INTERVIEW BY MIKE LOVE
Club owner, MTV personality, radio host, and now, storyteller. These are just a few of the titles held by Riki Rachtman over his extensive and sometimes tumultuous career. Having owned the notorious Cathouse Club in Hollywood during the 80s and Early 90s, Riki found himself becoming close friends with some of the biggest names in the music industry at the time.
While he has lived most of his life in the public eye and will tell you that he has loved being in the public eye for all his life, many of the stories that he can tell have remained between him and the other people involved. However, on September 11th of this year at The Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, NC, he began telling his stories to the public. The name of the show is “One Foot in the Gutter” which Riki said was a part of a saying that he used long before the days he used it as his sign-off on Headbangers Ball from 1990-1995 when the show was canceled. He said that it’s one of the ways that he tried to stay grounded and never forget where he came from, “One foot in the gutter and one fist in the gold”, Riki said.
When I had the chance to speak with Riki, he was hard at work preparing the material for his 5 upcoming dates. When I asked him how he decided what stories he wanted to tell he conveyed that his primary goal was to come across be was genuine. “That a reason I am doing these shows, and some of the places are very small, is so I get to stand up there and make eye contact with everyone and tell them these stories, some of which are very embarrassing”, he said about what motivated him to embark on this new journey. These stories are taken from many different points in his life and career and involve the good and bad times in his life. “Some people will be pissed” was one of the points of emphasis he also had when talking about what to expect from the show.
With all the highs and lows that Riki has experienced in his life, I was curious as to what it was that motivated him to keep picking himself back up when life knocked him down. “I never gave up, I have never given up, I am driven sometimes to a fault”, Riki said in response. He continued, “I have always believed that it is going to get better, and sometimes it is really hard to keep that belief and positivity when it seems like when is it going to get better, but just never gave up and I kept on working my ass off to the point of you know right now when we get done I got to get back and write this show.” he came across as a strong-willed person who doesn’t let the world stop him from doing what he wants.
When the topic went to his time as the host of Headbanger’s Ball, one of the questions that I had was what kind of input did he have as far as who were the bands that were played and interviewed on the show. His response without hesitation was “Zero, I had no influence over whose videos got played or who I interviewed on the show.” When asked if this caused awkward interactions with bands he quickly responded “It wasn’t just the band interviews that could get awkward. I would have fans coming up to me and ask me why I was playing this band and not that band. When I explained to them that I had no power in who got played they would go on about how they would quit if they had to play that. My response would often be yea ok, MTV is paying you all this money, sending you traveling around the world to interview bands and see concerts and you would quit. Bullshit, no you wouldn’t.”
While there are quite a few celebrities that take exception to the excess attention being in the public eye can cause, Riki takes quite the opposite approach. “I love being in the public eye” he responded on how he thought he could handle a time when he was no longer in the public eye. “As long as I am not putting food in my mouth please say hi,” he quipped. ” There is nothing better than going out in some random place and somebody recognizes me and says hello. I truly do appreciate it.” He continued, “Chances are if they want to say hi is because they have liked something that I have done and I do truly, truly appreciate that. There is not a person out there that’s ever going to say I was a total dick to them unless they were that way towards me.” His desire to interact with his fans was one of the driving forces to put on the “One Foot in the Gutter” show.
With all the big personalities that Riki has befriended in his career. I was interested to find out who were the Rock and Metal badasses in public but happened to be complete teddy bears when you were friends with them on a personal level. “Oh my god, you’re not gonna believe this. You’re not gonna believe what I’m gonna say. Do you like Doyle? He came home from, oh my god, Doyle is one of the Misfits and a solo artist. Doyle is one of the sweetest guys around Doyle is so kind. He’s an animal lover. He’s a vegan, he’s just a great great person. Um, You know, some of the people that you think would be so brutal. I just really sweet guys, you know, Mark Morton from Lamb of God, Gary Holt from Slayer and Exodus. Those are just like good, kind people that I like so much and I picked them in particular, just because it’s not who you would think, you know, I mean, Zetro from Exodus. I’m very, very good friends with and love Zetro, but I would never call him a teddy bear. Um, but Gary Holt, I would because he’s just a sweet guy, you know.”
When the topic of Christmas came up, we briefly spoke about how the Rachtman household’s Christmas preparations and plans were going, “We haven’t been able to decorate the house for Christmas or done any Christmas shopping. Well done, anything Christmassy but I will tell you, as soon as we get off the road, I’m like in Christmas mode. For people like I can’t believe you, decorated, your house for Christmas, and it was thanksgiving. It’s like It, it makes me happy, you know, I have decorated all yet, but I’m like, people get pissed off about the stupidest stuff. Like I can’t wait to get in the Christmas spirit, but we’ve been working so hard getting ready for these shows that we haven’t had the chance to. So I’m all about the holidays, I can’t wait. As far as what kind of Christmas tunes they played around the house, he was quick to respond, “I don’t like very much Christmas music at all. I just don’t like it and I don’t like that song. The crazy thing is, Leo loves that Christmas song from Mariah Carey and I Hate that Christmas song from Mariah Carey. So……”
Knowing my time was getting short, I asked him what the future would hold for the “One Foot in the Gutter Show” and if he would consider writing a book and why has yet to do so. He was very forthcoming and quite direct in his responses: “Um, The reason I didn’t write a book is that I didn’t, it wasn’t when I say this, I’m not saying this as a dig, there’s a book out called “Nothing but a Good Time”. It’s a great book and it’s really fun and it talks about the 80s rock scene, very, very well. But my book wasn’t going to be that book. My book was you know I’m not a writer talking about things that I heard happen or saw happen or talking people. It’s like I’m talking about the stuff that happened to me and in my book It’s not all happy stuff. It’s a lot of like depressing gnarly stuff and it’s going to be a hundred percent true. And, Before the resilient wrote the book I didn’t know where to start it. Like, and I didn’t know how the I didn’t know where to go, so I would get so frustrated and I’ve, you know, I’ve started trying to write for decades, but now that I’ve got this, the One Foot in the Gutter Show, I kind of have a diagram of how I would want it. So now as soon as I’ve got these shows, I’m going to start writing and we’ll see how it goes. But if there is a Riki Rachtman book, it’s not going to be written by somebody else. It’s going to be written by me. Not a ghostwriter, not something else. It’s going to be written by me. I mean there’s going to be someone to have to do a spell check on all my words, but I’m going to write it.”
When asked what the “One Foot in The Gutter” show has in store for the audiences, his answer was very blunt, “I don’t know. I have no idea. Ask me in a couple of days. Just go to the show, go to CatHouseHollywood.com to get tickets, and you can also buy Cat House coffee, t-shirts, and Headbanger’ss shirts and everything you need at cathousehollywood.com. But, you know, just show up at the show and sit down and have a good time. And that’s what I am going to do, my damn best to make sure that everybody there has a really good time.”
When speaking on what the end of Riki Rachtman’s career might look like, he quickly responded, “I hope to do this for a couple of years and then in a couple of more years I’m going to shut down all of my social media, and I’m gonna disappear and I will just be done….. well I say that now.”
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
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