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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
November 12, 2010 Edition - ANNUAL TONYA BIRTHDAY ISSUE
(C) 2010 Portland Ice Skating Society
Welcome to the annual birthday edition of the Portlandian. In
this issue, we reveal the real story of how the biggest Tonya
story of the year was broken in the media, look at some
previously unseen footage of Tonya's daily life (including her
celebrating her last birthday), catch up with what's happening in
the world of showbiz with a certain rock opera, and review a
film that Tonya had a bit part in a few years ago. But first...
IT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO TODAY
Yes, that's right - Tonya has hit the big four-oh! We join all
Tonyaphiles everywhere in wishing her the very best on this
For Tonya, the past year has been one of both continuity and
drastic change. She continues to fly to Los Angeles every week or
so to do spots for TruTV's "World's Dumbest" series (which, by
the way, is a ratings winner: a recent article in Variety reveals
that TruTV is one of the highest rating cable channels and
credits shows such as "World's Dumbest" as the reason - see
has come in the form of marriage. Which in turn leads us
TONYA TIES THE KNOT
In late June, reports began surfacing in the media speculating
that Tonya was planning to get married again. These reports all
appear to have originated with an article in The Columbian, which
stated that Tonya had applied for a marriage license with a
Joseph Jens Price, aged 42, of Yacolt WA, on June 23 at the Clark
County courthouse. This story was subsequently been picked up by
local station KGW and other media:
Looks like a first for The Columbian: a "reporter" actually got
off their butt and did some proper investigative journalism for
once - even if it was just meandering down to the public records
office. Woodward & Bernstein should be quaking in their boots -
Anyway, alot of people will probably be wondering if I knew
anything about this. The answer is, I do.
"I do"... get it? I... oh, never mind, I thought it was funny,
We'd actually been aware of the full story for a couple of days,
but sat on it at Tonya's request so that she could make an
announcement in her own time. Unfortunately, the plans were
spoiled by the Columbian, plus there were also rumors that the
Trashional Enquirer was on the case. Was there a mole operating
within the Tonya camp, feeding info to the tabloids? As it turns
out, the articles were correct - but what they didn't know (and
we did) was that the wedding had in fact already taken place.
Tonya's manager and Godmother Linda Lewis then released this
official statement on Tonya's behalf:
On Saturday afternoon, June 26th 2010, Tonya was married in a
small, beautiful, ceremony, to a wonderful man, Joe Price.
The private ceremony took place at a very lovely, remote
location up in the hills, in an area in WA state. It was
attended by close friends and family. Tonya said that they are
both very much in love, and that this is a dream come true for
Three days later The Columbian finally caught up with what
every Tonyaphile now knew and reported Deputy Auditor Karen
Updike as saying that she issued a marriage license to the couple
on June 23, and that they got the signed license back on Tuesday
showing the wedding had taken place. The paper also says that the
wedding was officiated by Pastor Lloyd Ward of the Community
Church of God.
Updike described Tonya's new husband as a "real nice, blue
collar-type guy." "She kept saying she was sorry he was late...
She was very nice, appreciative. They were a very nice couple."
Photos can be found on TruTV at http://www.trutv.com/tonya
and also on our photo page at http://www.pdxiss.org/photos.htm
As Billy Idol would say, nice day for a white wedding. And in
case you're wondering, there will definitely NOT be any sequel to
a certain "home video" that Tonya made on a previous wedding day!
TONYA BACK AT BIKEFEST
In other news, Tonya returned once again to the Lake of the
Ozarks Bikefest in September:
Tonya was one of a number of celebrity guests at a cage fighting
event held at Captain Ron's. Linda reports that Tonya and Joe
both had a good time.
More details about the annual Bikefest can be found at at the
official site at:
TONYA/NANCY OPERA ROCKS ON
Elizabeth Searle, one of the creators of the Tonya/Nancy rock
opera that debuted in Portland early in 2008 has given us an
update of plans for new perfomances of the show next year,
including Boston & Los Angeles. Ms. Searle tells us:
"we were happy to meet Tonya herself when the Rock Opera
premiered in Portland with Triangle Productions in 2008.
Tonya proved to be a great sport with a great sense of humor
and we were happy that she felt the show was 'awesome.' This
past May, we had a musical performance from the Rock Opera
featured at LA Playwright's Arena in their annual Hot Night in
the City event, which showcases songs from 'hot' LA shows. We
also have had songs showcased by Boston Cabaret. Yes, we are
planning to bring the full Rock Opera to LA and have been
negotiating with theaters-- but we will first be bringing it
**We will do a short version of the show at the American
Repertory Theater's Oberon Theater in Harvard Square in
January/February, 2011; dates are being set right now. We are
also working out a plan to do the full production later in the
She also informs us that there have also been performances of the
original 2006 classical opera that was the source of the rock
In more news: you might be interested to know that the shorter
classical show TONYA & NANCY: THE OPERA was also performed in
2010. The opera was my first Tonya show: a half hour chamber
opera which I conceived and wrote the libretto for with
classical music by Abigail Al-Doory Cross. The opera was most
recently performed in 2010 in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with
Previews ON ICE! The musical group Mixed Precipitation
performed the show at CampBar Theater in St. Paul and at
Bedlam Theater in Minneapolis. The 'on ice' Previews were
performed at Minneapolis's Art Shanty Festival in January of
2010 on a frozen lake.
Happy birthday to Tonya. Those wanting updates on the show
can find information on my website (below). Thanks again--
Librettist for TONYA & NANCY: THE OPERA and TONYA & NANCY: THE
This isn't the end of Ms. Searle's Tonya inspired works. An
earlier anthology by her of short stories entitled "Celebrities
in Disgrace" featured the tale of an actress hired to play Nancy
Kerrigan in a Tonya/Nancy TV movie being harassed by a stalker.
An article in the Boston Herald from August 9, 2010 by Gayle Fee
& Laura Raposa reveals this has been made into a short film and
indicates a feature version is being planned. The 15-minute
short, directed by Matthew Quinn Martin, screened at the Woods
Hole Film Festival.
"I find it amazing that people still have strong feelings about
the Nancy and Tonya episode 16 years later," Searle is quoted as
telling the Herald. "And you could feel it at the film festival.
People had very strong opinions and I had some intense
conversations about Nancy and Tonya." She says that the incident
"represents one of the first times America went 24/7 insane over
a celebrity event."
"It had all the hot buttons, too," said Searle, whose novel "Girl
Held in Home" will be released next year. "Women, jealousy and
intense competition. It has such a 'Girl Fight' quality to it."
A DAY IN THE LIFE
This YouTube clip shows what appears to be a rough cut of part of
a documentary showing Tonya's day to day life. Looks like it was
shot sometime around the end of last year:
Tonya celebrates her birthday with her friends, plays pool and
does some hideous karaoke. Fetishists will enjoy the chance to
see Tonya, dressed in black leather pants, getting a spanking.
She also shows us her house and her souped-up 1960 Jeep, goes
skating and discusses the death of her father.
Also of interest is this clip showing Tonya performing a triple
axel on Inside Edition in 1996:
Tonya does five takes, falls on one and lands dirty on the
others. She later does another one live, also with a clumsy
Sad to say, the only place Tonya can perform a triple axel today
is in her dreams.
AT THE VIDEO STORE - "THE PRIZE FIGHTER"
Thanks to a generous Tonyaphile we now bring you a review of this
movie which Tonya worked on briefly in late 2002. It was Tonya's
second acting attempt after the low budget gangster flick
In our March 14, 2003 edition, the film-makers recalled working
with Tonya on the film (which was at that time entitled "In Her
Honor"): "She flew into Tulsa on Saturday December 7th and was on
set all day December 8th. She appeared in several scenes with
Phil and Brent, two morning radio personalities with radio
station KMOD in Tulsa. On Monday morning she appeared on the Phil
and Brent show, answered questions at a press conference, and
left town around noon. All in all she did a good job on the film
and we were happy to have her".
Director Mark Mason also praised Tonya: "She came in with only
two hours of rehearsal, off of an airplane, jet-lagged, and she
did a fantastic job,". "This girl has acting ability." Tonya
herself describes the film as "like a little love story. It's
about a boxer who loses his wife, and then comes back and wins in
"The Prize Fighter", completed in late 2004, is the work of
writer Jeff Howard and co-writer and director Mason, whose only
previous film was a slasher movie from 2000 called
"Partycrasher". Shot and set around Muskogee, Oklahoma, it tells
the story of boxer Ed Jones, told in flashback by a boxing
promoter in an interview with a journalist several years later.
Jones works by day in a furniture moving business, but in the
evenings he makes extra money participating in small-time
unsanctioned boxing events called the Bad News Slugouts run by
local promoter Arliss King (whose name is obviously a deliberate
poke at a certain famous real life boxing promoter). Rival
promoter "Whitey" Ferguson (Gary Busey) is working with the
Boxing Commission to try to shut Arliss down, but he also wants
Ed to jump on board with his operation. Ed, however, is quite
happy to keep on getting his brains smashed in for a pittance
with Arliss and his shonky outfit as his manager has been told
that Whitey's fights are sometimes rigged.
Meanwhile, Ed's wife Ann has been having increasingly bad
headaches, but she just puts this down to being pregnant. Shortly
after giving birth, however, Ann collapses suddenly and dies,
apparently from a brain haemorrage. In the wake of this, Ed sinks
into a deep depression, and starts taking booze and drugs.
Eventually his newborn baby is taken away from him by relatives
concerned he is not being a good father. Then Arliss rings up and
tries to get him back in the boxing ring. Ed agrees, determined
to fight one last time in honor of his late wife's memory. Can he
pull it off?
With a story like this, "The Prize Fighter" should be knockout
viewing, but unfortunately it fails to deliver much of a punch. I
think the problems are threefold:
- the pacing is all wrong: it takes far too long for the film to
get up to steam. The real story here is Ed's decline and fall
into drug and alcohol abuse after his wife's death, and his
subsequent redemption through boxing, yet this only occupies the
final third or so of the film. Most of the leadup to this,
outside of the boxing itself, isn't terribly exciting, being
routine soap opera stuff of Ed's day-to-day life and relationship
with his wife.
- the "Bad News Slugout" bouts that Ed pparticipates in are pretty
minor local events of no consequence that are really just one
step above bare-knuckle bar-room brawls. They're not even
regional, yet alone national or world championships. So at the
end of the day, why does it really matter if he wins his final
comeback match? I was left with a "so what?" feeling at the end.
There's nothing important at stake here, like a title fight.
- Gary Busey's character is presumably ssupposed to be the bad
guy, yet there's no kind of conflict with Ed. I kept waiting for
him to try to sabotage the fight somehow: bribe the ref, hide
some broken glass in Ed's gloves, spike his water bottle to make
him ill, just something that would make the audience dislike him
and make us wonder whether Ed can really win. But nothing
happens. While as it's true that he's trying to shut down Arliss,
given just how dodgy his fights are (one guy nearly gets killed
at the end) maybe that isn't actually a bad thing. Scoring with
an endless supply of skanky-looking bimbos in the back seat of
his limo may make Whitey look sleazy, but it's not enough to make
All this is aggravated by the fact that much of the movie seems
to be filmed in long-shot. This gives the impression that you're
eavesdropping on the characters from a distance and makes it
quite difficult to feel intimate with them. There's also a
problem with the sound mix - Mason seems to pump up the volume
during the boxing scenes in order to build up the excitement, but
this results in you being just about blown out of your seat - and
if you turn it down, the dialog in the next scene is just about
As for Tonya, despite getting third billing behind Busey and Leon
Spinks she only has a minor role in the picture as Sally Nelson,
the owner of Nelson's Buffeteria, a diner/bar where the boxers
hangout. She only appears in about three or four scenes and is
probably on screen for less than five minutes, even less time
than in "Breakaway". Apparently Mason originally wanted Tonya to
play the wife, but by the time Tonya got on board with this, that
role had already been cast so he wrote the role of Sally
especially as a way to get her in the movie somehow.
In terms of DVD extras, there's some trailers, Spanish subtitles,
and one-page bio's of Busey, Spinks & Tonya. The latter pretty
much rehashes her skating career, and her boxing record up to
that time (late 2004).
All in all, a letdown. By its very subject matter "The Prize
Fighter" invites comparisons with other boxing films like "Rocky"
or "Raging Bull", but unfortunately the comparison isn't all that
great. Ed's story, which is apparently based on real-life events,
should have been much more compelling than it is portrayed as in
this movie. If you just want a good boxing movie there are others
out there that are better, like the ones I've already mentioned,
and if you're watching this for Tonya there's not much to see.
"Breakaway" wasn't all that great, but at least it did have the
redeeming factor of a hilariously unconvincing fight scene where
Tonya beats up a guy and chucks him down the stairs. Despite the
boxing theme, Tonya doesn't get to kick anyone's ass in this.
Our verdict: 4 out of 10 or ** out of ****. Worth a look only if
you can get hold of a copy really cheaply - which shouldn't be
too hard as they're going for about a dollar on Amazon.
We would like to thank David House for kindly supplying us with a
copy of this movie.
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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