Disgraceful, worthless pond scum

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Somebody may be steamed about strippers getting coverage.

A recent column traveled to Rumors in Mount Carmel, where club owner Elisabeth Kemper made the highly profitable decision to stop selling booze and let her dancers bare all. This triggered a bunch of ''you are'' calls - directed at yours truly for reporting on the sights and sounds.

These phone conversations began with the words ''you are,'' followed by:

''A disservice to Cincinnati.'' - Cal Johnson, Northside.

''In league with the devil.'' - Andy Sellers, Mount Carmel.

''A disgrace.'' - Rose Peterson, Clifton.

''Selling sin.'' - Bertha James, Walnut Hills.

''Pond scum.'' - Ralph Cornelius, Mount Washington.

''Worthless.'' - Joan Karl, Milford.

''Someone I would never have over to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.'' - Jayne Alfred, Northgate.

That's OK. My mom says Thursday's invitation still stands.

Aside from killing the messenger, some callers addressed larger issues such as the club's life span and public morals.

Gene Livingston of White Oak predicted: ''Rumors won't last long. They had joints like this in California in the '60s. People went once, got bored and the clubs closed.''

''You can't legislate morality,'' said John Brooke of Harrison. ''They should stop trying in Mount Carmel. Leave Rumors alone.''

Ahron Leichtman, Cincinnati's world-reknown anti-smoking crusader, phoned in a bit of marketing advice for the strip club.

''If the owner of Rumors really wants to clean up, she should install a non-smoking section.''

Mark Smithfield of California is after my job.

''Now let me get this straight,'' began his voice-mail message. ''You go to a strip club. You watch the dancers take off their clothes. You write about it. And, you get paid for it. Where do I sign up to get a job like yours?''

Take a number and get in line. Please.

Remembering Buddy

The murder of activist Buddy Gray moved callers to pay tribute to Cincinnati's outspoken advocate for the homeless.

''A community activist in a capitalist society is someone who's trying to live a life of love.'' - Shalmah Prince, East End.

''Sure, Buddy Gray got on people's nerves,'' said Al Harris of Hyde Park. ''But he did it for all the right reasons.''

''Buddy Gray made me so mad I wouldn't even drive through Over-the- Rhine,'' admitted Gene Ireland of Montgomery. ''But he lived down there with the cockroaches and the crime and tried to help people.''

''The only thing we have to give in this world is time,'' said Alana Johnson of Loveland. ''Buddy Gray gave all of his time - his whole life - to helping other people.''

Levi's blues

In a column about taking care to avoid crime in the streets, I retold the story of the crew in town to film a Levi's 501 jeans commercial.

The commercial's producer and four other crew members were location-scouting one night in Over-the-Rhine. As they left a deserted alley, a stranger slipped up, pulled out a gun and relieved the crew of its cash.

The column noted that Over-the-Rhine is showing strong signs of rebirth after decades of despair. Still, its peaceful appearances can be deceiving. So, when you're in the neighborhood, be careful.

''Columns like yours will kill this place,'' yelled Arnold Belle of Over-the-Rhine.

''This was no robbery,'' cracked Joseph Benton of Dent. ''It was just a redistribution of the wealth.''

''Your column was much too easy on the thugs who live in Over-the-Rhine,'' asserted Ethel Ross of downtown. ''Who are you trying to please? Who are you afraid of?''

''Cincinnati is a town with no manners,'' said Edna Holliday of Mount Auburn. ''It's not as civil as my hometown.''

She's a native of New York City.

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.

Published Nov. 25, 1996.