spent elsewhere, like dealing with killers and
drug dealers. As likely is that he knew that his handwriting
expert would likely be challenged by another expert that would be
inevitably called by Tonya's side, with no assurance of
convincing a jury.
The final segment deals with Tonya's life after the plea deal,
including the Wedding Night Video (entirely in keeping with the
sordid tone of this thing), her boxing match against Paula Jones,
and her concert with the Golden Blades, which is incorrectly
stated to be an attempt at launching a pop singing career, when
in fact it was a one-off gig for charity. Ann Schatz displays a
sympathetic outlook to Tonya's plight. It also notes that
Gillooly has since beeen arrested twice for domestic violence and
also for driving with a suspended license.
In short, worth a look for the viewpoints from some fresh faces
and for a good laugh at some of the corny "re-enactments", but
it's no "Price of Gold", which remains the gold standard of Tonya
docs - and certainly no "I, Tonya". On the old 6.0 scale, I'd
give it a 3.5 for Technical Merit and about a 3.0 for
Presentation, mainly due to its low budget and unnecessarily
TONYA FAN ART ROUNDUP
Once again we bring you some of the very best of Tonya fan art
"The Curse" was a feminist 'zine published out of Williamsburg in
NYC in the 90s. One of their first promotional events was held at
Teddy's Bar & Grill in February 1994 and consisted of a watch
party for the Ladies figure skating in Lillehammer. The place was
packed and featured a pair of drag queens dressed as Tonya &
Hobart Gato Loco Frolley (hobartgatolocofrolley) Tonya as a cat:
Izza (phantomscpera) - a nice "I, Tonya" triple axel painting.
Serhat Yucel (s3ro_art) - another "I, Tonya" inspired triple axel
miaartistary - a LaVona pencil sketch and a pink Tonya:
Tonya Harding fans (tonyahdg_). Even pixelated at the start, we
can still recognize who it is! See also the second frame:
Sofia Rosetta (sorsenart) Botucatu, Brazil. some of her other
drawings include Frankenfurter, Hannibal Lecter and Audrey
Hepburn, so Tonya is in distinguished company:
Multifandom (fictional.wxrlds) - an "I, Tonya" montage.
Emma (swan_gossip_shop) - "another dip into my GIF archives;
Tonya Harding at the 1991 USA figure skating championships doing
a lil ice victory dance right after she landed her famous triple
Shaun Ponsonby (jr_from_dallas) A t-shirt featuring the maligned
women of the "Your Wrong About" podcast:
Fernando Diez (fernandordiaez) - "I'll smoke it quietly, then":
David Rivas (darife_83) - a pencil drawing of Tonya's SP at
winnieart0710 - another great triple axel tribute:
mario_zucca - "Added a little motion to my Nancy Kerrigan spo-
K.C (wc_arts_kd) - the mirror scene:
DRAW (jade_draww) - pencil sketch of Tonya & LaVona:
amelie.graux - crying Tonya & other drawings:
mezawari_inc - "Little Miss Tonya stickers dropping soon":
i_can_photoshop_that - some fun with Tonya, Photoshop(R), and a
Another collage from gisafrog in Germany - "Yooptzah everybody
(especially fellow Tonya Fans). Here comes a collage/shadowbox
hybrid of the amazing @therealtonyaharding. It's a black-and-
white picture from 1990 and I Love her costume. Tonya, If you See
this: I Wish you an awesome day, stay Safe and healthy. I used
tinsel garland, star-shaped fairy lights, holo Cardboard (and
Stars punched Out of holo Cardboard), tiny seed beads for the
decorations on her Dress and of course a Lot of glitter paint.
Robert Foster (robertf787) - diarycomic
Film dessin (movies_desing) - another artwork inspired by the
Shelter (shelter_gallery) "We're so excited about Benjamin
Cabral's solo exhibition "Well, Maybe Next Year," curated by
Lauren Powell. These works deftly balance joy and sorrow through
a nostalgic lens, and they're just fantastic in person. The
gallery has been transformed into an ice rink that must be
experienced! Self Portrait as Tonya, 2021, Rhinestones, beads,
acrylic painted wood, 35x35 in."
Marieke Pras (spoukprint) - Tonya costumes:
Grazi (grazi174) - another mirror scene drawing:
Sara Xx (lover_of_tonniexharding) - a montage from a fan:
"My love for Tonya Harding @therealtonyaharding xx Love Youuuu,
Tonnie!!! Please Go And Tag Her In The Comments!! Get Her To See
This xx #tonyaharding #figureskater #publicfigure #ladiesboxer
#futurenurse #futurenurseinthewar x itís my dream to: meet you
one day, learn skating from you, anything really would make my
day x on my other account @spoby4ever__livgrey18 you made me so
so happy and you noticing me had made my day and I cried so much
cuz youíre my skating idol xx you are my absolute favourite
skater and you inspire me so so much and i wanna get back into
skating and i wanna skate like you x no matter what happened in
Ď94 I am always on your side and I will always believe and
support you x because Ik Piers Morgan was trying to get at you as
well on live television and i just thought that was so fricking
wrong of him x I will always love you and I will never stop x
hopefully I will be able to meet you soon x With All My Love,
lily (lily.elvaa) - a great triple axel painting:
Shirin Zendehdel (illustrationsbyshirin) - alternative IT poster:
zee (zeeezart) - a triple axel drawing:
And finally, a Margot montage in time for her birthday on July
2nd by (gigisantosortega)
BENNY NAPOLEON DEAD
A sad note to finish off last year was the death of Sheriff Benny
Napoleon, a key figure in cracking the "whack" case, who has died
of COVID-related complications:
The past few months have also seen several "I, Tonya" alumni
reuniting to work together on various projects:
- "Cruella", Craig Gillespie's first film since "I, Tonya", has
been released, and is getting good reviews, with many now saying
that thanks to those two films he is now to be regarded as one of
Hollywood's leading directors. It's also seen him working again
with Paul Walter Hauser (Shawn), who plays one of Cruella's
henchmen. As an added coincidence, Nancy Kerrigan, whom Craig
worked with on a Campbell's Soup commercial back in '93, played
Cruella DeVil in a Disney skating special in 1995. So maybe he
was destined for the job.
Two other projects he'll direct also have I,T connections:
- the miniseries "Pam & Tommy" will star Sebastian Stan as Tommy
- the Mike Tyson biography "Iron Mike" will be written by "I,T"
writer Steven Rogers, and is being produced by Bryan Unkless's
Clubhouse Pictures and Margot's LuckyChap Entertainment.
It's unlikely that any of these connections would have occurred
without "I, Tonya", so it's been a benefit for all concerned.
So that's all for this issue. We hope that everybody has a great
Independence Day, even if you're not American. Because as
Tonyaphiles, we're all honorary Yanks anyway.
VISIT THESE GREAT TONYA WEB SITES:
PortIce - http://www.pdxiss.org
David House - http://www.tonyaharding.org
Charlie Main - http://www.charliesweb.com/tonya/tonya.html
Puppetboy - http://www.usapaul.net/tonya/
Valerie Smith - http://www.olywa.net/radu/valerie/LilHam.html
Swan Lake - http://members.tripod.com/~TonyaHarding/index.html
Blades of Gold - http://members.tripod.com/tmhfan/index.html