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

April 9, 2015 Edition - POST EASTER EDITION
(C) 2015 Portland Ice Skating Society

Welcome to the first issue of The Portlandian for 2015. We hope 
all our readers had a great Easter.

Last year Tonya moved back to Washington state, as a result of 
her husband taking up a new job. Our sources at Team Tonya tell 
us that she and her family are doing great, with Tonya and her 
husband keeping busy, building a fence, a gate and a chicken 
coop. They have two grown chickens who are already laying eggs, 
and also a couple of baby chicks. So it's safe to say they had no 
shortage of Easter eggs over the past few days!


The year kicked off with what has got to be one of the strangest 
projects ever seen on Kickstarter, but one that's long overdue: 
two New Yorkers have decided to create a Tonya/Nancy museum in 
the hallway of their Brooklyn apartment. Their initial goal was a 
modest $75, but by the time the fundraising closed in early March 
they had raised $2036 from 150 backers, over 27 times the amount 
that was originally sought:

The pair behind the museum, Matt Harkins & Viviana Olen, are 
comedians, who met at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, which 
also did a Tonya musical several months ago. But they say they 
are deadly serious about this project, telling the Huffington 
Post "We are fully prepared to take this to the limit." "I want 
to make it clear, we're not making fun of the event," Olen told 
radio station 1010 WINS. "If we're making fun of anything we're 
making fun of ourselves, you know, that we're that interested in 

"We're coming into this with the utmost respect," Olen told the 
Washington Post. "We're not really focusing on the attack. We 
want to focus on these athletes, and the culture of reaction and 
gender stereotypes and how this defined so much of 1994 and so 
much of our consciousness."

Their initial inspiration for the museum came after watching 
Nanette Burstein's 30 for 30 documentary, "The Price Of Gold" on 
Netflix. "If you were growing up you had this idea of Nancy as 
this princess and Tonya as, like, Satan. That's how they were 
painted in the media," Viviana explained in an interview with 
Brooklyn Magazine. "So watching the documentary is so fascinating 
because you get to really learn about where Tonya came from and 
all of these things you would have never thought about if you 
were growing up with it."

Apart from raising far more cash than expected, the pair were 
also deluged with unexpected media coverage. In addition to the 
aforementioned interviews, they've also been the subject of 
articles and news items by ABC, CBS, CBC in Canada, Sports 
Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports, the "Boston Herald" and even some 
site in France. They also got a write up in a local news site, 
Timeout, in which we are described as a "hardcore Tonya Harding 
fan site from New Zealand" - about the highest praise possible!

They've also given us a shout-out in a recent update:

   The most exciting news however is we were contacted by some     
   good folks in New Zealand who run a very dedicated Tonya 
   Harding fan club who say they've passed our info on to Tonya's 
   agent, so keep your fingers crossed! We would love to meet 
   Tonya and buy her a really nice dinner at the restaurant of 
   her choosing. Stay tuned!

You can check it all out on their media page here:

This one has a nice shot of Tonya on the podium at 1991 Nats:

One of the museum curator's theories is that everyone is either a 
"Tonya" or a "Nancy", but they say that if you're thinking about 
it, you're a Tonya, and that if you immediately thought you were 
a Nancy, you are most definitely a Tonya. They claim that "the 
only real way to be a Nancy is to have very long lines in your 
body. If you thought you were an Oksana Baiul, well, aren't you 
just perfect, WE SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU." To reinforce this they 
have buttons emblazoned with "Team Tonya" and "Team Nancy" 
available to visitors, but stress that the museum is a 
celebration of both skaters.

And what will the museum look like? Originally the plan was to 
simply blow up some photos and stick them on the hallway wall, 
but with the unexpected influx of extra funding the pair have 
upped the ante with more gradiose plans: "It will be visual, we 
also will have an audio element, we're going to have some iPads 
in the walls that show the figure skating routines, we're 
actually going to make the lighting really good so it has an 
experience walking through," Viviana told 1010 WINS. Matt, who 
actually works at a museum, is painting the walls black to "make 
it feel more authentic". "We want it to be an experience because 
it's a long hallway, but you can still walk through it in like 
eight seconds", he said. 

The publicity has also resulted in several genuine artifacts of 
the era and plenty of fan art being donated. Journalist Lois 
Elfman who was present at the 1994 Nationals has donated photos, 
several magazines, a commemorative pin and protocol sheets from 
the 1994 U.S. Championships and a ticket stub and backstage pass 
from the 1994 Champions on Ice tour. She also gave them the 
chance to talk to an insider who was present at the time.

Other items received include a diorama of Tonya performing her 
triple axel (more on that later), screenplays, comic books, 
embroidery, and some particularly bizarre stuff that you can see 
on the museum's Facebook page (like a spooky drawing of the two 
skaters that make them look like those creepy kids from "The 

We have donated two items to the museum: scans of a Tonya bumper sticker and a business card for Shawn Eckardt's infamous "World  Bodyguard Services".

Of course, all this deserves a gala opening, which will take 
place at the Standard Toykraft theater 
(, on April 18th at 9pm. Although 
Tonya herself will unfortunately not be present for family 
reasons, we are informed that she thinks it's a "cool idea", and 
is "really happy that so many people seem to be interested in 
her", and Lynn Harris who was the premiere Tonya Harding 
impersonator circa 1994 will be making an appearance instead. 
There will be a cash bar, cupcakes, swag bags, a temporary tattoo 
station and "a kick ass Kristi Yama-dance-now 90's playlist" as 

As you can imagine, this museum is not like a regular museum, 
being in somebody's apartment. For this reason, access will be by 
appointment only, being arranged like "online dates". "Basically, 
you email us and we can verify who you are online, and that 
you're not gonna hurt us, then you can come in" Viviana says. The 
plan is that the museum will stay in place for at least a year 
until their lease expires. Then there is the possibility it could 
be taken on tour, perhaps even to Portland. And Matt & Viviana 
say that "Price of Gold" director Nanette Burstein wants to stop 
by to see the finished collection, which kind of brings things 
back where they started.

To keep up with this exciting project, be sure to visit its 
official web site at:

It's all just more proof that interest in Tonya is still strong 
over twenty years later.


Brittany Powell of Portland recently made this splendid diorama 
of Tonya to commemorate her landing of the Triple Axel in 1991. 
As you can see, it shows Tonya's buildup for the jump, the 
execution and that "yessss - I've nailed it!!!" reaction from 
her at the end:

It was created for a contest run to promote Oregon history by a 
group called Kick Ass Oregon History ( who 
produce a regular internet podcast. According to the KAOH site, 
entries in the annual event, the fourth held so far, are judged 
on four categories, each worth ten points, namely:

   1) Kick Ass-ness
   2) Oregon Historical Significance
   3) Originality
   4) Ass Kicken-ness!

with the winner being announced at their February 14th History 
Night show at The Merry Time Bar in Astoria. Entrants could also 
get five bonus points by bringing their diorama along to the 
Merry Time Bar for the judging.

Well, if there's two things Tonya is certainly qualified in 
(apart from skating) it's Oregon-ness and kick-assedness, so this 
looked like it should be a shoe-in, particularly given that there 
were only five other entries, depicting in turn the Roseburg 
Blast, the Rajneeshees sect, Erickson's Saloon from its early 
days, the Exploding Whale and Ice Skating on the Columbia (making 
a total of two out of the six with a skating theme).

Unfortunately it didn't win (that honor went to Heather Arndt 
Anderson with her depiction of the Roseburg Blast), probably 
because Brittany didn't turn up with it to the judging, thereby 
missing out on the bonus points. Or perhaps someone simply bribed 
off the French judge. Competition was described as being tough, 
with the top three dioramas finishing within 4 points of each 
other. Three of the contestants, including the winner, brought 
their creations to the show. 

However, you'll be pleased to know that Brittany's efforts were 
not wasted, because she's donated it to Matt & Viviana's museum.

It may be worth noting that in an unofficial poll by the 
Oregonian, the Tonya diorama scored third place behind the 
exploding whale & Rajneeshpuram entries. Their article also shows 
some of the other entries:

Here's some more reports of the show:


Last issue we reported on a sudden unexplained outburst of fake 
Tonya sightings. Well, it's still continuing.

Not satisfied with the fact their city will soon have its very 
own Tonya/Nancy museum in Brooklyn, a couple of artists in New 
York's Bowery district have painted a mural of Tonya and that 
other skater on the front of a shop, 90's nostalgia boutique La 
Petite Mort. Well, at least it's a step up from Taylor Swift, 
which was what was there before:

The article reveals that it is the work of Centre-fuge artists 
Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella. The artwork is part of a 
promotion for an art show on the topic "Scandal! The SPPPorts 
Edition". Certainly the coolest thing to come out of the Bowery 
since CBGB's shut down.

And doesn't it make you feel old to know that there are now 90's 
nostlagia boutiques?


But then a few days later more impersonators of skating's 
infamous twosome also started popping up in Ohio, at something 
called the "Polar Plunge" at the Columbus Zoo. Is this wee girl 
the cutest "Tonya" lookalike you've ever seen?

It was all part of a fundraising exercise for the Special 
Olympics (one of Tonya's favorite charitable causes, by the way), 
where over 400 people, many in fancy dress, signed up to jump 
into a pool full of freezing water. The "Tonya" this time was 
played by 10-year-old Alison Lonsbrough, a Special Olympics 

Alison was accompanied by her friend Mary Kate Gebhart, 11, 
playing the part of Nancy. They were part of a team dressed up as 
various Olympians, including a "Michael Phelps" clone and a 
Jamaican bobsledder. Others who made the jump included people 
dressed as popsicles, Santa Claus, characters from "Alice In 
Wonderland" and four members of a local roller derby team, the 
Ohio Rollergirls.

But it was clearly Alison who was the real star, raising $2,500 
for the event, third most among individuals. Her team also won a 
trophy for the best team costume for their Olympians theme.


Then we had this Tonya/Nancy influenced dance routine that turned 
up on Lifetime's "Dance Moms" a few weeks ago:

There's some clips here - seem to be two versions - kind of like 
a Short Program and a Long Program:

To us it mostly looked like a load of arty-farty running and 
rolling around - I think we'll stick to figure skating. But at 
least there were no retractable batons on display in this one.

For some years there has been a campaign to get dance as a sport 
in the Summer Olympics. Which means that one day we could 
actually have the bizarre sight of something like this - a dance 
routine based on an Olympic scandal - being performed at the 
Olympics itself. Of course, they'd have to have same-sex dance 
pairs first.


Rounding out our Tonya appearances is a new Tonya comic (with an 
interesting interpretation of Jeff as a wolf). It's the work of 
artist Katie Skelly:

The comic, which is 13 pages and entitled simply "Tonya", can be 
purchased for $2 on Gumroad as a PDF file. At this stage there 
are no plans for a printed version.

These interviews and reviews suggest it's not terribly accurate, 
but it's billed as a figure skating fantasy, and it seems to take 
a sympathetic point of view of Tonya. The implication is that the 
violence done to Nancy is a result of the wolf-like people 
surrounding Tonya forcing her into a desperate situation.

Here's an interview with the artist:

   "Her physical frame was maybe, what, 2 or 3 inches off of what 
   was considered ideal for women's figure skating, and she 
   suffered for it. I looked at these Muybridge-type breakdowns 
   of the triple axel and it should be physically impossible. 
   Anyone who can compete on her level is an incredible athlete."

   "That's a really great point about the skating boom. Tonya was 
   already the black sheep of skating for daring to be less than 
   6 feet and skating to rock music. I think it was all too easy 
   to cast her out after the scandal."

   "I don't think there could have been a satisfying ending for 
   Tonya. All of her self-worth was based in external things, 
   like getting the impossible approval of her mother and husband 
   and a committee of judges. The cycle never really ends when 
   you're living like that. There would always be another 
   competition, another enemy, another threat. Tonya's survival 
   was in skating and in order to ensure that survival she had to 
   be the best at it. I don't think she's the type of person who 
   could just kick their feet up and enjoy a nap on a Tuesday 
   afternoon. I relate to that."

And a review:

   "Transforming Gillooly into a wolf has the same effect. At 
   only 13 pages, Skelly doesn't give herself a lot of space to 
   work with, so she has to pack in as much visual information as 
   she can. Gillooly is unqualifiedly a piece of trash, but 
   instead of detailing his sins, Skelly literally shows instead 
   of tells—he's a wolf, literally. It tells you everything you 
   need to know about that character, and these traits are 
   underscored by the chunks of flesh missing from Harding's 
   body. We see her undressing after a practice, and bite marks 
   score her arms and legs. The implication is clear."

   "Harding is quite a controversial figure and one vilified in 
   the news. The story that surrounded Nancy Kerrigan's beating 
   painted Harding as evil, but Skelly takes it on herself to 
   humanize the skater. She's not an angel, and you never get the 
   sense that Skelly wants you to think she is. But Katie does 
   illustrate Harding as someone more complex than the agreed-
   upon narrative would have you believe. Skelly depicts moments 
   of childhood emotional abuse and draws a direct link between 
   the chiding of her mother and the motivation Harding feels as 
   an adult to be the best—at all times. There's a pathos to the 
   way Harding feels and it doesn't spring forth from a vacuum of 
   directionless rage."


One of the high points of last year, "Remote Control", Sarah 
Marshall's well-received pro-Tonya article in "The Believer", 
continues even now to make people re-evaluate their opinion of 
Tonya and is still making waves. Recently this was selected by 
Longform as one of their best sports articles of the year:

We've no idea what "Longform" actually is, but it sounds like 
something important, and that's what counts.

Sarah was also recently interviewed for the Portland Mercury, 
which described her as "Portland's foremost Tonya Harding 
expert", with the article accompanied by a photo of Sarah wearing 
a genuine '94 era Tonya t-shirt:

One of the comments on the article sums it up nicely:

"When Harding was at the top of her game, flawless and confident, 
she was most definitely beautiful to watch. Check out the '91 
Nationals. She didn't have a model's body, but she did things no 
one with a model's body could do."


And "just one more thing" (as Columbo would say).

We would like to announce that we now have an alternative domain 
name. In addition to still being reachable by our current domain 
of, we now also have a .nz domain name. It is:

This has been made possible by the generous donation of this 
domain by long-time Tonyaphile Paul Dizadji, best known for his 
operation of the former "Puppetland" Tonya site. We would like to 
thank Paul for this Christmas present to us and for his continued 
support of Tonya. Although his Tonya site is no longer actively 
updated he does continue to maintain an archive of his Tonya 
pages which contain much in the way of useful historical 
information, and which can be accessed at 
- so check it out. 


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