Three perspectives on working the door
By JAMES PARKER  |  August 22, 2007


Oxbow, "Down a Stair Backwards" 

Bouncers tell all: Tales from behind the velvet ropes. By James Parker.

Jeff Freedman, president, Wizard Security:
“A successful security operation for me is one where there are no incidents. I mean, sure, when I worked at the Channel in the ’80s, there were some bloodbath things that happened there, but I’m not gonna tell you about them. Why not? Because I don’t think it serves any purpose. People are people. An emo show is different from a heavy-metal show is different from a hip-hop show — you have different considerations to take into account for every event. The one thing that’s changed since I’ve been in the business is the liability aspect: if you hurt people now, you’re gonna get in trouble. At Wizard, we’ve always had a hands-off policy. I mean, there was a guy at a show we did just last week, real drunk, acting stupid, pushing, starting to irritate a lot of people, and I could see that a situation was developing. So I went over the barrier, I pulled the guy up real close — I could have fought him, I could have thrown him out — but what I did was tell him a couple of really stupid jokes, he started laughing, and it was over. See, I’m of the old school: you want to cool him down, get him out of there, because you want him back and you want his money. If you’re going to talk about Road House, I guess I relate more to the Sam Elliott character. Guys come to clubs because of girls, and if you’re known as a fighting club, girls don’t come. Simple as that.”

Scott Buoncristiano, staff, Middle East:
“I’m 5-6, 145 pounds, and there was this huge dude in the bar one time — no joke, 6-3, 250 pounds — and I don’t know what got him going, but he was just wading through our guys, just dragging them with him on this kind of monster adrenaline/rage/alcohol surge, and they were looking at me and yelling ‘CHOKE THIS MOTHERFUCKER!’ There was no calming him down — he was like a rhinoceros that had to be tranquilized. So I jump up, pull the guy’s chin back and sink in a rear-naked choke, as deep as I can. And then I go on a real Nantucket sleigh ride — he’s just crashing and thrashing around, my feet are dangling like eight inches off the ground, and I’m hanging on with my skinny little arms. Finally, the guy starts to get sleepy. I know that feeling: I do Mixed Martial Arts, like a lot of bouncers these days, and I’ve been choked out a billion times in training. Everything goes white-ish and then it sort of closes in on you as you begin to pass out. It’s like being stoned off your ass, this whiteness coming in from your peripherals. And then, when you wake up, it’s the opposite: you go ‘What?’ and then it starts to open up and out, and you’re like, ‘Okay, now I remember.’ Anyway, by the time this guy knows what’s happening, he’s outside on the sidewalk, and he starts raging and stomping around out there: ‘Who put me down? I’ll come back in and get him!’ And everyone’s like, ‘Ha ha! It was the little guy who took you out.’ ”

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Sam Elliott, Eugene Robinson, Jeff Freedman
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