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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...


Yes, that's right - Tonya has hit the big four-oh! We join all 
Tonyaphiles everywhere in wishing her the very best on this 
special day.

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 Change 
has come in the form of marriage. Which in turn leads us 


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
and also on our photo page at

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!


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:


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 
   to Boston! 

   **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--

   Elizabeth Searle
   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."


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. 


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 
"Breakaway" (1995).

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 
her honor."

"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 
him villainous. 

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.


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