Icy-hearted Harding affair takes comic spin with the first edition of 'Whacked!'

March 22, 1994|By Phil Jackman

Whacked!

That's the name of a publication that hit the stands recently. And gracing the cover is none other than America's sweetheart: Tonya Harding.

So it's not a biography by William Manchester or Kitty Kelly, but they will come later, undoubtedly.

An outfit called River Group is the perpetrator of this literary effort, sometimes known as a comic book, and these folks obviously know what they're doing. All the departments found in the slick jobs like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Mad and Field & Stream are in evidence.

There's an "Ask Tonya" section and it's riveting:

"Dear Tonya, What was your first thought when you heard Nancy Kerrigan had been injured backstage? Curious."

"Dear Curious, That it was too bad it didn't happen on the rink -- at least then she would have had ice on her knee right away."

"Dear Tonya, I'm a 16-year-old girl who never gets asked out. I guess it's my appearance. Any special grooming tips you can pass along that might make a difference? Looking for love."

"Dear Ugly, Bathe at least once a week, and remember -- never use the same brush on your hair and your teeth. Go get 'em."

Ann Landers couldn't have handled it better.

The publication figures to be a huge success if only because it's loaded with ads taken out by the companies paying Tonya big bucks for her endorsement. Chief among these is the Baton'ya, an implement that not only "taps your top competitor, but has many everyday uses! It chops, it dices, it shreds. It gets you into your pickup when you've left your keys in the motel."

And free of charge, if you order immediately, is "The official Shane Stant 'Whacking for Fun and Profit' Handbook."

Another ad sure to create extensive interest among readers is "Tonya's Greatest Hits," a collection of tunes written just for Harding as she launches her singing career. Sure chart-toppers include, "Achy Breaky Leg," "Hit Her With Your Best Shot," "I Can't Stop Shoving You" and "Help Me Make It Through The Finals."

dTC In keeping with the practice of all magazines these days, there's a page of trading cards and the premiere issue includes musts for all collectors, Tonya, Stant, Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckardt.

The bio on cloak and dagger expert Eckardt reads, "Although Shawn claims to have had a hand in a wide variety of top-secret missions, from all appearances, he has more likely had a hand in a wide variety of top-sirloin barbecues. Shawn often spoke of a career in protective services and espionage; his part in the plot to cripple Kerrigan seems to have put those grandiose plans on hold for now."

It's the text of the book, the rich illustrations and the up-to-the-minute coverage of breaking events that figure to boost Whacked! into the category of Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post and the Police Gazette -- into the pantheon of magazines.

The story begins with Kerrigan being announced as the bronze medal winner at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Next, we see Tonya eavesdropping at a door as advertisers lay out plans for Kerrigan, who is signing endorsement contracts for soup, cereal, shampoo, video cameras and milk. Chewing tobacco is suggested for Tonya.

It is then two years hence and, as the U.S. Nationals approach, Kerrigan is touted as the favorite to win and be America's chief hope for the upcoming Lillehammer Games. Harding is pictured biting the head off a chicken.

"If only she [Kerrigan] were unavailable during the week of the nationals," Gillooly says to his pal Eckardt, who's snacking. "I could have her killed for just a week," Eckardt suggests. Too drastic all agree and three of the great minds of the western world launch into a plan:

Achilles . . . cut her tendons . . . run her over . . . stuff her with Twinkees. The meeting is just breaking up, a course of action being decided upon, when Tonya enters the room, exclaiming, "Notice I wasn't present. I didn't know. I had no idea this was even happening, really."

Stant goes to Boston and gets lost. Takes a bus to Detroit and gets lost. Finds Kerrigan, finally, and belts her . . . and you know the rest.

Bound edition extra.

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