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

June 18, 2010 Edition
(C) 2010 Portland Ice Skating Society
http://www.pdxiss.org
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Welcome to the first edition of "The Portlandian" for the new 
decade. In this issue, we go drag racing, expose more double 
standards by the media, find a Portland street named after Tonya, 
check up on an old "friend" of hers who's now in hot water, 
review another theatrical show about Tonya and take the chance to 
do one last dose of Sammy-bashing. Plus go Gaga over a cool idea 
by Johnny Weir.


LIFE'S A DRAG FOR TONYA IN GEORGIA

Tonya has once again found herself back in Georgia, thanks to Tim 
Pafford, the businessman who organized her visit to Douglas in 
January of last year:

http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/headlines/92156959.html?ref=959

Like many Tonyaphiles, Pafford admits that he initially harbored 
a negative image of Tonya thanks to what he read in the media, 
but totally changed his mind after meeting her in person. 
Referring to a dinner that he was at with Tonya during her 
Douglas visit, Pafford admitted "Me, like most people before that 
night, all I knew about her was all that stuff with the Nancy 
Kerrigan incident". "But after I met her and got to know her 
some, I told her afterward, 'Maybe I just didn't know any better, 
but I didn't know what to expect. And I just want to tell you 
what a delightful, genuine person you are.'"

In late April, Tonya visited Albany GA, where amongst other 
activities she took the opportunity to do a little drag racing at 
a nearby raceway owned by Pafford. "I've had a lot of celebrities 
(as guests at the track)," Pafford said. "I've brought in Steve 
Austin, George Jones, Loretta Lynn and others. And she's the best 
with young children I've ever seen. People who think she's all 
bad just have to meet her. Everyone who meets her likes her. She 
is just a special person. What is so special about her is her 
heart."

This interview she did with a local TV station has some great 
images of her speaking with Strollin' Nolan, who now owns his own 
burger and barbeque restaurant in Albany and who she also met 
last year in Douglas. And is she looking HOT!

http://www.walb.com/Global/story.asp?S=12384887

Tonya also talked about the charity work she will be doing for 
Big Brothers Big Sisters while in town. "I want to be able to use 
my name in a good way," said Tonya. "Other people have used my 
name to make their own money.  If I can make a little bit and put 
a smile on someone's face, that's what I'm here to do."

"I've always wanted to help people. I worked with Special 
Olympics children when I was in my teens and (raised money for 
the Special Olympics). Even when I did get into trouble and had 
to do community service, it was one of the most uplifting things 
I had ever done in my life. I worked for an elderly community 
center, and I met some of the most amazing people there.

"I've seen a part of life I didn't know existed. It's the same 
with children I meet all over the country. I meet so many neat 
and really wonderful people. If I hadn't gotten into trouble and 
hadn't been a skater I wouldn't be doing all these things, and I 
wouldn't have met them. I feel very fortunate for that."

http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/headlines/92285084.html?ref=084

That Friday, Tonya raced against Sheryl Nichols Giles, the sister 
of speedway legend Skip Giles. After a close fought battle, with 
the lead oscillating between Tonya and Giles, Tonya won the final 
race by finishing the 1/8-mile strip in 11.34 seconds at 64 mph 
(103 km/h) — just ahead of Giles, who ran it in 11.35 at 63 mph 
(101 km/h). She was also scheduled to race against members of the 
public on the Dragway's go-kart track afterwards, but this was 
canceled due to rain. On Sunday, Tonya appeared at the WJIZ Car 
and Bike Show at the track, where she raced another car called 
"Smoking Gun", a reference to her TruTV show.

"She's just a great person and a joy to be around," Giles said. 
"We spent time together all week doing all kinds of things and 
she even took me and my niece to get our nails done (before our 
race). Racing her was a challenge, but at the finish line it was 
all hugs and kisses."

http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/story.aspx?id=451543

http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/photos.aspx?id=451543

http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/headlines/92645864.html?ref=864

Tonya also returned to Ken's Fish Hatchery, where she caught her 
state record-breaking catfish last year, and pulled in another 
fish only two inches (5 cm) shy of her record. She also shot two 
hogs during a mid-week hunting trip.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. "People are 
just so awesome here in South Georgia," Tonya said Friday. "You 
really get that southern hospitality here. I enjoyed this last 
week so much." Hats off too, to the local paper, the Albany 
Herald for its positive coverage of Tonya - a rarity for the 
mainstream media.


TONYA MEDIA WATCH

The past few months have seen several interviews with Tonya in 
various media.

Around the time of the U.S. skating Nationals in January, Tonya 
gave a telephone interview with Christine Brennan, the woman 
whose journalistic career has probably benefited the most from 
writing about her.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/brennan/2010-01-21-skating-harding_N.htm

No major news in it, but at least it doesn't seem too bad by 
Brennan's standards. Perhaps the main item here is Tonya's 
comments on the new judging system, being quoted as saying that 
it makes makes skating less interesting by encouraging a certain 
sameness in each program.

"People say it's not exciting, that it's just the same programs," 
she told Brennan. "They need to bump up skating again." "What I 
mean is to bring in kids from local clubs, kids who don't have 
money to pay for competitions, to let them show off their talent 
when they're little. Then, when you least expect it a few years 
later, there they are."

Around the same time Tonya also did a pre-recorded phone 
interview with KFNS, a sports radio station in St. Louis, for 
their "First Call Monday" show. Linda Lewis, Tonya's manager and 
godmother, says that interviewer Roger Sinnott was very nice and 
told Tonya that of all the interviews he has done, she was the 
best. 

Tonya discussed her appearances on TruTV's "World's Dumbest" 
show, her reasons for quitting boxing, and her charity work, 
particularly for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also expressed 
interest in doing further acting work. Sinnott plugged her book, 
"The Tonya Tapes", while Tonya revealed that cougars and bears 
are not uncommon neighbors in the area where she lives.

You can listen to it on-line at:

http://www.kfns.com/firstcall.aspx. 

If you want to save it, the simplest way is if you have Firefox 
and the Downloadhelper extension (available from 
http://www.downloadhelper.net/), which will automatically pick it 
up as soon as it starts playing and enable you to download the 
interview as an MP3 file.

In February, Tonya appeared on "the Insider" reading a prepared 
statement about the Kerrigan tragedy (see below). She also skated 
and landed a triple - toe, not axel. Unfortunately this does not 
appear to be available on-line, but there's an article here:

http://www.theinsider.com/news/3169624_Tonya_Harding_s_Words_for_Nancy_Kerrigan

They seem to have bent over backwards to find the most revolting 
photo of Tonya they can - the lighting makes her look like she's 
got jaundice. This one has a much better photo:

http://au.eonline.com/uberblog/b164029_tonya_harding_weighs_in_on_nancy.html


THE BOSTON STRANGLER

The other thing that had Tonya's name once again in the news over 
the past few months has ironically been something that didn't 
involve Tonya at all.

In late January, Nancy Kerrigan's father Dan Kerrigan died in 
suspicious circumstances, apparently after an altercation with 
Nancy's brother Mark over the use of a telephone at her parent's 
house in Stoneham, MA. Mark was initially charged with assault on 
an elderly person, and in April the charges were, not 
surprisingly, upgraded to manslaughter after a coroner's 
investigation determined that the cause of death was most likely 
caused by Mark grasping his father around the neck. This police 
report has more details of what sounds like a particularly violent 
struggle:

http://www.etonline.com/documents/et_kerrigan_policereport_100125.pdf

Tonya has already expressed her sympathies: "Tonya feels very sad 
for Nancy and her family and extends her deepest sympathy and 
condolences to them. Tonya's beloved dad, Al Harding, passed away 
this past April, so she understands the grief Nancy and her 
family are feeling at this difficult time", said Tonya's 
manager, Linda Lewis, in a statement issued shortly afterwards.

This tragic incident raises numerous questions, many of which 
will hopefully be answered once the case goes to trial. But 
there's one question that the court won't be considering that we 
as Tonyaphiles think is very important, and that is this:

     Why the hell haven't we heard of this guy before?

It seems that Mark is the black sheep of the Kerrigan family, 
having already done time in jail for offenses ranging from drunk 
driving, assault and battery, domestic assaults, resisting arrest 
and violating a restraining order. Many of these date from well 
before the knee-whacking incident. Yet in all our days following 
the Tonya/Nancy thing this is the first time we've ever heard of 
Mark Kerrigan and his run-ins with the law, despite the fact that 
it sounds like his rap sheet is longer than the Great Wall of 
China.

Interviews with Mark's ex-wife that are now coming out make him 
sound like a Gillooly clone - violent, abusive and jealous of 
another family member's success. Sounds like the perfect type who 
would want to sabotage someone's career. I wonder if the police 
ever questioned him in the early days after the Clubbing? It 
would appear he would have been an obvious suspect, at least 
until the Eckardt connection became clear.

Yet there was no mention of him at the time in the press. A 
search on Google for articles from 1994 mentioning the name "Mark 
Kerrigan" turns up nothing (as opposed to hundreds for Tonya). 
We've also checked our archive of hundreds of Tonya/Nancy 
articles going back to 1994 and he's not mentioned at all! So 
much for "investigative reporting" by the LameStream Media.

If Tonya's sixth-removed step-cousin was to get a parking ticket 
it would be front page news on the Oregonian the next day - more 
"evidence" of what a bunch of losers and neer-do-wells she and 
her family are. We're particularly reminded of her half-brother 
Chris Davidson, who also had a similar reputation for getting 
into trouble and who was killed in a hit and run accident. There 
was even baseless speculation Tonya had something to do with his 
death. Yet when it comes to Nancy's dodgy relatives - silence. 
It's just another example of the double standard that Tonya is 
subjected to by the media.

His ex-wife also claims that the Kerrigans seemed dismissive when 
she told them about his abusive behavior. They seem to be in 
denial about what a nasty piece of work he is, an attitude that's 
still obviously present from their continued statements defending 
him. 

Nancy's family have been portrayed over the years as the Brady 
Bunch, while Tonya's are depicted as like the inbred knuckle-
draggers from "Deliverance". In fact it's now becoming obvious 
that Nancy's family is just as dysfunctional as Tonya's.


PORTLAND STREET NAMED AFTER TONYA

This sign appeared at the intersection of North Interstate and 
North Watts street in north Portland recently.

Does this mean the city fathers have finally decided to recognize 
the achievements of Portland's Princess? Alas, no - it was only 
an April Fool's day joke:

http://www.kval.com/news/local/89777827.html


FORMER TONYA BOXING PROMOTER IN HOT WATER

Damon Feldman, the boxing "promoter" who was responsible for the 
aborted "Tonya vs Daisy D" boxing farce in Florida a few years 
back, is back in the news. This time he's being prosecuted for 
running illegal boxing matches in Pennsylvania and fixing the 
results:

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20100410_Dan_Gross__Gloves_off_against_celebrity_fight_promoter.html

All of which comes as no surprise to any Tonyaphile.

Something's badly wrong with any boxing promoter who actually 
makes Don King look ethical by comparison.


CHICAGO THEATRE GROUP TAKES A WHACK AT THE TONYA STORY

No doubt inspired by the Tonya/Nancy opera and rock opera of a 
couple of years ago, an outfit in Chicago has had their own crack 
at bringing a musical version of the incident to the stage. 
"Whack! The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Story, A Karaoke 
Musical" was staged at the Gorilla Tango Theater in January & 
February of this year, with Leslie Nesbitt playing Nancy and 
Cassandra Cushman as Tonya. You can view it in its entirety on 
YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/brydor

It's not the first Tonya/Nancy related production from Chicago's 
theater scene: in 2006, the Neofuturarium staged a reading of 
"Tonya & Nancy, the Inside Story". Written and directed by Kelly 
Williams, "Whack" isn't unfamiliar territory for Gorilla Tango 
either, who have previously done similar musical comedies about 
two other scandalous women of the 90's, Amy Fisher & Mary Kay 
Letourneau. 

The production generally treats Tonya reasonably kindly: by the 
far the biggest barbs are reserved for Nancy Kerrigan, portraying 
her as a racist snob, based presumably on the incorrect 
assumption that Nancy's family was wealthy. As an aside, it's 
interesting how many people seem to assume this was the case - 
obviously Jerry Solomon was very sucessful in positioning Nancy 
as an ice princess. As another reviewer noted, the production 
would have perhaps been a bit more interesting had it taken the 
more accurate position of two working-class girls trying to crack 
the ice ceiling of the elitist world of figure skating rather 
than going for another rich-bitch vs poor-white-trash cliché.

Carry Bain is good as Nancy's blind mother, although the humor is 
rather undermined by the unfortunate recent incident in the 
Kerrigan household. Natalie Kossar takes a while to warm up as 
LaVona Harding. Bryan Cohen, who plays Shawn Eckardt, could 
definitely use a bit more padding to make him more recognizable.

There's some good songs, many of which are parodies of Disney 
tunes, including one about breasts (which doesn't seem to have 
anything much to do with the story). These are definitely the 
highlight of the show. When they're singing, it's magic, but 
often the talking parts drag - it's perhaps a good thing that the 
show is only an hour long.

Overall, it seems to be a case of missed opportunities. For 
instance, where is a song or about Shawn Eckardt and his secret 
agent antics, something that would appear to be ideal for parody? 
And strangely enough, what you would consider the "money shot" of 
the whole production, the actual knee-whacking itself, takes 
place off-stage, as does another memorable moment, the broken 
shoelace incident at Lillehammer.

You can read another review here:

http://chicagotheaterblog.com/2010/01/30/whack/

Nor will this be the last of the Tonya theatrics: Word is that a 
new production of the Tonya/Nancy Rock Opera will be staged in 
Los Angeles later this year.


ANOTHER NEW DOMAIN NAME

A few months ago, we moved to a new domain name. Well, now we've 
got two. Thanks to Paul Dizadji of the former Puppetland site, 
you can also find us at www.tonyaharding.us, as he has generously 
donated the use of this domain to us for at least the next year.

We'd like to thank Paul, a long-time Tonyaphile, for this 
generosity in allowing us the use of this domain.


PIMP MY GAMES - SAMMY BITES THE DUST

Former Olympic head Juan Antonio Samaranch died in April at the 
age of 89. A former minister in General Franco's fascist 
government in Spain, Samaranch managed to reinvent himself after 
the death of Franco in 1975, first as a diplomat and then as 
leader of the world's biggest sporting institution.

We've long been highly critical of Samaranch, so his passing is a 
timely opportunity to look at his legacy to the Olympic movement 
and sport in general.

And it's a mixed legacy. His supporters might argue that he 
modernized the Games, ending the farce of "shamateurism" and 
ushering in a commercial era that has seen the Games go from 
money loser to money spinner, arguments that aren't completely 
devoid of truth. The days of the full-time amateur athlete - 
something that was effectively only available to the rich - were 
already well over by the time he took office in 1980. But a 
closer analysis shows that it would be superficial to take such 
sentiments just at at face value.

It's easy to forget that up until the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 
the Games were a financial dud. Montreal didn't pay off the cost 
of the 1976 Games until well into the 1990's. But it wasn't Sammy 
who saved the Games, it was Peter Ueberroth who deserves that 
credit. By signing up sponsors and mainly using existing venues 
to strictly control costs he made the Games profitable - 
precisely the opposite of today's philosophy of spending billions 
of taxpayer dollars building unnecessary white elephants. 
Samaranch merely hijacked the idea of sponsorship, making sure 
that in future any profits went to the IOC, not to the local 
organizers, who end up getting saddled with Montreal-sized costs.

In addition, Samaranch is also frequently praised for increasing 
the participation of developing countries in the Games. But his 
motives were far from noble: he did this simply because these 
countries tend to be more corrupt and undemocratic. In outfits 
like the IOC that operate under a one-country one-vote system 
this gave him and his backers, such as Horst Dassler of the 
Adidas sportswear conglomerate, enormous power.

Olympic writer Andrew Jennings, one of Samaranch's most vocal 
critics, wrote that "corruption became the lubrication of his 
Olympic industry" and that he "fleeced sport of its moral and 
monetary value."

"He nearly destroyed the Olympics," Jennings said. "We didn't 
need all that money in sport. It created this imperial world 
where he had to get lots of money to maintain his excellencies 
touring the world."

"History's verdict will be he didn't fight a war against doping, 
it got out of control. He brought in corruption at the IOC."

Rather than being the man who saved the Games, Samaranch should 
really be remembered as the man who pimped the Games to big 
business and corrupt dictatorships while turning a blind eye to 
drugs and corruption in his own backyard. He delayed and hampered 
reform and only took action when it became exposed to the public 
and couldn't be ignored any longer. And that's not a legacy to be 
proud of.


IS THIS A COOL IDEA OR WHAT?

Not sure how serious this is, but Johnny Weir definitely has a 
great idea:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/naughty--naughty-girls-being-real-bad-93394759.html

    Johnny Weir has the best idea of the week. He wants to bring
    a show to Vegas called "The Bad Girls of Skating," co-
    starring Tonya Harding, Nicole Bobek and other naughties.

    "Get 'em all out there in bustiers and fishnets," he tells 
    me.

    Weir, Olympic skater and star of the Sundance Channel's "Be 
    Good Johnny Weir," wants the skaters to re-create their bad-
    girl moments in front of paying crowds.

    "It's perfect for Vegas," he says. "I've gotten really close 
    to Kelly Osbourne. I know she would like to be involved. It 
    would be amazing."

    He sees "Bad Girls" as a summer show, this year or next. As 
    for a location, he'd like to "see who can cut me a deal," he 
    says and laughs.


Of course, for a project like this, you're going to need the 
right music. For Tonya, definitely the Sex Pistols - I can easily 
see her performing to "My Way" by Sid Vicious, with perhaps 
Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" as an encore. And with Kelly 
Osbourne on board you're obviously going to need a dose of Black 
Sabbath in there somewhere. We've often hoped to see Nicole 
skating to "Paranoid" dressed in black PVC dominatrix gear.

Johnny will have to appear himself as a guest artist. Might we 
suggest "I'm A Boy" by The Who for his performance. It would fit 
right in with his whole sexual ambiguity thing.

Unfortunately, we suspect his plan could hit a snag in that 
Nicole could be otherwise detained for a few years...

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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
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