Thursday, April 24, 2003

Knip's eye view


Memorable, outrageous benefit bash will be back

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One of Cincinnati's most popular - and outrageous - benefits is returning.

Because, says Janet Ach, the volunteer chairing the party, it's time to bring back a full-blown, creative, over-the-top Night Against AIDS.

She chaired the every-other-year events in 1994 and '96. These are the ones, recall, where guests decorated tables - and often dressed - according to the party's theme - Phantoms, Fairytales and Fantasies for one, Carnivale for the other.

What made the event popular was the extravagance of the decorations and costumes. Not to mention the edginess - slaves dressed in leather fetish gear being led on leashes, table decorations punctuated with live models, bizarre floral arrangements and fabrics stretching to the ceiling.

Ach is hoping to revive that tradition for Night Against AIDS VIII, set for Nov. 8. The tentative theme is Gods and Goddesses, but Ach says she has time to change if something better pops up.

The way it works is a host buys the right to decorate a table for $1,000 (that also gets two dinner tickets), then either hires a designer or makes it a do-it-yourself project.

"The idea is to be as creative as possible on as little as possible," Ach says. "In the past, people have come up with such amazing tables, I would walk through and not know where to look first."

The benefit will be at the Cincinnati Club and can accommodate only 420 people. Call Doris Callis at 421-2437 for info.

Musical passions: Was that musician and former Cincinnatian C.C. Thomas strumming his bass Monday and Friday on the steamy soap Passions (2 p.m. weekdays, Channel 5)?

Sure was.

Thomas, a bassist who played with most every musician in town (Blue Birds Big Band at Allyn's on Sunday nights, ROTC with Randy Villars and Teddy Wilburn, Brian Lovely & the Secret) is now bassist for Jeffrey Osborne. He was persuaded to move west and try his luck when Babyface heard him and hired him; he later joined Osborne's band.

His Passions appearance was tame. No love scenes, no moony-eyed shots. Just music.

Pick a fight: Elsewhere in our Local Dude Makes Good file, Cincinnatian Rich Franklin, a 28-year-old teacher at Oak Hills High School, turns up on TV this week trying to beat the stuffing out of a guy name of Evan Tanner.

Franklin fights in the MMA (mixed martial arts) style. He's been training intensely, sometimes eight and nine hours a day, at Jorge Gurgel's New Generation Martial Arts School in Middletown and now feels he's ready for the big time.

That would be this: A national pay-per-view match called UFC (ultimate fighting championship) 42: Sudden Impact, airing at 10 p.m. Friday from Miami. It's Franklin's UFC debut.

Franklin, a University of Cincinnati grad with degrees in math and education, was born in Covington and has been studying martial arts since he was 17. He fights in the light heavyweight (205 pounds) division with an MMA record of 16 wins, no losses.

Opponent Tanner, however, is a major powerhouse and favored on the Web site www.maxfighting.com, where there's also a really cool interview with Franklin and details on the match.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com



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