STUDENTS
04/10/2011 14:39 BST | Updated 04/12/2011 05:12 GMT

John Specht, Spearmint Rhino Boss, Defends University Student Stripper Comments On BBC Radio Sheffield

John Specht, UK vice-president of lap-dancing chain Spearmint Rhino, has hit out at the media for manipulating the comments he made in an interview over student strippers.

Specht was accused by various newspapers of "urging" hard-up students to strip to fund university fees on Tuesday following an interview with with BBC Radio Sheffield , despite previously saying he empathised with the cash-strapped students.

In an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post UK, Specht was keen to tell his side of the story and set the record straight, saying he was both upset and angry at the media backlash.

"I do not want to come across as some disgusting person who targets innocent, vulnerable students. I would never 'urge' students to come in and strip. I swear on my mother's life I did not say any of those things.

"I just want everyone to get past this stupid headline that some idiot wrote", he fumed.

Specht, who has worked for the company for the past 12 years, wanted to emphasise the reason he was originally called in to be interviewed, which he says has been lost in the resulting media furore.

"Is there an increase in student lap-dancers? No. We have always had students, but I'd say they only make up about 18 per cent of staff. I have more students who waitress and bartend than strip.

"In fact, lap-dancers are not even employees. They lease space from us."

The American who has opened more than 30 clubs around the globe emphasised the strippers work at Spearmint Rhino voluntarily, and they are free to leave whenever they like.

"Nobody is forced to come in and dance. We do not advertise for our entertainers. It is a personal decision taken by adults. If they decide they do want to work at Rhino then they go through a lengthy interview process. We run a serious business and provide a safe environment.

"I'm constantly fighting to show we are a legitimate business", he added. "It is a good, fun, safe place to work."

But the company - and in particular Specht - came under fire from NUS women's officer Estelle Hart.

"The women that are being targeted by John Specht are intelligent women who are capable of great things but in order to pay for cuts made by this government they are forced to hide that away and have their worth judged simply by sexual availability.

"There is a myth that everyone who works in a lap-dancing club is making huge amounts of money but the reality is that many have to pay to work in the club with no guaranteed income", she added. "They can be fined for having a hair out of place, dressing wrong or if their appearance doesn't fit some arbitrary standard of attractiveness."

Listen to Specht's interview on BBC Radio Sheffield which features an hour into the programme.

The whole saga seems to have been blown out of proportion to such great lengths that a short film has even been made about it by Taiwanese Animators Next Media Animation who are famed for producing clips of Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen...