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They're Queer, but Not Here 

Issue 1 will do little but cost us money.

Last week, Issue 1 took effect. It's Ohio's new constitutional declaration that "Homos Really Freak Us Out."

But this may be one case where the incompetence of Columbus works in our favor. It seems the amendment will accomplish almost nothing -- except make us poorer.

According to an analysis by the ACLU, it won't prohibit state universities or other government entities from offering domestic-partner benefits. It won't affect the ability of gay couples to adopt children. And it won't outlaw Cleveland Heights' domestic-partner registry.

"It shouldn't affect benefits or any other rights people have at all," says Carrie Davis, an ACLU attorney. "It's so vaguely written that it doesn't do anything."

Well, not exactly. Tourists have a tendency to avoid states with giant "You Suck -- Go Away" signs at their borders. "When you have something of this magnitude, it just changed the whole dynamic of how you can promote your city," says DeAnn Hazey, spokeswoman for Cleveland's Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The gay and lesbian market, they have a tremendous amount of expendable income. And we're very concerned about losing a portion of that."

Yes, but we have protected the sanctity of Ohio's poverty. And that's something we can all rally around.

Poor Alex
It seems that Alex Arshinkoff -- head of the Summit County Republican Party by day, hunter of nubile young men by night -- has once more fallen prey to his own homoness.

Big Al liked to hang out at Angel Falls Coffee, a gay Akron haunt. But after hearing that Summit Republicans were sending out letters to thank supporters of Issue 1, co-owner Jim King couldn't believe his ears. Knowing that Arshinkoff was one of his best customers, he decided to verify the rumors, so he wrote Arshinkoff a letter asking if what he heard was true. Next time Arshinkoff came in, a barista -- that's Californian for "cashier" -- handed him the letter along with his cup of Joe. That was the last time anyone saw Alex at Angel Falls.

"There was nothing nasty in the letter," says King. "I just wanted to know if what I heard was true. I still haven't heard from him."

The name in porn news
Since we published our tale about the fine selection of porn available on Akron cable access ["Debbie Does Akron," November 17], NewsChannel5, Fox 8, WAKR radio, and The Daily Kent Stater have all jumped on the story. (Moral of the saga: Trust Scene as your first provider for late-breaking porn news.)

The flurry of attention is fine for Al Henderson, whose Illmatic TV airs Friday nights. "It's been a little hectic," he says. "People at the gas station come up to me now asking, 'When is that show on?'"

Rudy Rooster, who produces Softballin', is trying to keep up with demand for new shows featuring strippers baring all. "I have a whole bunch of girls," he promises.

Yet forces of darkness are plotting. Akron councilmen Michael Williams and Dan Horrigan sent a copy of Henderson's show to the city law department. Williams, however, seems to realize that pulling blowjobs from public access is "a double-edged sword." If the city tries to pull the plug, all shows will have to go, including church broadcasts. "It's either all or nothing," Williams says.

So support porn and keep a preacher on TV. It's the Christian thing to do.

Small union, big fight
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 160 is an awfully long name for a teeny union with only 18 members. But it carries a big bite.

A third of its members were laid off in April by Jon Forman, owner of Cleveland Cinemas. The company owns the Cedar Lee and manages theaters at several locations, including Tower City, Shaker Square, and Chagrin Cinemas. Firing unionized projectionists allowed Forman to stop paying health benefits, and he cut wages from $15 an hour to between $7 and $10, says union business agent John Galinac. (Forman isn't talking.)

But seven months later, the union refuses to lie down. Last week, 40 people protested outside the Cedar Lee -- including state Representative Tom Patton of Strongsville, the only Republican leader in Ohio who also carries a union card. (He's been a member of the ticket-sales union for 23 years.) "They're a sister local in our same international," says Patton. "I wanted to come down and do my part."

You know you're in trouble when even Republicans are protesting. Jobs With Justice is planning even bigger demonstrations, which can't help the Cedar Lee, whose wine-and-brie clientele isn't fond of crossing pickets. "We're going to continue doing these protests, and we're going to do some phone banking to tell people in the community what's going on," says Cleveland AFL-CIO chief John Ryan.

Terry's in love
When Browns interim coach Terry Robiskie was introduced at a press conference last week, he professed not to be auditioning for the full-time job. He then went on to talk about how he had "fallen in love with" the Browns team, Browns bosses, Browns fans -- anything brown, really -- even UPS drivers. "I have had the opportunity to fall in love with the Dawg Pound, the city of Moreland Hills, the community of Cleveland and the Lerner family," he said. "I have fallen in love, and I love all of it."

All told, he used the word "love" exactly 20 times.

After the conference, a small press chorus broke out a joyous version of "All You Need Is Love." Seriously.

Punch stopped watching Browns games when we discovered Sunday afternoon reruns of Boy Meets World. Even Cory and that prude Topanga score more than Cleveland does. But all that "love" didn't help much against the Patriots. Perhaps "All You Need Is an Offensive Line"?

What's up with that hair?
A day after shooting the final episode of The Apprentice, Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump's right-hand woman, arrived in Cleveland to give business advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs. But the most pressing question wasn't about commerce: Can't that rich man buy himself a decent comb-over?

Kepcher, stylish in four-inch stilettos, a pink turtleneck, and madras pants, replied coolly, "I'm his COO, not his barber."

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