Thursday, September 16, 1999

Heavy hitters stake out new Jeff Ruby's




BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One thing about Jeff Ruby: He doesn't throw parties. He throws PARTIES.

        Tuesday, for example. He previewed his new flashy, brassy restaurant: Jeff Ruby's. It's a '40s style steakhouse in the former Ciao Baby space on Walnut Street across from the Aronoff Center. The place doesn't open until Sept. 27, but he packed the room with heavy hitters for a $250-a-head fund-raiser for the Boomer Esiason Foundation.

        Of course, Boomer was there, with his son Gunnar whose cystic fibrosis diagnosis led to the creation of the national foundation.

        Also on hand: Sammy Sosa, fresh from the Cubs' win at Cinergy Field — even so, he was chummy with Reds Sean Casey and Barry Larkin. Hatmaker Gus Miller and theme park consultant Dennis Speigel talked about a Detroit outing with Pavarotti. Former Reds GM Steve Schott, was looking svelte; he's down to 205 pounds from a hefty 310. “It's only two-thirds him,” someone said.

        Jerry Carroll was inviting guests to his new NASCAR track. Blessid Union of Souls lead singer Elliot Sloan discussed how much Cindy Crawford loves being called “phat” in the group's single, “Hey, Leonardo.” Jeff Blake looked flashy with a silver hoop earring in each year. Marty Brennaman stared at Ruby's feet and asked, “Are those spats, for God's sake?” They were.

        A hall wall was lined with pictures of Ruby with dozens of celebrities. All but one had name plates — Dan Rather, Sylvester Stallone, Frank Sinatra. The one without ID: O.J. Simpson.

        GO TOOT: A little something King of Kazoo Rick Hubbard wants you to think about Saturday when he and Weird Al Yankovic lead the 30,000-piece kazoo band: It's soooo romantic.

        Excuse us?

        “I'm serious,” Hubbard says from his home in Hilton Head, where he spoke to Eye just before he flew to New York for a sidewalk kazoo stint outside the Today Show.

        “I realized it last year. A couple got engaged at Oktoberfest during our kazoo do. I didn't know then, but later a guy named John Sidorowicz contacted me and told how he and his fiancee, Jen, got engaged and were planning to marry Aug. 7.

        “Then, this is the romantic part, he ordered almost 75 kazoos for people to play at the wedding. Isn't that sweet? The Bridal March on kazoos?”

        As near as we can tell, no engagements are in the works this year. But there will be plenty of music makers; 30,000 kazoos have been ordered by the Downtown Council in an effort to nab a spot in the Guinness Book of Records. There's a World's Largest Chicken Dance in there (72,000 people in Canfield, Ohio) but no kazoos.

        ON THE EDGE: That would be the edge where boys will be boys but some will be, uh, overdressed.

        The Contemporary Arts Center, always on the edge, has designer Patrick Howell whipping up 20 period and futuristic costumes for “100% Pure Diva: Drag Queens and Big Costumes.”

        Don't know what anyone's wearing yet, but hometown favorite Hurricane Summers will be there; so will Coty Collins, back from six months of doing Reba McEntire in Vegas; so will Cher imitator Bonnie Blake.

        That party is Friday (6 p.m.), open to the public and here's a bonus: It's Oktoberfest eve, so Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets are closed from Race to Broadway. Meaning performers will park a ways off and hike to the CAC's 115 E. Fifth St. gallery. Try that in pumps. Fun to watch, though.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.