On the Conviction Trail
By Adrian Gatton
15 April 2004
Uncovering Rhino’s secret was all too easy because of the ready availability of US prison records.
In 1999 US strip-club Spearmint Rhino stormed into London, hitting headlines almost every day as some celebrity was ‘caught’ in flagrante with a lap-dancer.
Amid all the excitement, nobody cared much about the club’s origins. Nor did they ask questions about the Los Angeles strip-club tycoon John Gray, who had shorn lap-dancing of its mafia-tainted image, and brought clean, ‘upscale’, all-look-and-no-touching nude clubs to the British. The club’s billboards became ubiquitous – even appearing in EastEnders and the film 28 Days – and ready to cash in, the credible Mr Gray issued a slick video for investors to help him open 100 clubs across the UK and float on the stock market.
Until Channel 4 News took an interest, that is. The steroid-pumped Spearmint Rhino stumbled in its tracks after a report revealed that Gray – billed as the Ray Kroc (McDonald’s founder) of the no-sex sex business – had been jailed by the FBI and had six criminal convictions. Things he didn’t mention to potential investors on that neat video …
This article was cited by New Zealand’s Law Commission in a 2006 consultation paper called Access to Court Records (New Zealand is now adopting a more sensible and much more open to approach towards public access to criminal court records.) Read it here. If only the English courts would adopt such a sensible approach.