Monday, August 25, 1997
Pregnant woman balks
at baring belly

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Some people will put up with anything to see their favorite rock band.

But not Sharie Carroll. Six months pregnant, she draws the line at baring her belly.

The 37-year-old mother of four drew that line recently at Riverbend. A ticket taker checking for alcohol asked her to lift her maternity top and show her midriff.

Sharie went to Riverbend to see the Allman Brothers Band, a longtime favorite. She knows how crowds are searched at rock concerts. But the routine at the gate was too much.

''Lift your shirt and turn around.''

''That's what they told everybody,'' Sharie says. ''One guy in the line next to me did it too fast. He had to turn around twice.''

Sharie told her husband, Ed, she was not going to do this dance. Ed agreed.

Ed's an electrician. Sharie's the secretary-treasurer of a telemarketing company. The couple likes the Allman Brothers well enough to hire a baby sitter and drive their minivan from home in Mount Healthy to Riverbend.

''We've seen the band four or five times,'' Sharie says. And, the Carrolls are regulars at Riverbend. So, they're familiar with the drill of before-show searches looking for customers smuggling contraband drugs and booze or weapons.

''That's why I don't carry a purse at Riverbend,'' Sharie says. That night, she wore shoes, shorts and a gray maternity top.

''It was plain gray, none of that Baby on Board stuff printed on it.''

When Sharie's turn came to lift her top and do the hokeypokey, Ed stepped between his wife and a female ticket taker. The woman looked down at Sharie's stomach. Ed followed her stare and announced, ''That's a baby under there.''

They passed through the gate. But their anger did not pass.

''I was offended by the way everybody was treated. It doesn't matter if I was pregnant or not,'' Sharie insists.

''There's no point to it.''

There's a point in playing it safe. Riverbend does that by making sure nobody's toting a gun or illegally carrying in a beer can or a whiskey bottle that could become a lethal weapon.

But there's a fine line between playing it safe and going overboard.

Point taken

''We were wrong,'' admits Mike Smith, Riverbend's general manager. ''This is by no means our policy. Some employees were a bit overzealous.''

He says employees were told to be on the alert for hidden drinks. And with good reason.

Besides attracting average good-neighbor boomers like Sharie and Ed, the Allman Brothers are known to draw a rough element that likes to wear leather jackets, drive loud Harleys and break the law by importing their own liquid refreshments.

Mike Smith remembers a Hank Williams Jr. concert where patrons were asked ''to lift their pants legs because guys were sticking beer cans down their boots.''

It used to be a popular scam at Jimmy Buffett concerts for women to hollow out a round watermelon, fill it with vodka, stick it in their pants and tell the guard at the gate, ''I'm pregnant.''


For the Allman Brothers' show, Riverbend officials decided to make concert-goers ''shake out blankets and open jackets.'' Employees would ''conduct visual inspections of loose clothing.''

But, by the time those orders reached the employees working the entrance gates, they had been twisted - like a secret being passed down a line of troops - into: ''Lift your shirt and turn around.''

Those words burned in Sharie Carroll's ears. After the show, she called Riverbend and sent a letter. Theater manager Matt Dunne called to apologize. He told her it would not happen again. He also offered her two free lawn tickets to any show on what's left of Riverbend's summer schedule.

Sharie did not take him up on the offer.

''I still have a bad taste in my mouth.'' she says.

I don't get it. Riverbend said it was sorry. It wants to kiss and make up with two free tickets.

''You can get lawn tickets anytime,'' she says, sounding like the Riverbend regular she is.

''We were hoping for front-row seats.''

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 768-8340.