I used to hate club doorpeople, fantasizing that they’d be strung up with velvet ropes and clobbered with their own clipboards. Well, those days are over. Suddenly I feel that they’re sweet, beleaguered martyrs who need to get raises, tax breaks, and very big hugs.
And why this dramatic change of heart? Because I worked as a doorman on a Thursday at two wildly divergent hangouts—Eugene and Spa—to see what it’s like on the other side of the gate, and honey, it makes sanitation work look like wine tasting. You feel so put-upon by douche bags that you almost want to join Giuliani’s club-crackdown campaign and make sure these shmoes never leave the house again. People are in your face with boozy breath and are touching you with clammy hands, all dropping more names than a porn star drops panties. And, if they’re telling the truth, every single one of them works for MTV!
All night, I was bombarded with so many excuses and rationales I felt like a one-man parole board. Of course these folks have a right to have fun, even if their fashion choices (black tank tops and khakis!) say otherwise, but their shameless use of manipulation brought out the sadist in me, as I became intoxicated by the sheer, corrupting power of the moment.
At Eugene—the West Twenties club/lounge that attracts decently heeled swingles—implacable fellow doorman Fernando Sarralha gave me some tips, mostly involving telling people to just wait on line. But the rules dramatically changed when promoter Danny Kane asked us not to let in so many guys. This made a group of five hot-to-trot Brazilian men become even more desperate, their leader panting, “But we had girls and they already went in.” No dice, baby. “But we were here last week,” he tried, brilliantly. Back of the line, bud.
My emotional bottom came when someone ballsily asked to borrow my ID so he could get in! (Naturally, I refused, picturing myself in jail and him only getting a senior discount.) A close runner-up was the drunk screaming, “I’m with the Yankees!” apparently forgetting to mention that he was clearly a hot dog vendor. And the excuses kept coming—”I’m on Danny’s and Michele’s lists,” not to mention Ivan’s list, Nora’s list, Justin’s list, and the house list. In fact, there were even more promoters working on the party than there were people at the party—and there were a lot of people (none of whom bothered to offer sex, by the way).
Moving on to Spa’s extremely festive pansexual party, I was listing from all the lists, making for a clerical nightmare that damaged my arm and what remained of my pride. Some of these lists consisted of just first names (“John plus one,” “Drew plus two”), and even more dauntingly, I had to keep an ongoing tally that specified how many comps and reduced admissions each of the 15 promoters drew. After a while, you learned to ignore the paperwork and act on instinct, figuring that if someone said, “I’m Joe on Jenna’s list” and he looked mildly human, you should just sweep the freak in.
Alas, granting admission isn’t enough for these people; it has to be on their own terms. A group of club kids made a big scene trying to haggle for more than their assigned “four comps and four reduced.” I told them this wasn’t a fucking game show. Just then, a wannabe comp—no doubt from MTV—moaned that immortal favorite, “We’re always here.” “I’m always here,” responded doorman Darrell Elmore, my new mentor.
At the height of the evening, a stretch limo pulled up as we door staffers smirked over the sheer audacity of people who think that sort of thing ensures instant entry. But when celebrity photographer David LaChapelle spilled out of the car with his platform-shoed entourage, we unrepentantly flung the gates open with brio.
I didn’t see a single person pay full price, but if they were the type that would do so, you wouldn’t want them there anyway. Thoughts like that seemed profound after an evening of doing the door. I quit—it’s on to coat check.