New York, NY

Male, 33

I was a bouncer at one of the biggest sh-thole bars on the Upper East Side of Manhattan from 2005-2007. Ask me anything.

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103 Questions


Last Answer on July 30, 2013

Best Rated

Do bouncers have to be a certain size? And do you have to somehow prove to the hiring manager that you can actually whoop some ass?

Asked by killjoy almost 9 years ago

Number 1 is you have to be gigantic, which I am not (6', 190lbs). I have no idea why I got hired as a bouncer. The owner told everyone I was a former Navy SEAL and everyone was afraid of me. I was fine with that. Plus, most of the job is head games. If you have to get physical with someone (and we did) you aren't doing your job right or you are in a worst-case scenario. The whole point of the job is to make problems disappear, not escalate into brawls. Brawls are bad for business and draw the attention of the neighborhood and the cops. The place where I worked had lots of illegal stuff going on so avoiding cops was a priority. That said, brawls do happen so, yes, knowing how to 'whoop some ass' is important. Nowadays, in New York City anyway, you also have to have a security license which costs about $200 and involves a background check. This went into effect after a bouncer named Littlejohn killed a John Jay College student. I never got one -- I didn't feel like investing any money in such a shitty job. Eventually the bar I worked at got raided and I got a court summons for not being licensed. That's when I finally quit.

Have you ever stepped in when you saw a male patron over-stepping his boundaries with a female patron?

Asked by Tailwindnyc almost 9 years ago

ALL THE TIME. One thing you become acutely aware of working in the bar industry is how many creepy, freak-bag weirdoes live in New York. Towards the end of my bouncing career I worked in one of the sleazier, shitbag bars in the city, so we had extra weirdoes. After a while you get to the point where you can spot them coming in. You know exactly who to watch and they ALL always do the same things: 1) Come on very strong. 2) Initiate physical contact very quickly. Usually something possessive, like grabbing the victim’s arm or putting their arm around the victim. 3) Ignoring any and all signs that the victim isn’t interested, including when the victim says “I don’t want to talk to you anymore” and turns and gives the creeper full back. 4) Around this time they start buying drinks or shots to get the victim completely inebriated – and here’s the crazy thing: the victim almost always accepts the drink! This makes things especially difficult because the creeper takes this as a sign that his charms are working. A creeper like this is one of the hardest to kick out because they don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong and they think you’re picking on them. The scary thing in my case was that the owner of the bar was the biggest creeper of all of them.

What's the best way to get in good with the bouncer at the door, assuming it's a place I plan on returning to frequently?

Asked by Tokeyo almost 9 years ago

Trying to “get in good” never worked with me. That meant you wanted something. A lot of people like to pull that “I’m friends with the bouncer ” crap, especially when they start drinking. Then they usually want you to throw someone out because they don't like them. I didn’t want anything to do with that. Ass kissing certainly never worked. Ass kissing’s weak. Best advice is, if you plan on frequenting a place, just frequent it and don’t be an asshole. “Getting in good” with a bouncer, or anyone for that matter, should be something you have to earn. If you’re there enough and you make yourself a friendly face and not part of the problems, they’ll come around. Unless you just outright suck. Then you’re on your own.

How often would you find yourself in real danger?

Asked by nippy5 almost 9 years ago

Bouncers get fucked up all of the time. The doorman at the first bar I worked at got stabbed on his way home with an eight-inch kitchen knife. I had a guy come to the bar after he'd just gotten out of jail -- I had to throw him out and he said he was going to come back and shoot me. I had lots of people tell me they were going to wait for me to get off shift and jump me on my way home. There’s a saying amongst bouncers that “it’s not a good night until you're home in bed.”

Ever been seriously hurt on the job?

Asked by tatersalad almost 9 years ago

I pulled a few muscles dragging people out, especially when it was cold outside. Cut up my hands a few times, though nothing too serious. The key is that if someone is going to get hurt, it’s the other guy. p.s. You know why bouncers wear black? Because blood doesn't show up on it.

Have you ever been sued for roughing up a customer?

Asked by durbin almost 9 years ago

No. I never 'roughed up' a customer. The job was never a tough guy head trip for me, it was just, well, a job. If you're out to rough up customers you're in the wrong line of work. Plenty of people threaten to sue you or the bar when you throw them out. People are always threatening to sue over the dumbest things is bars, usually when they've done something wrong and want to avoid taking responsibility for it. The best is when I wouldn't let an underage kid with a fake ID in and they would threaten to sue me. I guess it says something about our culture.

Any of your bouncer friends ever get jumped, seriously hurt, or even killed by a vengeful customer?

Asked by Jay-P almost 9 years ago

Unfortunately, yes. I worked at bar in the East Village where a bouncer threw a guy out. That guy waited till the bar closed, followed the bouncer home and stabbed him in the back a few times with an 8” kitchen knife. Bouncing doesn’t come with a health care plan so something like that can be pretty devastating. The guy got away with it, by the way. In court he said the bouncer tried to attack him and he was defending himself. The guy was from Connecticut and had rich parents with good lawyers. I’ve personally had a lot of threats. Sometimes you would throw someone out, they would threaten you and then later in the night you’d see them across the street watching the bar. There was a guy who sat in front of the bar in his car once waiting for me to come out. If we had someone really creepy like that at the end of the night we would usually escort whoever was being threatened to a cab. You never want to walk home alone if you think someone’s after you. You also have to do this sometimes for the female bartenders and waitresses – they get some real stalkery characters waiting for them outside.