4 MONTROSE VOICE/APRIL 17, 1987
200 Attend Opening of Straight
'AIDS-Free' Dating Service
By Peg Byron
NEW YORK (UPI)—About 200 people
packed an opening night party Wednesday at a dating service for people who
have tested "AIDS-negative," although
legal and medical experts charged that
the club is dangerous and possibly illegal.
The dating service, the first in an area
where more people have AIDS than
anywhere in the nation, invited singles
to sign up for membership cards if they
take the blood test for the AIDS antibody and are negative, meaning they
show no signs of AIDS virus infection.
An equal number of men and women
made up the crowd of 200 people who
jammed into the opening night party at
the Ampersand Singles Club's headquarters on New York's fashionable
Upper East Side. Founder Gail Sheffler
hired security guards to keep the affair
"I came because I think it's the beginning ofthe future," said Elissa Sandler
of Brooklyn. "It's difficult to go into a
singles club to try to meet someone and
not know if they are AIDS free.
"It's a life and death issue," she said.
"It's not like herpes. I was thinking of
making all my dates take a blood test,
but it takes six weeks to get the results."
She was among several party-goers
who said the club is an idea whose time
had come. "Hey, I just want to play it
safe," said a well-dressed man in his
Some people were skeptical. One man
wanted to know what happened if a club
member had sex shortly after being
tested and contracted AIDS.
Gail Sheffler, 27, quit her job as an
advertising copywriter to start the
AIDS-free dating service which is
Room a Hot
CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (UPI)—
There's a new tourist attraction in
town—room No. 538 of the Sheraton
Sand Key Hotel where evengelist Jim
Bakker and Jessica Hahn had their
The room goes for $138 a night and
hotel manager Russ Kimball says he
has been swamped with requests from
people who want to stay in it or buy
furnishings from it.
Souvenir hunters are out of luck, Kimball said, because the bedspread, curtains, beds and even the carpeting were
replaced during remodeling.
Kimball said the room, with two double beds, is booked for the next three
"It sells so good I'm thinking about
putting 538 on every room on the fifth
floor," he said.
Kimball said one radio station
wanted to do a broadcast from the room.
"I had to tell them I was sorry but the
room was booked," he said.
He said the hotel continues to receive
two or three telephone calls daily from
radio disc jockeys around the country.
He said some want hotel workers to talk
about the room, while others wants to
talk to guests currently in the room.
Kimball said the hotel hosted a convention earlier this month and the_conventioneer who got the room happened
to be named Baker, "so the radio stations called and they got Mr. Baker."
Bakker's sexual encounter with Hahn
in the room led to his recent downfall as
head of the PTL Club.
aimed at addressing awkwardness and
uncertainty she says have invaded the
New York singles scene.
"I'm single. I'm living in New York
and I'm concerned," said the energetic,
dark-haired entrepreneur as the telephones in her new brownstone office
"I haven't sat down at a dinner party
in the last two months where the talk
hasn't been abut AIDS. And there is
nothing oriented to heterosexuals," she
But while Sheffler juggled scores of
inquiries and prepared for her first
party for prospective members, some
legal and medical experts ridiculed her
approach as dangerous and possibly
Members will pay up to $600 to meet
people ofthe opposite sex who also carry
"AIDS-negative" cards. Members also
have to pay for their own blood tests,
costing between $55 and $250 from private physicians if not taken at one ofthe
city's free clinics, Sheffler said.
"It is not paranoia" for heterosexuals
to be concerned about AIDS, said nurse
clinician Ann Stuart of the New York
Blood Center where she counsels people
who take the AIDS antibody test.
The Blood Center estimates between 4
percent to 10 percent of New York heterosexuals carry the AIDS virus, she
But Stuart warned it can take several
months for a virus infection to create
antibodies that show up on the test and
post-test sexual relations could also
But Sheffler said that her club does
not guarantee its member are AIDS
"We work with the best the medical
community has to offer," she said.
"There are no guarantees. But members
are meeting other people who have been
tested AIDS negative and chances are
more than likely that these people are
AIDS negative. What are your other
Sheffler said that besides the usual
dating questionnaires and photos, her
club will offer AIDS information and
even a "safe-sex video" that recommends using condoms.
An opening night party of 300 was
expected to draw an even larger crowd
of prospective members and Sheffler
hired security guards to help keep
But the Human Rights Commission
said it would investigate the group for
possible violations of city antidiscrimination law.
"It's OK to ask if you like blondes,"
said commission attorney Mitchell
Karp. "But it's not OK if (a negative
AIDS test) becomes a precondition for
participating" if the club is covered by
the city's public accommodation protections.
Karp added, "This sounds like just a
way for men to say, 'It's OK, baby. I
don't need a condom.'"
Scientists believe the AIDS virus is
transmitted through infected semen,
vaginal fluids and blood and the U.S.
Surgeon General has recommended sexually active people use condoms to prevent exposure.
News from Neighborhood & Community Groups
^Activity Center Meeting Postponed
The April 10 public meeting of the Montrose Activity Center has been temporarily
A draft lease has been received for the building at 1110 Lovett Blvd., but the guarantor's
issue is still a small problem.
The date of the next meeting will be announced as soon as possible.
HTeen Group Forming
Four meetings have been tentatively scheduled for a new group for gay and lesbians ages
15-18. The group hopes to address the issues facing gay teenagers. For more information,
call the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard at 529-3211.
Sports News from Montrose & Community Groups
HMSA Volleyball Returns
Montrose Sports Association volleyball will return for the summer season on Sunday, May
3, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Once again, play will be held at Wilson Elementary, Fairview and
Yupon. Anyone, male or female, is invited to play and free refreshments will be served. Prior
experience is not necessary.
^Bacchus I Wins Winter Pool League
Second-place Mary's II defeated Bacchus I 8-7 Wednesday but the margin of victory was
not enough to knock Bacchus out of the first place spot in the standings.
Going into Wednesday's final night of play for the winter season of the M.S.A. Billiards
League, Lipstick was number three.
(Results of the other games and the effect on the final standings were not immediately
The league awards party will be held May 17 at Bacchus.
For more information on the upcoming summer season, call Roger Pruett at 869-6108.
The Viet Nam
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Open: 11am-10pm Sun., Ham-
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Houston Symphony — Exxon Pops
The Music of Richard Rogers
Newton UCayland, Conducting
Janice Grrsson, Soprano
Jason Smith, Tenor
Richard Fink, Baritone
Houston Symphony Chorus.
Charles Hausmann, Director
South Pacific. The King and I,
State Fair, Carousel, Oklahoma!,
Fri., Apr. 17,8 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 18, 8 p.m.