Thursday, June 01, 2006

Anonymity, again

"You try to make yourself out to be some kind of mysterious figure," she says, "but then when people meet you, it's all such a load of shit. They're gonna be so disappointed."

Of course it's a load of shit. What the fuck were you all expecting? I'm a fucking bouncer for chrissakes. And not only that, I'm not even one of the memorable ones. As I've said before, I'm strictly rank-and-file. I didn't make it to the front door by dint of height or charm or movie star good looks. I'm there because I'm a "senior employee" who's gone well over two years without calling in sick. I'm there because I'm never late, and because I don't drink on the job, and because whenever something needs to get done, I'm always around. I'm there because I'm trusted.

So if you're waiting for something special, you're shit out of luck.

A slew of new readers came along in the wake of the shootings last week -- and the subsequent spike in hits I received as a result -- and several have questioned my desire to remain anonymous. Some think I'm misguidedly overplaying the whole thing for effect. Others believe I'm simply paranoid. The truth, they claim, must fall somewhere in between.

In reality, however, I simply want to keep bouncing. I've got a door, and I don't want to give it up before it's absolutely necessary. The money's too good, and just like the rest of you, I need as much as I can get my hands on. And by staying anonymous, I don't have to be "the bouncer who's writing the book" just yet. I don't have to have my employers looking at me like I'm some sort of jerkoff. I don't have to worry about my fellow bouncers thinking I'm exploiting them. I don't have to worry about random customers coming down to "try their luck" with the guy who's been publicly insulting them for the past two years.

And maybe I won't have to worry about some much more serious issues, either. Because now that we know bouncers kill one another, it maybe seems like a better idea for yours truly to maintain that low profile I've worked so diligently to cultivate.

Every time something happens at a nightclub, I'm approached by the media. They have questions. They want interviews. One -- to whom I refused to speak -- emailed me regarding a "retarded" story "concocted" by his editor. He asked me to provide a few quotes about bouncers who've become hit men. I told him I didn't know any, and tried to put him in contact with several who've become accountants. Last I heard, he hadn't called anyone on that list.

I had the following email exchange with a magazine reporter today:

Him: Heya man, I enjoy reading the blog. You are probably sick of talking to the media already, so I just wanted to ask if maybe you could kick down the names of a few "reputable" security companies that provide bouncers to the big Manhattan clubs. I'm working on a story about how bouncers are licensed, and wanted to interview a few of the companies. I won't mention how I got their names. Thanks much

Me: Honestly? I have no idea. I've never worked anywhere that uses them.

Him: Do you have a sense that a lot of places use them? I remember reading in your blog that the places you've worked would never even let a Littlejohn character in off the street for an interview. I thought you were referring to the use of private security companies.

Me: None of the places I work use them. Most of the "better" clubs hire only people they know and can vouch for. That's what I meant about Littlejohn. If a guy has a reputation like that, someone will know, and he wouldn't even get consideration.

Him: Any chance you could help me find someone to talk to about nightclub security? Someone who is knowledgeable about the industry? I don't need to use any names in the story. Everybody is so hesitant to talk about this stuff.

Me: I wish I could, but I doubt it. They're hesitant for very good reason.

Him: I imagine you're right about that.

Well yes, actually, I am right about that, and I'm going from my own experience here. I'm happy to sit here and write an anonymous blog about this shit, but I'm rather disinclined to put my livelihood in jeopardy in order to provide a few paragraphs worth of information for a newspaper or magazine article that pretty much covers the same shit I've been writing about here for two years. And I'm reasonably certain everyone else in the business feels the same way, at least in terms of revealing the kind of information journalists are looking for. Especially in the New York nightclub industry, because when you cross people there, you'll get a bullet to the back of your head before any subpoena ever arrives.

Think I'm kidding?

Melissa Lafsky said it best. Once, when Newsday made mention of her in an article about job bloggers -- an article in which I wasn't mentioned -- I petulantly said something to the effect of, "Well what the fuck do they think I am? It's my local newspaper, for fuck's sake."

Her reply was perfect. "It's because you're still anonymous. You don't get that kind of stuff because people want a name and a face. And some facts. The way you're going, once you're no longer anonymous, you'll get all that stuff. But not while nobody knows who you are."

And it'd be nice. It'd be a peach not to have to nix everyone who comes along. It'd be a pleasure not to have to turn down the same major magazine -- twice -- because they insisted on printing my real name, complete with picture. And I'm sure I'll be doing all that, and more, when the book comes out. You think I don't want that stuff? Who wouldn't want that stuff?

But I've not gone after any of that stuff because I like to work, and because I wouldn't be working in the club business for very long if my employers knew what I was doing. And even though the things I'm writing about them aren't really that bad, I'd still rather not run the risk of losing my door income. Or my life, for that matter.

So I do my talking here, on this website, in a controlled environment where I'm the judge, jury and executioner of what makes it into "print." It's been working for me thus far, and there's no reason to tinker with the system I have in place. I go to work, I get paid, I come home. I write a blog entry. I work on the book. I'm making my money and I'm paying my bills and everything's right in my little corner of the world.

And until I "hang up the earpiece"* and walk out the back door for the final time, that's how it has to stay.

* * * * *

* This is not my quote, but I've been waiting for over a year to use it.