Why would anyone want to go backstage and into the dressing rooms of a topless bar?
Brian Michael, owner of Augie's Cabaret, was as flummoxed by that cheeky question as he was floored that within seconds of his shooting me an e-mail one recent Friday night, I telephoned him.
He's filming a reality show, "99 Problems," that's "about the hospitality business from my perspective."
Hospitality business. Funny.
Clearing his throat for dramatic effect, Michael replied, "It's been my experience, since I own a strip club, that it's a uniquely desirable place to work. I get about 50 applications a week for locker room towel boy. We're not actually hiring for that position." That's because there is no such position available at the bar.
Regular inquiries about that job -- plus the curiosity expressed by people who want to know what, exactly, he does for a living -- tells Michael that there would be a lot of interest in his reality show.
"Network producers, a few of them who are doing shows now, want a four-week exclusive with it," said Michael, who's been told by producers they don't think they'll have any problem finding a place for "99 Problems" on regular cable TV.
"It's not going to have X-rated content," Michael said. "There's some frankness I would like to speak on."
STOP! No need to sully my mind with information that I probably can't titivate enough to get into print.
Michael insisted that most of what we imagine goes on at a strip club is "so inaccurate, it's really disgusting."
So the eyeballs that will undoubtedly find "99 Problems" will see a bit of myth busting?
"Absolutely," said Michael.
He kept after me until I watched part of an episode. Said I was the first member of the media to actually see it.
Subject matter notwithstanding, the production values are high. It's a well-done look at the inner workings of Augie's.
Michael is a former music producer. He's being assisted by John Burnett, who produced the soundtrack, and Danny Kimura, who photographed, directed and edited the project.
There's a steady stream of visuals, bouncing rear ends and other stripper behavior designed to appeal to the target audience. There was a quick cat fight in the locker room. Michael is shown acting as therapist to women who work for him, making a point of validating their contributions without being inappropriate. I also learned that when an ex-girlfriend of Michael's, who's cute and doesn't come off as sleazy, shows up at the door, it's called a "Code Pink."
As for not being X-rated, Michael does drop F-bombs and uses a 12-letter vulgarity for the most extreme dimension of an Oedipus complex. He was abashed when asked about these incidents. He said he's not sure that kind of language should be in the final cut and indicated that he may refrain from that kind of talk.
To learn more about the reality show, go to 99Problems.TV.Sheletta in Cincy
Sheletta Brundidge is itching to get back on that Hubbard Broadcasting payroll.
"Hubbard Broadcasting is coming to Cincinnati!" said the comedian and former MyTalk107.1 show host, who moved to Ohio late last year when her hospital executive husband returned to his native state for a job.
According to media reports, the Hubbards are awaiting FCC approval for the purchase of Bonneville International, which owns radio stations in D.C., Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
"I had already applied for a few gigs at Bonneville Radio Group. Shawn [her husband] and me are just overjoyed," said Brundidge. "I've been sending chocolate-covered strawberries and flowers to radio executives trying to get their attention. I know I could help Hubbard get a MyTalk station off the ground here. Women in Cincy are dying for a voice."
Brundidge has landed a job as an associate producer at Cincinnati's WCPO-TV, whose new GM is Steve Thaxton, a former KARE employee who most recently was GM of a station in Maine.
"But radio is my heart," she said. "At my core I am a radio person. These people at the TV station know. I can do both."
Why she wants to work for Hubbard again is a curiosity, since it looked to me like she never was really valued there.
While veering off into other subjects, she referred to somebody in Minneapolis, who shall remain nameless, as being "Negro spiritual ugly."
All of a sudden in the background I heard, "We don't use the word 'ugly' in this house!" Andrew, Shawn and Sheletta's 4-year-old, was listening and, more important, speaking.
"Oh, sorry, son, you are so right. We don't call people ugly," she told him.
"I think I'm going to have to spank you to make sure you learn your lesson, Mommy," he said, continuing to dress her down.
"Oh, don't spank me. I've learned my lesson," she pleaded in a voice even more child-like than usual.
I let her off the phone so she could get her whuppin'. It's embarrassing when a child chastises a parent with her own words. Sounds like the little Target disposable diapers model is ready for that transition from print ads to speaking roles on TV commercials.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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