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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
February 2, 2009 Edition - GROUNDHOG DAY EDITION
(C) 2009 Portland Ice Skating Society
Welcome to the first edition of The Portlandian, your leading
source of Tonya news, for 2009. Today we visit Georgia, Michigan,
Cleveland and Portland. We return to the scene of a notorious
crime, check out another artist who has been inspired by Tonya's
life story and find some new footage of a Tonya appearance. We
also examine the state of figure skating in the wake of the U.S.
Nationals, and how Tonya continues to impact on top-level skating
today. Finally, we conclude with a bit of Sid & Nancy.
But unlike the movie, this Groundhog Day edition won't repeat
over and over in a time loop. Not that being permanently stuck in
a state of Tonyaphoria would be a bad thing, of course...
TONYA IN DOUGLAS, GA
The past month has seen Tonya make two major public appearances.
Tonya visited the town of Douglas in Georgia for several days in
January at the invitation of Tim Pafford Promotions where she
interacted with the local community. Tonya spent from the 8th to
the 10th of January in this town of approximately 10,000 people
engaging in various promotional activities for local businesses
and also working for charity. There were meet & greets at a fish
hatchery, a bowling alley and a skating rink, amongst others.
More details can be found at:
The promotion got off to a good start when Tonya visited Ken's
Fish Hatchery on Thursday where she was filmed hunting and
fishing. Linda Lewis informs us that Tonya was very excited when
she caught a 75 pound catfish!
Thursday evening saw Tonya visiting the Rockin' Sports Pub. Tonya
also returned to the nearby Rockin' Roll Bowlin' from 3 to 5pm on
Friday & Saturday.
On Friday, Tonya devoted the middle part of the day to various
charitable organizations in the Douglas area. Tonya says that
this is one her favorite things to do these days, and according
to Tim Pafford it was one of the conditions she insisted upon for
the visit to Douglas.
On Friday evening, Tonya attended a teen skate & dance party at
The Fun Place, a local entertainment center, where she gave
skating demonstrations and interacted with the public. Although
aimed at teens, all ages were present according to coverage by
the Douglas News. Participants also had the option of a private
skating session with Tonya later that evening for a higher ticket
price. One participant commented, "I was surprised that she was
so nice, and she seems really normal." The Douglas News reported
that "for many, this was a highlight of the weekend, to see her
skating and having a good time with the kids."
The grand finale of Tonya's activities in Douglas was a barbeque
and lecture on Saturday at the Central Square Complex in which
she told her side of the Tonya/Nancy incident and what she is
doing now to restore her reputation and her personal pride. This
was followed by a short Q & A session.
The local media gave good coverage, though it is a pity that they
couldn't have put a decent sized picture with the article - the
thumbnail doesn't seem to link to a full sized photo, which is a
bit puzzling. It's pleasing to see that the article also mentions
Tonya's charitable work while she is in town. I'm sure that we
can trust that "The Oregonian" & "The Columbian" will have front
page write-ups about Tonya's charity work in Douglas (yeah, right
- in our dreams). In addition, Tonya was alsso filmed by crews
from two major channels, Fox & HBO. The footage will be seen on a
future episode of the Fox series "Strollin' with Nolan" and on an
upcoming feature for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." So
far we don't have any details of precise air dates for these.
We find that Tonya seems to get a much better reception in these
small towns than in the big cities - perhaps it's because they
don't get many visits from celebrities, or perhaps people are
less jaded there and more willing to take Tonya at face value
than be influenced by what they see in the big media than those
in the larger cities.
TONYA RETURNS TO DETROIT
Tonya was to box an exhibition match against an un-named opponent
at a mixed martial-arts contest in Detroit on the 24th of
January. It will be the first time she has returned to that city
since the Incident in 1994.
Unfortunately, it seems that bureaucracy struck again and Tonya
was not able to fight as planned. Apparently professional MMA
contests are banned in Michigan under current regulations and the
fact that Tonya is a professional boxer means she can't compete
on the same card (even though she was just going to be doing
regular boxing, not MMA, and the MMA part of the contest was
amateur anyway). Plus there's also regulations about the
minimum number of rounds for pro boxing events:
Tonya did, however, still turn up to sign autographs and meet
fans. When she was introduced to the crowd, some booed, a few
cheered. The Detroit Free Press reports Tonya was gracious,
nevertheless, smiling and waving to the patrons. She also gave a
press conference the day before.
We'd very much recommend looking at the photo gallery that
accompanies that article as there's some new photos in there as
well as the old ones we've seen before:
This article is also worth a look:
It's also got an excellent photo of Tonya in a boxing pose. We're
not sure when it was taken - it could possibly even go back to
the Fox celebrity boxing in 2002 - but I haven't seen it in
circulation until a few days ago:
The Freep also reports that Jackie Kallen, a legendary Detroit
boxing manager and a friend of Tonya's, was also present. Kallen
is promoting her own MMA team of women in L.A., where she
currently lives, called the Fatal Femmes.
"I just wanted to support Joe and Tonya," Kallen said. "Tonya
really is a sweet kid. You gain a reputation -- a bad rap -- and
it's hard to get rid of. Tonya's a down-home girl. She is OK."
TONYA IS MUSE FOR YACOLT ARTIST
Following on from the rock opera that premiered in Portland
earlier last year, another local artist has been inspired to
create art with a Tonya-based theme. Forty-year-old Mary Millar,
who lives in Yacolt Washington near Tonya's home town, has used
her as an inspiration for two works in a recent exhibition:
The first, like alot of Millar's works, is a spoof advertisement
in retro 50's style, this time for a Tonya "ice princess costume"
including a hubcap & boxing gloves. The second, "Sweet Candy",
shows Tonya, dressed as a girl scout and standing next to a
snowman, selling donuts and boxes of candy under the heading
"Tonya Harding, Queen of Nice". The paintings were part of an
exhibition of Millar's work that ran through December at
Portland's GalleryZero. The exhibition is a ten-year
retrospective of Millar's works, many of which lampoon religion
or old advertisements.
"That's my sense of humor in my art," Millar said. "I'm always
trying to make fun of something or someone."
Millar, a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, became
interested in Tonya after regularly seeing her in the local area
and while out shopping. Although she never spoke to Tonya she
began to think about what her life must be like.
Despite the fact that the paintings are humorous, Millar is
adamant that she is not trying to put down Tonya: "In a way, I'm
kind of a fan," she told The Columbian. "I think she's a
misunderstood character. I find her very interesting, a great
subject matter for art."
"She looks very good in these pictures," said Millar. "I didn't
make her look overweight or old or ratty. I made her look
beautiful, with big hair and a pin-up style body." Millar hopes
that she can persuade other artists to help her produce an entire
exhibition devoted to Tonya.
A news report about the exhibition on a local TV station can be
More information can also be found on Mary Millar's own web site:
TONYA IN HARRISON ARKANSAS - NEW FOOTAGE
Some footage of Tonya in Harrison, Arkansas several months ago
has appeared on YouTube:
In it, Tonya, complete with the obligatory redneck icon of a
confederate flag t-shirt, is being interviewed in a boxing ring
when a guy by the name of "Boss" Campbell, who appears to be some
sort of local wrestler, enters the ring and verbally abuses the
audience (calling them "trailer trash" & "meth addicts") and
Tonya (describing her as a "white trash ho"), who then, in an
obviously staged performance, knocks him down, much to the
WEIR CITES TONYA INFLUENCE
This article about Johnny Weir shows he's a direct example of how
the Tonya/Nancy affair still impacts on skating today, 15 years
"Weir was not at all interested in figure skating until he was
captivated by it while watching the highly publicized duel
between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in the 1994 Olympics in
Lillehammer, Norway. Then just 10 years old, he started roller-
skating in the driveway of his rural Pennsylvania home during
nice weather and in the basement when it rained or snowed. His
mother got him a pair of hand-me-down ice skates and a frozen
cornfield behind his house became his makeshift rink. He used
broken down stalks to jump over. Weir never looked back."
COMPULSORY FIGURES: SKATE OF THE UNION
With the U.S. Nationals recently in the news, we thought that now
was an appropriate time to look at the state of competitive
figure skating in the U.S. fifteen years on from the Tonya era.
And as these two articles show, the first from Christine Brennan,
the second from Phil Hersh, the results are not pretty reading:
It was only about ten years ago that TV schedules were
overflowing with skating and the ISU and USFSA were raking in
the big bucks from TV rights and sponsorship deals. Now you can
barely give the coverage away. You're lucky if you get anything
at all on a normal TV network anymore - NBC will show a dismal
TWO HOURS of Worlds (only the Ladies final) this year. The only
alternative coverage will be funny little cable channels or
flaky unreliable webcasts from IceNetwork (which are, of
course, useless if you don't have a broadband connection). Or
if you can't afford or don't have access to these, you have to
resort to finding bootleg copies off YouTube or filesharing
In the Men's section, there is still Johnny & Evan and now Jeremy
Abbott. But the Ladies field in the US is now the weakest
for years. Hughes & Meissner had to pull out of Nationals because
of injuries. There's no obvious rivalry to make it interesting.
We've gone from a situation of one person (Kwan) winning
everything year after year, which got a bit boring, to a bunch of
five-minute wonders who come and go before anybody gets a chance
to know who they are (which isn't helped by the lack of TV
coverage). Some are saying that the U.S. may end up with no
ladies on the podium at the 2010 Olympics, the first time since
1964 (and at least then there was a good excuse - an entire
generation of top US skaters had been wiped out by the plane
crash 3 years earlier). The only bright spot is that at least the
women's champ is now actually a woman, 21 year old Alissa Czisny,
as opposed to the little girl who won last year.
We hope that Speedy and his cohorts at the ISU and his
bootlicking lackeys at the USFSA are really proud of their
accomplishments. Their greed and mismanagement has resulted in
the shambolic state of U.S. skating today. It is a testimony to
just how bad things are in the Ladies division that something
that would have been considered absurd just a couple of years ago
- thawing The Mighty Kwan out of cryogenic sstorage, Austin Powers
style, for Vancouver - is now possibly the only hope for a medal.
One has to wonder how different things would have been if the
ill-fated World Skating Federation had managed to get off the
TONYA TRIVIA QUESTION
In our last issue, we asked what the connections were between
Tonya and the ZZ Top song "Sleeping Bag". The first connection
was easy to guess: Tonya used a portion of the song in some of
her skating routines in the early 90's.
But there is a second connection, and the answer lies in the
song's music video, which features a young woman being chased
around by a creepy character reminiscent of Freddy Krueger from
the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films.
The similarity to "Nightmare On Elm Street", however, doesn't
stop there - the young woman who is being chased is none other
than the star of that film, Heather Langenkamp - who also played
Nancy Kerrigan in the TV movie "Tonya & Nancy, the Inside Story"
(and oddly enough, her character's name in the "Elm Street" films
is Nancy as well).
The "Inside Story" film, which is fairly sympathetic to Tonya and
well worth a look, has never been officially released on any home
video format in the U.S. to our knowledge (though bootlegs can be
found without too much trouble). However, an interesting by-
product of our research into this is that we discovered that it
was at one stage released in Japan on VHS with English dialog and
Japanese subtitles. This appears to be the only official release
of this anywhere in the world that we are aware of. You can find
a review of it in the June 4, 1999 edition of the Portlandian:
The film also features a scene in which "Nancy" is seen in Freddy
Krueger-style red & green striped jersey, an obvious tribute to
the Elm Street movies.
Finally, it is our sad duty to remind everyone that today marks
the 30th anniversary of the death of one of punk's greatest
icons, John Simon Ritchie Beverley, better known to everybody as
Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Sid was found dead after a
suspected drug overdose on February 2, 1979, at the age of 21.
There are obvious differences between the life of Sid and that of
Tonya. For a start, while as Tonya was enormously talented at
skating, Sid was a hopeless guitarist who never mastered playing
his instrument - indeed, his playing was so bad that it is said
that the Pistol's engineers had to reduce the volume of his bass
down so low it was virtually inaudible in the sound mix. His
singing wasn't much better, as anyone who has heard his
oxymoronically-titled album "Sid Sings" can attest.
Nevertheless, it is also possible to draw certain parallels
between the the two. Both were controversy magnets. Both have had
lives that feature their share of troubles and mistakes, such as
falling in with the wrong crowd. And like Tonya, it was a woman
named Nancy who was ultimately Sid's downfall. But perhaps the
most important parallel is that both were individuals who brought
a fresh new energy to their respective fields - as Pistols
manager Malcolm McLaren once said, "if (Johnny) Rotten is the
look of punk, Vicious is the attitude". Like Tonya, Sid did
things "his way" rather than just following the crowd, which is
why he and the rest of the Pistols are remembered 30 years on
(and why Tonya is still remembered in figure skating). In loving
memory of Sid, we invite everybody to visit our Sid & Nancy
Now, if only we could get Tonya to skate to this:
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.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
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