Off Beat

The Lengths Editors Go To

AT LOCAL PRESS dinners, the sycophantic Off Beat has been too busy glad-handing and looking at nametags to size up the gams of our competition. But something about the October 22 cover of FreeTime, the Star Tribune's new arts-and-entertainment pullout, looked suspiciously inauthentic. The cover, which was devoted to the Minneapolis stop of the touring Broadway show Cabaret, depicted a heavily made-up and top-hatted woman clutching the thigh of a man wearing torn fishnet stockings. It took only one phone call to find out that the woman is a model--and the hairy leg belongs to Claude Peck, the Strib's fine-arts editor. Peck, who took over in late July for John Habich (who left for a yearlong fellowship at Columbia University), is unabashed about baring his flesh. "It's widely known over here," he tells Off Beat. "I volunteered my leg. I like to get a lot of publicity for my legs." And how do they compare to those of the man who used to sit in his chair? "I would say that my legs are better than John Habich's," Peck says immodestly, adding that it was an easy screen test: He had only to prove that his legs were hairy enough to get across the concept of Cabaret's ambisexual environment. The shot did receive a fair amount of criticism, he reports. "People thought it was sleazy. One reader said the cover promoted lesbianism. Evidently they didn't think my legs were hairy enough."

Fancy That

CAN IT BE that some people in the Twin Cities still don't recognize Fancy Ray McCloney? No one was more shocked than the self-proclaimed "prettiest man in comedy" himself, who alleges that he was racially discriminated against on a recent Saturday night when he and a date tried to enter the Daddy Rocks nightclub in Minneapolis's Warehouse District. McCloney says that after someone on the street had handed them a two-for-one drink ticket, he and his companion decided to check out the club. Upon arriving at the door at 12:30 a.m., the always nattily attired public-access cable star and sometime politico says, two doormen told him he couldn't come in, citing the gold medallion he was wearing. McCloney says he buttoned up his shirt and offered to remove some of his rings, but that wasn't enough. After requesting to see the manager and being told no one was available, McCloney alleges, he was forcibly ejected from the bar. Off Beat did manage to reach a manager at Daddy Rocks. The staffer, who said he didn't want his name published, asserts that McCloney's celebrity status has no bearing on the club's door policy, and that the club reserves the right to refuse admittance to wannabe patrons who aren't properly dressed, don't have proper ID, have had past problems with the club, or appear to have had too much to drink. The manager adds that he doubts that McCloney was pushed and insists that the club does not deny access on the basis of race. Unmollified, McCloney has filed a complaint with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. "It was completely unprovoked and completely unnecessary," the 1998 People's Champion Party gubernatorial candidate says of his ouster. He shouldn't hold his breath for a resolution. Gaynell Ballard, a complaint investigation officer for the city's Department of Civil Rights, says he receives about 300 complaints annually, and that it might take anywhere from three months to a year before an investigation is completed.

Innovative Headline Writing Derailed

ORIGINAL IDEAS HAVE pulled out of the station. No wait: There's a cow on the tracks of creativity. Off Beat loves a good railroad metaphor as much as the next guy. We just wish local headline writers would get, um, untracked. Atop a September 17 story about the current plans to renovate downtown Minneapolis's long-vacant Milwaukee Road Depot, the Star Tribune went with: "Depot site plans back on track." And a September 20 Minneapolis Community Development Agency press release trumpeted "Back on Track! At 100-Years-Old, The Milwaukee Road Depot Sees New Life." Finally, the St. Paul Pioneer Press weighed in on October 25 with "Depot Plans Back on Track."


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