Thursday, June 29, 2006

Everything that's bad

Every morning, I open my email inbox and find at least one letter from someone asking me how to get hired as a bouncer. People find this site on Google daily by searching for "club bouncer jobs" or "how to become a bouncer." It seems I have a job that's coveted by many who aren't currently doing it, and despised by those who are. Strange how that works.

I can't blame anyone for wanting this job. It's not the worst part-time gig you can have. When you look at what we make hourly -- it can be obscene when you're up front -- for standing around and doing virtually nothing, it's understandable for people to want to go after a nightclub spot. I'd never try and talk anyone out of it, either, because that'd be hypocrisy of a sort I've never understood.

You see this type of thing a lot with guys who work on the NYPD. Some city cops I know do nothing but badmouth their job. When a young guy walks up to a veteran NYPD officer and says he's starting the academy, the response is universal: "Why the fuck would you want this job?"

My response to them would be: "Well, you fucking took it, didn't you?"

I'm not going to take you down that road with bouncing. There was a point in my life -- about two-and-a-half years ago -- where I was absolutely desperate to get a bouncing job. I called up the few bar and club contacts I had and literally sat waiting next to my house phone, with my cell phone in hand just in case, for someone to call about a job. Any job. It was my good fortune to have come up with a premium spot right away -- something that doesn't happen to everyone, I should add -- and I wouldn't trade the past two-and-change years for anything in the world.

Why? Because book deal aside, bouncing has kept me solvent. What other part-time job enables you to make an entire month's rent in one or two weeks? Where else can an average guy with limited skills and a limited education do this legally? The point here is that I'd never dissuade anyone from getting a bouncing job because doing so, for me, has been nothing but a home run.

That said, I'd like to offer another list, written in particular order. Again, I'm not trying to talk anyone out of trying to get a position in the "field," but I want to give you a few things to think about before you go looking. Working in the nightclub industry can be lucrative and fun, but there are disadvantages as well, so if you're really interested in taking this job on, you might want to consider this list of:

The Top 10 Things I Hate About Club Bouncing

1. The hours suck, and the commute is a royal pain in the ass. Here in New York, you can't get around the fact that you won't be leaving work until at least 4:30 AM, and occasionally later. In Manhattan, sometimes the only reason a club will hire you is because you're willing to do this on, say, a Tuesday night, which can be murder on your schedule if you have a day job. And if you don't live in Manhattan itself, good luck with the commute. It blows cock at any hour.

2. Getting hit. Some guys go years without having it happen, but it always eventually does. And even if you're used to it -- through a combination of training and experience, or simply because you're a hardass New York street guy -- it's still a bitch when it happens, and it always makes you question whether the job is worth the money they're paying you.

3. The worst music in the world, played at earsplitting volume levels with no letup. Get earplugs. That's all the advice I'm giving on the subject. It takes a hell of a lot of experience to be able to tune it out like I can. Most new hip-hop is utter crap, house music sounds like dried-up shit in a shaken can to me, and anything else clubs play is nothing I'd be listening to at home. It's a disaster, and it's something to which you'll have to get accustomed.

4. Incompetent new bouncers and the time it takes to weed them out. I've written extensively about how everyone hired at the "big time" clubs in New York is "vouched for," but even when such a system is in place, management is bound to bring in some jackasses from time to time. And when you're inside working with them, you'll know they're jackasses long before management ever will, and it can take weeks, or even months, to get rid of them. It can be extremely frustrating to watch guys stand around and do nothing during fights, knowing they're taking home an identical paycheck to yours.

5. Legal problems outside the club. Serious shit happens in clubs. Assaults, rapes, drug busts and sometimes murders. Every so often you'll witness one of these as it happens, and you'll be hauled into court and told to testify. You may be forced to spend multiple days in court, which is about as pleasant as taking a plunger up the ass. You'll get a check from the city to reimburse you for your lost wages -- from your day job -- but it's nothing to write home about, and the club itself will not be paying you for this time.

6. Fellow employees who consider themselves too important to ever learn your name. Listen, I'm nobody special. I've said this a thousand times. But I've been working at this place for over two years, and I'm posted at the front door. Anyone who wants to put people on the guestlist has to come through me, or at least be in my proximity for a time. There are people who've worked at this club for the same amount of time I have who still haven't learned my name. I don't care about this in terms of being personally affronted, but I still think it's a disgrace to be that unaware of your surroundings. As a bouncer, you'll be working with dozens of people like this.

7. The threat of more serious violence than just getting punched. We're threatened every night. Every Guido we throw out promises to come back and "bust a cap" in us all. We deal with known wiseguys all the time. We confiscate weapons from people every fifteen minutes. I was stabbed once. The threat is always there, and it's real.

8. Hygiene and cleanliness. People who hang out in clubs are dirty. They drink and use drugs to excess, and they're overly promiscuous. And I'm no fucking prude, believe me. There are more sexually transmitted diseases in play in the Meatpacking District alone than in all the Red States combined. These same people are dancing and sweating and bleeding all over the place, and they all want to shake our hands on the way out the door. It's disgusting.

9. Boredom. Here's the best tip I can give you: don't wear a watch. If you do, consciously force yourself not to look at it, because "bouncer time" runs at a different pace than time for the rest of the world. You look at your watch and it's 1:00. An hour goes by, you look at it again, and it's 1:05. That's how bouncing really works. It's just that boring.

10. Guidos. See last two years of blogging. See book, due in stores around Christmas. They make everyone and everything around them miserable, and yet there's no getting away from them if you want to make any money as a bouncer in New York.

And no, I won't write you a reference.