Monday, March 05, 2007


The problem with most people who work in nightclubs is, they don’t want anyone to make any money. Anyone but them, that is. Your typical non-bouncer nightclub employee thinks every dime that hasn’t already been “routed” – spent on cover charges, or on the actual cost of a bottle or a single drink – should somehow find its way into his or her pocket by the end of the night. If this money – these gratuities, bribes and shakedowns – doesn’t end up where it’s “supposed” to be, something unconscionable has happened, and that something needs to be rectified right away.

By rectified, of course, I mean “ratted on.” In nightclub logic, these jerkoffs look at the moneymaking process like this: If you’re making as much money as I am, you’re stealing it from me. This wording probably doesn’t make any sense to you. I know it sure as hell doesn’t make any sense to me. The reason it doesn’t make sense is that it’s an utterly insane notion, motivated by a level of greed that you wouldn’t fucking believe unless you’ve actually worked in a New York nightclub and seen the process in action for yourself.

See, certain things happen when the wrong people start making money. The right people get jealous. If there’s a thousand dollars in the cash pool, these cocksuckers aren’t satisfied unless they’re walking out the door with the entire grand, and you end up working for free. When you come out holding some portion of the cut, however miniscule, there’s something amiss. The planets have slipped out of alignment, and somebody has to pay – preferably, if he’s a bouncer, with his job. The way these greedy motherfuckers accomplish this is by ratting on their coworkers. They do this by accusing us of “stealing.”

This sort of ratting will occur even if there’s no theft involved. In club parlance, even the legitimate making of money can be construed as stealing – and labeled as such in “the meetings upstairs” – if the wrong employee (usually a bartender) believes a bouncer (usually one the bartender doesn’t know) is taking home anything over and above his base shift pay.

This is unfortunate, because these same bartenders rarely think twice about summoning a bouncer to corral a customer who’s trying to skip out on a tab, or to toss a customer who’s threatening them because they’ve made a shitty drink. This is how it works. When someone tries to bail on a thousand dollar tab – with a twenty percent gratuity tacked on, naturally – and I make them come back and pay, do you think I’m ever shown any gratitude?

“You complaining little pussy,” you’re saying. “That’s what your paycheck is for. Your employer doesn’t have to explicitly thank you, because he’s doing that when he pays you, so shut the fuck up, go to the bank, and be thankful you even have a job, you no-talent piece of…”

Fine. I understand that. In fact, nobody understands the realities of the nightclub business any better than I do, because I’m on the “limited” end of things - being, as I am, a charter member of the decidedly unbeautifuls.

Still, the unmitigated greed on display here in New York can be stunning at times. Like on Friday night, when a bartender tried to have a bouncer fired for shaking down one of the bartender’s friends outside the club’s VIP entrance. What happens at the VIP ropes, if you’re not on the list and you want to get in, is you have to pay. Nothing new there. If you’re a friend of an “important” bartender, however, you can go tell your bartender pal that the VIP bouncer tried to charge you. Your bartender friend will then make sure you get into the VIP room without having to pay. The VIP bouncer, who was me for about six months in 2005, will simply say, “No problem,” and he’ll move the ropes. It’s all a simple misunderstanding, albeit one that could’ve been avoided had your bartender friend been responsible enough to put you on the VIP list before you tried to get in without paying.

Problem is, this isn’t where it stops. It has now come to the attention of a bartender that a member of the bouncing staff is making extra cash. The way bartenders think, this cash doesn’t belong to this bouncer. He hasn’t any right to it, because cash belongs in a tip cup and not in a bouncer’s pocket. This sets off a series of events that can only end badly for the bouncer in question.

What happens next is, the bartender can’t leave well enough alone. He can’t simply go back to his important work of pouring drinks for Guidos and let the bouncing staff do its job. No. That fifty dollars that this bouncer tried to extort is gnawing away at his consciousness to the point of distracting him from the essential societal function of pouring drinks for Guidos, and that can’t ever be allowed to happen to pretty guys with bad haircuts.

So, he rats the bouncer out. The first chance he gets, our bartender friend finds a manager – preferably one who’s known for being protective of the club’s cash flow – and tells him that the VIP bouncer is “stealing.” Forget the fact that no money actually changed hands during the original incident. That’s not important. What’s important is that this bouncer may have been doing this (making money) all night, and could potentially continue doing it (making money) in the future if he is not immediately terminated. Disregard, as well, the notion that the customers who were asked for money would likely continue to hemorrhage cash in the VIP rooms regardless, meaning the club itself wouldn’t be losing a fucking cent. That’s not important either.

What is important here is that someone other than a bartender was caught trying to get his hands on some of the customers’ money, and bouncer aggression of that sort will not stand.

My reaction? Another dick makes my list. Good luck finding a bouncer the next time you have a problem, my friend. Something tells me we’ll be a tad scarce.