Kathy Mac: Rhino's Lady In Charge

Story by: Nina Marie
Photos by: Goldie DeWitt



Encountering women in the adult entertainment industry is not only common, it's expected and demanded. Indeed, how could the industry even exist without the beautiful females who serve as it's main attraction? But, ironically, most people assume women aren't really involved on the corporate side of things. We tend to think the real "power" positions are held by the Hugh Hefners, the Larry Flynts and the Lonny Hanovers of the industry. In other words, men.

The Spearmint Rhino, once a small bikini bar in Upland California that has since gone global, is set to alter that paradigm. The Rhino has bestowed its most powerful position, that of company President, on none other than a woman. While some might wonder how Kathy Mac managed to infiltrate what's commonly regarded as a good old boys club, the answer is she did it the old fashioned way: she worked her ass off.

I met Kathy Mac for the first time when she was General Manager of the Spearmint Rhino in Rialto. I was instantly intrigued by her unshakable confidence and the ease with which she commanded authority. It was hard to imagine any man or woman having the balls to cross Kathy Mac, and I rarely saw anyone try. I was even more impressed by the attention she gave to the special problems dancers encounter; problems male managers might instantly dismiss as silly or trite.

So, it was no surprise when Kathy was quickly promoted to Regional Manager, a high level position that meant overseeing the operations of several Rhino locations. Once again, she exceeded everyone's expectations, and was ultimately promoted to President of entire Rhino Corporation. Watching Mac's steady rise to the top, and the grace and strength she's displayed each step of the way, is an inspiration to any woman hoping to beat the odds in a male dominated industry.

The following interview is our attempt to peek into the psyche of this unique and beautiful woman.

Private Dancer Magazine (PDM): How long have you been with this company?

Kathy Mac (KM): 8 years, September 6th

PDM: Can you take us through your promotions to your current position?

KM: I started part time as a bartender in Upland and then I moved to Santa Barbara for management, then came back to Rialto as a manager and went to Upland as management, and in 98 became Regional Manager. In February of this year, I became President.

PDM: Did you ever imagine that you would climb so high up the corporate ladder?

KM: No, I never even imagined that I would be with the company for eight years (laughing) I thought it was going to be a part time gig.

PDM: What made you decide to remain in the adult industry and make it a career rather than a job?

KM: I love it, it's different every day. I love the company and at the rate it's growing. I never would have thought that we'd be in London and Russia and I'd be going to these countries to open clubs.

PDM: What were the obstacles you faced as you rose to the top echelons in a field that is generally regarded as a male-dominated industry?

KM: Having them respect me (laughs). They're used to being the ones in charge and telling women what to do, so it was hard for me to be the person I am and not have them think, "OK, here's the bitch again." Whenever a woman is in power we're not respected as hardworking, we're seen more as a bitch.

PDM: Do you agree with the thinking that the adult industry is exploiting women?

KM: No, I don't agree with that. You can only be exploited if you exploit yourself. The women in here are supporting their families, paying their bills, and going to school. If anybody's exploited it's the men coming in and dropping their paychecks, so no, I don't agree at all.

PDM: What are the biggest obstacles the Industry has to overcome?

KM: Here in the states it's all the government regulations. In Europe [the business]is much more accepted and we don't have to go through the ordinances and all the zoning and the laws aren't as stringent, so it's easier for us to open there than it is here.

PDM: Are we seeing the demise of the small, privately owned club, and are neighborhood bars being replaced by the bigger chains? What do you think this means for the industry?

KM: For Spearmint Rhino, it's going to help expedite us to the level we want to be. We want to be the largest chain in the world, not just in the States, so yeah, I think the smaller mom and pop clubs are going to have a hard time. Not because the larger corporations are buying them up, but because there are so many regulations, the new laws being imposed on the business. It's hard for them to find the financial backing to stay a float and to fight like we have to fight.

PDM: What advice do you have for young women who are working in the adult industry on the entertainment side and want to cross over to a career on the corporate/managerial end?

KM: I think they need to work the business, don't let it work them. Make sure you treat it as a business. I'll see the girls come in and not treat it like a job, so if you're not respecting the current position you have and treat it as it is a job, then it's going to be really hard for anybody else to take you seriously, or consider you a candidate for crossing over.

PDM: Is there anything different or special you bring to your position because you are a woman?

KM: I think probably a little more compassion toward the dancers. I think the men in the business just see [dancing] as no big deal, 'get out there, you're not doing anything that's that difficult, you're just dancing.' They don't understand all the snipes and the comments you hear form the customers, or the cattiness between the girls. So I think [the dancers] are more comfortable coming to me and talking to me on that level, because I can relate as a female.

PDM: Right, I know when I was working with you I felt more comfortable coming to you about the things that bothered me than going to a guy.

KM: It'd be hard to tell a guy "that guy said I had a fat ass and it hurt my feelings" You know, a guy's not going to understand that.

PDM: How do the men you supervise respond to a woman in a position of authority? Have you encountered any difficulties or challenges in that regard?

KM: Today, I'm really lucky that everybody respects me and I get along pretty well with everybody. I'm fair and I think they see that, they now know I'm not power hungry to where I'm "ha ha I'm a woman in charge and I'm gonna try to down you because you're a man." I treat everybody as individuals regardless of their sex, so I think now I have the respect. In the beginning there were managers that had a real problem with me coming in and telling them what to do. And seeing that a woman can actually be in power without having it handed to them. I had to work my way up.

PDM: You are regarded as a no nonsense, tough person who doesn't mince words. Some people even find you intimidating. Do you think this is an accurate depiction?

KM: Ah, yes and no. I think my position intimidates people more than my personality. But I am aware of that, yes. I don't mince words, I'm honest, if you ask me I'm going to tell you, if you're trying to lie or sneak or get away with something, I'm not an idiot I'm going to tell you. So I think because I'm not afraid of confrontation, that's probably what comes across as intimidating. But I'm confident in what I know, so I don't back down.

PDM: Is it more necessary to be tough in this field than it would be in other professions?

KM: I think that women in corporate America have to be stronger than men would be just because in this business and in advertising -- everybody that I work with outside is just advertising, our logo items, attorneys, it's all men, I deal with very few women -- men still dominate corporate America. So I think we have to be tougher as a whole, to be taken seriously.

PDM: Obviously you are comfortable in this sexually charged atmosphere; is this something that comes naturally to you or did you have to overcome your own preconceptions and prejudices about adult entertainment?

KM: Now, you know, I'll sit and look at the stage and say "Wow she's really attractive," or "She's a good performer," whereas before I'd be hiding behind the DJ booth "no, I can't look!"

PDM: How do you feel about the dancers that work at The Spearmint Rhino? Do you have a respect for what they do to earn a living?

KM: None of us would have our job if we didn't have the dancers. We could open the doors, we could put on a DJ, have a waitress, but if there are no entertainers on stage none of us would have a job. They're the asset to the company, they're the final link.

PDM: What's your social life like these days?

KM: The friends I hang out with 90% of the time are all in the clubs in the business; they're managers, they're dancers, they're bartenders. I have friends outside the business but I don't see them as often as I see everybody in the club.

PDM: So, your down time is really almost like you're working anyway?

KM: Umm-huh.

PDM: It must be really hard to drop that when you're around everybody.

KM: It's hard for me to go to any club. If I was to go to some club in Hollywood I would say, "why are they doing it this way?" or "how come this is dirty?" or "that doorman's stealing right there." It's constant and it's just imbedded in my head, so I work all the time.

PDM:: Plus it's probably hard for your peers and colleagues to drop; you're still the boss even when you're not the boss.

KM: Yeah, and that's on them, I think. I don't go out with my friends and say "go get me a drink," but sure, they still kind of regard me as their boss. Nothing annoys me more than when I go out with a group of people and we're having drinks and everything's great and then someone pulls me aside to talk about ideas they have for the club. As much as I appreciate their enthusiasm and do wanna hear it, sometimes you just wanna get away.




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