“Cincinnati was certainly not on my list of places to live,” says Rich Sherman, the brain behind local monthly, printed GLBT-friendly community guide, the CNKY Scene. “In fact, it was on the top three of where I was not willing to move!” he adds, laughing.
Sherman moved to the Queen City from Minneapolis, his hometown, after his partner, Chris, was transferred for a job. And a year later, his tune — and business — have changed. “I am happy to say I love it here and am so thankful we ended up here. It is one of the best-kept secrets, I think. Who knew Cincinnati had so much going on?”
CityBeat caught up with Sherman to discuss the magazine’s function and the health of the local GLBT business and entertainment communities.
CityBeat: Describe what prompted you to start CNKY Scene.
Rich Sherman: When I moved here, Chris and I had no idea where to go, what to do, where the GLBT clubs were, who the GLBT business owners were, etc. It was certainly not a stipulation that someone be part of the GLBT community to get my business, but I was looking for opportunities to meet people from within the community to build relationships. … I was shocked when I found out there was not a local monthly magazine in the city for the GLBT community to resource like there is in most every big city.
CB: Explain what CNKY Scene is to those who may not have heard of it yet.
RS: The long and short of CNKY Scene is that it is a monthly GLBT-friendly guide to what is going on in the community. It is not just a guide for GLBT business owners, which is why I stress “friendly.” … Advertising in CNKY Scene does not mean you are a GLBT owned and operated business, just that you are an allied community member and welcome the business of the GLBT community.
CB: What is the function of the magazine? What’s is its mission?
RS: I hope that the function is to be a monthly guide to get people in the doors of businesses they may have not otherwise explored for one reason or another.
GLBT bars are not seedy, hole-in-the-wall establishments. They have great entertainment, dancing, monthly events, community fundraising, etc. They are bright and vibrant and bursting with fun things to do. There are so many great GLBT and allied businesses that offer different things than the mainstream. … and that is what CNKY Scene strives to get out there to the community. The GLBT community is a big community, and by openly integrating them into events, we only continue to make our community more tightly knit, as other progressive big cities do.
CB: What will readers see when they open the pages of the magazine? What kind of stories?
RS: CNKY Scene is heavily advertising-driven. That is the first function of the magazine. So immediately you will be bombarded by monthly ads for [GLBT] businesses and entertainment. We have little in the way of stories. There is usually something that ties to the cover and then a few other diverse articles. Some that are just silly and irreverent, some like Planned Parenthood are meant to offer some health education related material, and we are going to be having a monthly women’s article written. We also try to pick out some of our advertisers and do stories on them so that people can learn a little bit more about them. We are certainly not a news publication nor plan to be.
CB: How many issues have you put out thus far? Your favorite(s)?
RS: We are currently on the “PRIDE” issue, which is issue seven. Our eighth issue is the “CNKY Scene Film Festival” issue, which comes out in July. I don’t know that I have a favorite. I think each issue just gets better and better. … CNKY Scene continues to grow each month with new advertisers, and the nightlife scene here is growing so much … that each month the ads just get more exciting. The GLBT nightlife is thriving: The older established bars are reinventing themselves with some really great nights of entertainment, and the “newer” places continue to offer exciting entertainment and high class shows that you can find in any other big cities. And dare I say we have some of the best of the best local talent located here!
CB: What are your thoughts on the gay scene in Cincinnati?
RS: Cincinnati gets a bad rap from so many that are not from here. But the GLBT community here is thriving. We have a lot of GLBT friendly bars and this competition leads to a lot of really great things continually going on. Great entertainment is being brought in from other cities, and great themed events are taking place. Cincinnati Pride is continually growing each year, and the GLBT-friendly crowds are spreading out and visiting new places and coming together in so many new ways. Most recently we did a boat cruise [Big Ship Lollipop] with BB Riverboats. It was a huge success that brought out great entertainment from a variety of different businesses on a Friday night. Seeing the community come together this way is a very rewarding experience.
CB: How has the response been to the magazine?
RS: When the magazine started we got a P.O. Box with the immediate idea we may end up with hate mail. To date we have had none and each month we continue to get requests for involvement, “Can I be on the cover?,” and emails thanking us for being a source for the community to turn to. The magazine only exists because of the great community we have. … We certainly have not created the wheel, just rolled it into our community. It has been a long time coming and we are thankful every day for the opportunity.
CB: How do you want to change the scene in Cincinnati?
RS: I don’t know that I would want to change it … and certainly I don’t think I have the power to do that. If I did, Chris Seelbach better watch out! I will leave the change to him. I just hope that CNKY Scene continues to inspire people to get out and visit all the great businesses and entertainment offered in our city. If there is any change, I hope that it shows the widely diverse community we have. I hope it inspires the younger generation of the GLBT community to want to stay here and grow our community even bigger and better and brighten the diversity of our great city. I hope it brings out people that would not otherwise come out and bring back the visitors that came to town to check our city out. That in and of itself will bring about change in its own way. I hope to inspire that in some way and hope to be a part of any solution.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit www.cnkyscene.com.