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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...


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 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."


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 
viewed here:

More information can also be found on Mary Millar's own web site:


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 
audience's delight!


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."


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 


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 
tribute page:

Now, if only we could get Tonya to skate to this:


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