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

(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 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 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 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 
(Oct 2000):

- 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 
(Dec 2001):

- 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 -
   Aug 2003:

- 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: (Aug 2008) (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.


"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 
might mean...

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"...


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?


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 
about Tonya:

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:


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:


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: (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"...


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 
   Clubhouse Pictures.

   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 
   executive producing.

   UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are representing US 
   domestic rights.

   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.


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