Column #174 A NICE Story about Tonya Harding and Darts

December 1, 2004
Column 174
A NICE Story about Tonya Harding and Darts

There is one thing I want to make perfectly clear: it was my wife, Marylou, who put it in my mind to track down Bad Girl Tonya Harding, arrange to hook up for a few games of darts, and then write this story.

Despite the Dartoid persona, I am not really in the habit of chasing women around the globe (at least not cigarette-sucking, beer-guzzling, devil-women who are as likely to whack my knees with a billy club and stab me in the head with a Hammerhead as they are to shed their clothes and do the horizontal boogie-woogie for some dude with a camcorder so the video can be sold on the Internet). Oh, I’m sure that, down deep, Tonya’s a nice girl. Probably Nancy Kerrigan thought so too.

Marylou was reading the newspaper one morning and came across an interview with Harding. Others mailed me copies of the story with notes echoing my wife’s idea. Buried in the copy was this nugget: “I’ve been through the worst. But I leave the past in the past. I’m a grown woman. Cigarettes, things like that – hey, well, it’s not that big a deal. I still play pool and I like darts.” Yep, Harding, the notorious ex-figure skater, wedding night sex-romp star and, now, punch-drunk professional boxer, is a fan of the sport of darts!

The way I saw it, dangerous as it might be, I had no choice but to go after the interview. I take my obligation to Dartoid’s World readers seriously — to venture anywhere and everywhere no darter has ever gone before.

tonyatoon
As it turns out, I have a bit of experience interviewing women who don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of your typical Girl Next Door. For example, back in the early 1970’s, I did a one-on-one with Deep Throat actress, Linda Lovelace for my college newspaper. Trust me when I say that at nineteen years of age, it was one of the more intimidating hours of my life. For weeks afterwards though, I was especially popular with my buddies.

So, I began the hunt for Harding. I sent a letter to an address I found on the Internet. I fired off e-mails. For three years nothing seemed to work. Never heard a peep. Probably Harding didn’t receive my messages. Probably she was locked up in jail.

Then suddenly everything changed. I stumbled across the name and e-mail address of someone who claimed to be Harding’s public relations agent. As difficult as it was to believe that there was a actually real live, clear-minded, legitimate public relations professional, who wasn’t on hallucinogens, steering Harding’s wacko career, I immediately popped off a query. The rest is history.

Below is the transcript of my negotiation with Harding’s agent, Linda Lewis of Linda Lewis Public Relations in Lincoln City, Oregon. Bits of what follows were not actually sent to Lewis. As a whole however, my thoughts throughout the process are accurately represented.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 14:20 PM

Hi. My name is Paul Seigel. For the past dozen years I have self-syndicated a humor column about darts and travel. It’s called Dartoid’s World and is carried in many of the publications around the world that cover competitive darts. Many of the columns can be found at my website. Just go to Google and type in “Dartoid’s World”. The first of a series of books will be on shelves in the spring. Some time ago, I read an interview in which Tonya Harding was quoted as saying she liked to relax throwing darts. I would like to interview her. Might you be able to arrange this?

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel” Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 4:41 PM

Dear Paul: Thank you for your interest in having Miss Harding do an interview with you. It’s true that Tonya does like to play darts from time to time. If you are interested in doing an interview, I will be up front with you that she would need to be compensated. She is available for interviews at this time, and the fee is negotiable. Please feel free to reply to me, and I will run the offer past Tonya. She said that any fee you offer (within reason) would be considered. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Linda Lewis.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 8:40 AM

Linda: Thank you for your prompt reply. If you can give me some idea of the level of compensation I will get back to you in a day or so. Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 11:23 AM

Dear Paul: Most often she will accept an interview after a fee has been offered. Why don’t you let me know what you can offer, and I will run it past her. She just recently did a ten-minute interview for a reasonable fee. I can’t disclose the amount because of confidentiality. It can vary from interview to interview. Please let me know, and get back to me. Thank you. Linda

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “‘Linda Lewis'”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 2:10 PM

Hi Linda. Gosh, I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to sound foolish — but in all the years I’ve been writing the column and of all the people I have interviewed, I’ve never been asked to suggest compensation. I haven’t a clue what might be reasonable. Always in the past, the guarantee that (here comes some major bullshit) several hundred thousand people, at least, will read the column has been enough. So, should I be offering $25, $100, $500, $1,000? Can you give me a little guidance? I would like to figure out a way to do the interview, am willing to e-mail questions for her to answer, and then have a brief follow-up telephone conversation. I would however, prefer to conduct it over a game of darts. Perhaps the compensation could be that I agree to buy the beverages? Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 5:27 PM

Dear Paul: A compensation of $1,000 would be very fair. She most often gets much higher for interviews, but that would be a fee that is workable. Everything is negotiable though. I’m sorry to have put it in such an indecisive way to you; it’s that she has other things in the offering, and we try to match the fee according to the length of time for an interview, and how far she would have to travel etc. We can negotiate from there. I don’t know what you’re budget is, so you will have to let me know if this is workable. Best regards. Linda.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 9:59 AM

Hi Linda. Well, darts is a little out of the ordinary, I suppose. I’ve interviewed the current (and eleven times) world champion, Phil Taylor, and there was no fee. I just flew to where he was (Las Vegas) and sat down for half-hour or so. I’ve done the same thing with various other world champions of the sport. I’ve traveled all over the world, to some 60 countries, to meet up with players in their home bars and then written the story. But I understand, darts is different. These guys are different than someone as well known as Tonya Harding. But I have also thrown darts (here comes some more, REALLY major, bullshit) with Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson and Tiger Woods. Never a fee. This is not to say I don’t understand your position. It is to say, unfortunately, that $1,000 is flat-out frickin’ out of the question. So, how about $100 and as much beer as she can drink while we throw darts and talk? I do not do formal interviews. I simply relate to whomever the subject is and develop the story from the experience. I am pretty certain that I can also arrange to develop a bit of promotion around the thing — to extend the potential exposure from the time the interview is agreed to until the date it occurs and for some period after that. I can even envision a match, instead of an interview. “Dartoid” vs. Tony Harding — we play best two out of three games of 501 or cricket (she’ll know what this means). I’ll wear ice skates, a helmet, shin guards, and bullet-proof vest. If she beats me, I’ll triple the fee. I can say that Tonya would not have to travel anywhere. I am willing to travel to wherever is convenient for her — the neighborhood bar she hangs out, any bar anywhere in the country where there is a dartboard, wherever she may be on other business or, if it’s the only way to find her, even a federal penitentiary. So, the only “cost” would be her time. The “benefit” will be unique exposure for her, internationally, and, if what I understand as to her enjoyment of the sport is correct, I’d wager this interview will be the most enjoyable interview she’s ever experienced. Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:48 AM

Dear Paul: I will run this past Tonya. I can say up front that Tonya can’t drink alcohol at this time, but she can have coffee or a coke. If she agrees to the interview, how soon would you want to do this? Thank you for your time, and quick response. Sincerely, Linda

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 11:29 AM

Linda: Assuming she agrees, like I said, I can be pretty much open to her convenience. I suppose it will depend most on where it is to take place. My schedule’s flexible. If she’s going to be near Tampa anytime in the next couple of months that would be easy. Otherwise, anytime, anywhere in the next few weeks/months is fine. I’ll just need to book a flight and find a pair of skates. Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Monday, November 1, 2004 4:10: PM

Hi Linda. Are you still out there? It’s been two weeks since my last message to you. Have you heard from Tonya or has she been arrested again? Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Tuesday, November 2, 2004 11:16 AM

Dear Paul: I apologize for not getting back to you. I don’t know if we are going to be able to do this or not. Tonya needs to be paid for the interview, and to be honest, she told me that she’s not very good at darts, and only plays for entertainment once in awhile. She is good at archery, and pool, but darts isn’t one of her strong points (excuse the pun, ha!) Thank you for thinking of her, and best of luck to you. I’m sorry this didn’t work out. Sincerely, Linda

—–Original Message—–
From: “Paul Seigel”
To: “Linda Lewis”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Wednesday, November 3, 2004 8:15 AM

Hi Linda. I’m sorry too, but I understand. As you know, there’s a lot of nasty stuff out there about your client. I read somewhere that she recently smashed somebody in the head with a hubcap! Ha! Possibly none of stories are true. Still, I’m sure you understand that had she and I met and some of the stuff turned out to have some basis in fact, my commitment to (now here, in quotations, comes some truly PHENOMENAL bullshit) “journalistic excellence” would have required me to tell it like it is. If the truth be known, I think you made the right decision. Thank you for your efforts and if she ever reconsiders please let me know. Paul

—–Original Message—–
From: “Linda Lewis”
To: “Paul Seigel”
Subject: RE: Tonya Harding and Darts
Sent: Tuesday, November 3, 2004 4:19 PM

Dear Paul: actually, “if the truth be known” we know we made the right decision. We’ve read some of your writing. We think you’re nuts. Tonya has however, authorized me to extend a counter-offer. If you’re up for it, she’d be open to meeting you in a boxing ring. She’ll wear skates. Linda

So, there you have it — a very nice, extremely positive, and entirely true (mostly), story about my efforts to coax disgraced ex-figure skater, admitted felon, frequently pummeled and recently knocked-out “professional” boxer, perennial DUI-offender and jail-bird, and occasional cinemagraphic (the emphasis being on “graphic”) actress, Tonya Harding, to the line for some darts and casual conversation. Sadly, my efforts failed.

I think we would have had a good time. She seems to be pretty much like most of the people I throw darts with on Wednesday night. I really did have high hopes of taking on this Bad Girl. The thing is, knowing my darts, she’d have probably done a Triple Axle on my face.

Which reminds me: if you want to watch Tonya Harding do a Triple Axle on Jeff Gillooly’s face, click tohttp://www.gamelink.com/sitemap/goog_ref/stars/34263.htm#library. The video will cost you $49.95.

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.
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