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| 30 November 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see Riki Rachtman live in concert? Well, wonder no more… because Rachtman is coming to a theater near you! Rachtman is calling his debut tour One Foot In The Gutter and will be stories, tales and more from Riki himself, and it’s a safe bet there will be some sex, drugs and rock n’ roll thrown in for good measure. The event’s name, One Foot In The Gutter is part of a slogan that Rachtman has been using for decades. In fact, Rachtman was using this as a local promoter way back to his Cathouse days and before he was a host on the MTV show “Headbanger’s Ball“, only the full slogan was “One Foot In The Gutter, One Fist In The Gold” and it was printed on his business cards.” We get Riki on the phone to discuss touring, longevity of his brand, and much more…

Toddstar: Riki – thank you so much for taking time out. I appreciate it as a fan of yours.

Riki: Oh, thank you.

Toddstar: I’m old enough to remember Headbangers Ball.

Riki: You don’t have to preface it by saying that. You don’t have to say… Somebody says, “I was a fan of the show. I love it.” And I just wish they’d leave it at that. You don’t always have to say, “I’m that old. I love this show. I’m old like you.” Okay. You don’t have to say that.

Toddstar: You know what’s funny though? I meet so many metal heads and hard rockers and just rockers in general these days. And you bring up Headbangers Ball, and they look at you like you’re stupid.

Riki: Okay, that makes me feel even worse. Stop. Just stop, okay. [laughing]

Toddstar: Well, let’s make you feel better.

Riki: So now you’re telling me that I’m old, and you tell people about my show, and they say they’ve never heard of it.

Toddstar: How many people don’t even know that MTV actually aired videos? You know what I mean? It’s so crazy to me that MTV, music television, nobody knows that it actually played music at one point. That’s the crazy part to me.

Riki: When I was younger in the ’80s, I was still familiar with certain stuff in the 50’s, but I wouldn’t know who, I don’t know, whoever the big TV show was in the 50’s. I wouldn’t have known any of that stuff. I was familiar with the music because I love music from so many different decades. But you can’t be upset with somebody when they don’t know who you are. That’s okay. So it is what it is. The cool thing about these shows is that I saw parents taking their kids. So sometimes I’ll go up and I’ll make references to something, and I’ll look out, I’ll go, “Oh, they don’t know who that person is,” so I have to explain it. I was so lucky to be part of such an incredible era that if I can educate somebody on… I joined TikTok and somebody’s like, “Well, I don’t even know who you are.” It’s like, that’s okay. If you think that that’s a big thing… Do you walk outside and say, “I don’t know what kind of tree that is. Hey you, neighbor, I don’t know who you are.” If somebody doesn’t know who you are, then that’s okay to not know who you are. I don’t care.

Toddstar: Well, growing up on heavy metal and glam rock and all the various genres that generated through the early 80’s and through today, obviously I know who you are. But one of the things I know you of that some people don’t know is the Cathouse. It’s just one of those iconic clubs in the mythos of clubs that I was never able to attend. What was it about the legacy of the Cathouse that you’re most proud of as you carry forward?

Riki: If somebody were to come up to me and say, “Dude, you’re the guy from Headbangers Ball,” as much as that’s so flattering, when somebody says, “Oh yeah, you created the Cathouse,” that to me is far more rewarding. Because that was something that I did as opposed to just hosting something. That was something that was opened with the premise of just having a good time. There was no way that I thought that today, many years later, I would have a fairly successful business selling Cathouse shirts and Cathouse Coffee and that the mystique… Because we never sold out the brand and never opened up something for the hell of it. We’ve always kept it this mystery. You never bought Cathouse stuff at Spencer’s Gifts. And the club was notorious. And to say that I created that, I gave it a place to run wild. And I set my ground rules, which were very, very minimal, and just happened to be in the right place at the right time. So the club was truly notorious. And all the participants that took place in that, I use the term sleaze and debauchery so often, but I can’t think of anything that describes it better. All the participants in that area are what made the club so special. And because I was not a promoter. I was not the club guy trying to make this thing. I wanted a place where us misfits could hang out, and that was pretty much what led to it. And I’m lucky enough that those misfits ended up being some of the biggest rock and roll bands in the world.

Toddstar: Oh absolutely, absolutely. And so many of them have been your friends through the years as well up. If you catalog back through your memory bank with the Cathouse, who popped in there or showed up just to hang that it was just jaw-dropping to you that they took the time out or that you just figured they were so out of place that it was just cool as hell that they were there?

Riki: The beauty of that club… and I’ve had Cathouse tattooed on me twice. I run into people with Cathouse tattooed on them. So it means so much to me. And one of the things was that it was all inclusive. I really didn’t give a rat’s ass what you look like, what you dressed like, what your orientation, anything, and anybody could go. The people that were out of place… The most out of place experience I can remember is one of the guys in Milli Vanilli going to the front door and saying, “Yes, we’re in Milli Vanilli, would you present us with girls and cocaine?” And I was like, “Excuse me?” I’m like, “Fuck no.” But Gene Simmons paid to get in. Malcolm Forbes hung out at the Cathouse, one of the richest men in the world. He started Forbes. He hung out at the Cathouse. There were people that were just there. And the reason I think that these people went is because people didn’t really give a shit. I mean, I showed up at the Cathouse one night, and I’m talking to the cashier and she’s like, “I hope you don’t mind that I just let Robert Plant in.” I’m like, “Robert Plant is at the Cathouse?” And she goes, “Yeah, well, he didn’t stay long. He went up to the bar and he grabbed a girl and he left.” And I’m like, “You can interrupt me to tell me that. I’ve never met Robert Plant. That would’ve been pretty cool.” But as far as out of place, I mean, I remember when Depeche Mode was at their peak, and they did an in-store in Hollywood. And the Sunset Strip was shut down because it was so huge. And Depeche Mode all went to the Cathouse that night. And nobody bugged them because I had this strict no camera rule, and everybody just let everybody just do whatever they wanted. It wasn’t the place to… We didn’t have phones to do selfies, but I didn’t allow cameras in the club, so people could do whatever they wanted. So I don’t know who was out of place. I mean, Ice-T was hanging out there. It was just like everybody was hanging out at the Cathouse. Christina Applegate’s working in the coat check while Married With Children is on. I mean, everybody was allowed. It wasn’t a gatekeeper type mentality where people said like, “Oh, you’re here. Are you even into this music?” It’s like, “If you’re in here and having a good time, I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re kind, you are here to have fun, and you don’t be a dick. And if you are, I don’t care who you are, you’re out of my club.”

Toddstar: Right. How much of that have you carried over to your own life where you just don’t want those people in your life that aren’t cool, don’t be a dick?

Riki: Now more than ever. Because in the age that we have now with the hater anonymous mentality, people can say whatever they want. And I’m not going to lie, I understand that I get a lot of hate from people, and I understand where it comes from too. But I also understand it doesn’t matter. And if there’s one person saying something very nice and one person’s saying something mean and I’m focusing on that mean person, that’s discounting everything the nice person is saying. Because of all my mental little issues, I’ll go to a show thinking, oh, it’s going to be filled with haters. I went to see Amon Amarth and Obituary and Carcass last night, and I’m like, oh, these guys hate Riki… And it was like everybody was so nice to me. And I was like, that makes me feel really good. So now I think more than ever, I have that mentality that if you’re somebody negative in my life, I don’t need this in my life anywhere. I would rather surround myself with positivity. You could be in the biggest band in the world and just be a dick. And if you’re some guy that works on a coal mine and you came up and told me how much you love Slayer, I have a lot more in common with you than anybody else. I’ve never been somebody that only hangs… I mean, yes, some of my friends were big rock stars and some of them were very successful. And a lot of people… I mean, if I tell you that one of my very best friends in the world drives a garbage truck, I’m telling you the honest truth. He’s even going on tour with me. I mean, my friends are my friends because of who they are, not because of what they do. And I don’t have room in my life anymore for people that are just negative. And that’s hard to let go of sometimes because it’s everywhere. I did my first show in Charlotte, and there were close to 500 people there. And I didn’t know how this was going to work. I wrote every word. I promoted it. And I was on stage, and somebody kind of yelled something. And my first reaction was like, “Oh a heckler? Well, fuck you.” And I’ll carry this… because I’m a professional. And my first reaction was this guy was heckling me. And then I stopped and I’m like, this guy paid money to hear what I had to say. There’s not one person in his room right now that doesn’t like me. They’re here to support me. And so I stopped and I’m, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.” And all he said was something about dancing. I go, “Man, I was going to rip you to shreds,” because hear something, the first thing you’re going to think is somebody… Everybody at my show was there, being supportive. So it’s funny how sometimes it’s easy to think everything’s going to be negative when there’s just some good people out there. And the other thing is, and I’ve learned this from doing motorcycle rides across the country, the majority of the people out there are good people. Somebody acts like an idiot in the supermarket, we’ll put them on social media, and they’ll be a superstar. And the person that’s just a nice person, nobody gives that person attention. I’m doing like a David Lee Roth. I’m taking a question and answering a totally different question, aren’t it?

Toddstar: No, that’s cool, though. I prefer the insights, and I prefer to let you expose the inner workings of Riki’s brain, so to speak.

Riki: It’s a scary place.

Toddstar: I bet. But it brings me to a very cool segue in that you talked about a show in Charlotte. You’ve got a very cool show coming up that I personally am very hyped about. I wish I were going to be in Michigan when it happened. But you’ve got your One Foot In The Gutter show that’s going to make an appearance at what I consider another iconic club (Riki excitedly cuts me off) …

Riki: Without a doubt. I mean, knowing that I’m going to be at The Machine Shop, it’s like, really? Really? All these bands that I go see are playing there. In the past two weeks they’ve had COC, Hatebreed and TSOL. I know The Machine Shop. So to think that I’m playing there in a heavy show, it’s so cool that it’s surreal, because this whole spoken word thing sort of came very rapidly. And it wasn’t somebody that somebody urged me to do. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. But it was something that was so cool that I didn’t think it would actually happen. People are sick of… “Yes, Riki, we know you’re going on tour.” Everybody’s like, “Riki, you want anything from the grocery?” “Yeah. And now that I think of it, I’m going on tour.” I mean, I talk about it all the time because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. And to come to Flint, and especially because even during the Cathouse days, and everybody knows this, most of my very good friends came from Michigan… and there’s some great bands from Detroit and the Flint area and stuff like that that I’ve always liked. And so just to be at this show, am I a little scared? Maybe, because these people are used to seeing these bands, and here you’re sitting in chairs seeing this guy talk a little bit. But it fuels me. I’ve got to give these people… I’ve got to give them a show that they’re just like, “Fuck, that was a lot.” I really want people to walk out there thinking they had fun and maybe even a little bit inspired.

Toddstar: You keep feeding me softballs, Riki, talking about inspired because most people from your genre aren’t viewed as philanthropic, or let’s call it what it is, giving a shit about humanity and society. And you were doing Riki’s Rides for a while and you did some stuff with Ryan Blaney’s Foundation, things like that.

Riki: Oh yeah, two years ago.

Toddstar: How important is that to you, forgetting the professional side of it and what it means to market Riki Rachtman and your name, but how important is it to you to just be a good, decent human being and philanthropic and make sure that people are doing the right things as far as supporting each other?

Riki: I’ve done those things out of pure selfishness, because the truth is, when I gave Ryan… I don’t know how much I gave him, but I think it was close to maybe 20 or 30 grand. I know it was over maybe $24,000, or when I gave Stop Soldier Suicide a check for $32,000… By the way, people don’t know what Riki’s Rides is, I, Riki Rachtman, have raised close to a quarter of a million dollars for charity, and every one of those rides cost me $20,000 out of my pocket. When I raise money for charity, I don’t use it to pay for hotels or gas. So last year was the last year. I had to finally stop because it’s costing me too much money to donate money. And I never get any press about this. I mean, some of the times, with the exception of Ryan, sometimes I don’t even get a thank you. But it’s always made me feel good doing it. But I can’t do it anymore because it just costs me too much money. But I think it’s something that we’re supposed to do. I mean, when I said it was done out of selfishness, when I go there and I met veterans’ families, and I kind of got a little teary hearing how these things are going to help, I can’t buy that stuff. And if I look at my career and look at my age and that I’ve got a killer house and a beautiful wife and motorcycles and all these things, it’s like I could really easily been on the other side. And I don’t know if it’s karma. I don’t know what it is. But it’s just cool. I mean, to say, “Oh, well…” That’s why I don’t have publicists telling everybody about all the fundraising I’ve done, because it just made me feel good. But I think I’m done because it costs me too much money. And I also got to ride motorcycles across… I just raised $32,000 for the Victory Junction Camp that I’ve got that money and I’ve got to go give them the check. I like doing that stuff. It felt good, and I’m very proud of that.

Toddstar: Well, as a vet of Desert Storm myself, I appreciate what you’ve done for vets in the past.

Riki: That’s what we’re supposed to do.

Toddstar: A couple of questions for you, as far as looking back, what’s the one piece of advice you were given when you first started this rock and roll ride so many years ago, Riki, that you wish you’d have paid better attention to?

Riki: See, what I was doing, nobody was really doing. And when I started, I was so messed up on drugs and alcohol that if anybody gave me advice, I don’t know if I would’ve taken it. I think the best advice that I ever got was the bad advice that I got because the bad advice steered me more. When I had a relative tell me, “What are you doing with this Cathouse thing? It’s like masturbation. It might feel good, but it doesn’t do anything any good.” I’m like, okay. And now all these years later, the Cathouse brand is still out there. People telling me that I couldn’t do those things. Those are the things that motivated me most. I think the one thing that I wish I would’ve done is, which I still have a problem, is stressing about things that are in the future that I still do. I spent 19 years stressing every weekend that my radio show is going to get canceled. 19 years, 1024 episodes, and it got canceled. I just recorded my last episode of that show today after being on the radio for 19 years. That’s a major part of my income. And I realized that I had been wasting all 1,000 weeks stressing about something that was beyond my control. And now it’s like, wow, I’m not stressed about it getting canceled anymore because it did. It’s kind of weird. It’s like you spend so much time worrying about this thing that it finally does go away, you’re like, wow, I don’t have that pain of worrying about it anymore. Now I have to put on the hustle mode. I’m very guilty of not appreciating being in the present. I’ve been like that way my whole life and spent so much time worrying about the next thing. And I’m getting older. And that’s why my wife is on tour with me, and she’s… See, I said on tour again, is on tour with me. And her job is like, “Riki, look at these people. They’re here to see you. They want to hear your stories.” And sometimes I got to remember that, how cool that is. When you spend your entire career on stage knowing that everybody there wants to see what is coming on right after you, whether Guns N’ Roses or Black Sabbath. And now I’m going on stage, and they want to hear me, and I need to learn to appreciate. Because when you sit there and stress about things in the future, you’re compromising your present and the enjoyment you could have. And that’s advice that I wish that… Somebody might have given it to me, but I probably didn’t even listen to it.

Toddstar: You’re killing me because you just ripped the next question right out of my hands. And that would be, you answered it, and if you want to expand on it, great, but if you could go back and talk to yourself in the early ’80s and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be? Would it truly be to enjoy the moment?

Riki: It’s like, dude, you are part of a magical time. Take it in, remember it. You’re going to an audition to be on a TV show with Axl Rose helping you get this gig. Realize you are in a car with who’s going to be the biggest rockstar in the world. Realize that you are right now… I think if I could go back, I know that my times in the Cathouse were decadent back then, but I think I would’ve been more so if I could go back in time. I mean, I created the greatest rock and roll club in the world with my roommate Taime from Faster Pussycat. It’s like we created something incredible. I have gotten to meet every single person I’ve ever wanted to meet, with the exception of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards. I’m sitting here, I have one room at my house that’s all racing stuff, and I’m looking at a picture of me and Richard Petty in a picture of me and Dale Earnhardt. And then I walk into the other room and it’s just like, you got to appreciate these moments. And I also have memory problems, so I forget a lot of stuff and sometimes don’t realize, wow, Riki, you are really part of an incredible moment right now. And we’re all part of incredible moments. Everybody is in a part that’s like, take this in. Take a moment and take this in. And I’m very, very guilty of that. And I didn’t do it. I didn’t realize when there’s lines around the block to get into my club in Arizona for the first night, or whatever I’m doing, I take the moment to really take it in and see what’s going on at that moment. That’s the thing that I didn’t do. I was so busy hustling that I didn’t take the opportunity to really appreciate the… You hustle for a goal, and then you achieve that goal and then you spend it… As soon as that goal’s achieved, I’m onto the next one. It’s like, no, bask in it. And I didn’t do that. I really didn’t.

Toddstar: Any plans or thoughts or consideration ever of relaunching another Cathouse live festival or doing anything like that?

Riki: No, definitely not, not like that. Live Nation approached me, and they ended up taking the bookings of the bands out of my hands, and they really ran the show, and I was not happy with it. Would I do a Cathouse cruise? Maybe. Would I do a Cathouse festival? Maybe. I mean, I think in a perfect world, and I think this is something would be cool, I think it’d be really cool if I could incorporate my storytelling show with live bands, with dancing girls, and make it a Vegas show. I think that would be really cool. I think doing another festival… I mean if there was a bar called Cathouse, maybe, but I’m not actively pursuing it right now. I think the Cathouse is a good brand, and I know I don’t want to work that much longer. I want to stop pretty soon and see what it’s like to get up and say, “Hey, let’s have coffee and stay in bed till 9:00 AM today, and let’s just go for a walk or go for a motorcycle ride and not worry about what’s around our next turn.” But I don’t know. Is it something that I’m reaching out towards? No. Is it something that I’m trying to develop a Cathouse festival? No. I mean, the Cathouse Live festival to me, even though everybody had a great time and I think there were 15,000 people there, even though it went great to me, it wasn’t that great. And that’s why I came back the next year and did the Cathouse 30th anniversary at the Whisky and the Roxy, consecutive days, never announced one single band that played. Nobody knew who was playing. And it was the fastest sellout on the Sunset Strip. And it was two consecutive nights and the tickets sold out in minutes, and nobody even knew who was going to play. And that was my show. That was Riki Rachtman’s Cathouse anniversary without any promoters. That’s the one thing… I’m glad that these shows that I’m doing aren’t with big ticket agencies. They’re with local clubs. And the cool thing about The Machine Shop is these guys are into it. That’s what’s cool. As soon as they found out I was going to be doing The Machine Shop, motorcycle racer Brian Smith called me, and he’s friends with the guys that run The Machine Shop. And Brian Smith said, “Dude, it is so cool that you’re playing The Machine Shop. These guys are so rad. They’re so into it.” And I’m like, “Right on.” I would rather deal with places and clubs where I don’t have to worry about all the politics, where all of a sudden I’m just like some guy. It’s like I want to just go in there and have a good time. And the Cathouse Live festival just didn’t do what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be an experience more than just bands playing live. And I sure in hell wouldn’t have cut the stage with Sebastian Bach, Ace Frehley, and I don’t remember who else was up on stage with them at the same time, but it’s like, oh my God. There were a lot of things that went wrong that day that were not my fault.

Toddstar: Well listen, man, I appreciate your time. I know you’ve got tons of going on in your life just in general, but I do want to give you a moment after I tell everybody this is all print, but the VFI passes actually for Cleveland, Flint, and Buffalo all sold out. Your VIPs, your meet and greets, all that shit’s already sold out. The show’s selling well…

Riki: There’s plenty of tickets available as far as I know.

Toddstar: Yes. The crew at The Shop is looking forward to getting you in there and packing that place in so that you can tell all those stories and have everyone join you with One Foot In The Gutter. Shameless plugs. Shoot away, Riki.

Riki: That’s it. I have Cathouse Coffee, just because I love coffee, and it’s something that me and Lea are putting the stickers on the bags. We go to the roaster. It’s a very small company. We send it out fresh. has all the merch that you want. It tells you about the tour. I mean, the most important thing to me right now is people going to these shows because it’s more than me just saying, “In 1986, [inaudible 00:26:28].” It’s like there’s parts of my show that are a set, that it’s decorated like my room when I was a kid, and we go through my vinyl. I want this to be a show. The thing is, I don’t have a producer of the show, so any stupid ideas I come up with, I just throw them on the stage. I mean, I guarantee the first three minutes of this show, you’re going to be like, “Holy fuck, that is not what I thought was going to…” I guarantee the first minute of the show you’re going to say like, “Oh, this is really not what I thought it was going to be.” And if you had a billion guesses, you would never guess what it’s going to be. I want people to leave, and to be like, “You know what? That was a real lot of fun,” and you learned a lot. I mean, there’s some great stories, and there’s some stories that I’ve never told before that are extremely humiliating. But there’s something cathartic about going up there and sharing the jail or the fights or the drugs and the bad things as well as the incredible instances that I’ve happened to be a part of. I mean, that’s what I want. I want people to go to these shows. I want to say I sold out The Machine Shop. That would be cool.

Toddstar: Well, I can tell you again, I’ve been to a lot of the big ones, and it’s my favorite. Not only is it close to home during the summer months for me, but it’s just, like you said, based on your friends who know the place, there’s just that vibe.

Riki: It just seems like it. My wife keeps on telling me like, “Riki, you got to promote the other shows too.” Because I do obviously. But I keep on saying things like, “Oh, The Machine Shop.” I’m very excited about that. I’m excited about every show. What is it going to be like doing these five days in a row? But The Machine Shop is like… I mean, King of Clubs is also a badass rock club, and the Sellersville Theater is a really cool theater, you know? So these are all cool places. But it’s like, I look and see the bands that are playing at The Machine Shop, and these are my friends.

Toddstar: You’re about to become part of a very cool club.

Riki: I’m very excited. How’s the weather there now, I wonder?

Toddstar: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m talking to you from north of Tampa because I’m lucky enough to be able to snowbird. So I go to Michigan in the summer and Florida in the winter, but I guess it’s in the upper twenties, lower thirties with some snow on the ground.

Riki: I have a show in Buffalo. Like I said, I love saying I’m going on tour. I love saying I have a show. Those things are fun to me, but it’s like, I’m watching the news. I’m like, what happens if the Buffalo Show gets canceled? What do I do? And I have to drive through Canada to get to that show. Tomorrow, I am going to leave Charlotte, go to Toronto and be back by the afternoon. I’m doing some interviews about Alice Cooper and Bret Michaels and stuff. They want to fly me up just to do it and fly me back. So I’m like, okay.

Toddstar: Hey, it’s a good gig if you can get it, right?

Riki: There you go.

Toddstar: Riki, I know you are busy preparing so I’m going to let you go.

Riki: Thank you so much.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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