Radio Sheffield were doing a piece about youth unemployment and invited John to comment. Now being a decent chap and always willing to pitch in, John went along and was interviewed and everything was fine until he was asked how many students the chain employed. Knowing his facts, John gave the answer as being about 18% and stated that Spearmint was a good option as people were working in a safe environment.
I see nothing controversial in his comments, but sadly this must have been what they call in the press a ‘slow news day’, because no sooner had he sat down for his first coffee of the morning than his name was being dragged through the media as a man that was exploiting impoverished students by dragging them through the door of his club and making them become dancers. It ignored the fact that the chain has more student waitresses than dancers, but when did the press ever let the facts get in the way of a good story.
If you think I am joking, check out the article in the Daily Mail, where a journalist that John had never even met started to (mis)quote him and present him as a machiavellian exploiter of hard up female students.
Things sadly took a turn for the worse at the second iteration of the story, when Estelle Hart, NUS Womens Officer waded in with her view on the matter. Typically her arguments are easy to take apart…..
|Estelle Hart - She thinks.......|
"I think the government has got some questions to answer about why students are turning to what is quite a dangerous job”.
In what way is it dangerous? Lets have some statistics about what goes on clubs before comments like this, that are completely unsupportable are made in the media. Is it more dangerous that working in a shop, where according to the BRC Crime Survey, over 35,000 shop workers in 2010-2011 suffered threats, verbal abuse and physical assault. We have yet to hear Estelles views on student shop workers, maybe its going to figure in her next press release.
"One thing that is disturbing is that you have the vice president of this massive company and he's quite happy that student fees are going up.
Estelle, I really think you need to distinguish between what you know and what you think you know, please keep the latter to yourself because at no point did John express his delight in increasing student fees.
"The money you earn from it isn't that good because you pay a fee to work in the strip club you're not employed. Most of these places impose arbitrary fines on the women who work there”.
Once again Estelle speaks with apparent authority on a subject she knows nothing about, unless she is talking about the Dancer Testmonies on Objects website, none of which were about dancers that work at Spearmint Rhino.
"The sort of idea that in order for women to work they have got to look and act a certain way and be sexually available and attractive to men is actually quite upsetting.“
Look and act a certain way? Sexually available? The value judgements are coming thick and fast and once again we see back handed insults aimed at dancers from someone that really should know better. The staff at Spearmint Rhino or any other club for that matter are not ‘sexually available’, because sex doesn’t come into it, despite what she might like to believe.
For me what proves the medias fascination with bad news and lap dancing clubs is that recently John Specht stepped in when no one else was prepared to and offered badly needed financial support to a Leicester cab driver.
Not heard the story? I wonder why….
|John Specht - He acts..........|
Harun Shah Zaman was beaten and robbed by some fares. Now please understand that the cabbie is not affiliated in any way with the club, he is a regular guy trying to make a living whose experience shocked the staff and management at Spearmint Rhino. Johns reaction was to jump on a train, find Mr Zaman and present him with a cheque for £500.
John Specht did this because it was the right thing to do. Quite rightly he said. "Taxi drivers are a lifeline for the city centre but I don't think people always appreciate the job they do. We wanted to show that people care."
This is a good news story about a decent person making a positive impact in the area where their business operates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the story never left the ‘This Is Leicestershire’ news website and no one has commented on the article either. Looks like The Telegraph and The Daily Mail weren’t interested because God forbid an article that portrays club owners as regular human beings….
There is perhaps only one good thing to have come out of the entire affair with the press and that is the really rather awesome video below, made by Taiwanese News Channel NMA. It labours under the same misapprehension as the Daily Mail, but at least its funny