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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
November 12, 2016 Edition - TWENTY YEARS OF AGGRESSIVE PRACTICE
(C) 2016 Portland Ice Skating Society
Welcome to the annual Birthday issue of "The Portlandian". This
is a double anniversary - not only is it Tonya's 46th birthday,
it also marks 20 years since the debut of "The Portlandian"
Way back in 1996, just two years after what was by then known as
"The Whack", the world was a different place. As with now, it was
a few days after a Presidential election, also involving a
candidate named Clinton, but one which had a vastly different
outcome. But the Internet barely existed in the minds of most
people, and for those that had it, access was in the form of
squawking dialup modems with dismal data speeds.
A small group of Tonyaphiles decided they'd had enough. Enough of
the inaccuracies and flat-out lies against Tonya being
perpetrated in the media and newsgroups such as
rec.sport.skating.ice.figure. They wanted a way of continuing to
carry on the work of Elaine Stamm's by-then defunct Portland-
based fan club. Using this fledgling technology, they decided to
do something about it. "The Portlandian" was born.
The early list members were a disparate bunch: most were, not
surprisingly, from the United States: Chris Jefferson from
Florida, David House from Texas, Charlie Main from Maine, Hattie
Marcus from North Carolina and Paul Dizadji from Illinois were
some early supporters. However, we even had subscribers from as
far away as South Africa and Norway sign up early on (who are
still on the list today, by the way). We were also contacted by
members of Tonya's original fan club who supplied us with copies
of "The Skater", the original printed Tonya fanzine, and other
Others we'd like to thank for their support are Mike Amo and Leo
from the Tonyaharding.org forums and long-time Tonyaphiles
Michael Rosenberg and Linda Lewis, plus others who have chosen to
remain private in their support of Tonya.
Highlights from those 20 years are many and it's obviously hard
to narrow it down to a few that can be included in a single
issue, but here goes:
- In our very first issue, on 12 November 1996, we reported how
Tonya saved the day by performing CPR on an old lady who passed
out in an Oregon bar:
- Our first big scoop was coverage of Tonya's pro debut when she
skated at half time in a hockey match in Reno, NV. One of our
operatives, Joe Sciambra, was present and gave us an exclusive
report (Feb 1997):
- early 1998 saw Tonya meet Nancy Kerrigan face-to-face for the
first time since Lillehammer in the "Breaking The Ice" special
hosted by Fox:
- Unfortunately, not all of Tonya's "fans" were all that they
seemed. In July 1999 we exposed a phony:
- Once again we had people rinkside at Tonya's first proper pro
performance at an ESPN event in Huntington, WV in October 1999:
- Sad to say, the comeback did not last long, being derailed by
the so-called "hubcap incident" (April 2000):
- In October of that same year, Tonya was interviewed for an
internet radio station eYada.com. Unfortunately, the fates once
again conspired against her, and the possibility of a talk show
evaporated when the station went bust in the Dot Com collapse
- Tonya has often been the subject of vicious rumors circulated
by unscrupulous "journalists", such as this one about her skating
nude in Vegas that we debunked in June 2001:
- Tonya speaks out about 9/11 and signs minibats at an event:
- We dig out some of the earliest Tonya-related posts on Usenet
- In addition to supporting Tonya, we have also covered
corruption in sports in general and the Olympic movement and
skating establishment in particular. In February 2002 we devoted
a large chunk of an issue to the Salt Lake City pairs skating
- Later that year, Tonya proved to be a ratings knockout when she
pummeled Paula Jones on Fox's "Celebrity Boxing" show:
- This sparked an attempt by Tonya in 2003 to launch a boxing
career. Although it didn't take off, she did make a decent fist
of it, with a record of 4 wins (3 decisions, 1 TKO) and 3 losses
(2 knockouts, 1 decision):
Jun 2003 - http://pdxiss.org/port54.htm
Aug 2003: http://pdxiss.org/port55.htm
- Jan 2004 was the 10th anniversary of "The Incident":
- One under-reported facet of Tonya's life that we have tried to
focus on is her work for charities. An example of this was the
Indy Ice hockey game, where Tonya raised money for charity with a
fight (March 2004):
She also skated in NY's Central Park to celebrate the 10th
anniversary of Lillehammer.
- By March 2005, Tonya's boxing career had degenerated into a
farce, with an aborted fight against a drag queen in Florida.
Once again, Tonya got ripped off, and never saw a dime from the
- Tonya raises more money for charity, this time in Morehead,
Kentucky, where she partook in a fund-raising event for The
People's Clinic, a free clinic serving the Morehead area (Feb
- A chamber opera based on Tonya's life by Elizabeth Searle and
Abigail Al-Doory makes its debut in Cambridge MA in May 2006:
- Not all our Tonya coverage was deadly serious. A more light-
hearted edition (April 2007):
- The bizarre life & death of Tonya's former agent, David Hans
Schmidt (Oct 2007):
- By early 2008 the chamber opera had been completely retooled
into a rock opera, and debuted in Portland complete with Tonya as
guest of honor:
- Proving that she's not just a one-trick pony, it's a little-
known fact that Tonya actually is the holder of a land speed
record in the Blown Vintage Gas Coupe class at Bonneville. She
later returned to beat her own record the next year, which itself
was only beaten this year by someone driving the same car:
http://pdxiss.org/port74.htm (Aug 2008)
http://pdxiss.org/port78.htm (Nov 2009)
That year also saw the launch of her book, "The Tonya Tapes".
- Tonya's visit to Douglas, Georgia (early 2009) where she caught
a giant catfish and skated with local kids. Tonya later returned
to Georgia to do a little drag racing the next year:
- Tonya receives the ultimate honor - being interviewed by talk
show queen Oprah Winfrey (June 2009):
- Tonya ties the knot with Joseph Price (2010). A baby was soon
on the way:
- Tonya turns up in the strangest places, such as a promo for a
Norwegian TV show in late 2010, along with alot of other late
20th Century celebrities:
- Our 20th anniversary special (Jan 2014): -
- Tonya continues to get the attention of documentarians, such as
ESPN's "Price of Gold" by Nanette Burstein (July 2014): -
- Two Brooklynites, Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen, inspired by
Burstein's documentary, open a museum in their apartment hallway,
drawing international attention (April 2015):
- A movie, starring Margot Robbie as Tonya, is announced (June
In recent years, Tonya's public appearances have slowed down as
she concentrates on the responsibility of raising a family. But
95 issues on, "The Portlandian" is still going strong. Now a new
generation of Tonyaphiles - the Millennials - are picking up the
(collapsable) baton and carrying on Tonya's cause: people such as
writer Sarah Marshall, museum curators Matt & Viviana, and
perhaps even Margot Robbie. We'd like to think we've played a
part in this, and that others will continue to disseminate the
truth about Tonya in the years to come.
There is an arguable case that we are now living in the most
anti-establishment era since the 1960s, as people across the
world turn against what they see as out-of-touch elites, whether
it be "Brexit" in Britain, or supposedly "unelectable" candidates
such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump trouncing more mainstream
political figures in the US. Perhaps it is no coincidence that
the most anti-establishment figure skater, Tonya Harding, is now
finally getting the attention she deserves.
TONYA MOVIE'S DIRECTOR & FUNDING ANNOUNCED
"Variety" is reporting that Australian director Craig Gillespie
has signed on to the Margot Robbie Tonya movie:
We can't say we're really familar with his work, but he has done
some serious stuff and his last film seems to have got okay
Like Robbie, Gillespie is another Ocker. Strewth, cobber - it
looks loike Tonya's loif story is being hijecked by Austroilians!
Will the movie feature hoir as a former skater who goes to leeve
as a crocodoile hunter in the Outbeck with a bunch of Aborigines?
Or will she be bettling tribes of warring bad goiys in a post-
apocalyptic future loike Med Mex? We'll hef to wait and see!
Okay, enough with the fake Aussie accent - it was crap and
sounded more like a South African anyway.
In another development, Deadline Hollywood, which seems to be the
source of most of the information about the upcoming Tonya movie,
has announced that it has now obtained funding:
Disturbingly, it's being described as a "comedy", whatever that
Meanwhile, in an interview with "Glamour" magazine Margot Robbie
has revealed that she will start skating training soon and is
worried about getting injured on set and holding up production:
"literally the day I wrap at the end of October I'm going to
start training and I'm going to have to get right into it."
"I'm really excited because I'm producing the film as well, for
the first time I have all of these other concerns that I
normally don't think about when I'm just acting. Whereas now
I'm so worried about getting injuries and ruining pushing shoot
dates back, that'll cost hundreds of thousands of dollars -
it's terrifying. So I'm really excited because I love acquiring
a new skill for a role, it's one of the biggest treats of
acting, and on the producing side of it - if I get an injury
I'm scared I'm going to ruin everything so I'm nervous."
Shooting is apparently scheduled to start early next year. Still
no word yet on a "Nancy"...
A DOUBLE DOSE OF TONYA FOR CHICAGO
Looks like it really is going to be the year for Tonya theatrics.
"Tonya" is coming to the Windy City with the rock opera having its
first performance in Chicago:
The production will run from Nov 26th to Dec 30th. Amanda Therese
Horvath plays Tonya and Courtney Mack features as Nancy:
Director & Choreographer Jon Martinez has been interviewed on the
podcast "Are You Famous Yet?". The rock opera stuff is only the
first ten minutes:
Tickets can be booked here:
And more info here:
Meanwhile Dan Aibel's Tonya-inspired play "T" that we mentioned
in our last issue will now makes its debut at the American
Theater Co. in that city on 18 May 2017 and will run until the
25th of June:
With a rock opera, a play and a movie, Chicagoans could be
feeling Tonya overload next year. But then, as we all know, can
you ever have such a thing as too much Tonya?
NASHVILLE GETS THE ICE TREATMENT
Another Tonya-influenced play has also made its debut, this time
in Nashville, back in July - although it doesn't actually feature
Tonya. In fact it sounds more like a ripoff of "The Bronze" than
Written and directed by Nate Eppler, the play follows a skater
named "Blondie" (though clearly modeled on Tonya) who feels she's
been left on the "garbage heap of history" and sets out to tell
the real story of her life. Eppler says that when he started his
research he found that about a quarter of the things written
about the two skaters were "outright false". His use of Barbie-
like dolls in one sequence is designed to draw attention to how
female athletes are held to impossible standards of beauty.
Rachel Agee stars in the lead role.
"Broadway World" has given a very positive review to the
premiere, describing it as "one of the most compelling new works
to debut on a Nashville stage in years", so hopefully we will see
further performances in the future:
TONYA WILL HAVE YOU IN STITCHES
Rebecca and Josh Greco, who did the cross stitches for the
THNK1994 museum, have now made the patterns available on-line as
downloadable PDF files:
Meanwhile, the museum itself will be opening a gift shop on the
15th of November, and has also recently featured on Travel
Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum" series. More details at:
TONYA GETS PAWNED, BUT CREATES MYSTERY
Long-time readers might remember that back around 2001 a couple
of Wheaties boxes with Tonya's picture on them appeared on eBay.
Some photos of one of them can be found here:
Now this same box, in rather battered condition, has surfaced on
an episode of History Channel's "Pawn Stars" a few weeks ago.
And from the position of the now-faded signature it's almost
certainly the same box as the one in the Aug 2001 auction. Pity
it's now in such a sad state. The owner is a woman named Noreana.
She's also got some other stuff, including some photos & Jeff
Gillooly's backstage pass from the 1992 Worlds. She says a friend
of her mom roomed with Tonya & this stuff was thrown out in the
trash when she left:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4reknx (the Tonya stuff is at
around 6:00 & 11:30)
She gets $200 for the lot. In all honesty, she'd probably have
got alot more for it after the movie comes out.
This article records Tonya signing some in 1994 (erroneously
referred to as a Cheerios box):
Posted: Monday, May 2, 1994 12:00 am
Figure skater Tonya Harding hands out an autographed print
of herself praying on the ice at the last Winter Olympics
Sunday in Portland, Ore. Harding appeared for an hour at
the "Old Weird Harold" Collector Mania sale to sell signed
pictures and Wheaties boxes.
We've heard various theories about these boxes over the years -
that they were mock-ups made by General Mills for a real box that
never materialized, or that they were the work of a fan. The guy
in the pawn shop - who at least seems to be reasonably positive
about Tonya's abilities as a skater - thinks it may have been
some promotional item made in a very small quantity for the
athletes and their friends & family. From what we can gather
about half a dozen were made and Tonya still has three of them,
all in much better shape.
Naturally an official product would be worth alot more. Perhaps
one day the true story will emerge - like in the "X-Files", "the
truth is out there"...
KIWI CRIX NIX REPORT ON TONYA FLIX
Films have the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, TV has the
Emmys and Broadway has the Tonyas, oops, I mean the Tonys. Here
at "The Portlandian" we've got the Jaysons. Unlike the foregoing,
however, this is one award that nobody wants to win - more like a
Golden Raspberry than an Oscar. That's because the Jaysons (which
are named in dishonor of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair who
was fired for making up stories) are awarded for shoddy reportage
of Tonya-related news events.
This time around the "Jayson" goes to... film industry media site
"Variety". In this case, the problem isn't so much a case of
inaccuracy as simply flat-out lazy journalism. For instance, take
a look at Deadline Hollywood's report of AI's involvement in
financing the upcoming Tonya movie:
Len Blavatnik's AI Film has come aboard to fully-finance Craig
Gillespie's upcoming Tonya Harding comedy I, Tonya. Margot
Robbie is in negotiations to star as the American figure
skater as well as produce the title with Bryan Unkeless for
Tom Ackerley for LuckyChap Entertainment and Steven Rogers are
already attached to produce while Blavatnik and Aviv Giladi of
AI Film are exec producing.
Story peels back the layers of Tonya Harding's sensationalized
involvement in the 1994 attack on rival figure skater Nancy
Kerrigan, exposing the absurd, tragic and hilarious story-
behind-the-story of one of the most infamous scandals in the
history of Olympic Games figure skating. Gillespie directs
from a script written by Steven Rogers (P.S. I Love You).
Nick Meyer's Sierra/Affinity reps international rights while
UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are repping domestic
I, Tonya is the latest investment for AI Film, whose
forthcoming slate includes Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese
historical drama Silence.
Robbie and LuckyChap are repped by Management 360, CAA,
attorney Jeff Bernstein and Aran Michael Management.
Rogers is repped by Gersh.
Gillespie is repped by UTA and Management 360.
And now compare it with Variety's reporting of the same news a
few minutes later:
AI Film will fully finance Craig Gillespie's upcoming comedy,
"I, Tonya", starring Margot Robbie with Sierra/Affinity to
commence international sales at the American Film Market.
Robbie ("Suicide Squad") is in negotiations to star as
American figure skater Tonya Harding as well as produce with
Bryan Unkeless for Clubhouse Pictures, Tom Ackerley for
LuckyChap Entertainment and Steven Rogers already attached to
produce. Len Blavatnik and Aviv Giladi of AI Film are
UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are representing US
The film follows the story of Harding's involvement in the
1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, her main rival, prior to the
Olympic Games. Variety reported in June that Gillespie ("Lars
and the Real Girl") would direct a script by Steven Rogers.
AI Film's slate includes "Hacksaw Ridge" and Martin Scorsese
historical drama "Silence." Past projects include "Lee
Daniels' The Butler"; Bill Condon's "Mr Holmes" with Ian
McKellen; and Warner Music collaboration, "Kill Your Friends."
Robbie and LuckyChap are represented by Management 360, CAA
and attorney Jeff Bernstein. Robbie is additionally
represented by Aran Michael Management. Rogers is repped by
Gersh. Gillespie is represented by UTA and Management 360.
Spot the difference. Or rather, the lack of difference. Get that
deja-vu feeling, don't you?
There was a time when Variety was the industry leader in
Hollywood inside info, often noted for its innovative and amusing
slang writing style. For example, a headline like "Alan Smithee
Tapped To Helm Oater Made-For At Peacock Web" translates as "Alan
Smithee hired to direct Western TV movie for NBC". Some of their
invented terminology, like "sitcom" and "soap opera", has even
made it into everyday English. Now they seem to be reduced to
rewriting their competitor's scoops. We think that deserves what
in Tonyaphile terms is our equivalent of a Razzie.
And by the way, if you're wondering what the title of this
segment is, it's our attempt at "Varietyspeak" for "NZ Critics
Pan Report About Tonya Film".
Well, that's it for another issue. We hope that Tonya's day went
great. With the Tonya movie and several theatrical productions in
the works, it's pretty much guaranteed that 2017 will be a Tonya-
filled year for her fans.
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
THNK1994 Museum - https://www.facebook.com/THNK1994/
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