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D.C.’s annual Cherry Jubilee partypart of a circuit of gay dance parties held throughout North Americahas been awash in controversy ever since its inception. Two years ago, the party, which raises money for local AIDS charities, was held in a U.S. Department of Commerce auditoriummuch to the outrage of right-wing congressmen appalled by a murky videotape of shirtless men having their way with each other and ingesting various mood enhancers on a federally funded dance floor. Even though the party moved to the Capitol Ballroom last year, serious problems persist. In 1996, the Whitman-Walker Clinic and Food and Friends received a total of $50,000 from Cherry Jubilee proceeds. But in 1997, Friends Being Friends, the nonprofit group that organized the party, failed to hand over a dime to either group. “I think probably what happened is that the expenses were more than the income….It was never very clear,” says Mickie Ballotta, director of development at Food and Friends. This year, another nonprofitthe Metropolis Fundhas taken over the party planning and changed the name of the event to “Cherry Delight.” Says Lou Piper, development director for the Metropolis Fund: “We wanted to make it very clear to the world that it was a different organization that was producing the event.” Efforts to reach Friends Being Friends were unsuccessful.
King of DCRA When a water pump broke at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) on Tuesday, director David Watts gave word to evacuate the waterless building, sending 300 employees home. But the captain of the city agencyoften criticized for its slowness and inefficiencydidn’t abandon the sinking ship so easily. When a reporter called the main number later in the afternoon, Watts answered simply, “DCRA.”
Dead on Arrival A month ago, Medlink Hospital and the D.C. Commission on Mental Health Services were making like they had a done deal to relocate a city mental health center at Medlink’s facility in Stanton Park (“Unwelcome Wagon,” 2/28). But a combination of PR bumbling and irate neighbors led to the deal’s unraveling. According to staffer Johnny Allem, the commission has told Medlink that its building, formerly Capitol Hill Hospital, is no longer in
consideration. “We’re looking at a couple sites that more closely meet our needs,” says Allem, who wouldn’t identify the new sites except to note that they are, conveniently, not on Capitol Hill. The choice spares Scott Nelson, who oversees the commission as a federally appointed receiver, a rumble with neighborhood activists, who were pissed that the Hill was about to be saddled with yet another assisted-care facility. It also leaves Medlink stuck with large portions of its hospital building still unoccupied. According to Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, the receiverwho inspected every alternative site she suggestedwill also end up saving money. “[Nelson] just didn’t want the rancor,” explains Brad Braden of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. “He has an agency to save.”
Blue Period Forget Enemy of the State. A different movie was raising more than a few eyebrows among the street set last January. According to cops in the 3rd District, a Spike Lee wannabe was traversing the city seeking local talent for a porn epic based on the lives and hobbies of prostitutes. Look for it on the shelves of your local video store.
Pizza Movers When the District seized property to make way for the construction of the new $650-million convention center at Mount Vernon Square, it promised to compensate displaced businesses by paying for moving expenses and the relocation of equipment. But Omar Douki, owner of Dukee’s Pizza at 804 N Street NW, claims that the city has been nickel-and-diming him. All three downtown sites Douki has proposed, he says, have been rejected for cost reasons. “You just don’t put a pizza place in any hole and stick in an oven,” says Douki. “They are hoping by playing this wait-and-see Mickey-Mouse game that I would just quit. I won’t. I love serving pizza to Washingtonians.” Jim Kerr, project manager of the Convention Center and Arena Task Force, says, “We will work with him until we find an affordable location.”
Reporting by Laura Lang, Amanda Ripley, Michael Schaffer, Elissa Silverman, and Jake Tapper.
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