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PPPP   OOOO  RRRR  TTTTT L       A   N   N DDDD  I   A   N   N TM
P   P O    O R   R   T   L      A A  NN  N D   D I  A A  NN  N
PPPP  O    O RRRR    T   L     AAAAA N N N D   D I AAAAA N N N
P     O    O R   R   T   L     A   A N  NN D   D I A   A N  NN
P      OOOO  R   R   T   LLLLL A   A N   N DDDD  I A   A N   N

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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

October 23, 2007 Edition
(C) 2007 Portland Ice Skating Society
http://www.geocities.com/portice
*****************************************************************

Well, as you've probably guessed, there's been absolutely no 
Tonya news of any consequence over the past few months, but we 
thought we were overdue for an issue, so we decided to put one 
out anyway. We think the bumper size makes up for the long delay, 
with a film review and a lengthy article examining the life and 
death of a prominent publicist with a major Tonya connection.


TONYA IN VEGAS

Tonya was spotted signing autographs on May 4, 5 & 6 at the 
Galleria mall in Las Vegas, according to one of our SDS 
operatives. This wasn't reported widely, with dismal media 
coverage - in fact, a single sentence in the Las Vegas Review 
Journal:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/7270176.html

seems to be the only mention.

Of course, we all know why that is. It's because there's nothing 
NEGATIVE about this particular Tonya story. So naturally it gets 
almost no publicity.

Some of the photos that Tonya signed at this event are now 
showing up on e-Bay, and some of these also have pictures of 
Tonya signing the items in question to prove their authentic (but 
how do you know that the woman in the photograph isn't a Tonya 
lookalike?):

http://search.stores.ebay.com/tonya-harding

Perhaps they should have a picture of Tonya signing the picture 
of her signing the picture of herself just to prove that's 
genuine.


TONYA ON JAPANESE TV

YouTube has had the effect of uncovering some foreign footage of 
Tonya that has most likely never been seen in English-speaking 
countries. This bizarre clip, apparently taken from Japan's 
Akashiya TV around 1995 or 1996, shows Tonya on some kind of 
comedy show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIrjt2VCP3E

Totally unfathomable what's going on if you don't understand 
Japanese (and Tonya barely speaks), but still worth a look. The 
end part involves some kind of contest where Tonya and the hosts 
have a battle with plastic hammers. Footage of Tonya's "Golden 
Blades" concert in Portland is also shown.


BLADES OF GLORY - A TONYAPHILE'S PERSPECTIVE

With the year's biggest skating-oriented film now out on DVD, 
we thought it was time for a review. 

I won't go into the plot too much as any skating fan will already 
know the basic premise: two male skaters - one an artistic, 
effeminate nancy-boy type, (obviously modeled on Johnny Weir), 
the other a boozy, womanizing macho man (Christopher Bowman?) are 
banned for life from men's figure skating after their mutual 
dislike for each other degenerates into a full-scale on-ice 
punch-up in front of millions of television viewers at a Winter 
Olympics-type sports tournament. The effeminate guy, Jimmy 
MacElroy, ends up working at a skate shop; the macho type, Chazz 
Michael Michaels, skating in a costume at a kid's ice show, a job 
from which he is fired after a drunken, vomit-covered rant on ice 
in front of some kids. Then an obsessed fanboy who's been trying 
to find a way to get Jimmy back into skating (because, as he 
explains it, "it's embarrassing stalking a has-been") discovers a 
loophole in the rules that enables him to compete as a pairs 
skater. After an accidental meeting between Chazz and Jimmy (who 
has gone to the kid's ice show in an attempt to find a female 
partner for his pairs comeback), another fight erupts between the 
twosome which is also captured by TV cameras - but this time it's 
spotted by Jimmy's former coach, who realizes he can turn them 
into the first all-male pairs team.

The rest of the film follows the familiar territory of most of 
these sort of things - the inevitable "male bonding" as the two 
guys who hate each other's guts learn to work together in pursuit 
of a common goal and eventually become best friends by the 
finish; the "Rocky" style training sessions with the grizzled, 
washed-up old coach that we've seen before in "Cool Runnings", 
"Million Dollar Baby" and dozens of other sports movies. There's 
also a subplot involving the pair's bitchy rivals, the brother 
and sister team of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg who will 
stop at nothing to get to first place (leading to the inevitable 
knee whacking reference - hey, we all knew there'd be one, didn't 
we?). Along the way Johnny, er, I mean Jimmy, gets to fall in 
love with the Van Waldenberg's sweet kid sister Katie, as 
obviously the film's producers couldn't stand to make one of the 
main characters ACTUALLY gay, though on reflection this may not 
be a bad thing as it avoids the obvious stereotyping. And of 
course our dynamic duo win the gold at the next Winter Games (as 
if it needed to be mentioned, as I'm sure you've already guessed 
that bit).

I have to confess I didn't have particularly high expectations 
for this film - after all, how many decent figure-skating movies 
have there been? I was suspecting that it would just be an hour 
and a half of lame and obvious "male skaters are all gay" jokes, 
but it seemed to get good reviews and had done good box office 
overseas (blowing away stuff like "Grindhouse", which looked far 
more interesting), so I figured it must be worth a look. Plus I'd 
seen Ferrell's earlier film "Anchorman" on TV a few weeks ago and 
found it reasonably funny. Perhaps because of this, I actually 
found it more enjoyable than I expected.

Firstly, it definitely helps if you are a follower of skating to 
fully get the jokes and play "spot the famous skater" - there's 
Sasha Cohen, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, 1980 
Olympian Lisa Marie Allen and others in cameo appearances, and 
this has got to be the only time in history we'll ever hear 
someone declare to Nancy Kerrigan that she's "officially given me 
a boner", as Michaels elegantly puts it. Alot of the humor is 
this kind of frat-boy level sexual innuendo on a par with "The 
Benny Hill Show", so that PG13 rating is well deserved, but 
fortunately it doesn't get too out of hand and is relatively mild 
by today's standards.

From a satire point of view it hits most of the right bulls-eyes 
- the two gold medals at SLC, the ridiculous flamboyant costumes, 
and the obsessive fans, though to be honest, the stalker guy 
probably isn't half as scary as some of the Kwan fanatics out 
there. It's a pity they didn't do something about cheating 
judges, which are an obvious and well-deserved target, or perhaps 
have a Samaranch-type Games official in a fascist uniform and a 
clueless Speedy-ish idiot in charge of the skating. Figure 
skating is a sport that borders on sending itself up at times, so 
it's ripe for satire and long overdue for this treatment. The 
rest of the humor is mostly slapstick stuff, such as the 
hilarious running gag involving Games mascots suffering nasty 
accidents. Perhaps the most memorable scene is a gruesome but 
sidesplittingly funny sequence involving some skaters from North 
Korea, who attempt a radical move known as the "Iron Lotus" with 
disastrous results, a move that Chazz & Jimmy later use in their 
medal winning performance (could the film's writers have read 
some of Chuckie's postings?).

The special effects wizards do a good job of creating some 
fantastic skating stunts, a rare example of a film that actually 
uses CGI effects in the sort of way they should be used. They're 
also very convincing at recreating the atmosphere of an Olympics 
sized event - it never feels that this is some low-budget 
imitation of the real thing like in TV movies such as "A Promise 
Kept" or "Tonya & Nancy: The Inside Story". The film ends on a 
spectacular note with the team skating to Queen's "Flash Gordon" 
theme in an electrifying and gravity-ignoring performance.

One of the chief problems faced by films like this is the 
difficulty of milking what is essentially a single joke over the 
length of a feature, which probably explains why there hasn't 
been a successful case of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch being 
turned into a decent movie since "The Blues Brothers". "Blades of 
Glory" inevitably suffers a bit from this problem too, with the 
pace of gags slowing down during Jimmy's romance with Katie, 
where the film briefly tries to get serious, but it's not too big 
a distraction. As you'd also expect for a film of this nature, 
alot of it obviously isn't terribly realistic; the "loophole" 
that Chazz and Jimmy use to get back into skating sadly doesn't 
exist (otherwise Tonya would have used it years ago) and most of 
the skating moves they perform don't even comply with the laws of 
physics let alone the rules of eligible competition. Without 
doubt the most inaccurate part of the film, however, isn't any of 
these things but is instead the disciplinary hearing at which the 
twosome are banned for life by the "National Skating 
Association": we all know that the way the USFSA would conduct a 
real hearing like this would be so secret it would make Area 51 
look publicity hungry - certainly no TV cameras or popping 
flashbulbs as is depicted here.

Despite its flaws, this is an enjoyable film and definitely worth 
the price of a DVD rental for any skating fan, though it's 
essential that you check your brain (and good taste) at the door 
before watching it in order to get the maximum enjoyment out of 
it. It won't have you constantly rolling on the floor doubled 
over with laughter, but it should give plenty of chuckles and a 
few good belly laughs. It's not the definitive send-up of figure 
skating - that's yet to be done - but it's certainly the best ice 
skating movie for some time and I'd give it *** out of **** stars 
- or a good 5.8 on the old scoring system. And in spite of the 
aforementioned knee whacking joke, mercifully for a Tonyaphile 
there are no cheap shots at Tonya, who is not mentioned by name 
at all in the whole movie.

By the way, make sure you stay through the end credits too, as 
there's some funny stuff in there as well involving the obsessed 
fanboy stalker.


RIP-OFF ALERT

If there's one thing that gets us really riled up here at the 
Special Duties Section, almost as much as the unjust way Tonya 
got treated by the skating establishment, it's people trying to 
exploit Tonyaphiles and make money off her name by asking 
ridiculous prices for things that are available much cheaper, or 
even for free, to those who bother to do a little research.

Now, we should emphasize that we've got no problem with people 
charging high prices for things if that's what the free market 
price really is. We're not some bunch of commies who think 
everything should be free. But when people charge much more than 
other sellers are asking for the same thing, then the only 
conclusion that can be drawn is that they're trying to exploit 
people's ignorance of what a crummy deal they're offering. And 
that's just dishonest, no matter how you look at it.

Case in point: be warned that there's a guy on eBay trying to 
sell a VHS copy of "Breakaway", the low budget action movie that 
Tonya had a bit part in after she got booted out of skating, for 
$US195 - and it isn't even a new copy:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Breakaway-1996-VHS-Teri-Thompson-Tonya-Harding_W0QQitemZ280057637053QQihZ018QQ

This is just an absolute rip-off. Although the tape has been out 
of print for several years (and has not been released on DVD in 
English as far as can be determined), there's nothing 
particularly rare about it and there is no justification for 
paying such an outrageous price. Other much cheaper copies can be 
easily found, for instance at the time of writing Amazon has good 
used copies on offer for as little as $11:95:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/6304252323/ref=dp_olp_1/002-4817887-6128856

A bit more Googling would probably find others without too much 
trouble.

In short, don't be conned into paying through the nose for this 
film if you want to see it. It's not rare, there's no need to 
shell out big bucks to greedy profiteering ripoff artists to get 
a copy.

On the same subject, here's another guy who apparently thinks 
that Tonyaphiles came down in the last shower: he's trying to 
flog copies of Tonya's 2002 DUI arrest report for $6:99 plus 
$5:99 shipping in the U.S., a grand total of $12:98:

http://cgi.ebay.com/TONYA-HARDING-ICE-SKATING-STAR-ARREST-REPORT_W0QQitemZ120117983594QQihZ002QQ

He also has the cheek to insist that you agree not to reproduce 
and sell copies of the report, something of highly questionable 
enforceability given that as a government document the original 
report is public domain and non-copyright. Gee, I wonder if he 
bothered to clear the rights to that photo of Tonya crying at 
Lillehammer that he's got on the cover of his version? Yeah, of 
course he did - and the Pope's probably a Buddhist, too.

Save your thirteen bucks. Here's a better deal: go to The Smoking 
Gun: 

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/hardingdui1.html

and you can download the entire report - all THREE PAGES OF IT - 
for nothing (which is frankly about all it's worth). There's no 
dodgy anti-Tonya photos on the cover. You can make and sell as 
many copies of it as you like. And you don't have to wait for the 
postal service to deliver it either.

Oddly enough, it seems that shortly after we posted this 
information to the tonyaharding.org forum a few days ago, this 
seller pulled all his listings. Coincidence?


TONYA CD AVAILABLE

Linda Lewis has announced that she has decided to again make 
available a music CD that Tonya recorded several years ago: 

   Tonya's CD is now available for purchase. She, along with the 
   Lewis's niece, Shannon Nicole, recorded this original song, 
   "When We Shared In Each Other's Lives", written by Linda and 
   Greg Lewis. It received some National attention, after the 
   Oklahoma bombing incident, when Tonya and Shannon performed it 
   on the Hard Copy TV show. Tonya dedicated it to the families 
   and friends of those tragically killed in that horrible event. 
   The song is very poignant. The message is for anyone who has 
   ever had to say Good-Bye to someone. It's hard, but you will 
   always have the wonderful memories. 

   To hear part of the song go www.lewisandlewismusic.com click 
   on music and then specialty music. Scroll down to the version 
   of the song with Tonya on it. It's available now on CD for 
   $20, autographed by Tonya.

If you want to spend money on Tonya memorabilia, spend it by 
buying your Tonya merchandise from the best source: Tonya 
herself. By buying stuff directly from Tonya, you can be sure 
it's genuine, and you've got the knowledge that your money is 
going to the best cause of all - helping Tonya - rather than 
lining the pockets of some profiteering middleman. And that, as 
they say in the credit card ads, is "priceless".


TWO DECADES OF AGGRESSIVE PRACTICE: THE RISE & FALL OF DAVID HANS 
SCHMIDT

And while we're on the subject of profiteering middlemen, David 
Hans Schmidt, who was Tonya's agent for a few months back in the 
mid-1990's, has been found dead at his home in Phoenix, Arizona, 
after apparently committing suicide. Schmidt was involved in the 
marketing of the now infamous "Wedding Night Video" and later 
tried to devise an unsuccessful comeback campaign for her. He was 
best known, however, for peddling smutty photos of various 
celebrities, often obtained by means of dubious legality, an 
occupation that earned him the title of "Sultan of Sleaze", a 
nickname he wore as a badge of honor. Accordingly, we present 
this summary of his rather bizarre life and his involvement with 
Tonya.

According to his web site, hansnews.com, Schmidt was born in 
Rochester, Minnesota, in 1960. He didn't get along well there, 
frequently getting into trouble at school, and also with his 
strict German-Lutheran parents. He took up boxing after seeing 
the film "Rocky" and later served in the Army as a paratrooper. 
He also claims he placed 11th for the 19 and under age group in 
the 1980 Boston Marathon. He then studied at Rochester College, 
Augsberg College in Minneapolis and Bowling Green State 
University in Ohio. While at Augsberg and BGU he got into writing 
columns for the local newspapers, often specializing in stirring 
up controversy.

He then headed back home and took up a position with the family 
grain farming business, but conflicts with his father meant it 
didn't last. Taking the old advice of "Go West, Young Man", 
Schmidt hitched a ride to Phoenix where his writing ability 
landed him a job as a reporter for "The Arizona Republic" 
covering business and politics. It was there where he got his 
first introduction to the public relations business. As he 
himself put it, "he quickly figured if these bimbos can do it, 
he can do it better". He also claims that he worked for Arizona 
Governor Ed Mecham shortly before his impeachment, though nobody 
seems to be able to verify this. In 1987, Schmidt founded his own 
PR company. Although he supposedly had some major corporate 
clients, it was not as a mainstream PR man where he would make 
his biggest impact. As his site says: "his time with Governor 
Mecham taught him one important thing: that scandal and 
controversy are king in the news media".


MONEY FOR NOTHING

In January 1992, Schmidt was to undergo a revelation that would 
change his life - and western popular culture - forever. While 
shopping for groceries at a local store, he saw an issue of 
"Star" magazine containing an article about Gennifer Flowers, a 
woman who claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton. 
Schmidt learned that the tabloid had paid $125,000 for the 
interview. If a magazine would pay that much for just an 
interview, Schmidt reasoned, surely a men's magazine like 
Penthouse or Playboy would pay at least a million dollars for her 
to pose nude. Schmidt quickly tracked down Flowers in Dallas and 
persuaded her to sign a contract giving him the exclusive right 
to represent her. When he got back to his office a fax was 
waiting from her lawyer, saying that Playboy had made an offer. 
Armed with this offer, Schmidt approached rival Penthouse. By 
playing the two magazines off against each other, Schmidt was 
able to close a deal with Penthouse. Although the details of the 
deal have never been released, Schmidt's share would have 
probably amounted to at least several tens of thousands of 
dollars for a few hours work. It was almost "money for nothing", 
as Dire Straits would say.


THE GREAT SKATING SWINDLE

Schmidt's next big score was one that every Tonyaphile is 
familiar with - a videotape that has become known simply as "The 
Wedding Night Video", one of the first of the numerous celebrity 
"sex-tapes" that have now become a dime a dozen.

"I'll never forget driving around with Jeff Gillooly in Portland, 
Oregon and telling him, 'Jeff, if you can get me any skin on the 
old lady, I'll make you a millionaire.'", Schmidt said in an 
interview with Playboy in 2000. The tape was later sold to 
Penthouse and went on to become one of its most popular titles, 
according to Schmidt.

This, however, is inconsistent with an interview he gave to the 
Phoenix New Times in 2002, where his explanation makes no sense 
at all:

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2002-10-31/culture/in-this-corner/full

    Schmidt: I was Jeff Gillooly's agent, and I told him, "You
    want to make some money? You've got to get me some skin on
    the old lady." He called me up the day after they were
    married and said, "I got a 30-minute wedding-night video of
    Tonya." I took it straight to Bob Guccione at Penthouse.

Given that Tonya married Jeff in 1990, well before the scandal 
and even before the triple axel, such a tape would have had 
absolutely no commercial value at that time. It would just be 
another bad amateur porno movie. Indeed, Schmidt himself didn't 
start peddling smut until over a whole year after the wedding (he 
did the Gennifer Flowers deal in early 1992). It also doesn't 
tally with what he told Playboy back around 2000 in which he said 
this conversation took place several months AFTER the scandal. 
Yet pictures from the tape appeared in print in mid-February 
1994, so obviously the tape must have been leaked very shortly 
after the scandal.

Some of his other claims he makes in that article sound hard to 
believe to say the least, like that he was working on "Celebrity 
Boxing III" (which was never made) and that Tonya made a pass at 
him. But that was the trouble with Schmidt. You could never tell 
the truth from the hype.

The WNV's release marked the first time an amateur porn tape not 
originally intended for mass consumption was marketed in a major 
way. "I knew I had gold in my hands," Schmidt told Playboy of his 
reaction when he first learned of the tape's existence. "I'm 
still getting royalty checks."

The same couldn't be said for Tonya. Joe Haran, who was editor of 
Tonya's fan club magazine at the time, tells a different story in 
the November 12, 2001 edition of "The Portlandian", where he says 
that Penthouse pretty much blackmailed Tonya into doing a deal:

http://www.geocities.com/portice/port45.htm

It wasn't the last connection between Schmidt & Tonya: in July 
1996 he appeared on the "Geraldo" show with her, pushing a 
comeback he dubbed "Tonya II". Ultimately, however, Schmidt 
lacked the clout and connections in the closed-shop world of 
figure skating to bypass the USFSA mafia and devise an effective 
comeback strategy for Tonya, and the only skating work he was 
able to obtain for her was a short skate during the intermission 
of a hockey game in Reno, Nevada, in February 1997. Nevertheless, 
this event received huge coverage in the media. Tonya dumped 
him shortly afterwards after he ripped her off over the proceeds 
from the Reno gig. He did apparently play a role in organizing 
the infamous face-off between her and Nancy Kerrigan on the Fox 
"Breaking The Ice" special that aired a year later. In 1997 
Schmidt celebrated the tenth anniversary of his PR business by 
appending the tag line "Celebrating A Decade of Aggressive 
Practice" to his firm's letterhead.


THE SULTAN OF SLEAZE

In the wake of the "Wedding Night Video", Schmidt rapidly gained 
a reputation as the "go-to guy" if you were a good-looking woman 
involved in some kind of scandal or had photos or footage of a 
famous person doing something stupid with their pants down. 
During the next few years Schmidt represented Divine Brown, a 
prostitute who had been caught with British actor Hugh Grant, and 
arranged nude photo shoots for Katerina Witt and Paula Jones (who 
had once accused Clinton of sexually harrassing her, and who 
subsequently was Tonya's opponent on Fox's "Celebrity Boxing" in 
2002). Not all of those whose images he peddled were willing 
accomplices, though. In addition to Tonya, numerous minor 
celebrities became his victims, with Colin Farrell, Dustin 
Diamond (of "Saved by the Bell"), Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and 
- you guessed it - Paris Hilton, all suffering humiliation at his 
hands. He purchased the contents of a storage locker belonging to 
Hilton which had been sold off after she forgot to pay the bill, 
revealing what he described as "a King Tut's tomb of scandal". 
Nothing and nobody was sacred: in 2003 he brokered a deal to sell 
unauthorized topless photos of war hero Jessica Lynch, who at the 
time was still recuperating in hospital, to Hustler magazine 
publisher Larry Flynt. Flynt, however, ultimately decided not to 
print them - it seems that even a pornographer like Flynt does 
have some scruples. The same couldn't be said of Schmidt.

Increasingly Schmidt's methods of sourcing product to pimp 
became of more borderline legality as he constantly strove to 
outdo himself with bigger and bigger deals for more and more 
outrageous material. Explicit photos of Jamie Foxx were obtained 
by Schmidt from workmen who found them in a dumpster at Foxx's 
house (he was later forced to return them). The Durst footage 
came via hackers who had gained access to Durst's computer. 
Oddly, Schmidt was outraged when the hackers subsequently welched 
on a deal and posted his own personal details on the internet - 
the irony of a man whose entire career was based on violating the 
privacy of others having his own privacy violated went completely 
over his head.

It was this desperation to constantly top his previous 
achievements at all costs that ultimately led to his downfall. 
Like many criminals, Schmidt became arrogant, increasingly coming 
to believe that he was bulletproof and could get away with 
anything. He was the king, "da man", the Sultan of Sleaze, the 
undisputed leader in his field. And he didn't need anything 
boring like the law getting in his way.

If Schmidt's attitude could be summed up by a song, it would 
probably be Freddie Mercury's immortal lines "I want it all, and 
I want it now". But Karma was about to come and knock on his 
door.


RISKY BUSINESS

Ironically, it was more footage of a wedding couple that proved 
to be Schmidt's undoing. The fall came when he attempted to pull 
the same dirty tricks that had worked on minor stars on a real, 
genuine A-list celebrity: Tom Cruise. Easily the most high-
profile name he had dealt with, Schmidt proved to be well out of 
his league. A computer geek by the name of Marc Lewis Gittleman 
contacted Schmidt with photos he had obtained of Cruise's wedding 
to actress Katie Holmes after one of Cruise's official 
photographers had approached him for help in recovering the 
images from a faulty computer hard drive. Gittleman did so, but 
kept copies for himself and then contacted Schmidt after Googling 
his name on-line.

In May 2007, Schmidt approached Cruise's representatives at the 
Rogers & Cowan public relations agency with a view to selling the 
7600 photos back to Cruise in return for a fee of over a million 
dollars, threatening that if they didn't play ball, he would take 
the photos elsewhere. When Cruise's people pointed out that his 
proposal was effectively blackmail, Schmidt was unfazed: 
"Sometimes we have to shitcan legality, because you don't know 
what we will do. Of course Tom has the legal force to go after 
us, but if he does, we'll dump it on the world wide web". The 
tactic did not work - unlike his previous victims, Cruise had no 
need to work with Schmidt in order to get publicity, and since 
the photos were Cruise's copyrighted property Schmidt didn't have 
a legal leg to stand on with his threats to release them. At a 
meeting in July with Cruise's people, Schmidt discovered that one 
of those attending was an FBI agent, and he was arrested and 
charged with extortion. The FBI report records that Schmidt 
appeared to be "under the influence of some unknown substance" at 
an earlier meeting.

Schmidt quickly spilled the beans and Gittleman was also 
arrested. Strangely for a computer "expert", Gittleman had made 
no attempt to hide his location, posting his messages to Schmidt 
from his own e-mail account.

Early in September, it was reported that Schmidt had agreed to 
plead guilty to the extortion charges in exchange for a lighter 
sentence. The plea deal, however, was never to make it to court.


THINGS TO DO IN PHOENIX WHEN YOU'RE DEAD

Around 3pm on Friday, the 28th of September 2007, David Hans 
Schmidt was found dead at his home in Phoenix after police had 
noticed a monitoring device attached to him had shown no movement 
for some time. He had hanged himself in the shower and his death 
was ruled a suicide by the coroner.

With his jet-setting, high-profile lifestyle, Schmidt presented 
an image that personified the American Dream: that of a 
successful, self-made entrepreneur who had become rich by 
innovating and following his own set of rules rather than just 
going along with the crowd. It was all a facade. The Cruise 
incident had pretty much destroyed his business model and dried 
up his income. He owed $100,000 in child support and had recently 
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to an article in the 
"Arizona Republic" newspaper most of his possessions, including 
his house and car, were due to be repossessed at the time of his 
death. And beneath the brash self-confidence lay wild mood 
swings: he was very "up" when doing a deal, but often sank into 
deep depression, particularly after his arrest. His mother 
revealed in an interview that he suffered from bi-polar disorder 
and in a phone call to gossip columnist George Rush he confessed 
to having attempted suicide by the same method two weeks before 
his death. Schmidt's business and personal life was a shambles. 
Queen's "I Want It All" had now metamorphosed into something more 
like "Life in the Fast Lane" by The Eagles - a driver on a 
freeway to oblivion desperately searching for the nearest off-
ramp.

Schmidt's legacy on popular culture has been twofold. Firstly, he 
broke down the barrier between porn stars and "normal" 
celebrities. In the past, the two were separate - if you'd 
appeared in an X-rated film, you were a pariah and (with the 
exception of one or two people such as Traci Lords, who managed 
to re-invent herself as a B-grade horror movie actress) no 
mainstream casting agent would touch you. And if you were a 
"mainstream" actor who got caught on tape doing something 
embarrassing it was pretty much the kiss of death to your career, 
as Rob Lowe discovered when he was caught cavorting with an 
underaged girl in 1988. Today, the stigma of appearing in a 
pornographic movie is gone and a "sex tape" seems to be regarded 
as welcome publicity by many d-list no-talents eager for an easy 
way to get their fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Secondly, he made voyeurism an acceptable pastime amongst the 
community. In the past, voyeurs were considered to to be 
perverts, dirty old men spying through keyholes. Thanks to David 
Hans Schmidt, we're now all voyeurs, eagerly awaiting the next 
celebrity sex video to leak out so that we can laugh at 
somebody's humiliation. It's now perfectly acceptable to be a 
peeping Tom, at least if the person you're leering at is somebody 
newsworthy. We've now entered a brave new world of "journalism" 
where celebrities are considered fair game for anything and seem 
to have absolutely NO privacy rights whatsoever.

We suspect that it'll probably only be a matter of time before 
somebody decides to make a movie of Schmidt's pathetic career. 
After all, Hollywood loves sleaze and indeed seemed to be quite 
happy to allow Schmidt to ply his trade so long as he didn't 
interfere with the big fish. I think, though, that we can safely 
assume that Tom Cruise will not be interested in playing the 
leading role.


CODA

On the 10th of September, a bizarre message appeared on Jim 
Maxey's tonyaharding.com web site.

Now, we're not talking here about the "normal" strange messages 
that you find over there - the ones that involve Tonya with a 
whip, a gas mask and a strap-on rubber appendage trampling with 
her ice skates on guys dressed in women's underwear - those are 
just par for the course for Maxey's crowd. No, we're talking 
about something REALLY way out. The message, purporting to be 
from one "Jeff Stone", read as follows:

   Standard Message #: 2386
   Subject: Call David Schmidt
   From: Jeff Stone, 40 yr old Male
   Date: Monday, September 10, 2007 @5:50 PM pacific time
   Rating: 5

   Tonya‚

   David Schmidt contacted me thru my office. Why he thinks I 
   have a way to contact you is beyond me. It has been fifteen 
   years. Ironically‚ both my kids love to skate! Anyway‚ David 
   has a check for you. Call him at 602 751 7759. Hope all is 
   well with you and yours. Good luck in your endeavors

   Jeff

I'm sure we all know who "Jeff Stone" is.

Hoax? Or was this some attempt by Schmidt to make amends with 
Tonya and pay back the money he ripped off from her before he 
killed himself? We'll probably never know. It seems odd that 
Schmidt couldn't have found a better way to send Tonya a message, 
indeed why not just leave the message on Maxey's site himself? 
And it's been 13 years, not 15, since the scandal, so whoever 
wrote this message isn't too good at math.

On the other hand, if it is a hoax it's certainly a rather 
unusual one. Why mention DHS when Tonya hasn't seen him for 
years? And the phone number is correct. It all sounds very 
"Twilight Zone". One thing's for certain though: if it was 
genuine, it's probably too late now, given that Schmidt had no 
money when he died.

At this point, we're probably expected to say that we're sorry to 
hear of the demise of David Hans Schmidt. We're supposed to say 
that he was a decent, upstanding guy despite all his flaws. We'd 
like to say that, but we can't, because it wouldn't be honest. 
We've never had much time for people who hypocritically praise 
dead people they were bad-mouthing only shortly before when they 
were alive. The reality is that David Hans Schmidt was a bum and 
a parasite who spent the last 15 years of his life sponging off 
other much more talented people such as Tonya and causing misery 
for them. His effect on popular culture - the acceptance of lurid 
intrusion into the intimate lives of celebrities as legitimate 
entertainment - has not been a positive development. That 
somebody of such high education and obvious potential squandered 
his life and ended it the way he did is a tragedy, but it's a 
tragedy entirely of his own making. We can only hope that he has 
finally found some sort of peace somewhere.

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VISIT THESE GREAT TONYA WEB SITES:

PortIce - http://www.geocities.com/portice
David House - http://www.tonyaharding.org
Charlie Main - http://www.charliesweb.com/tonya/tonya.html
Puppetboy - http://www.tonyaharding.us/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
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