It Girl

It's a Monday evening in early May, business as usual at The Rogue, a dive bar on Scottsdale Road, not far from the Tempe border. The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" is on the stereo, and the daytime bartender serves cheap beers to the early regulars.

As if on cue, the door swings open and in walks a girl named Katie Rose, all long pale legs and huge red hair, with very little in between.

Now the night can begin.

Katie Rose is wearing quite the outfit for a Monday night in south Scottsdale: blue-and-white hot pants, no longer than three inches, and knee-high black stiletto boots. For a moment, everyone in the bar stops and looks. And then suddenly Katie Rose is swamped. One guy wants to know if she's listened to the CD he gave her last week, another just wants to say hi. Another is the visiting talent for the night, a musician named Ari Shine from L.A.

Tonight is Blue Monday, Katie Rose's newest venture in her quest to make The Rogue the place to be. The night is split between DJs and rock bands, giving musicians a place to play in a city where venues for pure rock 'n' roll seem to be closing down every week.

Katie Rose greets everyone with a big smile and an air that this is her bar, even though she's just an employee. Her party takes place behind the DJ booth and the bar, tonight.

Katie Rose McCarthey, 23 this month, is famous — if only within these slump block walls, if only because she pours a stiff drink and makes the guys, well, stiff. That's more than enough, in a culture that celebrates even the suggestion of celebrity, to make her the Valley's It Girl.

Rumors about Katie Rose range from trivial gossip — yes, that hair is really all her own; no, she won't tell you how she gets it that color — to really racy. Yes, she's addicted to cocaine; no, she's not ignoring the problem. Yes, she's done porn; no, there was never a gang bang. Or a fisting.

But you can own a tee shirt featuring her spread-eagle in even less than she wears to The Rogue on a Monday night. The shirt art's a still from an Internet video she made for the Web site First Time Videos, thanks to the local band Casket Life.

And it's not just negative gossip that buzzes around Katie Rose. On any given night, conversation at The Rogue centers on her: Will she move to New York City, does she have a job waiting at MTV, is an MTV show tentatively titled Lifestyles of the Rock and Roll going to feature her? (The answer to all of the questions: Maybe.)

Just like other faux celebs — you'll find one in every city across the country, and quite a few in L.A. and New York — this is a woman other people love to talk (mostly shit) about. She's sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, cigarettes and a strong drink, that cool girl in school who you always knew was too punk to talk to, and now, you can't help but stare when she walks into a room.

Katie Rose has never done anything of real consequence. She plays in a band that hasn't made it, she bartends, DJs, and her screen debut (other than porn) will come in a low-budget horror flick set to begin filming this month. But this town is obsessed with her anyway.

It's not about what she does, it's about what she reminds us we're not.

Welcome to the cult of Katie Rose.

Hope your liver can handle it.

If you're a member of the Class of 2001 at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, chances are you never knew Katie McCarthey. By the time the girl who attended the alma mater of David Spade and Sandra Bernhard was 16, she was living with her boyfriend, a member of the now-defunct band Slash City Daggers. Katie (she didn't start going by her middle name, Rose, 'til after high school) didn't exactly have time to care about who was dating who at her school or who was prom queen that year.

"In high school I was, like, a dork," she says. "I always played in bands. I had, like, two friends. I wasn't a socialite, I really just had my mom and I did a lot of nerdy things."

She's smart. In her senior year at Saguaro, Katie won a scholarship to Arizona State University as part of the university's Leadership Scholarship Program, where she planned to major in journalism. But midway through her first semester, Katie decided school wasn't for her and dropped out.

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Megan Irwin
Contact: Megan Irwin