The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

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Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney

Can a movie that depicts an actual event where the outcome is known, succeed in captivating its audience? Yes, and "Breach" is a movie that does just that.

"Breach" is the telling of an authentic historical account of one of the most damaging espionage story in America’s history. At the center of this story is Robert Hanssen, portrayed brilliantly by Chris Cooper. Hanssen is the real life traitor who sent classified information to the Russians. Cooper has a chameleon like quality in letting the audience read his emotional hues changing as quickly as this story unfolds. At one extreme, he is aloof and stoic, and then he flips a switch to be a playful, adoring grandfather, committed husband and a genius in the world of high tech security information systems. Cooper does this so convincingly that we, as well as his assigned underling, Eric O’Neill, come to be confounded by the discovery of Hanssen’s double life.

Second to Cooper’s performance is that of Ryan Phillippe. Phillippe plays Eric O’Neill, Hanssen’s assistant. He is unaware of Hanssen’s covert actions and the purpose of his own role in working for Hanssen. Eric is a good Catholic boy who is of the straight and narrow path and has his sights set on being an FBI agent. He is committed to the code of the Bureau and will not let anything deter him.

Phillippes’ performance elicits the art of acting in its purest form. There is no doubt that Phillippe, as Eric, has become in awe of his mentor. There is no doubt that Eric is devoted to attaining the commitment and compromised personal life the FBI requires. And in this convincing portrayal it is all the more disconcerting when Eric discovers the truth about Hanssen. Heroes can fall pretty quickly off the pedestal. Traitors don’t deserve the pedestal and attention garnered to them.

Actual footage of John Ashcraft announcing the apprehension of Hanssen drapes this movie in a real time sense of American diplomacy, with its international security at the forefront. Accurate on site scenes filmed in Washington D.C. serves to enhance its authenticity. This movie is intelligent, without graphic violence. The dialogue is clear and exempt of expletives in every other sentence like some movies have the tendency to do.

Added to the fine script and well-crafted retelling of this high profile patriot betrayal, is the interesting actual human twist made by the real life protagonist, Eric O’Neill. Also, a nod should go to Laura Linney for her outstanding performance. She played Eric’s boss and helped spearhead the conviction of the most famous man who chose to breach his country’s loyalty.

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Well let me introduce myself. My name is Gigi and I will be writing a bi-weekly column. I am a 40 something gay woman that has been "out" for many years. I do not hide it and I do not flaunt it. Every job that I’ve had has known about my sexuality. All of my friends and family knows and have not really had a problem with it short of the initial "coming out" moment. I think one reason for this is that I was me and didn’t live for anyone else. I am happy and the people that truly love me are happy for me. I can be me and not let other people bring me down because of their beliefs.

That's a message that every woman should hold close to their heart no matter what their sexual persuasion is.

Back to the column, my spot is geared – but not limited to – questions about being gay in Cincinnati. Anything that peaks your curiosity but are not comfortable with asking face-to-face about the gay community and/or the lifestyle, I'm happy to answer!

One question I always get is, "Is being gay really a choice?" And I'm going to get this answer out of the way first: Yes, I believe we are born this way.

As you can imagine, being gay is not an easy way to live. People lose family members and friends over it. Some live double lives just to make others happy. Each of us has to be comfortable with ourselves and happy with what hand we are dealt or we will have a life that just isn’t what it could be. I guess we do have a choice, be ourselves and be happy or be what others want you to be and not be happy. That seems more like a forced decision and less like a choice, though. I'd rather go with myself being happy. After all, I am the only person that I can never get away from!

Remember back in the day when being left-handed was forbidden? We (yes I’m also a lefty) were told that it was wrong, and not acceptable. We would get our hands "cracked" with a ruler or even go as far as to tie one's hand behind their back to make sure they didn’t use it to write with. Then, (many) years later it was studied and come to find out this is not a bad thing, just different. As the years have gone by, more and more people are left handed. So, it seems that way. It is just that now we are aware of lefties because we are not cast aside because of this. Same with gay people, there are not more of us than there were 50 years ago. We are just able to come out a little more every year. More and more people realize that this is the way we are and it doesn’t matter.

I think we're on the cusp of seeing the same kind of "lefty" realization happen for the gay community. Ellen DeGeneres is the perfect example.

Her show "Ellen" reached its height of attention in April 1997 when she came out of the closet on national television and publicly declared that she was a lesbian to Oprah Winfrey, who played her therapist. After she publicly came out, ratings sunk and the show was canceled. DeGeneres laid low for a while and, as we all know, she re-established herself as the successful host of a daytime television talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Amid a crop of several talk shows surfacing in 2003 when her show first aired, DeGeneres' show has consistently risen in the ratings, received widespread critical praise and garnered 15 Emmy Awards. In just the past decade since "Ellen," a lot has happened to the social perceptions of our gay community. People are finding out this is not a bad thing, just different.

So, send me questions! I'm happy to be a part of this "realization" revolution!

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Cincy Chic: Where were you 15 years ago? How did you transition from that life into the one you live today?
I was a married, mother of four, looking for a fun outlet. I was also one of the top five most successful consultants with a company similar to Pure Romance. At the time I found that a lot of women were requesting information and answers regarding female sexual health that this particular company was not providing. That was the beginning of my own personal desire to create an alternative for women. The transition began when that company folded and I had to make a decision regarding what I was going to do. At that time, there weren’t really any other companies out there of this nature. That was when I decided I was ready to take the leap and launch my own company, providing women with more of what they were looking for, while continuing to offer women with a safe environment to learn about sexuality and intimacy.


Cincy Chic: The legend goes that you were inspired by women talking freely in a discussion about sexuality on The Phil Donahue Show. Why did that inspire you and how have you instilled that freedom in your company?
It inspired me because I felt that these women were very empowered, taking control both financially and in their own bedrooms. Back in the 80s, that was virtually unheard of. I felt like they were in on this secret and I wanted to be a part of that sisterhood and camaraderie. Today, we have instilled that freedom by marketing our company in a clean and classy way. Our parties are not only entertaining, but also highly educational. We are committed to providing a safe environment for women to ask questions and feel like they can be open when it comes to learning about intimacy and sexuality.


Cincy Chic: Cincinnati has always been thought to be a conservative city. Did you have any inhibitions about starting such a “push the envelope” kind of company in Cincy?
Cincinnati has never intimidated me. It’s been a wonderful place to raise my family and overall, the city has been very supportive of what I’m doing. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize that we are truly about educating women.


Cincy Chic: Let’s talk about business. What kind of response have you received from Cincinnati women since you started your business in 1993?
They have totally embraced it! Women in the community have honestly asked why it’s taken so long for us to have something like this available.


Cincy Chic: What was your greatest challenge in getting your business started?
For me, it was finding my niche. I have never been a “behind the desk,” paperwork type person – I’ve always needed to be active and would describe myself as a "do-er." It was important at that time to really build a strong team of individuals that could contribute to all aspects of the business.


Cincy Chic: Any business advice you would like to disseminate with other women out there with big dreams of starting their own company?
Follow your dream. Stay passionate about what you’re doing. When you lose your passion, then you’ve lost your reason to move forward. I truly believe that every time you fail at something, it makes you stronger to push forward and do a better job next time. There’s always going to be obstacles in business, but you just have to learn lessons from your setbacks and ultimately turn them into positives.


Cincy Chic: Going along with the business advice… you have several family members working for you. Is that a key to success? If so, why?
In my case it has been a key to success. Having my family have the same passion for what I do has been really important to me. While growing this business, I was working many hours so I was able to still spend time with them and keep that bond strong. They’ve also brought a lot of great new ideas to the table to help substantially grow this business.


Cincy Chic: Do you feel like you have inspired women to freely discuss their sexuality as the women on Phil did with you? How does that make you feel?
I really think we have pioneered a lot of programs that have opened doors for women. I take great pride in that. Women are no longer hiding intimacy issues; we have allowed them to really come out and improve those intimacy issues. Women today are really concerned with their relationships. For example, many married couples are realizing that just having a marriage certificate isn’t going to bond you for life – in reality, you have to work at your relationships. I truly believe that you have to work on anything worth having in life.


Cincy Chic: Because you started this company from the ground up, this company is really an extension of you. What kinds of things scream Patty Brisben in the way your company functions?
You know the old saying “treat others as you would want to be treated” – I’ve taken that motto and used it with our company, making every women feel comfortable when she comes through the door. I hadn’t even seen a bedroom accessory before starting in this business. As a result, I learned first-hand what made women feel uncomfortable and I didn’t want that to ever be the case for the women that were turning to Pure Romance. My experience was a plus because I could really relate to many of our customers who were looking for a comfortable environment where they wouldn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable.


Cincy Chic: Tell me a little about the Patty Brisben Foundation?
I’ve always taken pride in being able to surround myself with great people. As I mentioned before, many women came to me with complex questions. Because I was not a doctor, I felt it necessary to team up with qualified individuals who could provide answers to these questions. Through this experience, I discovered that there is very little research done on female sexual health. Even today, there wasn’t any place for women suffering from cancer, pain disorders – it is astounding what little information is available. The foundation helps in funding, as well as providing this research, so our children’s children will not be struggling with these same issues down the road.


Cincy Chic: Where do you like to go/do in your spare time?
I love visiting Nappa Valley, my second home in Naples, Florida and St. Maarten. I especially love family vacations. I’m a very family-oriented person so this is extremely important to me.


Cincy Chic: If there’s one thing you’d like our readers to know about you, what would it be?
That I’m a strong believer that one should always practice what they preach. I would also want them to know how very important my family is to me. They’ve been a great support system throughout the years.


Cincy Chic: What’s been your greatest accomplishment thus far?
To me, one of my best accomplishments has been winning the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for this region. It really showed me how much Pure Romance has been embraced in our community – I take great pride in that.


Cincy Chic: What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I would love to contribute even more information regarding women’s sexual health. I strive to always continue offering even more opportunities to women and keeping them financially and personally self-empowered.

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Watch for the reports at 5:15 p.m. on Channel 5, or come here to read the reports!


Five Things Mar. 22: Home Repairs In Minutes

Five Things March 21: Tips to Improve Your Home

Five Things March 20: Tips to Improve your Credit

Five Things Mar. 19: Credit Mistakes To Avoid

Five Things Mar. 16: Your Five Most Common Aches and Pains

Five Things Mar. 15: Your Rights As An Air Traveler

Five Things March 14: Sugar Substitute

Five Things March 13: Parents' Housekeeping Advice

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We all know about the Bengals, Reds and Bearcats, but what about kick-butt women’s sports? Emily Joy, aka "Sk8 Crime," is part of one of those teams – the Cincinnati Rollergirls – and she still finds the time to lend a serious helping hand in the community. This jammer not only talks the talk, but walks the walk (and can do it in skates).

Cincy Chic How long have you lived in Cincinnati? Anything keeping you here?

EmilyJoy.jpg Joy: I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital in the summer of 1982 and have lived in Cincy my entire life. I grew up in Norwood, graduated from Norwood High in 2000, and then moved to Oakley. I started working on my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati in the fall of '01… Six years, four apartments and many relationships later… I am now living in Clifton, sculpting my senior thesis project, working part-time as a security guard, singing with MUSE- Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir and becoming a badass roller derby girl. As for the future…it’s all up in the air. I had planned to move to Portland, OR after finishing my degree, but then I met the most amazing woman and fell head-over-heels in love. This is not to say that I won’t move eventually, but for now…my plans have definitely been postponed.

Cincy Chic: How did you become a member of Cincinnati Rollergirls?

Joy: Near the beginning of last year, I heard from a friend that a roller derby league was starting up in Cincy. I remembered my dad telling me about how he used to watch roller derby as a kid, and always thought that if I had a chance to play, that I would have to take it. When I was younger I wanted to be a speed skater or an X-skater and that passion for skating has stayed with me, so when I heard a league was starting up, I e-mailed the organizer for more information. Up until that point, I had always skated on roller blades, so a week before the first practice, I bought a pair of quad skates and taught myself how to skate on them. Now, I am starting my second season as my alter ego "Sk8 Crime," a jammer with the Cincinnati Rollergirls.

Cincy Chic: What is the roller derby all about?

Joy: Essentially, derby is about skating fast, scoring points by passing other players and using your body to block the other players from scoring. Jammers are the speed skaters who have to maneuver their way through the blockers and back around again and again in order to score points. Meanwhile, the blockers are knocking around the jammers so that they can’t score points. So you take some awesome women, add cute uniforms and attitude, then put them on a fairly small track with very little protective gear and tell them to skate their hearts out… that’s roller derby.

Cincy Chic: What do you like about being part of Rollergirls? Any future plans for the team and league?

Joy: I love being a rollergirl because derby is an amazing sport for women of all ages, sizes, athletic abilities, backgrounds, etc. All you have to have is a little bit of determination and you can play…Ok, so balance is good too, but we can teach you that. I also love the fans. I get e-mails from women who have been inspired by my skating skills and want to join a league, men who recognize and appreciate my talent for taking women down, but mostly children who love my signature mohawk, squirt-gun and the Sk8 Crime stickers that I hand out. Maybe someday I will be able to be a professional rollergirl, but until then, I am just excited to be skating at the Cincinnati Gardens this season (May-September).

Cincy Chic: Besides the derby, what else are you involved in?

Joy: Outside of school, work and derby, I somehow find the time to sing soprano with MUSE, go to local protests against social injustices and organize drives for the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter.

Cincy Chic: When you get a chance to take off your skates, where is your favorite local spot to “hang out”?

Joy: When I’m not busy with my own stuff, I either go to Dirty Jack’s (5912 Vine) or Arlin’s (on Ludlow). Those are the bars that my girlfriend’s band, PIKE, plays at most frequently. Since I am her biggest fan, you will often catch me rocking out in front of the stage, or selling merchandise…depending on the night.

Cincy Chic: How you like to use your Fine Arts and Women’s Studies degrees?

Joy: Right now I am working on my senior thesis project for DAAP. I am incorporating all of my feminist theory from Women’s Studies into the large-scale sculpture that will be shown at DAAPWORKS in June. The sculpture part will be about 20 sets of breasts, cast in rubber and mounted on the wall. All the breasts will be different because I am taking molds from actual women, and 1 in 8 of the breasts will have a ceramic piece embedded in the rubber to represent the statistic of how many women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. In addition to the breasts, there will be a video documentary of women talking about their experiences or issues with having breasts. It’s my goal to counteract the objectification of women’s breasts that we see in the media, and to show women that they are beautiful and wonderful no matter what their breasts look like.

Cincy Chic: In your words, what is the beauty of being a woman?

Joy: I find beauty in how I redefine what it means to be a woman. I create my own standards of beauty and femininity, and in return, I have a better self-esteem. So, essentially, beauty is really about loving yourself the way you are and not compromising to make other people happy.

Cincy Chic: If you could get one message to every woman, what would it be?

Joy: Join Roller Derby! Kidding. Seriously though, just love yourself and find strength in the diversity of women around you.

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Mosaics seem really difficult, but are actually very simple to create. You can mosaic just about anything with a flat or nearly flat breakcraft.jpgsurface, for example: mirrors, picture frames, vases, chairs and anything else you can think of! The fun of doing a mosaic is that there is no wrong way to do it. To start, just pick what you want to mosaic, and then select the materials.

To get started, here are the basics: broken glass, mosaic glue and grout (optional). Most craft supply stores have a large variety of pre-broken glass and even ceramic tiles. You can also buy glass bottles, plates, tiles or mirrors to break yourself. If you do break these pieces yourself, it’s best to wrap them in a towel so the broken pieces stay contained and do not fly up and cut you (make sure to protect your eyes with safety glasses).

Choosing pieces to break yourself is a great way to get really creative with the project. For example, going to garage sales or flea markets to find old dishes with ornate designs can turn an already fun design into something uniquely your own.

Do not be afraid to play with different textures, colors and sizes of the pieces you are applying; the typical mosaic has a smooth surface when finished, but your mosaic doesn't have to be typical.

Leaving the final piece rough can create depth and make it more interesting. A great way to generate this look is to use sea glass, which is not uniformly smooth and even. Pair the seabreakcraft2.jpg glass with any combination of the previously mentioned materials, or use all of one material. The point is: have fun with it!

Once you have the pieces laid out where you want them, glue them all in place using mosaic glue. You want to use this glue because it is stronger than regular glue, and it can be purchased at most craft stores. Once you glue the pieces in place, give it 24 hours to set before moving on to the last step.

If you opted to use pieces that are not uniformly smooth, resulting in an uneven surface, you will probably want to skip the grout step. Keep in mind that the initial surface to which you applied these pieces will be visible, so if you want the background to be a certain color, you might want to begin the process by painting it.


If you do use smooth, even pieces, using grout to fill the gaps is the final step. This grout is made specifically for mosaics and is also available at craft stores. It comes in just about any color and is extremely easy to use. Just follow the instructions on the package and you are done. You have produced a beautiful, easy and fun work of art that would even impress Martha Stewart!

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Where else can a woman over 60 display her hidden talents of being an aging stripper? I did just that as I portrayed a character in the Broadway show, "Gypsy."footlighters_intext.jpg


I have been one of those women since 1965, when I made the best decision of my life and joined Footlighters, Inc. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would perform for Princess Grace in Monaco, because I was a part of a community theater group and won a competition.

There is nothing like the excitement of performing onstage, especially, if what you do for a living, never gives you that thrill. Belonging to a community theater group has given me the opportunity to meet hundreds of terrific people from all walks of life who come together, like a family, and produce a comedy, musical or drama in the theater. If you want to learn to design costumes, be a stage manager, be a lighting designer, design or build a set, the opportunity is at Footlighters. You just need the desire and interest to visit our theater. Our welcome mat doesn't lie. Everyone is welcome in our theater.

Footlighters, Inc. is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization and is supported by nearly 200 members, all of which represent a broad spectrum of the professional, demographic and geographic community served by the theatre. The group was founded in 1963 in Cincinnati and has been very successful in producing over 40 major musicals such as "Hello Dolly," "Music Man," "Oklahoma," "South Pacific," "Company," " Man of LaMancha," "Jesus Christ Super Star," "Fiddler on the Roof" and many others.

In 1985, the group bought the Salem Methodist Church, built in 1865, in Newport, which is on the National Historic Register. The Footlighter membership tackled the daunting task of renovating the church into a theater, with the help of $150,000 in grants. The Footlighters continued their rich history by opening the new Stained Glass Theatre, with the production of "Annie." Since then, Footlighters has produced three shows a season and has approximately 600 season subscribers. Each production has 12 performances for three weekends. They not only produce well- known musicals, for their spring production, they will also present a premier production of the award-winning, dramatic musical, "Parade," which has never been presented in Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky.

If you want to have the best time of your life, commit your time to theater. You will never regret it! Look at the Footlighter's Web site,, for a variety of shows that you could be involved with. The next season begins October,2007 and ends in May,2008 with the productions of "Ballroom," "Daddy, Daddy, Who's Got the Will" and "Children of Eden."

Don't hesitate to call Footlighters at (513) 474-8711 for tickets to one of our productions or e-mail Dean Rettig at for information about joining the group. If you just want to talk, woman-to-woman, you can call me at (513) 708-0213.

But whatever you do, "Break a Leg"!

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Freedom Writers
Featuring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Patrick Dempsey and Pat Carroll

"Freedom Writers" is a movie starring Hilary Swank as an ambitious newcomer to the staff of an inner city high school. She is a teacher who chooses to teach at risk students in Los Angeles. Against her father’s approval, her spouse’s wishes and the naysayers' within her own faculty, she prevails in making a difference in the lives of her students.

"Freedom Writers" is the true life story of Erin Gruwell who succeeds in motivating her students to outperform expectations. She teaches them tolerance, empathy and self realization of taking responsibility for their lives rather than living behind hate. In Gruewell’s classroom mistrust no longer holds captive these young, hardened people.

Gaining this social metamorphous was hard won. Repeated attempts are made by the naive Gruwell to encourage her students to move out of their deep rooted ethnic groups. She is consistently met with disdain. She finds studying “required” literature to cultivate social awareness pales to the students’ own true life stories. Begun as a personal exercise in writing, an opportunity for change is born when Gruwell gives each student a notebook to keep as a journal.

In their writings grow lessons on integrity, diversity and the commonality of the human experience: We hurt when someone judges us because of our skin color; We anger when someone justifies violence in the name of righting a wrong; We devalue life for all when we refuse to see the similarity of our experiences; We cultivate prejudice and hate when we allow ignorance and long rooted vendettas dictate our actions.

In the exposure of their written experiences we are privy to realities wrought with questions of family loyalty, gang betrayal, commitment to graduating and changing the course of their "at risk" life. They are forced to ask themselves can they forego the expectation of being high school drop outs, pregnant teens, absentee fathers, drug pushing dealers or gun carrying gang members.

This movie is graphic. Hollywood did not make a candy stripe story with a picture perfect outcome neatly tied up with sanitary “closure”. We have seen many teen inspired movies of triumph overcoming diversity and ethnic difficulties. Rarely do we see one of this caliber.

Patrick Dempsey as Swank’s husband gives a bland performance that matches the paucity of spine his film character lacks. Scott Glenn as Swank’s father portrays a man with lofty ideals that go to the wayside when his daughter’s safety and future are so affected by her work.

Hillary Swank gives a top notch performance. And in a crucial addendum to the film Pat Carroll gives an Oscar worthy performance as a woman who lived the injustice of social cleansing.

This movie is not recommended for the faint of heart. It is recommended for all those who are comfortable with the status quo. For every blind eye turned away from the problems of our children’s youth, the complacency will have consequence.