T   H   H  E
  T   H   H  E
  T   H   H  EEEEE

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

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

June 28, 2001 Edition
(C) 2001 Portland Ice Skating Society


If you're a Tonyaphile in the Florida area (and we know there are 
some), have we got a treat in store for you! Tommorrow, June 
29th, will see Tonya as guest of honor at a minor league baseball 
game featuring the Jacksonville Suns baseball team in 
Jacksonville. She'll be tossing out the first ball. Remember, the
last time Tonya did this a baseball she signed turned up on e-bay 
a few days later and went for $24! If you can make it, we'd urge 
you to come along and support Tonya.


Several years ago there was a brilliant film called "Network", in 
which Peter Finch (who died shortly after the film was released) 
played Howard Beale, a distinguished Walter Kronkite-type news 
anchorman at a fictional fourth US TV network who starts behaving 
increasingly erratically on air - such as threatening to kill 
himself. At first the network executives want to fire him - until 
they discover that for the first time in the company's history 
they're now top of the ratings! As a result, the network decides 
to give Beale his own show, in which he rants and raves and yells 
stuff like "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more!" 
at his audience. Bouyed by its success, the network then 
completely abandons all pretense of journalistic ethics and goes 
the total schlock route, such as giving Patty Hearst-type 
terrorists 16mm movie cameras so they can film themselves robbing 
banks, and airing the results as "news". But eventually, the 
public becomes bored with Beale and his ratings slip, so the 
network has him and his show killed off - quite literally - on 
air, by the terrorists.

Back in 1976 when "Network" was released, it was viewed as an 
outrageous satire, and deservedly won several Oscars. Twenty-five 
years on, watching it is a chilling experience, as it bears an 
uncomfortable resemblance to the way modern TV really is, filled 
with trashloid "news" shows and "reality TV" footage of real life 
bank holdups and police chases. Howard Beale wouldn't look out of 
place next to the likes of Jerry Springer; in fact, he'd probably 
appear rather tame. Perhaps it's ironic that the real fourth 
network, Fox, is leading the charge into the toilet.

Of all the people victimized by the descent of our media into 
this type of schlocky "infotainment", there would be few who have 
received a more raw deal than Tonya. We only need to recall how a 
few months ago one gutter-rag doctored photographs of Tonya's 
boyfriend Darren Silver in order to exaggerate his injuries after 
the infamous "hubcap incident", a forgery that helped to lose 
Tonya her agent and derailed a promising comeback. And this kind 
of victimization of her continues to this day, as recent events 
over the past few weeks illustrate.

Without doubt, the biggest Tonya story of this month has been one 
that in the end turned out not to be a real story at all (but 
hey, that's about par for the course when it comes to the 
mainstream media's coverage of things related to Tonya). In fact, 
we think that despite the fact this story turned out to be a load 
of rubbish it's actually worth a closer analysis precisely 
because it's such a copybook example of how the less reputable 
"journalists" operate and make up "news" based on only the 
flimsiest rumors in a desperate attempt to sell papers or get 
ratings. And, of course, Tonya is often the victim.

Early this month, rumors started to circulate that Tonya was 
engaged in promoting a show that would see her skating topless in 
Las Vegas. A bit of investigation showed that this rumor appears 
to have been started by an article published in the "Las Vegas 
Sun" by a gossip columnist by the name of Kate Maddox. Naturally, 
we thought this story had a distinct smell of fishiness about it, 
so we contacted our sources within the Tonya camp and found - 
surprise, surprise - that the story was a total load of bollocks. 
It turned out that although Tonya HAD been approached by someone 
offering such an opportunity (not the other way around as the 
article purported), it was back in early May and that Tonya had 
turned it down immediately - a far cry from what Maddox's article 
had implied.

Tipped off by ourselves and other Tonyaphiles, Linda Lewis, 
Tonya's manager, rang Kate Maddox in an attempt to set the record 
straight. This resulted in a second article which was, however, 
little more accurate than the first. Now Maddox claimed that 
Tonya had changed her mind on the Vegas topless show "a couple of 
weeks earlier" (in reality, she had by then rejected it over SIX 
weeks earlier) and that Tonya was now trying to sell a story 
denying she'd ever been interested. In fact, Linda Lewis quickly 
issued a press release explaining the true story COMPLETELY FREE 
OF CHARGE - so much for trying to "sell" a denial story!

We also contacted Maddox in an attempt to discover where she had 
got her ludicrous ideas from, but naturally, she wouldn't reveal 
her sources. She also claimed that there were at least two people 
in the Los Angeles area who claim to be managing Tonya's career, 
something that was news to her real manager Linda Lewis. You'd 
think that a responsible journalist would be concerned that there 
are a couple of swindlers apparently going round purporting to be 
acting on behalf of one of the world's greatest figure skaters, 
and would want to alert the skater's real management to their 
names so that law enforcement authorities could be notified, but 
no such luck.

Many people probably don't care about Tonya and whether the 
topless skating story is true. Perhaps it seems no big deal when 
compared with the much bigger problems humanity faces like hunger 
and war. But if the media can't be bothered to get it right when 
it comes to Tonya, how do we know they're getting it right with 
those really big issues either? Perhaps it's time for people to 
stand up and, like Howard Beale, declare that they're "mad as 
hell and not going to take it anymore" - that we want better 
journalism and will turn off and tune out until we get it.


As any Tonyaphile will be aware, the 1994 Nationals "incident" 
sparked plenty of merchandise from people trying to cash in on 
all the publicity. Much of these were the kinds of things you'd 
expect: t-shirts, books, songs, parodies and so forth. But some 
people created stuff that can only be fairly described as totally 
bizarre - and it's with this in mind that today we start a new 
series, "2001: Skate Oddities", dedicated to some of the more 
weird and off-the-wall Tonya related material that we've come 
across in our time on the Net.

Today's oddity - "Skater" virus

A few months ago Netizens were terrorized by yet another virus 
outbreak, courtesy of probably yet another bored teenager with 
too much time on their hands. Millions of people found their 
computers infected after trying open what they thought was a 
picture of ultra-sexy blonde tennis player Anna Kournikova, but 
which was in fact just another product of just another "script 
kiddy" who thinks that because he can download a virus kit that 
he's suddenly a real cool "hAcK3R". However, did you know that 
for some years Tonya has actually had her very own virus as well? 
Known as "Skater" or "Tonya" virus, it comes in several versions, 
some of which display the following message on screen:

     I love Tonya Harding. The best womens Figure Skater 
     in history. Now Tonya, Do that triple axle (sic) and 
     kick Kristi Yamaguchi's arse. 
                     - Australian Parasite -

You can find more details from the McAfee Virus Information 
Library at:

This makes Tonya the ONLY skater to our knowledge to have a 
computer virus named after her - a rare honor indeed. 
Interestingly, it was first discovered in Australia in January 
1993, a whole year before you-know-what made Tonya household 
name. Actually, computer nerds seem to have a thing for Tonya. 
Consider this article at, "Tonya Harding Configures 
The Cisco 700":

Could it be that Tonya might ultimately replace that cute-looking 
penguin as the ultimate geek mascot?


Regular readers of the Portlandian will know that for the past 
few months Tonya has been working on her biography with Canadian 
writer Lynda Prouse. However, today Joe reveals that this is not 
the first time Tonya has attempted to set down her life story in 
her own words: back in late 1993, he was involved in another 
project to help Tonya write a book. But as we shall see, other 
things sunk the plan, like the G-man getting the way (as usual 
when he was with Tonya). And then, as they used to say in "The 
Fugitive", "fate moved its huge hand", and Tonya suddenly had 
bigger things on her plate...

21 December 1999

Terry Hall, Head
Special Duties Section
Portland Ice Skating Society
New Zealand

Dear Terry,

I shall now tell you about the failed project Tonya and me 
embarked upon during the latter half of 1993: an attempt to 
produce a co-authored or ghost-written autobiography or an 
attributed-to-me biography. Due to the genetic makeup of her 
personality, Tonya was not the sort overly given to contemplation 
or reflection; yet I did try. We sat down at a Mexican restaurant 
one morning after her practice and agreed it was a good idea; and 
she was "ready to do it." She had, in fact, told me and others on 
several occasions that she wanted to write a book in order to
set forth the facts of her life; and she was very sincere about 
this. Tonya had already been deeply hurt many times because of 
the biased and bigoted way journalists wrote about her; and she 
wanted her "fans and the people" to know she wasn't a bad person.

Many, many times -- with a far away and sad look in her eyes -- 
our little Alpha Gal would say, as if feeling hopeless at being 
labeled as such, "I'm not a bad person." My heart would break 
every time I heard her say that, as of course I knew she was a 
good person yet I also knew Tonya wasn't sure. She would always 
thank me, in a most heartfelt manner, whenever I'd resort to the 
banal reply of: "You're not a bad person, Tonya. It's the people 
who say those things about you who are bad."

My first approach to our book project consisted of lending her a 
small tape recorder. I asked her to record her memories of 
certain phases in her life: her family, her childhood, her 
school-girl experiences, her intimate partners, et cetera. That's 
the technique Alex Haley used when he worked on his biography of 
Malcolm X; and I figured it ought to work with Tonya. That way 
she'd have her privacy, she could record her recollections at a 
time and place convenient for her and she wouldn't have to worry 
about meeting with me all the time (Jeffery S. Gillooly 
constantly exuded an aura of "go away so that I can be the only 
person near Tonya").

Well, that methodology failed -- after a week or two Tonya hadn't 
recorded anything at all (and I never saw my little tape-recorder 
again). So, I told her the only way to progress on this project 
was for me to sit down with her in one-on-one interviews. She 
said that would be all right; and we scheduled two sessions per 
week at her Beavercreek home.

(By the way, the Beavercreek house ended up being Tonya's home 
not by her choice but because Gillooly went ahead and rented it 
while she was away skating! Tonya had told him there was a 
trailer park she liked [no, she didn't see anything wrong with 
living in a trailer] and she wanted Gillooly to make the 
necessary move-in arrangements while she was gone. Trouble was, 
it was near the urban part of the Portland metropolitan area; and 
Gillooly didn't like the idea of Tonya being that close to 
sources of entertainment and fun [and other guys]. He wanted
Tonya and him to live way out in the country, so that people 
would be disinclined to travel all that way to see her; and so 
that she would have to spend most of her spare time driving to 
and from the rather removed location of Beavercreek. As usual, 
Tonya didn't dare argue the point.)

For about three weeks Tonya held up her end of the bargain and 
submitted to what were designed to be fairly broad and harmless 
questions. This was on purpose, as I wanted her to become 
comfortable with telling me things; and she warmed to the task 
quite nicely. The sort of ho-hum stuff I asked her was the kind 
of thing you'd ask your Aunt Margaret to tell you for a family 
biography. Anyway, I fully intended to get down to more focused 
and nitty-gritty sessions; but three things got in the way. The 
first hindrance was, of course, Gillooly: he'd never leave us by 
ourselves, but would always be hovering in the background 
pretending to be doing something. The second hurdle was the Bad 
News of January '94. And the third blow came when Tonya severed 
communication and friendship with me.

That ended our book project, even while I was having the initial 
tapes transcribed by a friend of mine who had considerable 
experience in that area. It was my friend M_____, to whom I 
alluded in my description of that rinkside non-conversation 
between Tonya and Shawn E. Eckardt -- the one that Gillooly and 
Eckardt dreamed up in order to hurt her. But, looking back on the 
failed project now, I at least have many funny and pleasant 
memories of Tonya at home: her trying to sit still and relax,
something she's not inclined toward or doesn't know how to do; 
her puffing on a cigarette (nicotine, by the way, does alleviate 
certain symptoms of asthma) and being reflective; her joy and 
laughter when talking about certain things; et cetera.

My god, Terry, if The Tonya Harding Fan Club had begun just one 
year earlier in that little gal's life -- well, I sincerely 
believe none of the Bad News stuff would have ever happened. 
Attorneys, physicians (including the one who pushed for the club 
to buy Tonya a nebulizer, something none of us had ever heard 
of), professional people of many disciplines, good-hearted 
people, people with damned good connections -- things were just 
coming right for her! The Portland Trail Blazers of the National 
Basketball Association, thanks to one of our attorney member's 
connections, wanted Tonya to use their state-of-the-art training 
expertise in the form of high-technology diagnostic equipment,
expert physical therapists, sports psychologists, et cetera. (But 
her coach advised Tonya to turn down the offer, fearing an 
erosion of her coaching "authority.")

Even the United States Figure Skating Association was on the 
brink of getting off Tonya's back, due in large part to the 
efforts of fan-club members. But the club didn't begin earlier. 
It was just little old me and my Royal manual desk-top 
typewriter; and I'd never met Tonya until she telephoned me in 
June of '92. Even six months would have made a difference, but 
Elaine Stamm and I didn't know about our mutual sympathies until 
January of '93. Well, if "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts. .
. .

That's all for now. Keep on plugging away; and I shall do the 
same. Gimme a call, so to speak. Best wishes and good-bye for 






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