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The Best Cathouse In Town: An Exclusive Interview With RIKI RACHTMAN

By Ruben Mosqueda, We Go To 11
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 @ 8:25 AM

"...the MARILYN MANSON and the NIRVANA appearances are just about the same thing, I have my chin resting on my hand and my facial expression is that of 'Oh my God, get over yourself'."

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“Wrong answer”!, said RIKI RACHTMAN, when I caught up with him for a chat on April 24th. He's as diehard Carolina Panthers fan and when this writer mentioned that my team is a rival of his, he made his opinion known. “I've been a fan since 1996 when the franchise started, in fact I think DJ WILL and I might have been the only fans in the L.A. area”, recalls Rachtman.

RIKI RACHTMAN should be no stranger to KNAC.COM readers. The man ran the CATHOUSE in Hollywood, CA at the peak of the 80s glam rock and metal era, he was featured prominently in the documentary THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART II: THE METAL YEARS, he hosted HEADBANGER’S BALL on MTV from 1990-1995, he co-hosted LOVELINE, hell, the guy even had a radio show on KNAC! Rachtman recently launched his CATHOUSE HOLLYWOOD PODCAST where Rachtman tells some tales of the glory years of the infamous CATHOUSE. KNAC.COM caught up with him at the tail end of a jam packed day of interviews, his last of the day actually. We had our work cut out for us, we delivered and so did Rachtman.

KNAC.COM: You're kind of out of juice at this point I assume?

RACHTMAN: [laughs] This is the last one! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: We know you’re a music guy, I was surprised that something like THE CATHOUSE HOLLYWOOD PODCAST didn’t materialize for you earlier. I assume it was because of the other stuff that has kept you busy?

RACHTMAN: Well, the good thing about having something like RIKI RACHTMAN’S HOLLYWOOD PODCAST is that I’m the only one that can host it! When you create you own show and you host your own show, nobody can fire you! I was doing an interview earlier where the guy mentioned that the timing was perfect, that it just happened to come out around the same time as The Dirt. I Actually had no idea when the movie was coming out, I had set a date to launch it and that's what it was.

The reason I decided to do the podcast is because I couldn’t remember all of the details of all the stories. These recounts aren’t done by reporter or journalist, these are people that were there and who were part of what happened. I’ll give you an example: There was the time that DAVID BOWIE was at the club and he was drunk and belligerent and was in the DJ booth. I need other people because I recalled some of the stories, but I have to admit, I have a really, really bad memory! I tell stories about things that I remember, but I have other people on the show to help me out. So it could be DAVID ELLEFSON of MEGADETH that could be on there or it could be the coat check girl that was working there at the time, it could be anyone.

I have to say, I don’t understand too much about podcast, I still don’t know too much about podcast, actually! [laughs] This was inspired by people asking, “Riki why don’t you write a book?” The reason I haven’t tried to write a book is because the book that I’d like to write isn’t the book think I should write. People want a tell-all type book about bands, but I’d like to talk about life struggles, sex, drugs and everything else. So I thought that I could do this now, I don’t have to write anything down. So I decided to try this to see if it works. This first one I did was one CATHOUSE story, it was about 11 minutes long, people liked it! So I did another one and people liked that, so I was excited that there were a lot of people checking the podcast out. If you can believe this, today there are seven episodes of the podcast on the iTunes charts! There’s NEVER been another podcast that has had seven episodes charting at the time! The podcast is currently in the top five iTunes podcasts, I was shocked! I don’t even know what I’m doing yet! [laughs] I don’t have any advertisers, I don’t charge for the podcast...I kind of wish I did now! [laughs] I put a lot of time into these episodes, I like to think that they are like an audiobook.

KNAC.COM: You were initially more of a punk rock scene guy in the beginning, no?

RACHTMAN: Prior to that, I was a huge TED NUGENT fan but you’re right, as a teenager I was really into punk rock. If you think back to my time in HEADBANGER’S BALL I used to wear GERMS t-shirts, when I had my show on KNAC I used to play stuff from bands like SOCIAL DISTORTION. I love punk rock, but it’s more than that, I just really like stuff that’s heavy. So if it’s METALLICA or THE CLASH, it’s stuff that’s heavy, or if it’s a band like MOTORHEAD, who as far as I’m concerned was a punk rock band.

CATHOUSE was an all types of rock ‘n’ roll club. People have this perception that it was a ‘metal’ club, but it was a rock ‘n’ roll club. When I got the HEADBANGER’S BALL gig, suddenly it’s like “okay Riki, you’re now the spokesman for heavy metal”. I was like, “I Am”?! Well, it is the music that I loved, to this day it’s still the music that I love.

KNAC.COM: You mentioned you were a classic rock fan, then you were turned on to punk rock. What bands from the L.A. rock scene really got you excited about what was going on in L.A. at the time?

RACHTMAN: Well GUNS ‘N ROSES of course, I remember when I first saw them, I was like “these guys are punk rock, these guys are great”!!! I remember being a kid and I was at a my friend’s house, his family had MTV and I remember seeing the [MOTLEY CRUE] “Live Wire” video and thinking wow! I wasn’t into that whole Sunset Strip metal scene, but remember thinking that was really bad ass. I always liked rock ‘n’ roll, like you said, I liked all the classic stuff like THIN LIZZY, DEEP PURPLE, stuff like that. As I moved out of my teen years I began to get more and more into metal and started to head out to the shows. There’s a nice amount of crossover and it used to be that the metal kids hated the punk kids and vice versa, but things have changed over the years.

KNAC.COM: It’s interesting listening to the podcast because we get to hear stories and you insert some additional content from, like you said previously, from people who were there. I used to watch HEADBANGER’S BALL before you became host through the time you hosted. It’s good to hear you tells these stories then ask for the guests to elaborate without the segments getting chopped up into 2-3 blocks like TV.

RACHTMAN: Well thank you. You know I’ve done radio in the past, but you’re right, there’s a lot of people that only know me from HEADBANGER’S BALL, for better or for worse. I have a lot of faults, I admit to those on the show. I also share my opinions, I like it being as genuine and real as possible. I hope that comes through on the show. I had a really great past and I also had a really dark past, I like talking about that, because it’s also therapeutic. It also brings back an era when it was really raunchy, sexy, dirty, fun, sad and triumphant! It was all of those things! On the podcast it’s just me talking about all that stuff. If I envision a segment that I think will run five minutes and I keep talking, I keep going because no one is telling me what to do. Thank you for saying that because that’s what I’m trying to do with the podcast, I’m trying to paint a picture. When I started on HEADBANGER’S BALL I was thrown in front of a camera and I didn’t know what I was doing. In retrospect, if I were a 15 year old kid watching RIKI RACHTMAN in 1991 on HEADBANGER’S BALL, I’d be like “this guy fucking sucks”!!! [laughs] I didn’t know what I was doing and frankly I’d hate me too. [laughs]

KNAC.COM: For those of us that grew up outside of So Cal, we were obviously aware of your appearance in THE METAL YEARS. I remember watching you for the first time on HEADBANGER’S BALL and saying “hey, that’s the guy in THE METAL YEARS”. You hosted the show from 1990-1995, which at the time when you’re a teen, seems like a long time, but as you get older that must have gone by in the blink of an eye. Seems like time passes by faster as we age.

RACHTMAN: You know there’s people that come up to me and say, “dude, I used to watch you in the 80s”. [laughs] I’m like what?!?!? [laughs] You're right, when I started on HEADBANGER’S BALL, I started in 1990 and I went from 1990 to 1995. When you spend five years flying back and forth from L.A. to New York every ten days first class then you’ll go to England then Germany...you find yourself thinking this is the way life is supposed to be! [laughs] It was greatest thing in the world! And my frequent flyer miles went through the roof! [laughs] I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible that was. I just can’t and for it to end without the opportunity to do a farewell show was really screwed up! I was so pissed! I didn’t even get a chance to tell the viewers thank you for letting me host HEADBANEGR’S BALL. I was fortunate in the sense that I got a chance to go from MTV to VH-1 and was featured on DAISY OF LOVE, CHARM SCHOOL and ROCK OF LOVE reunions. I’m like you, I did it for five years, but like you said I would have loved to have done that for another five more! [laughs] I’d love to do it right now!!! [laughs] I realized later on how important that show was for kids who weren’t able to get to shows or were out in the heartland, that's how they discovered PANTERA or WHITE ZOMBIE.

KNAC.COM: In those five years you had some challenging interviewees, how did you pull it together during some of those instances to get some content?

RACHTMAN: [long pause] First, I have to ask if there’s one in particular that you’re asking about?

KNAC.COM: I can think of at least two that stand out off the top of my head, but go on.

RACHTMAN: [pause] I want to hear who're the two you have in mind.

KNAC.COM: The two that come to mind are the first MARILYN MANSON appearance and NIRVANA where KURT COBAIN showed up dressed in a yellow ball gown...

RACHTMAN: Oh, okay. The MARILYN MANSON one was just stupid, I just didn’t buy it. I like MARILYN MANSON but I don’t really know him. What you’re referring to was when he and one of the other guys in the band were behind me while I was introducing a video and they were on a road case making out. I was like “Oh my God, you guys are so edgy”!!! That was just so stupid, it was being shocking for the sake of being shocking. Later on MARILYN MANSON developed substance and they were pretty cool.

The NIRVANA appearance really disappointed me, I was so excited to meet KURT COBAIN because I really liked NIRVANA. Before NIRVANA blew up we thought they were so cool, their album Bleach is just awesome! I particularly love "Negative Creep". It’s just such a badass song! If you look back at those two interviews, I’m glad you picked up on those because the MARILYN MANSON and the NIRVANA appearances are just about the same thing, I have my chin resting on my hand and my facial expression is that of “Oh my God, get over yourself”! [laughs] It was just boring to me, I guess if I could go back I guess I would have gone with it and been more upbeat. I tell you, if I knew that the KURT COBAIN interview would go on to be my most watched interview I think I would have sat up straight! [laughs] I wonder why someone that didn’t want to do the show would get booked to do the show? I just don’t get it.

KNAC.COM: Riki, so out of curiosity, what interviews did you have in mind?

RACHTMAN: Well, the most asked thing is something like, “Oh my God, what was up with you and DAVE MUSTAINE”? That gets talked about a lot because DAVE MUSTAINE always gave me a hard time as did GLENN DANZIG. I also get asked about “Oh dude, did GLENN DANZIG really want to throw you in the fire in Germany”?! Here’s the truth people: GLENN DANZIG played my birthday party in the V.I.P. room at BORDELLO. MEGADETH played THE CATHOUSE several times and I used to go Skydiving with DAVE MUSTAINE. The fact of the matter is nobody ever says that was a cool interview with LARS [ULRICH]. I had two options, I could let DAVE have a little fun at my expense or I could get pissed and say screw you DAVE! Nobody wants to see that, people want to see DAVE give RIKI a hard time! It was about two years ago I was having a conversation with DAVE and he said “Riki we were like the ABOTT AND COSTELLO of MTV”. He was right, everyone remembers DAVE giving me a hard time. I wanted people to have a good time and have things that they could remember. If I needed to be the fall guy and have DAVE make fun of me, so be it. I think the world of DAVE and I know he thinks highly of me as well. It ended up being brilliant and we had MEGADETH on so many times because they helped raise the bar.

KNAC.COM: I guess Dave and Glenn didn’t come off as difficult because I took it as they were giving you a nice ribbing?

RACHTMAN: It’s because you get it! [laughs] I really think there were people that thought that DAVE MUSTAINE and GLENN DANZIG were going to kill RIKI RACHTMAN! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: Your sign-off while on HEADBANGER’S BALL was “Keep one foot in the gutter and one fist in the gold”, where did that originate and what was the significance?

RACHTMAN: That was something that I believe...it’s funny, I don’t think I’ve been asked that before. I believe that it’s something that NIKKI SIXX and I came up with, we both got sober together. Our motto was ‘sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, but when we got sober it was ‘sex and sex and rock ‘n’ roll’. I can’t recall exactly how this came up but it was like we always wanted to do the best we can and try to be the best we could be, but always remain street level. When I opened my offices of Rachtman Entertainment, I had THE CATHOUSE, MTV and all of this stuff. I drew a skull smoking a cigar wearing a tuxedo and I drew another on the other side that was just all fucked up, then I wrote “one foot in the gutter” which meant keep it street and “one fist in the gold” which means always going for the very, very best. So don’t be so superficial and don’t forget where you’re from. Does that make sense at all?! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: It does. What are two bands that you feel should have been bigger than they ultimately were?

RACHTMAN: THE LONDON QUIREBOYS, I think the QUIREBOYS should have reached the same level of success as THE BLACK CROWES, they were a phenomenal band. I’ve seen them live and they’re still a phenomenal band. They were played on the radio, in fact they were played on KNAC.

Another band that should have been bigger….for hard rock bands? That’s hard...but if there’s a band that I think should have been bigger, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them but the but they’re called SAMIAM. Their early albums to me sound like what THE FOO FIGHTERS are doing. They should have been huge.

I think CINDERELLA was underrated, yes they had success but they could have been so much bigger. CINDERELLA got caught up in the whole costume, makeup and all that silly stuff, but the truth is, I can put on one of their records right now and they’re just killer! So there’s the two rock bands and a bonus! [laughs]

KNAC.COM: You’re a huge fan of THE PUNISHER, there’s been three attempts at a feature film and they’ve all gone down in flames. There’s a NETFLIX series, but looks like that didn’t make it past a second season. Why hasn’t there been a good PUNISHER depiction on film? It’s a pretty simple concept, no?

RACHTMAN: When I started reading THE PUNISHER he was a vigilante that was fed up with the system, he was fed up with the bad guys getting away. He took it to the extreme because when a bad guy would do something he would kill them! The old PUNISHER, I hate to sound like a total dork, but I am! In the old comics, SPIDERMAN [issue] #129 where THE PUNISHER first appeared, he was killing litterbugs, he just wasn't a good guy. I don't know why, but you've got the guy from THE WALKING DEAD who plays FRANK CASTLE. He's such a great actor, but it just doesn't work. I don't know why that is? Is it because we have so many vigilante films or what? Back when I was reading the comic book there wasn't someone dealing with the criminals that SPIDERMAN wasn't turning into the authorities. SPIDERMAN was like, “I got you behind bars” and THE PUNISHER was like, “I got you and I'm going to kill you”!!! His family was murdered, he was in such a messed up state that when somebody does me wrong, I kill them!!! THE PUNISHER would take their drug money and would use it to buy more guns and kill more [bad] people!!! I don't know why it doesn't work but that was the appeal, he's a guy that dished out swift justice. People like swift justice, whether it was right or wrong.

KNAC.COM: If there was a film made based on THE CATHOUSE who do you think would be cast to play RIKI RACHTMAN?

RACHTMAN: WILL SMITH! [bursts into laughter] I really don't know. It's so funny because we all have a different perception of who we think we are. I mean, I could say I'd like Colin Farrell to play me, and I can tell you all the reasons why, then if you ask the next person they might say someone completely ‘goofy' looking! I mean, I honestly don't know...I know my version of me...back in THE CATHOUSE days I used to hang out with a lot of ‘scary' looking bikers and if there was a confrontation, because I was with these guys, I was under the illusion that I was a ‘badass’ too! The reality is of someone who was like, “do you want some of this”? I would say, “hell yes”! Then I'd get my ass kicked!!! [laughs] So, I have this vision of me being a ‘badass’. I'm not, I’m the furthest thing from it! [laughs]

Riki Rachtman’s Cathouse Hollywood Podcast:


Riki Rachtman’s Cathouse Hollywood Official Facebook:

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