(Note: This story appears in the May 2022 issue of ED Magazine)
Kelly Skillen started her industry career in New York when there weren’t many women in management roles. But through perseverance and an insatiable drive to learn and improve, she landed titles like GM and president.
As the head of her own consulting firm, KMA Consulting, she realized she still had a fair amount to learn and possibly a new lens through which to view the industry. That’s when a new opportunity presented itself, courtesy of Jason Mohney and his vision for Go BEST! Skillen is now their Executive Operations Director.
ED Magazine spoke with Skillen about her leap to Go BEST! and female role models she’s encountered through her decades in the industry.
ED: You’ve had your own consulting business for a number of years. Why did you join Go BEST!?
SKILLEN: I spent the early part of my career in New York and was fortunate enough to be associated with some big brands like Penthouse, Flashdancers and Scores. When I formed KMA Consulting, I was traveling all over the country, and I realized I didn’t know anything. New York is its own animal, but how do you replicate that success in Denver, Charlotte, Philadelphia or Manitowoc (Wisconsin)? I had to learn everything again from the ground up. During COVID, I donated time and spent many hours thinking of how the industry would need to adapt in a post-pandemic world. What attracted me to Go BEST!, once I understood Jason’s vision, was that it was a fresh look at the world and an opportunity to re-imagine what we’ve all been doing for so long. And it was a chance to grow something, not only in terms of clubs and revenue, but to evolve.
ED: Did you have any female role models early in your career, and if so, who?
SKILLEN: When I started, there were not many females in management roles in New York. I learned most of what I know from a few good men, and a number of bad ones — but luckily you can learn just as much from a negative example as you can from a positive one! It took an entire management team walkout for me to get an opportunity to prove myself, and eventually hold titles like GM, director of operations and president. As I became more involved in the business on a national level, I was and continue to be inspired by the examples of the legendary Greta Shamy, longstanding executive Kathy Vercher, and Angelina Spencer-Crisp, who holds ACE together and labors tirelessly and brilliantly on behalf of our industry. Here at Go BEST! there are strong women at every level and aspect of the company, and it shows! I used to advise aspiring female leaders to be three times better than their male counterparts if they wanted a shot. Now I just tell everyone, be your best self.
“What attracted me to Go BEST!, once I understood Jason’s vision, was that it was a fresh look at the world and an opportunity to re-imagine what we’ve all been doing for so long. And it was a chance to grow something, not only in terms of clubs and revenue, but to evolve.” — Kelly Skillen
ED: What do you think is next for Go BEST?
SKILLEN: More than five years ago, I went out on my own, because I wanted to provide a true resource for those navigating the shifting, increasingly treacherous landscape of adult entertainment, and to give back to the business that has allowed me to accomplish a great deal, but I was limited by the fact that I was only one person. With the size of Jason Mohney’s imagination and the variety of perspectives on our team, the potential is literally without boundary. We want to revolutionize entertainment and hospitality throughout the universe — that’s all!