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2015.08.06 - Yahoo - Riki Rachtman Remembers the Cathouse Club

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2015.08.06 - Yahoo - Riki Rachtman Remembers the Cathouse Club Empty 2015.08.06 - Yahoo - Riki Rachtman Remembers the Cathouse Club

Post by Blackstar on Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:17 am

A Real-Life Headbangers Ball: Riki Rachtman Remembers the Cathouse Club

Lyndsey Parker
Editor-in-Chief, Music
Yahoo Music August 6, 2015

Casual fans best know Riki Rachtman as the host of MTV’s Saturday night metalfest Headbangers Ball from 1990-1995 – a gig he landed, as legend has it, thanks to his buddy Axl Rose’s personal recommendation. (“It was great. I basically got to be like a rock star with no talent whatsoever. That was kind of nice,” he tells Yahoo Music.) But hardcore rockers are well aware that before that, Rachtman and Faster Pussycat frontman Taime Downe co-founded the world-infamous Hollywood den of Russ Meyer-inspired sleaze and debauchery known as the Cathouse.

It was the kind of nightclub where Christina Applegate worked the coatcheck, Slash fell down the stairs, Malcolm Forbes showed up on a Harley, Dave Gahan took refuge after Depeche Mode’s L.A. instore caused a riot, and, as Rachtman says, “Robert Plant came up, sat at the bar for two minutes, and then disappeared with a girl.” It was featured in Penelope Spheeris’s rockumentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and immortalized in songs by Faster Pussycat, Alice Cooper, and Motley Crue. It was, basically, the place to see and be scene in hair-metal Hollywood from 1986 to 1993. And Rachtman says he still does brisk business selling Cathouse T-shirts 25 years after the club closed its doors.

“The fact that people are still talking about it… They still talk about CBGB, they still talk about Studio 54, so it’s totally flattering that people still know the Cathouse,” says Rachtman. “At that time, we didn’t think of bands like Guns N’ Roses selling a bajillion records. Even Poison wasn’t selling records at that time. The Hollywood gypsy junky rock scene hadn’t really taken off yet; it was almost at an underground punk level, more punk than metal. So we were kind of an underground club, a safe haven for all these people in Hollywood where they could just do whatever they wanted, no cameras allowed. I’d love to take credit for everything, but the truth of the matter is, it was just being in the right place at the right time, and treating people right – and these people ended up selling millions of records and always repaid the favors.”

As the Cathouse nears its 30th anniversary, Rachtman is reviving the club as the Cathouse Live festival Aug. 15 at Southern California’s Irvine Meadows, featuring an epic '80s all-star lineup of Cathouse regulars like Extreme, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, Sebastian Bach, Dokken, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy, Gilby Clarke, Junkyard, Saigon Kick, Trixter, Enuff Z'Nuff, Bullet Boys, Bang Tango, Jetboy, and more. And while he admits that the old Cathouse era “can never be replicated,” for this one night only, concertgoers will definitely be partying like it’s 1986.
To celebrate this milestone, Rachtman shares with Yahoo Music his favorite (if blurry) memories of the original club, from Lita Ford’s binge-drinking spree on the club’s opening night to Axl Rose’s anti-Bowie rampage.



“We started off as a rock 'n’ roll dance club; it was not a live venue per se. Then a band said, 'Hey, can we do our record release party there?’ It was Guns N’ Roses, and they were releasing their independent EP. They said they wanted to play acoustic. I was like, 'Eh, OK.’ So that first [live] night, before they ever did Unplugged on MTV, we had Guns N’ Roses, Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns, and Jetboy, all playing acoustic sets. The beauty was when a band sold 5 million records, they’d still come back and play the Cathouse unannounced.”


“My best memories are the stories about what happens when you don’t know how to deal with running a club. It was basically the home away from home for Guns N’ Roses. They knew they could do whatever they wanted in that club. Now, when your security guard comes up to you and says, 'Riki, Axl Rose is chasing David Bowie down the street saying he’s gonna kill him, what should I do?’ Well, how do you answer something like that? You’ve got one of your better friends, chasing one of your idols down the street? I guess what happened is Bowie tried to pick up Axl’s girlfriend Erin [Everly], and that pissed off Axl. That was when David Bowie was in the band Tin Machine. So Axl was running, yelling, 'I’m gonna kill you, Tin Man!’”



“Once Axl said, 'Hey, my friend from Indiana is coming to town, can you give him a job?’ I said yeah, I could make him the receptionist. This guy comes in, and the kid used to get drunk and start fights at the Cathouse, but we loved him. He was a crazy little kid. Then he started a band. He said, 'OK, man, I got the name of my band. It’s Drowned Cow.’ I was like, 'That is the stupidest band name I have ever heard.’ Then he comes in the next day and says, 'OK, I got a new name: Blind Melon.’ I’m like, 'That’s even stupider than Drowned Cow!’ That was Shannon Hoon, obviously.”


“Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols used to show up with a bike and he would wait till the very, very last minute and always leave with a girl – sometimes she was beautiful, and sometimes she wasn’t, but he did not care! Also, once Steve Jones brought these Japanese tourists up into the DJ booth, and they did coke off the Sex Pistols’ album cover. My DJ told me that story.’”


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