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Redner stirs up Storms with gay revelation in suit

By JENNIFER LIBERTO and BILL VARIAN
Published December 14, 2005


TAMPA - Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms got a call from her husband early Tuesday morning advising her to tune into WFLA-AM 970 radio for the latest on Joe Redner.

Radio hosts Jack Harris and Tedd Webb were grilling Redner on his recent disclosure of his sexual orientation - homosexual.

When the truthfulness of his revelation in federal court records was questioned, Redner answered: "That would be perjury." Then he laughed.

Storms flipped.

"I said to myself, "It's a court of law, it's not a circus, this is serious, the integrity of the court is serious,' " Storms told the Times on Tuesday.

There's no love lost between Redner, a First Amendment fanatic who owns the nationally known Mons Venus strip club, and Storms, who led the county commissioners' ban prohibiting county government from acknowledging or participating in gay pride events.

Redner made the disclosure that he is gay in a federal filing last week in his lawsuit suing the county commissioners except for Kathy Castor, who voted against the measure.

After the Times broke the story Tuesday, Redner said his phone rang off the hook as he fielded media calls.

"I don't think I've ever had a reaction to anything I've ever done, as I'm getting to this," said Redner, 65, who obliged all interview requests with glee. It's no secret that he likes the limelight.

Redner said it seems a lot of people don't believe him, but he insisted he was being truthful. He even put his ex-wife, Lorelei Jackson, on the phone Tuesday. Jackson has worked for Redner for years, even though they've long been divorced. The divorce was first filed in 1979 and closed in 1993, according to court records.

"Do I believe him? Well, um, let's put it this way, Joe's an honest person," Jackson said. "He's either gay or he's saying it for a reason. Other than that I won't say anymore."

Less than a month ago, Redner said on his public access show First Freedom that he has liked being around "beautiful women" during his career.

"I started my business because of the money, yes, and because I was an introvert, and it put me around a lot of beautiful women," he said on the Nov. 22 show. "And I sure do like being there. And I've been there for over 25 years."

But Redner says he doesn't see why someone can't be gay and admire attractive women.

"I like beautiful women, I certainly do," Redner said Tuesday evening.

He compared his affinity for the women in his clubs to being a gay man who looks at portraits of female nudes in a museum. "Why can't I admire a picture of a female, made by God?"

[Last modified December 14, 2005, 00:13:09]


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